‘A THREE ROW SPORT SEDAN’
The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC is in the crossover sport utility segment but one look at the exterior styling and after one test drive behind the wheel you’ll think that you are piloting a performance sport sedan with three rows of seats. That is what I felt after my seven-day test drive and photo shoot of the new 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC. It is long, sleek, and low with all of the exterior sporty cues found on the best performance sedans.
Inside is a sport cockpit configuration that makes you feel that you are behind the wheel of a sport sedan, not a crossover sport utility. It’s only when you turn your head back and see the two rows of seats that you sense you are in a crossover sport utility. The main reason is that it drives and handles like a true performance sport sedan is the excellent power and a precise fully independent sport-tuned suspension. The added plus of owning the new Outlander GT S-AWC is that it also has the versatility and functionality of a real crossover utility vehicle with seating for up to eight and a large, versatile cargo area.
Looking at the front fascia you see the same giant ‘shark nose’ grille and chrome surround found at the front of the Mitsubishi EVO III high-performance sedan. HID headlamp clusters are cut into the sides and down below are round foglamps. At the corner of the front fender are aerodynamic straits cut into the lower fender to help with front stability. Under the grille is a skid plate to see you safely on your way when you venture to take the GT off-road.
From the side are steeply raked windshield A-pillars, large, uniquely formed front and rear fenders, heated sideview mirrors, a flat roof fabricated from aluminum, color-keyed pull-out door handles, lower side extensions with a full-perimeter chrome strip and a ‘hockey puck’ styled chrome insert surrounding the greenhouse that finishes off the ‘in motion’ sideview of the GT.
The rear fascia features a flat hatchback with ‘flat-folding’ tailgate to make loading and unloading cargo easier, large LED lamp cluster that wrap around from the rear to the side, a spoiler mounted on top of the hatchback, a rear diffuser to help manage rearward airflow and dual, polished exhaust tips gathered together.
The total look is one of motion when parked, unlike all of the other crossover sport utility vehicles in the segment, even though this is a true crossover sport utility. It is just Mitsubishi’s take on a somewhat boring segment in the industry, and it works just fine.
Powering the new GT is Mitsubishi’s innovative 3.0 liter SOHC, all-aluminum, MIVEC (VVT), V6 engine with 24-valves. It generates a healthy 230hp at 6,250rpm and 215lb.ft. of torque at 3,750rpm. This potent V6 engine pulls quickly up to its 6,500rpm redline and remains smooth and quiet. It is mated to Mitsubishi’s six-speed Sportronic electronically controlled manual interactive adaptive automatic transmission. You can keep the stick in automatic and just enjoy the ride or you can pull the stick over to the right or use the ‘sport car cued’ paddle shifters located on the steering column to quickly change gears up or down to make the drive more exciting, just like in a sports sedan. Unlike most sport sedans, this GT is all-wheel-drive and you can switch from Tarmac/Snow/Lock. Mitsubishi calls it Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) with an active front differential and front limited slip differential channeling torque to the wheels that need it most. To help keep emissions and stretch your fuel mileage, the GT comes with ‘idle neutral logic’ which shuts down the engine when you are stopped in traffic or at a red light, then turns the engine on when you put your foot on the throttle; an ECO indicator light comes on when you are just coasting or cruising letting you know that you are achieving the best mpg available. Even though you are driving a performance oriented crossover utility vehicle, Mitsubishi is helping with the environment and stretching your gas dollars.
Precise and quick response to your steering inputs is made possible by the GT’s electric power-assist rack & pinion steering system. Driver feedback through the steering is enhanced by optimized components within the electric power steering system including a ball slider-type intermediate shaft that offers both better steering feel and high-assist torque, along with the use of a brushless motor that helps improve steering feel and assist control. Additionally, information collected from sensors measuring numerous driving dynamics including vehicle speed, conditions detected by the stability control system, steering wheel position and rate of rotation, along with input from the steering torque sensor mounted on the steering shaft itself, is fed into the power steering control module to determine precisely how much power steering assist is required.
You feel further precision to your steering inputs with the unique fully independent suspension system that is sport-tuned. Up front are MacPherson struts, high-rate coil springs, monotube shocks, and a 22mm stabilizer bar. The rear setup features multi-links, high-rate coil springs, monotube shocks and a 20mm stabilizer bar. Even though the GT rides with an 8.5 inch ground clearance, the center of gravity is lowered with the aluminum panel roof and deep side extensions enabling the GT to handle and performance almost like an expensive sport sedan. This really isn’t a sport sedan with three rows of seating but it comes as close as possible. Helping the GT remain in control during spirited driving times is the standard ‘Active Stability Control’ (ASC), Hill Start Control, and Traction Control Logic system.
Quickly and safely slowing the new Outlander GT down from speed are large, power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 11.7 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 11.9 inch solid discs in the rear clamped with large, single-piston calipers. Keeping you in control during severe braking times are standard ABS and EBD. The new Outlander GT rides on large 18X7.5 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 225/55R18 inch all-season radial tires that give a smooth quiet ride and excellent grip.
The interior is all sports minded with a sport-styled cockpit featuring 8-way, power-adjustable, bucket seats that are very comfortable and supportive. The leather-wrapped steering wheel tilts for the perfect height, feels great in your hands and contains buttons for the cruise-control and audio system. You also notice that the pedals are aluminum faced, just like in a high-end sports sedan. The metallic trimmed center console contains the leather-wrapped stick shifter and rotary dial for the all-wheel-drive system. The instrument cluster is easy to see and understand with all switches, dials and buttons within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving. The air-vents are also covered in metallic trim for an added luxury touch. You will find these sporty and luxury cues in high-end sport utility and crossover sport utility vehicles.
Standard features not mentioned above includes automatic climate control with micron filter, AM-FM-6-CD in-dash audio head unit with six-speakers, auto on/off headlamps, pre-wired for Bluetooth, rear privacy glass, compact stowable 3rd. row seat, power door and tailgate locks, power windows and heated side mirrors, dual glove box with lower illumination and lock, variable intermittent wipers, 60/40 split/folding rear seats, rear seat sliding/recline function, rear center armrest with dual cupholders, 3-12-volt accessory outlets, dual map lamps, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, rain-sensing wipers, floor mats, grab handles above each door, dual vanity mirrors, and thick-cut pile carpeting.
My loaded Outlander GT came with three option packages-Touring Package with leather seating surfaces, 710-watt Rockford/Fosgate Punch Premium sound system with 9-speakers including a 10 inch subwoofer, SIRIUS satellite radio, power glass sunroof, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirrors and a rear camera system. The navigation system with rearview camera features a 40GB HDD navigation system with real-time traffic info, the reaview camera and an auxiliary video input jack. The entertainment package came with a rear seat DVD player, remote control and two-infrared wireless headphones.
The new 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander GT gives you much more than just a people moving crossover utility vehicle. It adds a large dose of sporting fun-to-drive pleasure with all of the functionality and versatility of a CUV.
Standard safety features include advanced dual front airbags, front-seat mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor, LATCH system for child seats, daytime running lights, anti-theft alarm system and an engine immobilizer.
The base price for the GT is $27,895.00 and $34,490.00 fully loaded.