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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander
There's a little Evolution going on here
By Malcolm Gunn
In automobiles - as it is with life - a new nose can work wonders for generating renewed interest from others. Enter the new-look 2010 Outlander that's rarin' to assert a more dominant role in the Mitsubishi's lineup.
The previous Outlander was far from ugly, but could easily be mistaken for any one of a number of competing entry-level sport utility vehicles. The solution, and an obvious one at that, was to replace the front clip with a reasonable facsimile of the Lancer Evolution sedan's jet fighter-style air-intake nosepiece. Since the Outlander was actually adapted from that vehicle's basic platform, it only made sense to visually connect the two models.
Actually, the grille change is part of a mid-cycle redesign that includes a new hood, headlamps, front fenders, mirrors and a weight-reducing one-piece aluminum roof panel. Inside, the only major changes are optional high-contrast multi-color Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) instruments. Otherwise, the neat-and-tidy dashboard carries over its tasteful BMW-esque styling.
The interior remains one of the most accommodating in its class for both people and cargo. Five-passenger seating is standard, but a third-row bench that can be stored underneath the load floor is standard on all but the base ES version. For maximum cargo space, the split second-row seat cushions on LS and XLS versions slide forward by 8.4 centimetres. Not enough? Each seat folds and tumbles forward to provide almost as much stowage room as you'll find in a Toyota RAV4.
However, neither the Toyota nor any of the Outlander's peers offer both a liftgate as well as a separate fold-down tailgate that makes carrying oversized objects easier. It can also be used as a picnic table or workbench that can support up to 200 kilograms.
The base168-horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder workhorse returns unaltered for 2010, but the available 3.0-litre V6 (standard on LS and XLS units) now generates 230 horsepower, a gain of 10 ponies over the 2009 edition.
A continuously variable transmission comes standard with the four-cylinder, while a six-speed automatic (with paddle shifters added to the XLS) is part of the V6 powertrain. The latter automatically shifts into neutral when the vehicle is stopped (which, according to Mitsubishi, helps reduce fuel consumption), but seamlessly reengages when the gas pedal is depressed.
ES-model Outlanders can be fitted with optional All Wheel Control (AWC), a driver-selectable system that directs power to either the front- , or to all four-wheels, depending on road conditions. In addition, a "LOCK" position maintains an equal torque split between the front and rear wheels. AWC also includes Hill Start Assist, which prevents the Outlander from rolling backward when launched on a steep incline.
AWC comes standard on the LS version, while the XLS features the Lancer Evolution sedan's S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) that can direct power between left- and right-side wheels as well as from front to rear to further optimize traction. A selector knob is used to vary the system's operation from "Tarmac" (dry), "Snow" and "LOCK" control settings.
The Outlander ES arrives with most basic features, including air conditioning, cruise control, heated front seats and various power-controlled items, while the LS bumps up the content with fog lights, upgraded seat coverings, steering-wheel audio controls and keyless entry and start.
The XLS takes the full-load route with climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels (16s are standard), power sunroof, leather seat covers, high-intensity xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, hands-free Bluetooth communications system and a nine-speaker 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio package. There's also a myriad of available option groupings, but that will tempt shoppers to stray far above the Outlander's $27,000-range price of admission. Regardless, buyers will likely admire, if not enjoy, the new nose job and all the stares of admiration it gets.
What you should know:2010 Mitsubishi Outlander
Type: Four-door entry-level sport utility vehicle
Engines (hp): 2.4-litre DOHC I6 (168); 3.0-litre SOHC V6 (230)
Transmissions: Continuously variable (2.4), six-speed automatic (3.0)
Market position: The Outlander competes in one of the auto industry's most-populated segments, but is unique in that it's one of the few compact sport utes to offer a seven-passenger seating option.
Points: Lancer Evolution-looking front end adds character; Unique fold-down tailgate provides added utility. * Third-row seat option ideal only for smaller riders; Four-cylinder's continuously variable transmission takes some getting used to as the engine jumps into its rev range. * Car-like ground clearance makes Outlander better suited for rough-road, not off-road travel; Impressive five-year basic warranty.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-impact airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy): 9.5/7.2 (2.4, FWD)
Base price (incl. destination): $27,200
Base price: $26,200
Popular small-ute offers great driving experience. Powerful V6 option.
Hyundai Santa Fe
Base price: $27,800
Well-priced, solidly built wagon with comfortable, controlled ride.
Base price: $20,250
Aggressively priced Avenger-based model is big on interior space.
Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!
Posted March 22, 2010. © CarTest.ca TM