2010 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 6, 2010

The Mitsubishi Outlander has a sportier look and feel than most crossover utes—and it gets better for 2010.

To get you the most useful information regarding the Mitsubishi Outlander, TheCarConnection.com has driven the refreshed 2010 Outlander GT, then selected highlights—including firsthand observations and comparisons to other models here in this Bottom Line—from reputable reviews from other sources.

Mitsubishi's Outlander compact crossover vehicle goes into 2010 with an all-new front end, a refreshed interior, and the introduction of the top-of-the-line Outlander GT model, plus next-generation technology features.

A subtle set of design changes takes the Outlander in a more carlike direction on the outside for 2010, with fewer rugged SUV cues and the sharklike "jet fighter" snout inherited from the Evo. Along with the front-end changes, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander gets new aero work in front, a mesh grille, a new rear fascia, redesigned hood and fenders, and on most models, chrome-accented side-sill extensions. Inside there are some much-needed soft-touch materials, including, for the top trims, soft double-stitched synthetic leather padding where elbows go and for some of the dash. The vents and dials also get new bright accents, and all but the base model gets a new multicolor LCD instrument display. Altogether, the Outlander now looks sportier on the outside and doesn’t feel nearly as cut-rate inside.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, making 168 horsepower, is standard on ES and SE models of the 2010 Outlander, but we'd probably discourage it for most buyers as it brings barely adequate performance with its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and generates too much engine noise while accelerating. The 3.0-liter V-6 engine that's featured on XLS and GT models has a completely different personality, producing 220 horsepower delivered through a responsive, easy-shifting six-speed automatic with steering-wheel paddles. It has a lot more power to spare and gets fuel economy approaching that of the four on the highway. ES, SE, and XLS models of the Outlander remain offered with a choice of front-wheel drive or 4WD (with a center diff lock), while the new GT is the first Outlander to inherit an application of the Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system used in the Evo and Ralliart. The system includes Tarmac, Snow, and Lock modes, selected with a knob on the center console, to cater the system’s responses to specific conditions, with an Active Front Differential and electronically controlled center diff, for more seamless distribution of torque between the wheels.

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No matter what the model, the Outlander has good, communicative steering. And like the Lancer, with which it shares some of its underpinnings, the Outlander handles better on the road than some of the more trucklike or rugged utility vehicles, with the nice, firm braking of a performance car. But the ride is quite firm, and it can be choppy over railroad tracks and the like. Also, at 3,780 pounds, the GT is just too heavy to be called agile (even though aluminum roof panels and other measures help keep the center of mass low). We also like the Outlander GT’s paddle shifters, which are mounted alongside—rather than on—the steering wheel, making them easier to locate in tight hairpins, for instance.

About a foot shorter in overall length than most mid-size sedans, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander has good space for five, though its available seven-passenger seating—including a small third row—is a little optimistic. Even small children will feel the squeeze in back, but the second row slides fore and aft and reclines for good comfort, and the third and second rows fold to create an impressive, continuous cargo space of nearly 73 cubic feet behind the front seats. Cargo space is plentiful behind the second row, at 36.2 cubic feet but limited behind the third, at 14.9 feet. In front, several testers find the Outlander's driver’s seat and seating position to be about right, though the steering wheel doesn't telescope, which might be an issue for shorter drivers. The backseats 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. The Outlander has a rear tailgate configuration that’s somewhat complex and clunky, but we can see owners finding it handy; the fold-down tailgate can support 440 pounds. Materials remain a bit of a disappointment, even though they're again improved for 2010. Up close, there's quite a lot of hard, dull plastic, though the upper dash now includes soft coverings and chrome-finished controls in some trims.

The Outlander has done extremely well in crash tests; it gets nearly perfect "good" scores from the IIHS for frontal offset and side impact, as well as in the seat-based rear-impact test. Its only blemish is an "acceptable" score in the new IIHS roof-strength test. It earns top five-star ratings in the federal government's frontal impact and side impact exams. All Outlanders come with front side airbags, side curtain bags covering the first two rows, front active headrests, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.

