Best Mitsubishi SUV Yet

By The Car Family

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 Priced around $28,000, but with a lot of deals being offered, the Mitsubishi Outlander GT was a complete surprise to us. Not only did it get good fuel mileage, but it handled well, had excellent off-road abilities, and room for seven, sort of. The rear seats are quite small and difficult to reach, but the young ones would probably consider them an adventure.

 

Overall, the Outlander road well and was fairly quiet considering the all season tires and block like aerodynamics. The Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-7 are worthy competitors but they don’t have room for seven and we didn’t get nearly the fuel mileage when testing these two worthy vehicles. Undoubtedly, this is the best Mitsubishi SUV.

Mom’s view: The seats are supportive, but our basic tester had six-way manual adjustments that made if difficult to find a comfortable position despite the adjustable steering wheel. The cloth seat covering tended to grab any hair they could find and the door side panels were too scuffable. There is an abundance of room in the front two rows of seats. The jump seat style rear two seats are hard and not for those who are large of frame.

The controls were easy to master and easy to reach. The interior lighting is below average. There is a button between the front seats that controls the all wheel drive unit. There are three settings depending on how much traction is needed. We couldn’t find anything that came close to challenging the Mitsubishi so we can surmise that it won’t have much trouble staying on track in any situation this side of the Urls. The GT has a multi-color LCD instrument cluster, but why a 150 mph speedometer? A few chrome tidbits add a bit of contrast to the dark interior.

Unlike most SUVs of this size, I didn’t feel it was difficult to park, maneuver, and it easily fit in the garage. The GT weighs a tidy 4000 pounds and feels well connected with the road. I did have problems with the rear visibility, which is quite limited. It is essentially to order a back-up camera if you have kids. The visibility to the sides was good and the side view mirrors large enough to be useful in all situations. The low beltline of the GT provides a feeling of openness that is welcomed. I had some trouble reaching up to close the tailgate, which is a two piece unit, and the liftover is high. The second row of seats also require you do due diligence before moving them.

Safety wise the GT has an advanced dual-stage front airbags supplemental restraint system with occupant sensors, standard front-seat mounted side-impact airbags, and side curtain airbags with roll-over sensors for the front and second row. There are three-point safety belts all-around plus front load limiters/pretensioners and energy-absorbing interior pillars as well as a tire pressure monitoring system.

Dad’s view: When I read the drivetrain statistics I was disappointed. Here was a V6 with only 230 horsepower. I was wrong. The engine and the six speed automatic transmission worked very well together and although there wasn’t an abundance of power, there was enough to make passing easy and only the soft moan of the new 3.0 liter all-aluminum V6 lets you know that it is working to potential. You also get a paddle-shifters to help keep the transmission and engine on task. We consistently found ourselves driving into the 80 mph danger zone on level ground. Still the GT provided a consistent 25 mpg. In town look for 20 and in stop and go traffic the mileage could dip into the teens. This is more of an off-road, open road, family vacation vehicle rather than a stop and go commuter vehicle. For that the Mitsubishi Lancer is a better choice.

The steering is refreshingly weighted and works well with the fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar in front and a multi-link setup in back with another stabilizer. The brake feel is a bit wooden, but the 11.6 inch vented discs in front and solid 11.9in. solid discs in back are up to the task of holding the Mitsubishi in line even with a 3500 towing capacity. The 18X 7 rims have 225/55R18 tires that are remarkable subdued. A nice package.

The tires and gas charged shocks help the Outlander corner very well. I would rate it as good as any similar four wheel drive set-ups with only the more expensive Acura coming close. If you are willing to take the time to test drive this vehicle, you might join me in being surprised.

Young working woman’s view: The GT is good looking SUV that is has a distinctive look. The high step in makes it a bit difficult to enter wearing a short dress, but once inside it gives you a feeling of security and tidiness. There are several storage areas in the center console and door panels and plenty of room for your purse. Our test vehicle was not loaded, but it still felt well equipped. You can order a $3,000 premium navigation package that includes leather and other niceties, but the version we tested was good enough. Standard equipment includes stability and traction control, an electronic brake distribution feature, cruise control, power doors, windows and a variety of small things such as two 12-volt accessory plugs, leather wrapped/tilting, sporty steering wheel with audio controls, variable-speed wipers, rear privacy glass, anti-theft system, keyless entry, and aluminum gas and brake pedals.

The standard HID headlamps were above average in town, and there were redundant controls on the steering wheel. The tailgate folds flat should you want to use it as a bench. With a maximum cargo volume of 72.6 cu.ft there is room for pretty much everything, but with the second row seats in use you reduce the storage capacity by about half. The second row seats actually move over three inches forward and to the rear to easier access to the rear penalty box seats or to load larger items.

The warranty is a generous five years or 60,000 miles with five years of roadside assistance and seven years or 100,000 for rust issues.

What the GT needs is a larger fuel tank. The 15.8 gallon tank means that your driving range before nervous time is 300 miles. Overall, this GT is not my choice in this class, that belongs to Mazda, but certainly not one I wouldn’t mind owning. I simply don’t need the off roadability this Mitsubishi offers.

Young working male’s view: The standard 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate stereo has nine speakers with a 10 inch dual-voice coil subwoofer, digital signal processor, three-band equalization, speed compensated volume control and a hands-free calling system using Bluetooth. There is a USB connection for iPod and MP3 player interfacing, voice-activated commands, and an automatic phone book transfer. The result is respectable, but not great sound. However, it is enough for all but the audiophiles and is clearly as good as the competition for a standard unit. If you want spend a lot more try the optional 40-gigabyte HDD navigation system with real time traffic that includes what is happening in the high occupancy lanes. You also get a rear-view camera, leather heated front seats, and a sunroof.

Although the mileage was good, the Mitsi required premium fuel probably because of the need for more grunt should you want to play with the Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system that features an electronically controlled center differential and sensors that can move the power to where the most grip is happening. I like to snowboard and so this feature, the nice cargo space, the fold down rear hatch for me to sit on while putting on my boots, make it a desirable snowmobile.

I liked the GT, but it is really too much car for me, although it did attract a fair amount of eyes from the jaded crowd in Huntington Beach, California.

Family conference: This is a much improved Mitsubishi product and one that makes it competitive in the marketplace by placing the sport back into sport utility vehicle.

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