Looking for a good fit in an ever-changing market is the challenge that faces all automakers. What’s hot today, might not be tomorrow. It’s not a flavor-of-the-month industry, but drastic changes do take place as we’ve witnessed over the past five years thanks to a flailing economy and rising gas prices.
Like all good automakers, Mitsubishi is making constant adjustments to existing vehicles, while also developing new models as well. Below are a pair of 2011 vehicles that have undergone changes in recent years.
Mitsubishi Outlander GT: Mitsubishi decided four years ago it wanted a larger Outlander, which was offered as just an entry level sport utility vehicle prior to 2007. But did the company make it big enough?
Some critics suggest that the Outlander GT is a tweener that needs to decide which way to go. For people desiring a small SUV, the Outlander is too large. Yet it doesn’t quite meet the standards of other midsize SUVs because its third row is inadequate even for children. And does the GT compete with the Outlander Sport, which is a smaller SUV?
There are some definite highlights regarding the 2011 Outlander GT. The most notable is coming down $1,700 in price from the 2010 models – it’s listed now at $27,795. It also gets a little better gas mileage than a year ago at 19-25 mph.
The Outlander, which comes in four trims (ES, SE, GT, XLS), provides sufficient power. It has a little zip to it with a 3.0-liter, V6 that produces 230 horsepower. Going 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds demonstrates its spunk. The Outlander also handles well for a midsize and provides a smooth ride.
However, the interior is an area that could use improvement. The front seat is spacious and comfortable, and the second row won’t have passengers moaning for a move to the front cabin. The turnoff is the annoying use of plastics and the anemic third row that cheapens the overall product.
Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback ES: Adding the new entry-level ES to the lineup was a smart move that gives car shoppers a little more to consider with the Sportback. The ES model goes for $17,695, putting it more in line with other hatchbacks.
The Lancer Sportback, which has two additional trims (GTS and Ralliart), has an appealing look that gives off a vibe of aggressiveness. It’s not the most exciting car to drive, but that shouldn’t be the expectation considering its engine. The ES is a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder that delivers 148 horsepower and is a suitable vehicle for a daily commute car, getting 24-32 mpg.
Most drivers will be satisfied with the handling. While not razor sharp in turning radius, it provides a good feel for the road and has a fun factor that is missing from some competitors. The noise level is a bit high in all three trims.
Head and leg room are acceptable for front seat occupants in the Lancer Sportback. The back seat is less supportive and will be an uncomfortable ride for three adults. The ES trunk lacks height capability and makes it challenging to store certain items.
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander GT
Power: 3.6-liter, V6, 230 horsepower
Standard features include: roof rails; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; reclining rear seats; and a six-speaker CD stereo, auxiliary audio input jack, USB audio input jack, six-disc CD changer, Bluetooth connectivity; foglights; keyless ignition/entry; automatic xenon headlights; automatic climate control; stability control; hill start assist
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback ES
Power: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 148 horsepower
Standard features include: tilt-only steering wheel with audio controls; 60/40-split rear seat, center armrest; four-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary audio jack; driver knee airbag; stability, traction control; tire pressure monitoring system;