The base 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander ES model has the four-cylinder and keeps it simple, though it includes air conditioning, keyless entry, and a 140-watt, six-speaker sound system. At the top of the lineup, the luxurious XLS picks up fog lamps, steering-wheel audio controls, remote start, cruise control, and automatic climate control, plus the new FUSE hands-free link system, controlling audio and calling functions with voice commands. The GT includes, along with other appearance extras, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, leather seats, bi-xenon HID headlamps, and a more powerful 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium sound system with nine speakers and a huge 10-inch subwoofer. 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 40GB hard-drive nav system with music server, real-time traffic, and carpool lane guidance.

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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Styling

Although the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander has the same basic design as before, a new snout and some interior touches make it feel sportier and more appealing. 

A subtle set of design changes takes the Outlander in a more carlike direction on the outside for 2010, with fewer rugged SUV cues and the sharklike "jet fighter" snout inherited from the Evo. Along with the front-end changes, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander gets new aero work in front, a mesh grille, a new rear fascia, redesigned hood and fenders, and on most models chrome-accented side-sill extensions.

Motor Trend says that the Outlander “has an air that's all SUV.” Edmunds simply states it has a “stylish, distinctive-looking exterior.” Car and Driver declares that "Mitsubishi certainly got it right with the vehicle's styling." In a follow-up report on the 2010, Car and Driver remarks that "this latest Outlander is a minor progression of the current model introduced in 2006."

Taking an up-close look at the changes for 2010, Kelley Blue Book asserts, "From most angles it's the same softly styled, second-generation Outlander we've known since the 2007 model year. Move around to the front, though, and you'll now see the chiseled face you know from the Mitsubishi Lancer lineup."

Jalopnik notes that the new 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT "has the same refreshing sparseness and black-coffee simplicity found in all current Mitsubishis."

Within the cabin there are some much-needed soft-touch materials, including, for the top trims, soft double-stitched synthetic leather padding where elbows go and for some of the dash. The vents and dials also get new bright accents, and all but the base model get a new multicolor LCD instrument display. Altogether, the Outlander now looks sportier on the outside and doesn’t feel nearly as cut-rate inside.

Autoblog cites the interior changes as most noticeably improved in the 2010 Outlander GT: "A quick glance around reveals much time and attention to detail went into sprucing up the joint. The previous Outlander's huge tracts of plastic are now covered with beautiful, thick-stitched leather."

Not all impressions are positive about the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander; reviewers at ConsumerGuide say that "the smallish digital display in the center of the gauge cluster can wash out at times" and lament "the climate controls are mounted too low for easy access while driving." Other than those few gripes, the Mitsubishi Outlander wins praise for a gauge cluster that Cars.com notes "is reminiscent of motorcycles." Reviewers generally approve of the interior design, with Motor Trend calling it "contemporary" and Edmunds adding "the Outlander's interior is attractive looking."

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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Performance

The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander isn't very enjoyable with the four-cylinder engine, but in either of its V-6 forms, it has excellent handling and good all-weather performance.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, making 168 horsepower, is standard on ES and SE models of the 2010 Outlander, but we'd probably recommend against it for most buyers, as it brings barely adequate performance with its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and generates too much engine noise while accelerating. The 3.0-liter V-6 engine that's featured on XLS and GT models has a completely different personality, producing 220 horsepower delivered through a responsive, easy-shifting six-speed automatic with steering-wheel paddles. It has a lot more power to spare and gets fuel economy approaching that of the four on the highway.

Reviewer feedback is almost unanimously positive for the V-6, but there isn't much love with the four-cylinder. MotherProof finds it "has impressive power" and offers "easy access to speed." Kelley Blue Book remarks that their Mitsubishi Outlander "never had trouble merging or passing." With the V-6 in the new 2010 Outlander GT, Car and Driver manages 0-60 acceleration in 7.5 seconds, "which is toward the quicker end of the class." Jalopnik says that "while it's competent and smooth, it's by no means overly potent." ConsumerGuide indicates the four-cylinder is "slow from a stop," but they also claim it accelerates "adequately above 20 mph."

