2010 Mitsubishi Outlander Long Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander Long Term Road Test

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This is not the first long-term Mitsubishi Outlander to pass through the Edmunds test garage. Three years back we put an XLS through the paces. In those days it satisfied the role of workhorse as both road tripper and car-to-car photography specialist. Life was not easy for the functional CUV, yet it survived without incident.

This time around we had the mildly refreshed 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT. It featured slightly more power, new interior features and a slick new design that made it instantly recognizable as a close cousin of the Lancer Evolution.

Mitsubishi hoped subtle tweaks would be enough to secure its share of what was arguably the most competitive niche of the time, the crossover utility segment. We would find out just how successfully these changes helped it compete against class kingpins Toyota and Honda.

Why We Got It
Our introduction of the 2010 Outlander GT outlined the differences new to this model year. A three-mode all-wheel-drive (S-AWC) system paired an active front differential with an electronic center differential to offer traction like nothing else in the crossover segment. A new grille solidified the aesthetic ties between the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT and its Lancer siblings. An upgraded audio system and color instrument panel display addressed the interior.

There were also powertrain updates for 2010. The GT had a 230-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 mated to a carry-over six-speed automatic transmission. New to the tranny was a computer-controlled feature that shifted it to neutral any time the computer felt doing so was more fuel-efficient. Mitsubishi calls this idle-neutral logic. It was enough for us to remain interested, so when Mitsubishi offered us a GT for a year, we accepted.

We sent the Outlander on the road early and often. Before we knew it, the practicality of the Mitsubishi pushed it toward the top of our road tripper list. The ride was reasonably smooth, and its V6 had enough sauce to confidently pass big rigs on the highway.

Its transmission wasn't always so cooperative. After a drive to Las Vegas, Senior Editor Erin Riches wrote the following: "The Mitsu's six-speed automatic isn't very smart on uphill grades and there are many of those on Interstate 15. It will not hold 4th or 5th gear for longer than a few seconds, so it's continually hunting around. You can't use cruise control comfortably unless the road is perfectly flat. I ended up shifting manually."

The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander's all-wheel-drive system proved versatile. In Tarmac mode S-AWC delivers 20 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels, so it's effectively front-wheel drive on dry pavement. On more slippery surfaces, the all-wheel-drive system routes an increasing percentage of the power to the rear wheels. Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr witnessed its off-road manners following a weekend rainstorm. "No place was this more evident than when I hooned it through the dirt in the way only a wantonly unprofessional amateur like myself can. While a quick handful of e-brake could easily bring the tail out, I found the throttle just as useful in manipulating the tail and enabling me to hold however long of a muddy powerslide I wanted."

Inside the cabin the Outlander wasn't overly inviting. The third row squeaked whether it was down or up and the interior plastics were hard, even on high-traffic surfaces. Road Test Editor Mike Monticello drove the Mitsubishi 677 miles on a ski trip to Mammoth Lakes. "The wife wasn't a big fan of the front seats, complaining the passenger seat didn't have enough lumbar support and generally wasn't comfortable. I agree the seats are on the firm side (and not just because I have to agree with my wife) but I had no issues with the comfort level or lumbar. I do wish that the door and center armrests had thicker padding, though."

Air-conditioning has not been a strong suit of the Mitsubishis we've tested. Our Outlander was no exception. Just 895 miles into our test the A/C compressor gave up. It was replaced under warranty. But the new A/C was equally unimpressive and noticeably loud when it kicked on.

That was it for mechanical issues, however. A finicky map light and a loose driver seat rounded out our minor issues, although neither was remedied prior to test-end. Routine service otherwise occurred at 7,500 and 15,000 miles.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $234.62
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Air-conditioner compressor replaced
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1 for air-conditioning problems
Days Out of Service: 2 awaiting new compressor
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
We track tested the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander when new and again 12 months later at 20,000 miles. We noticed no change in performance of note. The 3,800-pound CUV proved just as athletic as when our test began.

Acceleration from zero to 60 mph required 7.4 seconds (with rollout) and the quarter-mile fell in 15.8 seconds at 88.3 mph. Chief Road Test Editor Chris Walton noted, "Noisy, but reasonably sporty-sounding engine." From 60 to zero mph the Mitsubishi needed 133 feet, just 2 feet more than during its first test. Afterward Walton added, "Pads must be getting tired. All four stops were inconsistent in both feel and distance."

Dynamic tests were on par with preliminary tests as well. The Outlander passed through the slalom cones at 62.4 mph and generated 0.78g of lateral force around the skid pad. Walton commented following the slalom, "Remarkably willing to be chucked around and responds well to throttle to change balance and yaw. There is even enough power available to use AWD (in Tarmac mode) at the exit to snub understeer."

Fuel economy was one area addressed in the Outlander refresh. Idle-neutral logic improved EPA figures 1 mpg overall, to 18 city/24 highway and 20 mpg combined. After 20,000 miles on the road, we averaged 21 mpg, slightly above predictions. Our best single tank was 26 mpg and carried us nearly 330 miles. Not too bad for a V6 crossover, though not at the top of the segment either.

Best Fuel Economy: 26.0 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.7 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 20.6 mpg

Retained Value
Our 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT had an MSRP of $33,015. Our 2007 Outlander XLS had depreciated 36 percent after 12 months and 24,000 miles of service, so we didn't expect much difference from our Outlander GT. We were surprised.

Edmunds' TMV® Calculator depreciated our GT just 19 percent of its MSRP based on a private-party sale. What a difference three years makes. The Mitsubishi held up well compared to other long-term crossovers: 2007 Cadillac SRX (25 percent), 2010 GMC Terrain (20 percent) and 2010 Honda Crosstour (26 percent). We attribute this both to Mitsubishi's improved image and the current widespread appeal of CUVs.

True Market Value at service end: $26,658
Depreciation: $6,357 or 19% of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 20,475

Summing Up
After 20,000 miles in the Outlander GT it was clear that the minor upgrades impacted the end product minimally. Idle-neutral logic improved fuel economy a tick. Engine modifications such as variable valve timing strengthened the power band slightly. S-AWC traction control put the Outlander in a handling class by itself but was only truly optimized when in Snow mode.

Other areas remained untouched from the Outlander of old. Inside the cabin we longed for softer contact surfaces. Over extended drives the armrests seemed to grow harder by the mile. Also consistent with the prior model was the Outlander's ability to withstand abuse. We put our long-term 2007 Outlander to work, affectionately dubbing it the Mule. Our 2010 Outlander, son of Mule, was similarly challenged due to its functionality. At the end of the day, fold-flat seats, an adjustable second row of seating and the useful rear tailgate prevailed over its unimpressive interior.

Overall the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT got it right on the big things. We experienced no breakdowns, failures or major recalls. It has plenty of power and a versatile cabin. Its biggest faults were the weak air-conditioning and incessantly creaking rear seats, which probably could have been fixed with some well-placed grease. Not sure if the A/C problem was such an easy fix. Given the strong resale value, it appears as though buyers don't seem to be having the same problems.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests