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."