But that engine does not justify the GT trim name, as the Outlander XLS gets the same power plant. Lesser-trim Outlanders get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
To enhance the sporting impression of the Outlander GT, paddle shifters stick out from the steering wheel column. The six-speed automatic transmission those shifters control is nothing special, though. It does have a manual mode, but shifts are slow, with standard torque-converter mushiness.
The main reason for the GT moniker is this car's all-wheel-drive system, which Mitsubishi calls Super All Wheel Control. Unlike the all-wheel-drive systems on other Outlander models, the GT version gets an electronically controlled center differential and an active front differential. With this system, torque gets distributed front to back and across the two front wheels, as needed. The driver can select different all-wheel-drive modes with a knob on the console, choosing from Tarmac, Snow, and Lock.
We set the car up with its right wheels on dry pavement and the left wheels on a wet skidpad. Putting the car into Snow mode, we stomped on the gas to accelerate the car off the skidpad. It maintained steady forward movement even as the left wheels spun on the slippery pad, accelerating evenly.
Although we were impressed with how it handled this exercise (and it should retain good grip on wet roads), we didn't have as much confidence in the car while slinging it around curvy roads at speed. Taking into a turn, we felt the high center of gravity of the Outlander GT, which tempered our speed.
Built on the same platform as the Lancer Evolution, the conventional suspension nonetheless leaned too much for comfort. The Outlander GT is reasonably good in the turns, about equivalent to the Cadillac SRX, but does not reach the level of something like the Audi Q5.
During city and freeway driving, the Outlander GT felt quite capable. It showed the right amount of comfort for its price, damping out potholes and rough pavement reasonably well. We liked that it felt less bulky than other SUVs when maneuvering through crowded city streets. And despite the automatic transmission, a hill start feature helped on San Francisco's steep streets.
The Outlander GT seemed like a good choice for a recreational vehicle. During one drive, we covered a hundred miles of back-country roads, a twisty, single-lane track along the side of a spectacular mountain valley. The high seating position helped when squeezing to the side of the road with a steep cliff to our right, while letting oncoming traffic get by.
Fuel economy for the Outlander GT, at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, is reasonable, given the carrying capacity of the vehicle. Our observed mileage of 19.8 mpg was nearer the bottom of the range, despite some considerable time spent on freeways.
Although Ford debuted its Sync system a few years ago, few car companies have matched its voice-controlled MP3 player feature. The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT, however, offers this functionality, along with a very powerful audio system. Mitsubishi also squeezes a decent navigation and Bluetooth phone system into the cabin tech. Missing are driver assistance features such as a rear view camera or blind-spot detection.
The GT in this model's name suggests performance, but most of the Outlander GT's components are only average. The engine is a good size for the car, but not particularly sporty, and the transmission's only claim to modernity is its six gears. Still, the all-wheel-drive system really gives the Outlander GT an edge on slippery stuff.
With its big grille, the Outlander GT looks unique, while its contoured body lines keep its appearance modern, unlike the boxy SUVs of the past. The onscreen cabin tech design is more functional than pretty.
|Model||2010 Mitsubishi Outlander|
|Power train||3-liter V-6, 6 speed automatic|
|EPA fuel economy||18 mpg city/24 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||19.8 mpg|
|Navigation||Hard drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible CD/DVD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, USB drive, Bluetooth audio streaming, satellite radio, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Rockford Fosgate 710 watt 9 speaker system|
|Price as tested||$33,030|
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