The V-6 makes the Outlander GT feel spirited but not downright fast, and it turns into hard corners with as much alacrity as you could expect from a vehicle of this type. Only on the tightest corners will you notice that it’s quite portly; at 3,780 pounds the GT is just too heavy to be called agile (even though aluminum roof panels and other measures to help keep the center of mass low). We noticed a jittery aspect to the ride over less-than-perfect surfaces, so while it was just fine for the mostly smooth highways around Palm Springs, the ride quality might be a little on the firm side for potholed Rust Belt roads. Also, likely because of its weight, fuel economy isn’t great in the GT, at 18 mpg city, 24 highway.
To help, albeit slightly, with fuel economy there’s a new Neutral Logic feature that automatically shifts the transmission to Neutral when at a stop with your foot on the brake. As soon as you lift from the brake—or even lightly move the steering wheel—it shifts back into Drive. Although the feature doesn’t affect EPA City ratings, it will slightly reduce real-world fuel consumption for those who drive in heavy stop-and-go.
Two rather tall testers found the Outlanders driver’s seat and seating position to be about perfect, despite the lack of telescopic steering adjustment. The back seats feel a little thin and flat, as they do in most other vehicles in this class, but they fold and tumble to a flat cargo floor. Cargo space is plentiful behind the second row, at 36.2 cubic feet but a little limited behind the third, at 14.9 feet. Of course, these third-row seats in the Outlander won’t be used for anything but occasionally taking on an extra small child or two. They’re that small.
The Outlander has a rear tailgate configuration that’s a little more complex and clunky than a traditional, simple hatch, but we can see owners finding it handy. The arrangement combines a larger top-hinged hatch and a fold-down tailgate that includes a flat load surface and can function as a bench or hold up to 440 pounds.
The GT includes bi-xenon HID headlamps, cruise control, a FUSE Hands-Free Link (Bluetooth) System. and a more powerful 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium sound system with nine speakers and a huge 10-inch subwoofer that occupies much of the left cargo wall. The only major option is the $3,000 Premium Navigation and Leather Package, which adds a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a rearview camera system, and a 40-gigabyte hard-drive nav system with music server, real-time traffic, and carpool lane guidance.
Altogether, the GT as tested totaled $32,990 with the works. That’s more than a loaded Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 or Subaru Forester XT.
The Outlander doesn’t quite drive like an Evo or Ralliart, but its warmer, brighter interior and new front-end design helps avoid the homely appearance that’s all too common in this class. And it’s an good choice for those who must have a utility vehicle but really would rather be driving something else. More importantly for Mitsubishi, our first drive of the Outlander GT convinces us that a more upscale direction might very well keep shoppers from looking elsewhere.
High Gear Media accepted travel expenses in order to be among the first to drive the new Outlander GT.