Hey, do you want a little bit of rally car built into your SUV? Well, the Mitsubishi Outlander GT offers up some of the technology that made the company’s Lancer Evolution rally cars so successful in motorsports. For an additional $3,300 over the base price of the Outlander SE with All-Wheel-Control, the Outlander GT offers the company’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC, for short) system, mated to a 230 horsepower 3.0-liter MIVEC V6 engine, instead of the base 168 horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder powerplant.
1. In GT trim, the Outlander gets Mitsubishi’s S-AWC system that essentially distributes power front to rear and side-to-side in the rear, with settings for Tarmac, Snow and an AWD Lock.
2. Power comes from the brand’s 3.0L V6 with 230-hp and 215 lb-ft of torque.
3. Cargo room is 39.5 cu-ft with the mostly useless 3rd row seat folded flat.
4. At $27,795 the GT model is roughly $3,300 more than the V6-powred SE with AWC.
S-AWC DELIVERS ADDED GRIP FOR SAFETY AND FUN
Let’s talk about that S-AWC first. Located on the console is a large round knob with three settings: Tarmac, Snow and Lock. In the Tarmac mode, the Outlander utilizes sophisticated technology to monitor driver inputs, vehicle attitude, road surface conditions, and wheel slip to send more engine torque to the front wheel with the most traction, reducing the chances of slipping through corners. It also senses the correct amount of torque to be sent to the rear wheels through the all-wheel-drive system. This all means that the driver gets better performance and more safety when pushing the vehicle hard through turns.
Turn the knob to the Snow setting and the torque splits make the vehicle easier to get through the slippery stuff. The Lock position is for those times when you really need the vehicle to grunt you out of the heavy snow or mud. Active Stability Control and the ABS brakes also add to the safety factor on any road surface.
One may wonder why a manufacturer would put this kind of technology into a family crossover vehicle, but we guess Mitsubishi wants to set themselves apart for the crowd, and build up their niche with drivers who want the best of both worlds. And at some point, those Lancer customers who enjoy a more aggressive driving experience will have families, and need something more practical, without totally giving up their fun. The GT even has sporty aluminum gas and brake pedals.
V6 IS POTENT-ENOUGH, BUT FUEL ECONOMY LAGGING
It’s no 300-hp turbocharged monster like in the Evo, but the 230-hp V6 engine offers ample power and acceleration, even in the 60 to 80 miles per hour roll-ons for passing. And the driver can row though the quick shifting 6-speed automatic with either paddle shifters or the shift lever. The transmission also features Idle Neutral Logic, which means that when you come to a full stop, the transmission automatically shifts into neutral so the engine revs lower and allows for better fuel economy, which is stated as 19-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. We found those numbers to be optimistic.
While the GT’s handling is definitely agile and sporty, the ride quality doesn’t suffer much. It’s comfortable over most roads without any truck-like bounce or jarring, and on the highway, there is little wind noise. Mitsubishi placed the sound deadening materials in the right places so the cabin is quiet, unlike the racier Lancer Evo.
WELL EQUIPPED AND SPACIOUS CABIN, EXCEPT IN THE 3RD ROW
The cabin is a comfortable place to spend some time in. The electroluminescent dash is stylish, simple and well laid out for the driver to operate all the controls. Between the two large round dials for tach and speedo is an info screen for the outside temperature, trip information and average mileage info, etc. At the top of the center stack you have a secondary info screen with the clock and radio information. The radio and CD controls are straightforward and easy to operate. Secondary controls are found on the steering wheel, as well as the cruise controls and Bluetooth phone controls. Three large round dials control the heat functions, and there are ample cupholders and bottle holders in the door panels. Soft touch fabrics for the door armrests and center console are comfortable to use. The moisture sensing windshield wipers are a nice feature one wouldn’t expect on a car in this price range. Another unexpected feature is a dual glove box; the lower portion opens down and the upper box opens up. Both are large, so there’s plenty of storage space.
A last unusual, albeit handy, feature is a headlight aiming switch that allows the driver 5 positions to raise or lower the aim of the headlights in case the cargo area is loaded, or if one is towing a trailer, causing the rear end to ride low, so you can adjust the headlights to compensate. And the GT can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
Our test car came with cloth seats covered with a nice fabric trimmed with leather, and the side bolsters on the seat and seat back were finished with an ultrasuede fabric that holds the passengers in place when driving aggressively. Both seats are manually adjustable.
The only option on the vehicle was the Sun and Sound Package, which means a nice electric moonroof for the sun, and an outrageously loud 719-watt Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker sound system with subwoofer and MP3 jack.
There is plenty of headroom from front to back for tall passengers. The rear 60/40 split bench seat is comfortable, and there are dual cupholders in the fold-down armrest. And the seats can recline for snoozing on long trips.
There is a third row seat, although it’s virtually useless, even for kids. It folds flat into the floor, where it should always remain because it is very difficult to reach and it has no leg room even for a 5-year old, and the seat is brick hard. It’s only use is for the advertising materials to be able to say that it’s a 7 passenger vehicle. The rear Flap-Fold tailgate has a 6-inch section that folds down when the upper section of the liftgate is raised, so that it is easier to load luggage or cargo into the back.
Exterior styling is both contemporary and handsome. The massive blacked out front grill shows a family resemblance to other Mitsubishi models and makes a bold statement, along with the flared fenders. Viewed from the side, the rear passenger and quarter panel windows taper, giving the roofline a more pronounced curved look. And the 7-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels are nicely styled.
Our test car, with the $1,700 Sound and Sun Package bottomed lined at $30,275, which is not a lot of money for an SUV of this size, with all of the technical sophistication, standard equipment and amenities. With a 10-year/ 100,000 mile limited warranty, a 5-star safety rating, this is one model that is really worth looking into.
The Outlander is an excellent all-around SUV, with lots of passenger and cargo room, nice amenities, plus in GT trim it has added capability to pull you through all kinds of bad weather conditions safely and securely. Plus, it’s great for those times when the “driving devil” takes over, and you feel like having some fun on challenging roads.