The CVT on the four-cylinder engines receives mixed reviews, with ConsumerGuide saying that it "adjusts ratios promptly for passing," while AutoWeek criticizes it as "wildly erratic." The six-speed automatic is certainly the more welcome transmission, and Edmunds praises the "crisp and well-timed" shifts it offers. Both transmissions "have manual-shift capability" and "all Outlander trims are available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive," according to Edmunds.

ES, SE, and XLS models of the Outlander remain offered with a choice of front-wheel drive or 4WD (with a center diff lock). “Choose '4WD Auto' and at least 15 percent of engine torque is routed to the rear axle at all times, and when you're accelerating on packed snow or other slippery surfaces, the rear wheels can accept up to 60 percent of the power,” Edmunds reports. “Choose '4WD Lock' and the system sends a greater percentage of torque to the rear wheels—up to 60 percent under full-throttle acceleration.”

The new GT is the first Outlander to inherit an application of the Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system used in the Evo and Ralliart. The system includes Tarmac, Snow, and Lock modes, selected with a knob on the center console, to cater the system’s responses to specific conditions; an Active Front Differential and electronically controlled center diff offer more seamless distribution of torque between the wheels. "The Outlander GT steers sharper in tight corners, because when the inside front wheel loses traction, the computer directs more torque to the outside wheel to help turn the car," reports Car and Driver. "The rear axle, meanwhile, also gets torque sent to it via the car’s all-wheel-drive system." Kelley Blue Book "appreciated S-AWC when turning onto a busy street, where the system more efficiently converts power into acceleration." Car and Driver clarifies, "When the weather turns foul, you can switch the system from 'tarmac' to 'snow' with a three-position dial on the center console."

No matter what the model, the Outlander has good, communicative steering. And like the Lancer, with which it shares some of its underpinnings, the Outlander handles better on the road than some of the more trucklike or rugged utility vehicles, with the nice, firm braking of a performance car. While handling is a strong point of the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander, the crossover isn't a stunner in terms of speed. Edmunds reviewers find that "its well-tuned chassis gives it sporty reflexes around corners and transmits considerable feedback to the driver." ConsumerGuide adds that the Mitsubishi Outlander has only "moderate body lean in turns." The Mitsubishi Outlander's handling prowess is due in large part to the fact it is "based on a platform that sees duty in the current Lancer and Lancer Evolution sport sedan," according to Cars.com.

But the ride is quite firm and can be choppy over railroad tracks and the like, and at 3,780 pounds, the GT is just too heavy to be called agile (even though aluminum roof panels and other measures help keep the center of mass low). Car and Driver agrees that the Outlander has "a stiff suspension for an SUV." ConsumerGuide observes that "the suspension does a poor job overall of absorbing sharp bumps," which makes for a rough and uncomfortable ride. Edmunds says nearly the opposite: “Ride quality is just as important as handling in a small SUV, though, and the Outlander is indeed comfortable and well-mannered when cruising.”

Autoblog is one of the few outlets to comment on stopping power, saying that the Outlander GT "could use more brakes."

"All told, the end result is something that sneaks up on you," comments Jalopnik. "The Outlander will hustle down a country road or blaze down a freeway with surprising speed, but it doesn't have any interest in throwing its talents in your face."

7

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Comfort & Quality

The interior is great for five, but the third-row seat is a joke and ride quality can be harsh. However, Mitsubishi takes a step in the right direction with interior trims and materials in the 2010 Outlander. 

About a foot shorter in overall length than most mid-size sedans, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander has good space for five, though its available seven-passenger seating—including a small third row—is a little optimistic. Even small children will feel the squeeze in back, but the second row slides fore and aft and reclines for good comfort, and the third and second rows fold to create an impressive, continuous cargo space of nearly 73 cubic feet behind the front seats. Cargo space is plentiful behind the second row, at 36.2 cubic feet but a little limited behind the third, at 14.9 feet.

In front, several testers find the Outlanders driver’s seat and seating position to be about right, though the steering wheel doesn't telescope, which might be an issue for shorter drivers. Jalopnik notes that while the seats in the Outlander GT have good lateral support, they "may not suit the girthier folk of middle America." ConsumerGuide says that the front seats in the Mitsubishi Outlander offer "plentiful headroom and legroom" and "the seats are generally comfortable, though some occupants may want more thigh support."

