In all reality the four cylinder versions of these well engineered, agile "cute-utes" (or small SUVs if you prefer) are probably the far more rational models to choose not necessarily because of their fuel economy but more for their lower sticker prices. For instance, four cylinder versions of the Mitsubishi Outlander start at only $20,480 with basic RAV4 models starting at $21,645.
With V-6 variants easily popping their heads over the magic $30,000 mark, these admittedly very well equipped SUVs aren't exactly cheap. But thankfully though, the 2010 Toyota RAV4 V6 and 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander V6 also no longer "feel" cheap like some of their earlier generation forebears.
For instance, the Mitsubishi Outlander V6 4wd we tested not only had supple leather, navigation and a 710 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system but it also had leather on the dash. That's the kind of stuff you expect from an Aston Martin but not a Mitsubishi. But this test, much like life, is chock full of surprises.
2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GTEnlarge Photo
The model tested here was a fully loaded, top of the line model with the optional Leather/Navi Package which adds (obviously) leather, navigation, heated seats, power driver's seat, back-up camera, a 40 GB hard drive for music storage and a (unique for the class) built in auxiliary video input jack. That means your kids can plug in their XBOX 360 and play their favorite games on the navigation screen. How awesome is that?
Less awesome is the steep $32,250 price tag but do keep in mind that the Mitsubishi can carry seven (in a severe pinch--the third row perch is for small kids only) and also comes with the peace of mind of a five-year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty and a ten-year/100,000 powertrain warranty. This price also includes Mitsubishi's technologically advanced full time all-wheel drive system with terrain settings, hill start assist and even a 4wd low setting for more serious off-roading.
In addition to the standard 4wd you also get a moonroof, Sirius satellite radio, six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, automatic climate control and (I will again reiterate) the aforementioned Rockford Fosgate audio system that is without question the best in its class.
The Mistubishi Outlander V-6 has a 3.0-liter unit and pumps out a healthy 230 horsepower and 215 pound feet of torque. Fuel economy is about average at 18 city/24 highway with an as tested figure of 20 miles per gallon. And while the Outlander's engine may not be a dragstrip racer it fullfills family duties with aplomb and makes a nice growling noise when pressed.
The best part of the entire Outlander package (besides that stereo) is the ride, handling and steering. This Outlander has, without question, the best steering feel in its class and takes to curvy roads much like the excellent Mitsubishi Lancer GTS I recently tested. The ride also should come up for praise as it allows you to have fun when you want to but smoothes out bumps and road imperfections when you are just commuting on the freeway.
2010 Toyota RAV4Enlarge Photo
Right now Toyota is running a deal on top of the line Limited V6 models so you can snag one equipped in a nearly identical fashion to the Outlander for $30,827. While that is a great price, Toyota has a less generous warranty (even though it is offering some extensions as sales promtions) and the RAV4 has a much less advanced and off-road ready AWD system. It also makes do with a far less splashy six-speaker CD audio system.