By Christopher Jensen, Special to Tribune Newspapers
June 3, 2010
With its 2010 Outlander GT S-AWC, Mitsubishi explores not only the limits of alphabetical nomenclature but also whether Americans care about a crossover with a complex all-wheel-drive system designed to provide extra cornering power and traction under virtually all conditions.
Outlander starts at $21,605 with front-wheel drive and a 4-cylinder; the base all-wheel drive (also with a 4) is $23,995.The Outlander tested was the V-6 GT S-AWC, with a base price of $30,015. Its long list of standard equipment includes the V-6, 6-speed automatic, sunroof, superstereo system, third row and high-intensity discharge headlights. A $3,000 package added a power driver seat, heated seats and navi.
To figure out the "GT S-AWC," one needs two things:
* To decipher the name: GT commonly means "sporty." "S-AWC" is short for super all-wheel control. All-wheel control refers to a more sophisticated system for sending varying amounts of power not just between the front and rear wheels but from side to side up front to provide maximum traction and handling anytime and anywhere.
* A challenging, two-lane road. Push a bit and find that the steering is good and the Outlander has a somewhat sporty character with a comfy ride.
Mitsubishi has all these graphs showing how the power shifting improves stability and cornering. But competitors were equally fun on the same roads. Perhaps if the surface had been slippery or I had pushed harder, something would have been noticeable. Or maybe you need testing gear, beyond the seat of your pants, to tell the difference.
But one thing is noticeable when accelerating hard: torque steer, unexpected in a vehicle that is supposed to be so sophisticated about sending power where it can best be used.
For $33,000-plus, one expects an upscale experience, but the front door feels light and cheap. The interior, including the faux red stitching on the synthetic leather, is equally unimpressive.
The second row slides about 3 inches fore and aft. In its rear-most position, it is possible to seat four, 6-foot adults in the first two rows. But that leaves the third row for only the smallest children.
All the important safety gear is standard, including electronic stability control, which has helped the Outlander do quite well in crash tests
Price as tested: $33,015
Engine: 3-liter, 230-hp, 24-valve, SOHC V-6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifting
MPG: 18 city/24 highway
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Length: 183.7 inches
Parting shot: Can you say "underwhelming"?
Copyright © 2013, Chicago Tribune