The backseats 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. But ConsumerGuide says that the "3rd row is suitable only for kids, and they will ride in an uncomfortable knees-up position on a cushion that uses webbed hammock-style material rather than conventional padding." Fortunately, the third row can collapse "flat into the cargo floor when not in use," leading Kelley Blue Book to term it a "why not?" feature. Edmunds observes that the Mitsubishi "Outlander comes with a third-row seat," though its "effectiveness is debatable."

Edmunds reviewers report that "in terms of cargo room, a little less than 73 cubic feet is at your disposal with the second- and third-row seats folded," and they "particularly like the Outlander's dual-opening rear hatch, as the upper portion provides convenient access to groceries, while the lower portion" can drop down "to form a tailgate capable of supporting 440 pounds." Interior storage on the Mitsubishi 2009 Outlander draws praise as well, particularly from ConsumerGuide, where testers observe that the "good interior storage includes a nicely sized glove box and center console."

The Outlander has a rear tailgate configuration that’s a little complex and clunky, but we can see owners finding it handy; the fold-down tailgate can support 440 pounds. Materials remain a bit of a disappointment, even though they're again improved for 2010.

Up close, there's quite a bit of hard, dull plastic, though the upper dash now includes soft coverings and chrome-finished controls in some trims. Autoblog comments extensively on how the refresh for 2010 enhances the look and feel of the interior. "A quick glance around reveals much time and attention to detail went into sprucing up the joint," the reviewer says. "The previous Outlander's huge tracts of plastic are now covered with beautiful, thick-stitched leather." Autoblog also points to the GT's aluminum pedals and magnesium column-mounted paddle-shifters.

"The cheap-looking red digital information display between the gauges is gone, replaced by a high-definition, multicolor LCD that definitely ups the Outlander’s premium feel," notes Car and Driver.

Mitsubishi makes some improvements to noise insulation on the Outlander for 2010, and Kelley Blue Book thinks that "the new Outlander does a notably better job of suppressing outer-cabin sounds like tire, suspension, engine and wind noises." The reviewer says that it won't be mistaken for a Lexus, "but it's definitely more category-competitive from an interior noise point of view."

9

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Safety

The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander has almost perfect crash-test scores, along with a good list of safety features. 

The Outlander does extremely well in crash tests; it gets nearly perfect "good" scores from the IIHS for frontal offset and side impact, as well as in the seat-based rear-impact test. Its only blemish is an "acceptable" score in the new IIHS roof-strength test. It gets top five-star ratings in the federal government's frontal impact and side impact exams.

All Outlanders come with front side airbags, side curtain bags covering the first two rows, front active headrests, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes. Edmunds notes the "whiplash-reducing front head restraints."

ConsumerGuide notes that although the "tall 3rd-row seatbacks partially block the view astern," the "visibility is fine otherwise."

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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Features

Although we'd like to see the new FUSE Bluetooth interface available across the entire model line, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander offers a wide range of features to satisfy tech-savvy folks or those who just want the basics. 

The base 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander ES model has the four-cylinder and keeps it simple, though it includes air conditioning, keyless entry, and a 140-watt, six-speaker sound system. At the top of the lineup, the luxurious XLS picks up fog lamps, steering-wheel audio controls, remote start, cruise control, and automatic climate control, plus the new FUSE hands-free link system, controlling audio and calling functions with voice commands.

The new Outlander GT includes, along with other appearance extras, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, leather seats, bi-xenon HID headlamps, and a more powerful 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium sound system with nine speakers and a huge 10-inch subwoofer. "Continuing the active personality are its staple LED taillights, sleek roof rack, and available HID headlamps and 18-in alloy wheels," notes Motor Trend of the GT. Pointing to the features in the GT, Kelley Blue Book says, "This long list of standard and available goodies remains our favorite Outlander advantage."

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 40GB hard-drive nav system with music server, real-time traffic, and carpool lane guidance.

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