Auto Review: A good sport: Outlander GT

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Apr. 19, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Mitsubishi is a very diverse company, for they have had their name on products ranging from home electronics to construction equipment to automobiles, as well as aircraft and even financial companies. Founded all the way back in 1870, the arm of the company we’re interested in here involves the purveyors of cars and SUVs, and this week we have a sporting yet very versatile “Crossover” utility vehicle in the ’12 Outlander GT. A midsized wagon with reasonably compact dimensions, it offers a seven-passenger seating option with a small third-row seat that folds flat into the floor. In a class of vehicles that is getting more crowded every year, the Outlander manages to carve out its own niche and deliver a very unique driving experience.

The Outlander GT is the premier model, where the ES and SE editions are more basic. These versions are powered by a 2.4-liter MIVEC (for Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control system) Inline Four with 168 horsepower. The GT gets a silky-smooth 3-liter MIVEC V6 with 230 horsepower; mated to a 6-speed Sportronic automatic transmission with a novel feature called Idle-Neutral Logic. This means when you stop at a light, the Outlander automatically shifts into neutral to cut down on fuel consumption. Paddle shifters behind the steering wheel engage the manual mode, and to top off this package, our AWD GT had Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system that uses selective torque-vectoring technology to keep the vehicle on course, especially in slippery situations. Selectable Tarmac/Snow/Lock modes let you fine-tune the electronics to driving conditions to further insure optimal response from all four wheels. This type of technology not only helps keep you going in compromised conditions, but also helps cornering performance, and the Outlander’s aluminum roof helps lower the center of gravity for less body lean during aggressive cornering. As a result, the vehicle has a sporty feel, and the firm suspension and stout brakes further enhance an enjoyable driving experience (with lots of road noise being the only real drawback).

Inside, the Outlander makes the most of the available space, and although our tester had a third-row folding seat, it’s only really suitable for kids. That said, the second row is both commodious and comfortable, and with both second and third rows folded, there’s more than 72 cubic feet of load space.

The driver’s instrument pod is straightforward, although the controls for the audio system (that interface with the Navigation System) can be confusing at first. A lack of volume of tuning knobs (it’s all done with rocker switches and touch-screen inputs) takes some adjustment for those used to more traditional controls. A favorite feature is a mini tailgate that folds down in addition to the standard rear liftgate, making loading easier, and a tailgate is always a convenient place to sit during, well, tailgating.

The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC is EPA-rated 19 MPG city/25 highway and has a base price of $27,895. With options, the MSRP came to $33,605. www.mitsubishicars.com


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