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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
easy access to speed
comfortable and well-mannered
CVT adjusts ratios promptly for passing
Good handling and a fuel-efficient engine make the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander appealing from a performance perspective, according to most reviewers, and while most were pleased by the available V-6, there are plenty of gripes about the standard four-cylinder.
The 2009 Mitsubishi V-6 scores well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as MotherProof finds it "has impressive power" and offers "easy access to speed." Kelley Blue Book remarks that their 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander "never had trouble merging or passing." The four-cylinder engine is somewhat less enthusiastic, and ConsumerGuide indicates it is "slow from a stop," but they also claim it accelerates "adequately above 20 mph." Cars.com notes "for 2008, Mitsubishi added a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine" to the Outlander lineup on ES and SE trim levels. That engine complements the "3.0-liter V6" that Edmunds says is "good for 220 hp and 204 pound-feet of torque" and powers the Mitsubishi Outlander XLS.
The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with just one transmission per engine. Edmunds says "four-cylinder Outlanders come standard with a CVT, while V6 models have a more traditional six-speed automatic." Both transmissions "have manual-shift capability" and "all Outlander trims are available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive," according to Edmunds. The CVT, or continuously variable transmission, on the four-cylinder engines receives mixed reviews; while ConsumerGuide comments that it "adjusts ratios promptly for passing," AutoWeek characterizes it as "wildly erratic." The six-speed automatic is certainly the more welcome transmission, and Edmunds praises the "crisp and well-timed" shifts that it offers.
Mitsubishi makes available all-wheel drive an option on Outlander models. “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 EPA estimates that the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander returns 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway when equipped with the V-6 in 2WD mode, while the V-6 in 4WD mode gets 17/24 mpg. Both drive configurations of the four-cylinder engine offer 20 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway.
While handling is a strong point of the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, the crossover isn't a stunner in terms of speed. Edmunds reviewers find that "driving the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is more fun than you might expect, as 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.
Car and Driver says 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 contends, “Ride quality is just as important as handling in a small SUV, though, and the Outlander is indeed comfortable and well-mannered when cruising.”
The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the most enjoyable small crossovers to drive—if you’re willing to overlook the coarse four-cylinder engine.