The Mitsubishi Outlander gets a new look for 2010, which it needs to raise its profile in a highly competitive class that includes the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V and improving models from GM. To accomplish this, Mitsubishi has given the Outlander a love-it-or-leave-it grille and a heavy payload of available features and electronic goodies.
Appearance: The Outlander's gaping front grille resembles its sporty road-racing cousin, the Lancer. But where the Lancer looks aggressive or even angry, the Outlander looks more like it's yawning. The SUV features somewhat menacing-looking headlights and bulging wheel wells. Peter found its mix of angular and rounded lines sporty while Lyra found that same mix ugly.
Interior: Unlike some SUVs in this class, the Outlander seats seven, but only if you're desperate. The third-row seats, which are compact and stow into the floor, are not very useful. Lyra found them flimsy and uncomfortable, even for her 6-year-old. And the tall headrest flaps block the driver's view. The leather first- and second-row seats are comfortable, however. There is an attractive blend of materials, with a "soft touch" faux-leather dash and door panels with detailed stitching. We both liked the ample headroom and the climate control's air filtration, which is great on pollen-filled days. Families: There are nine cup holders and 12 storage nooks. We liked the useful split-gate tailgate, where the top opens upward, like a regular hatch, but the lower half opens like a pickup tailgate, giving it floor-level access for easy loading.
Performance: The ride is tight and controlled. The Super All Wheel Control transfers power to the wheels as needed to combat loss of grip. The 3.0-liter, 230-horsepower V-6 has more than enough get-up-and-go, and the Sportronic six-speed transmission shifts smoothly. Lyra found the ride rather bland, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. We liked the manual-shift option, and the magnesium paddle shifters are heat resistant. For our scorching summers, that's an appreciated touch.
Our 3 favorites
Gadgetry: Real-time traffic navigation, a 40-gig hard drive and FUSE hands-free system.
Rearview camera: They are becoming more common. Good.
Pump it: The 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system has nine speakers.
Cargo access: The rear tailgate makes loading easier on your back.
S-AWC: Better grip, smoother ride.
Crisp gauges: The white-on-black gauges and LCD info display are clear.
The bottom line: Peter found the Outlander's features and sportiness to be a pleasant surprise. (But it might be trying too hard with the third-row seat.) Gadget buff Lyra liked all the goodies but was underwhelmed by ride and styling.