Rachel and I recently had the opportunity to test and review the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC for a week. Overall, I was really impressed with the SUV and felt like it could be a suitable “Colorado car” for active families or couples.
Driving in Town
First things first, the Outlander works great around town. The GT has a ton of pick-up with it’s V6. It was pretty surprising how quickly it could accelerate around town. According to the in-dash gauges, we’d see around 20 miles per gallon around town and the sticker says 19 MPG for city driving.
During the week we had a few below-freezing mornings where I went out and cruised around a bit. Some turns were a little slick and would activate the power differential in the front wheels which is a nice safety feature in Denver (how many people do you see sliding around after the first freeze or snow?). More on that later.
Driving in the Mountains
The Outlander has all-wheel drive as expected (a must-have in Colorado) and the front-wheel differential. We went up Lookout Mountain which still had patches of ice and snow on the windy roads. In a handful of cases, taking a turn would result in the differential activating. In short, it notices some of the wheels aren’t moving as it would expect and shifts the power to make sure you don’t slide off course. This meant a pretty easy and confident drive in semi-slick conditions. For me, this instilled a sense of safety but shouldn’t replace safe, slow driving in adverse conditions.
Again, the engine in the GT is snappy so getting up to high speeds and taking turns was a pleasure. Mountain driving (canyons, switchbacks) would be a pleasure. The turns handled really smoothly and effortlessly.
Coming back down the hills was a good opportunity to try the semi-manual toggles. You can switch gears both from the toggles alongside the wheel and from the the stick shift. This meant I could easily gear-down and cruise around corners then go back up into the next gear effortlessly. In fact, the entire descent back down Lookout Mountain required nearly no braking nor accelerating if I timed the shifts right. On the highway you can expect to get 25 MPG or more (with my Lookout Mountain trip I was able to maintain 40 on the way back down).
My area of expertise is technology and gadgets. Naturally, the first thing I did when I got in the Outlander was explore and configure the in-dash display. It’s full color with GPS, satellite radio, a back-up camera and Bluetooth abilities. I tried everything from quickly entering directions, finding a coffee shop nearby, and listening to dozens of Sirius XM stations. All of these worked just fine in the city and all the way into the mountains. I was pleasantly surprised to find the on-screen keyboard can be set to QWERTY (which not all GPS or cars allow). Though, it was not the default setting (who finds an alphabetical listing of letters easy to type on?!).
The touring package comes with a whopping nine speaker system and subwoofer. This car can get really loud and really rock. I love this part of any car. It’s like a full-car set of headphones.
Much of what you’d expect was there: Bluetooth entry and Bluetooth device pairing. The Bluetooth key is a must-have especially when up skiing. I throw my keys in my jacket pocket or day pack and hate having to dig them out to get back into the car and take my boots off. I also fear one day I’ll lock up the car and lock my keys in and be no where near anyone who can come unlock my doors. With the Bluetooth key you’ll never lock your keys in and if you get within a few feet, you can unlock the doors immediately. Again, this is a must and a great feature.
Some other nice features included the power seat so it could be perfectly adjusted to my positions. The lights and wipers also came on automatically which is great for the adverse mountain conditions we’ve come to expect (but somehow did not experience this season).
I was impressed with the style of the Outlander, my friends thought it looked nice too (and didn’t realize Mitsubishi made anything remotely interesting like this). The exterior looks like a nice SUV with natural curves and shapes. Everything from the fog lights to the side mirrors were beautiful.
The interior is leather which is both comfortable and stylish. The dashboard panel is very attractive with the large screen in the center console, and a nice mix of silver, chrome, tan and black. Every nob felt solid and nothing felt cheap or plastic-y. The gear shift was solid and a pleasure to grip. Admittedly, the steering wheel is a bit busy and I often tapped the wrong buttons or had to look for an extra second longer than I should (which I’d probably memorize with more time).
For those with an active lifestyle there is plenty of storage. Of course you could probably fit dozens of grocery bags in the back. The trunk is not wide enough to fit my skis so either the seats would need to fold down or rack mounted storage would be needed. The Outlander is not too terribly tall but you’d probably need to stand in the door to access the middle of the roof when storing gear in a rack or box.
The Outlander will comfortably sit five (two up front, three in the back seat assuming it’s not folded). Technically there is a set of third-row seats but there’s no way a couple of adults would comfortable sit back there for a trip up to the mountains. Maybe if you were going from a nearby condo to the parking lot (and put all the gear on the roof). In that case, you would fit a whopping 7 people and most certainly get the rockstar “car pool” parking spots at nearby ski resorts.
We also found there was tons of room up front and in the back seats for large and fat cups and mugs. There is also a very deep center console storage box and a smaller “flat tray” in the center as well. I could see putting ski passes, roof storage keys and extra little things like that there.
A few notes from our experiences: the engine is great and gets your around traffic and town pretty nicely. The SUV is not so big and unwieldily you couldn’t check mirrors easily and see around it. It was great on turns and slick roads, the braking felt solid and I allowed the ABS to kick in a few times to come to quick (slick) stops. The interior sounds a little windy at high speeds on the highway but the huge 9-speaker system could easily drown it out.
The car was very comfortable: the leather seat is power-adjustable and heated. Again, heated seats are must-have in Colorado’s winters and felt great in the mountains. The sun roof was nice for the warm trips around town.
I found this to be an ideal car for folks driving around town, in the mountains in the winter, and would work well for skiing, snowboarding, and could see it working flawlessly for trips in the summer.
Last but not least, the Mitsubishi Outlander GT starts at $28,000. Personally this surprised me, as I figured most crossover SUVs were upwards of $30,000. Adding on the extras in the package we tried (sound system, roof, etc.) this does put it around $33,000 which is still reasonable given this would be considered the top-of-the-line in the Outlander series.
The Outlander opened my eyes to what a good “Colorado SUV” looks like for the winter (trips to resorts, carrying gear and people), around town (comfort, style, technically advanced) and what an all-around great car should have (powerful engine, Bluetooth entry, built-in GPS).
I’d highly recommend the Mitsubishi Outlander.