There's something so familiar yet so refreshingly modern about the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT that it's difficult to imagine even someone who hasn't regularly driven a crossover not immediately adapting to it.
For 2010, Mitsubishi gave the GT a face-lift -- or maybe a fat-blasting workout is the better comparison. The result is an athletic exterior with a "jet fighter" front mesh grille, light-emitting diode taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a blacked-out front bumper cover design, and a flat-fold tailgate that is incredibly -- underscore that word -- easy to open and close. Plus it's great for tailgating. It's angled for seating and can hold 440 pounds of people and supplies.
Stats box » Engine: front engine, 4WD, 3.0L/230-hp/215-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve, V-6 » Transmission: six-speed automatic with paddle shifts » MSRP: starting at about $21,000 » Details: Mitsubishi offers a host of engine and other options.
The overall look is big and bold but, again, incredibly sleek and athletic. In a world full of American football-bodied crossovers, the GT is more of a David Beckham athlete -- powerful, muscular, but toned just so.
Now make no mistake -- this is no sports car and certainly no heavy hauler, but it's ideal for moving the oversized items you buy at Ikea or Target -- or even your college kids' clothes, books and everything else -- in style and comfort.
Slip behind the wheel and you'll be pleased. The interior is roomy and sensibly designed with wide, plush black leather seats, a shift knob, and one of the most intuitive audio and climate control systems I've experienced. The center stack is nicely designed so you aren't hunting for controls.
The five-seat Outlander I tested had an under-floor storage compartment. I didn't need it but I can see how handy it would be, especially for the extreme sports-minded. What I did use was the second-row seat that has the 60-40 fold-down split. Wow, were they easy to fold flat. What an unexpected delight, when so many vehicles require all kinds of athletic feats in order pull all the snaps, straps and handles to get seats to fold.
What's nice is many people likely won't need to use the fold-down second row very often -- with the second row seats up, cargo measures 36.2 cubic feet (models that have a third row of seats have 14.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the last row). It sure was convenient, though, when I needed to get some oversized purchases in the back along with all of my groceries and dry cleaning.
You can see that with a maximum cargo volume of 72.6 cubic feet behind the front seats (for all models) the GT is great for carrying bikes, kayaks and other large cargo. Nooks, crannies and bottle holders abound throughout the cabin, so weekend athletes -- or heavy-duty shoppers -- need not waste time searching for the refreshments they brought.
For a large vehicle, the GT was a breeze to maneuver whether it was through crowded parking lots or around tight corners. It felt steady and assertive with each turn of the wheel. Both acceleration and braking were responsive, and the ride was smooth.
Credit the foundation -- the same used on the Mitsubishi Lancer and Lancer Evolution -- a rigid unibody structure, and a sport-oriented suspension-engineered global platform that lowers the center of gravity for better handling response.
The Outlander GT has a host of engine, styling and other options that allow buyers to choose the design they need.
With a starting MSRP of just over $21,000, the Outlander GT may be one of the best crossover bargains out there.