It's almost unheard of nowadays to see an automaker's one-off prototype transform into a production-ready vehicle that's actually stayed true to its conceptual form. Not only is it logistically difficult to do, but it's an expensive endeavor as well. It can, however, be accomplished, and when done correctly, the end result can be as satisfying as what we've recently experienced with the newly refreshed 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT.
Quite simply, this latest Outlander is a minor progression of the current model introduced in 2006 and incorporates a reworked range topped by a new GT trim. If you couldn't already tell, the entire lineup gets a distinctive frontend that draws heavily from the current Lancer Evolution X sport sedan. Its aggressive jet fighter-like nose -- or as some on our staff like to call it, the "shark nose" -- was first toyed with on the brand's Outlander GT Prototype at this spring's New York Auto Show. Safe to say, the new schnoz affords a great deal more attractiveness to the well-aged design, making it understatedly handsome, while at the same time definitively athletic.
The current model's design lines from the A-pillar back have been kept, while its all-aluminum roof is also maintained to reduce weight and optimize center of gravity. Continuing the active personality are its staple LED taillights, sleek roof rack, and available HID headlamps and 18-in alloy wheels.
Designers focused their attention on interior quality too. Our well-optioned Deep Blue Metallic tester came replete with detailed contrasting white stitching on its black-leather bolstered sport seats, shift knob, three-spoke steering wheel, and dash. The stitching alone is a unique and luxurious element in the otherwise plain interior. We liked the silver vent surrounds that effectively break up the leather dash and give the whole a hint of vibrancy. In being a mid-cycle refresh, HVAC, stereo, and navigation controls remain in their easy to access center stack positions. Though thoughtfully laid out for convenience and usefulness, we're still aching for a more contemporary dash that coincides better with the now modish shell.
That gripe aside, our weekend passengers often complimented the Outlander for its roominess, comfort, and simplicity. Its leather seats were cozy enough for long drives despite their newness. Give them a bit of time to wear-in some and our best guess is they'll only get cushier. The topline GT gets a neatly tucking third row seat fit for two children (or a pair of petite adults) should more passenger room be needed.