2010 Mitsubishi Outlander: The Nose Knows?

February 26, 2010

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander:  Winter by a nose?


For 2010, Mitsubishi pumped up its Outlander crossover with a 230-hp V6.  There is a GT model with Lancer Evolution rhinoplasty, crisp multi-color info display, roomy interior and sporty demeanor.

If you like the looks but not the $30,000 fee, consider the SE model with a Hoover-upright-sounding 168-hp four-cylinder mill attached to a continuously variable transmission.  There's a fix.  Pull an oar.  Two alloy paddles let you pluck from six fixed ratios.  You'll find one that quells noise.

The all-wheel-drive tester, with traction control, performed well in snow.  It has three selectable modes:  Two-wheel-front-drive, all-wheel-drive and four-wheel lock.  Mitsubishi says two-wheel, front drive is the most economical, all-wheel-drive offers sportier cornering and foul-weather grip, and lock powers all four wheels through deep snow.

A tailgater's delight:  the split opening rear lid.  The upper section forms a foul-weather canopy; the drop-down bottom section creates a useful bench, as did many noggin-busting 1950s station wagons.  However, Mitsubishi's take, which includes a gap filling lower panel, is a homer; it's great for loading gear.  Don't leave the kids behind; there's a mesh-covered impromptu third-row seat.

Ride is softer than some SUVs.  Nonetheless, the initial resilience gives way to firm kicks and jolts.  Road noise is extant; the suspension whispers.

Expect moderate body roll, when tackling twisty roads.   Mix quick, boosted power steering with standard electronic stability control and you get secure handling.

The interior is drastic, plastic.  Hard petrochemical dash cover and door panels look and feel cheap.  Some pieces squeak.  Front racing-shell buckets and mid-row seats are comfortable.

The deeply recessed speedometer is difficult-to-read day-side--better at night.  EPA estimates:  20 mpg city, 25 hwy.  Measured:  18 mpg overall, during cold weather.  An SE's MSRP:  about $26,000.

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