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Thread: 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

    The value-priced Mitsubishi Outlander is a definite must-see alternative to some of the Name Brand (but more expensive) competition. The fact that's it's also sportier-looking and more fun to drive than other vehicles in its segment adds to the attraction.

    WHAT IT IS

    The Outlander is a 5-7 passenger crossover SUV available with third row seating and both four and six-cylinder engines and either FWD or AWD.

    Prices begin at $20,840 for the front-wheel-drive ES with four-cylinder engine and run to $29,250 for a performance-minded GT with V-6 and specially calibrated AWD system set up for faster-paced driving.

    In between are SE and XLS trims, with either engine and FWD or AWD.

    WHAT'S NEW

    A major exterior update includes an aggressive-looking and very shark-like, forward-canted nosepiece with large, open-mouthed grille area that's similar to the current Lancer EVO all-wheel-drive supercar's - as well as significant updates to the interior and new high-technology equipment such as hands-free Fuse voice-command and revised LCD display for the GPS system, which now includes real-time traffic updates.

    The optional 3.0 liter V-6 also gets a 10 hp bump for 2010.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    Sharp styling; makes competitors like Toyota's RAV4 and the Honda CRV-V look dowdy. Sharper handling than SUV-esque competitors like the Chevy Equinox.

    Comprehensive range of trim/drivetrain packages, from economy-minded ES to fairly serious performance-minded GT.

    Prices start out about $1,500 below most competitors.

    Big dog-friendly rear cargo area.

    Available third row seating.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    No manual transmission; four-cylinder engine comes only with CVT.

    Available third row is cramped and hard to access - usable by kids only.

    Historically, Mitsubishis tend to depreciate faster than Name Brand Japanese competitors.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    An economy-minded 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine is standard in the Oultander. It is rated at 168 hp and delivers 21 MPG city, 27 MPG highway in FWD versions; 21 city, 25 highway in AWD-equipped models.

    The only transmission choice with this engine is a Continuously Variable (CVT) automatic, basically an automatic with a single forward speed that constantly adjusts to whatever throttle position and vehicle speed are at any given moment. No upshifts, downshifts or gears. Just "drive."

    The optional 3 liter V-6 is rated at 230 hp and returns 19 MPG city, 25 MPG highway in FWD versions and 18 city, 24 highway if you choose AWD.

    A conventional six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice offered with the V-6.

    The V-6 Outlander can reach 60 mph in just under 8 seconds; four-cylinder versions are about a second slower.

    This performance is comparable to other vehicles in this segment - right in the middle of the pack.

    The Outlander's optional AWD system, meanwhile, is significantly different than what you find in competitors - almost all of which are not driver-adjustable and remain in all-wheel-drive all the time, whether it's needed or not. The Outlander's system, in contrast, is more like what you'd find in a truck or SUV with a part-time 4WD system in that you can turn a knob on the center console to go from FWD to AWD, as conditions indicate.

    In FWD (which Mitsubishi labels "2WD" on the console-mounted control knob) all the engine's power goes to the front wheels only. Choose AWD (which Mitsu labels "4WD") and about 15-40 percent of the engine's power is always routed to the back wheels. Choose the third setting - 4WD Lock - and the system will increase the amount of power kicked back to the rear wheels up to 60 percent. However, the system does not lock the drivetrain into a permanent/constant 40-60 split, front to rear, as the name suggests.

    Maximum tow rating with the V-6 is 3,500 lbs.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    By far, the Outlander is one of the sportiest-feeling/driving vehicles in its class - even if it's not the quickest in a straight line.

    The Lancer/EVO DNA is evident during cornering, at which the Outlander excels. The weight of the vehicle doesn't lurch to outside, squashing down the suspension on that side - with the stability control system frantically trying to keep you from rolling the thing - which happens with some of the less-poised competition. There's a nice weight to the steering, too - which tracks directly with the vehicle's nose instead of being a step ahead or behind.

    A manual transmission would be great - especially with the optional V-6. But the six-speed automatic can't be faulted for function. Its shifts are crisp and almost always well-timed.

    The CVT that comes with the four is not my favorite. Again, I'd prefer a manual, even if it doesn't allow the maximum feasible fuel economy (this is why CVTs are replacing manuals, fyi). CVTs work well with larger, higher-torque six cylinder engines but when paired with a four that's often having to work hard anyhow, a CVT magnifies the sounds and vibrations that indicate mechanical stress - and probably more wear and tear, too since the engine is often running in the upper RPM range, continuously. Floor the gas pedal in a CVT-equipped car and the engine will race right up to redline - and stay there until you back off the gas.

    It's just the way CVTs work.

