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Heels On Wheels: 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Review


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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander (Sport Shown)

SEE ALSO: Mitsubishi Buyers Guide

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser Parrish
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE OUTLANDER VEHICLE The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander is staging itself as a smaller crossover utility vehicle with an adventurous spirit. And Mitsubishi is throwing an impressive campaign that highlights the rugged capability of the Outlander by test driving it on the world’s most dangerous road (somewhere in Bolivia).

I drove a 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander with the 230-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine and Sportronic 6-speed automatic transmission. It also came with the Super All -Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system. Available in four trims (not including the Sport version), aside of the aforementioned drivetrain technology my new GT trim had the following standard highlights: leather-wrapped steering wheel; steering-wheel mounted audio controls; FUSE Hands-free Link System; 6-speaker CD audio system; MP3 playback capabilities; and a stowable third row. Price starts at $28,605 for the Outlander GT.

The Outlander trims reflect the selling point: Selecting an Outlander is all about what kind of capability you want. So keep in mind the ES, SE, XLS and GT trims all have different drivetrain configurations. The base ES, for example, comes only in 2WD while the S-AWD can only be had on the GT.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Outlander lacks a sense of interior refinement, even if it’s a fully loaded GL trim like my test drive, and is more accurately defined by what you don’t get at this level: no front passenger power seating, no closure button embedded in rear liftgate, and the navigation system isn’t as engaging as many competitors. I also found the optional packages way too pricey for this segment. However, the upgraded Rocksford Fosgate audio system is a standout along with the dial climate control system (if you prefer dials over buttons). The second row folds down very easily in one swift pull for more cargo space, making this vehicle ideal for loading recreation toys.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander ratings of “Good” in frontal and side crash tests, but “Acceptable” in roof strength rollovers. It was awarded the highest 5-Star safety rating in crash testing performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety and security features include: advanced dual-stage front air bags; side-impact curtain air bags; Active Stability Control (ASC); anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); Traction Control Logic (TCL) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Cost Issues: Base price begins at $21,995, which seems reasonable. But additional options are quite pricey, like the $2,700 Touring Package (heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, upgraded Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system) and the $2,000 Navigation Package (with a rear-view backup camera), causing the price for my Outlander GT trim to rise to $32,495.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Outlander does prove itself to have significant off-road capability. On the road, magnesium paddle shifters up the fun factor around curves and the Sportronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) eases into the shifting for a smoother ride. But overall the Outlander delivers a rough ride under an unimpressive V6 with sticky brakes to boot. The outlander just lacks refinement – both powertrain and interior-wise.

The Green Concern: There is variety of numbers to consider with fuel economy. My GT trim with the S-AWD gets 19-city and 25-highway for an average of 21-MPG. Regular AWD gets 22-city and 27-highway. Drivers who opt for the 2WD will be happiest with 23-city and 28-highway MPG.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
While the Outlander might woo your off-road vote when it comes to smaller CUVs, the vehicle lacks daily driving dazzle in comparison to what similar competitors are offering in cabin refinement, conveniences and fuel-saving technology.

©2011 Katrina Ramser