Sacramento, California – Let’s start with the essentials: Happy new year to all you motorheads out there! … So let’s now move on to the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC.
Yup, that’s a mouthful and a half, but rest assured that this is essentially an up-to-seven-passengers Outlander sport-ute with a good V-6 and an active all-wheel-drive system.
The “S-AWC” stands for Super All-Wheel Control.
Well, that probably sounds good in the marketing meetings, but I felt that the Outlander simply performed as expected with all-wheel drive. Though the vehicle is somewhat big through the shoulders, it was a nimble dancer in most conditions, including city traffic. The vehicle’s AWD works fine, no matter what you call it.
Ditto the 3-liter power plant with 230 horsepower. Accelerations are strong, and climbing power is sufficient. No need to panic merging onto the freeway.
Mileage is just OK at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
The 3.0 is absolutely the right choice for the Outlander. Frankly, I can’t imagine feeling secure with the 168-horsepower in-line 4 offered on the Outlander’s cheaper versions. My GT S-AWD tester is the priciest of five Outlander trim levels, starting at $27,795.
The Outlander’s look is pretty straightforward SUV, except on the front end, where you get a gaping shark’s mouth grille similar to what you see on Audi’s road-burners. The Outlander’s front-end sculpture seems successful in convincing poking motorists to get out of the way, at least in my experience.
Standard interior amenities are numerous and easy to use. The interior cabin is comfortable and doesn’t transmit much road noise, and the ride was fairly smooth even on recently potholed streets.
And then there’s the folding rear seat in the back. Fellow auto reviewers have characterized it as too cramped, and they’re right. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
I honestly don’t know what Mitsubishi’s engineers were thinking on the rear seat. And shame on the suits who signed off on it. It’s a unwieldy nightmare to fold up and down, and the folding mechanism contains so much hard metal-to-metal contact that the thing rattles in both the up and down positions.
Note to Mitsubishi: Please fix this. It taints an otherwise pleasant ride.