    The Outlander's stats stack up very favorably against competitors like the Honda CR-V, which does doesn't offer a V-6 at all and whose horsepower (2.4 liters, 166 hp) towing (1,500 lbs.) numbers are weaker than the Outlander's. The CR-V's MSRP ($21,545 to start) is also higher, and its gas mileage (with the four cylinder engine) is only slighter better - 21 city, 28 highway.

    The CR-V is also one of the slowest cars in the segment, with a 0-60 time of 10-plus seconds for the AWD version.

    Toyota's RAV4 outguns the Outlander with its standard 179 hp 2.5 liter four and its optional 269 hp 3.5 liter V-6, the latter of which can propel the Toyota to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. But it's also more expensive to start - $21,675 - and while you can get a V-6 RAV4 for just slightly less than an Outlander V-6 ($23,710 vs. $24,990), Toyota doesn't offer a performance-minded trim such as the Outlander GT and overall the RAV4 is much less sporty to look at - and to drive.

    Same thing if you compare the Outlander with the new Chevy Equinox. It's a very nice vehicle but leans farther to the SUV side of the fence, both in terms of how it looks as well as how it drives. It has more standard power (2.4 liters, 182 hp) but no available third row, less total cargo capacity - and a higher base price ($22,615).

    Also, neither the Toyota nor the Honda nor the Chevy offer the driver-controlled AWD system the Outlander does.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    The Outlander's much flashier-looking than the blandly styled CR-V and RAV4 - or the tradionally SUV-esque Chevy Equinox. The new EVO-inspired nosepiece juts out like the snout of a hungry Mako shark.

    Looks-wise, the Outlander comes off as more sportwagon than SUV or crossover.

    While the Outlander, RAV and CR-V all have about the same cargo-carrying capacity - 36.2 cubes behind the second row; 73 cubes with the second row folded flat vs. 36.4/73 cubes for the Toyota and 35.7/73 for the Honda - the Outlander has significantly more ground clearance (8.5 inches) than either the CR-V (7.3 inches) or the RAV4 (7.5 inches), which should be helpful in snow.

    CHevy's Equinox has less total cargo capacity than all three - 63 cubic feet.

    The Outlander's available third-row seating, meanwhile, gives the Mitsu a leg up on the CR-V and Equinox - neither of which offer a third row at all - and equalizes things on this score with the RAV4 (which does). The Outlander's third row is cramped and pretty much viable only for kids. But it is there - and it does give you the ability to carry up to seven people in a pinch, which neither the Equinox nor the CR-V can do.

    The Outlander also offers useful and unique features like a fold-out lower rear section two-piece liftgate. This really opens up the cargo area and makes it easier to get big/bulky/heavy items in there - since you don't have to lift them up and over as much as you do in some competitor's models. The liftgate can also safely support more than 400 pounds - so two adults can sit on it if they like.

    The area behind the third row seats is deep, wide - and very dog friendly. I carted around two 80 pound labrador retrievers during the week I test-drove the Outlander.

    The optional Fuse wireless command system is similar in operation to other on the market (such as Ford's Sync). You can use it t make hands-free calls or control the audio system without having to fiddle with manual knobs or buttons.

    Other cool stuff you'll find includes an optionally available 650 watt Rockford Fosgate audio rig with Sirius satellite radio, 40 GB music storage hard drive - and two dinner plate-sized subwoofers built into the sidewalls of the cargo area.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    Mitsubishi's main weakness relative to its main competitors is a (historically) spottier record on the quality control front. Most of this appears to have been cleaned up recently, but the perception still affects things like resale values - and the truth about build quality is you won't really know for sure until the vehicle has been on the road for six or seven years, at least. That's the timeframe when things like early transmission failures, AC system problems and other such potentially expensive problems begin to crop up.

    On the upside, Mitsubishi offers a vastly better basic and powertrain coverage than pretty much all of its rivals - five years and 60,000 miles "bumper to bumper" plus a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty for the drivetrain - vs. a meager three-year/36,000 basic warranty for the Honda CR-V (five years, 60,000 miles on the drivetrain).

    Same minimalist coverage on the RAV4 and Chevy Equinox - although the Equinox does come with a five year, 100,000 mile policy on the drivetrain.

    Still, the Mitsubishi is the clear leader on this score. And it means if something does break on the Outlander, you probably won't have to pay for it - at least, not before you've paid the thing off.

    With the Toyota, Honda and Chevy - you're on your own much sooner.

    As far as safety stuff, all Outlanders come standard with ABS and stability control, side-impact and curtain air bags, plus anti-whiplash head rests for the driver and front passenger seats. A rear back-up camera is bundled with the optional navigation system.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Mitsubishi has a good-looking, well-equipped and fun-to-drive vehicle in the Outlander that's also a better buy than most - with a much better warranty than anyone.

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    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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