Test Drive – 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC
Price as Tested: $33,605
This week, we’re driving Mitsubishi’s 2012 Outlander SUV, re-styled in 2010 and available in ES, SE and GT model choices. With seating up to seven passengers, an entry level ES 2-wheel drive starts at just $22,345, and then escalates up to the top class GT S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) the latter which happens to be our tester for the week.
Outlander is Mitsubishi’s “mid-size” SUV/Crossover, with sibling Outlander Sport ($18,795 base) or big brother Endeavor ($28,299 base) rounding out the offerings.
When you arrive at Outlander’s upscale GT, a more powerful 10.5 to 1 compression 230-horsepower 3.0 liter V6 powers the sportier version. This “premium fuel recommended” V6 dishes up 19-mpg city and 25-mpg highway via a standard “Sportronic” six-speed automatic transmission, which is geared well for both acceleration and cruising.
Outlander’s exterior is dominated by its colossal mesh front grille, complete with chrome surround and blackout bar. The vehicle’s enhanced aerodynamics and numerous other tweaks make Outlander standout in a crowd, and its rear fascia and integrated lightweight aluminum roof panel (which shares space with an optional power sunroof) also adds to its aesthetic attributes. As for the grille, it’s a love or hate characteristic.
The cabin is a mix of richness and strength, with leather wrapped steering wheel, nice aluminum pedals and trim, rear split seats, fold under third row seating, and impressive instrumentation. Our tester came with a $2,000 Navigation Package with rear backup camera monitor, 40-gig hard drive, Navigation with music server, real time traffic and an auxiliary video input. If you choose this Navigation option, you also must choose the Touring Package.
The Touring Package costs $2,900, and features leather seats in the first two rows, power driver seat, heated seats, rear camera system, power sunglass roof, a 710-watt 6-CD Rockford Fosgate premium sound system, MP3, Sirius Satellite, nine-speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer.
Overall, Outlander runs well and has more than enough power, although I feel the city MPG numbers may be a bit on the high side. Also, Outlander’s interior road noise is louder than the competitors, and can at times be burdensome to the ears. I’d like to see more “sound deadening” work done on these models.
As for the four wheel drive system, all SE AWD’s come with a center differential locking AWD, while the GT models utilize Mitsubishi’s S-WAC system. The S-WAC integrates an electronically controlled active front differential and a “flip of the switch” choice of Tarmac (dry highway), Snow, or Lock modes. Thanks to a fully independent suspension, Outlander S-WAC is an excellent handling vehicle that is easy to drive and park in any situation.
On the road, don’t expect a cushion like ride. The GT has a firmer suspension and although road irregularities will be felt, it is in no way a harmful trait for such a sporty model.
Outlander GT’s come standard with six airbags, stability control, 4-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, traction control, hill start assist, daytime running lamps and 18-inch tires with nice alloy wheels. Other notable standard features include air, steering wheel controls, cruise, heated mirrors, Xenon headlights, fog lamps and much more.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1 inches, from 36.2 to 72.6 cu. ft. of cargo space, 3,500 lb. tow capacity, 3,780 lb. curb weight, 8.5-inches of ground clearance, 15.8 gallon fuel tank, and a 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Overall, Outlander delivers reliability and convenience and is priced right. It’s worth a closer look at your Mitsubishi dealer.
Likes: Nice design, V6 power, suspension, firm seats.
Dislikes: Loud road noise, expensive “must choose” option, third row seat tight.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated automotive columnist).