Riding the coattails of the Lancer Evo X, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT promises superior handling and performance in a midsize SUV. And although it sports the same big, jet fighter grille and an advanced all-wheel-drive system, it doesn't quite measure up to the ferocity of its rally-bred little brother, or to high-power SUVs such as the BMW X5 M or Porsche Cayenne.
Instead, the Outlander GT fits a niche occupied by the Subaru Forester. It works as a light SUV that can handle slippery conditions very well. Unlike its Subaru competition, the Outlander GT offers advanced, if unrefined, cabin tech features that compare well with models from much larger automakers.
It has the same five-passenger-plus-cargo interior room capacity as other crossover/SUVs on the market, but the exterior looks smaller. The large grille gives it an unconventional appearance, and contoured and curved lines more resemble sports car styling language than any sort of truck heritage. Doing away with a flat cargo floor maximizes space in the rear, but also makes unloading a bit more difficult.
The only factory option for the Outlander GT is the $3,000 Navigation and Leather package, which brings a hard-drive-based navigation system into the dash and wraps the seats in leather. The navigation system enhances the stereo with onboard music storage on the hard drive, but the Outlander GT boasts an advanced stereo system even without the navigation option.
Standard in the Outlander GT is what Mitsubishi calls Fuse, an iPod adaptor and Bluetooth phone system with voice command comparable to Ford's Sync system. We plugged an iPod into the console-mounted USB port, and after Fuse scanned the music library, we were able to verbally request music by artist, album, genre, or song name.
We asked for music from new bands, such as Blitzen Trapper, and tried older artist names, requesting David Bowie, for example. Each time, the system unerringly recognized and played our choice. More impressive, we had edited the album name for a set of songs, creating our own custom album name. Fuse even recognized and played this custom album name.
Fuse also encompasses the Outlander GT's Bluetooth-streaming audio and phone system. We paired an iPhone to the system, and it downloaded the phone's contact list, making it available on the phone menu screen. Likewise, we were able to play music from the iPhone through the Bluetooth connection to the car's audio system.
Like Fuse, another standard feature in the Outlander GT is the Rockford Fosgate audio system. Among its nine speakers is a 10-inch subwoofer mounted in the cargo area, which gets power from a 710-watt amp and delivers outstanding bass. We tested the system with heavy bass tracks that shake the door panels off of lesser cars, but in the Outlander GT the heaviest drum strikes and electronically manufactured low frequencies came through with no distortion and or rattle.
Higher frequencies and vocals fared reasonably well due to the high-powered amplification, but the response was not as high as for bass. Lighter tracks disappeared into the barrage of sound coming from the speakers, and vocals lacked emphasis.
Audio adjustments include the usual bass, treble, mid, balance, and fader, but Rockford Fosgate adds its own setting called Punch, a unique digital signal processor that pumps the sound a bit without distorting or raising the volume. Another Rockford Fosgate feature is sound fields, echo effects that simulate large and small halls, and a live performance.
Having the navigation option makes it easy to choose music from an attached iPod or satellite radio, or change the audio settings using the touch screen. Using a hard drive to store its maps, this navigation system performs route calculations and responds to destination inputs quickly. Its most advanced feature is traffic data integration, which it uses to dynamically adjust routing to avoid major incidents.
But the navigation system does not have much else going for it. The maps are strictly 2D, and it reads out road names only for numbered highways and freeways. One feature we liked was its capability to direct us to HOV lanes.
Given the navigation system's LCD, we were surprised to find that a rear view camera system was not available, something that would be of great benefit in this vehicle. The Outlander GT lacks other driver assistance options, too, such as blind-spot detection.
Super All Wheel Control
Mitsubishi does not favor big, high-displacement engines, which is why the Outlander GT gets a 3-liter V-6 using Mitsubishi's MIVEC variable-valve timing. Although not as efficient as newer, direct-injection engines, this V-6 provides more-than-adequate power for the Outlander GT. Two-hundred and thirty horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque may not sound like much, but when we stepped on the gas the car accelerated smartly.