2010 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS

Sunday, February 7, 2010; F01

Complaints: It's faulty automotive advertising, especially those ads showing cars and trucks rip-roaring along off-road paths or along severely weather-compromised roads. Disclaimers citing the drivers in those advertisements as "professional" or their various driving environments as "closed" are not enough. I suggest: "Not a single one of us in this business has found a way to override the laws of physics. Attempting to do so can be fatal."

Also: The Outlander XLS needs an all-wheel-drive system as good as the S-AWC, which works well in tandem with the electronically controlled front differential, stability and traction control.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The outlander is good in all three categories when used as designed.

Body style/layout: A compact, front-engine, car-based entry-level crossover utility vehicle with four side doors and a rear hatch.

Head-turning quotient: Ugly. The front end, refashioned for 2010, looks like the upside-down face off an Audi A4.

Engines/transmission: The upscale Outlander XLS gets a standard three-liter, 24-valve, V-6 engine that develops 230 horsepower at 6,250 revolutions per minute and 215 foot-pounds of torque at 3,700 RPM. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.

Capacities: The Outlander XLS can seat five or seven people. (Hint: Take the five-passenger arrangement.) Cargo capacity is 73 cubic feet with rear seats down, 14.9 cubic feet with rear seats up. Fuel capacity is 15.8 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.

Mileage: Nearly 18 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway.

Safety: Standard four-wheel disc brakes, anti-lock brake protection, Super All Wheel Control drive system, electronic stability and traction control.

Price: The base price for the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS is $26,390. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $24,878. Price as tested is $31,354, including $4,299 in options (onboard navigation with high-resolution backup camera, high-intensity headlamps, and leather-covered seating surfaces with front-seat heat) and a $765 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $29,286. A $1,000 customer's rebate is available. Mitsubishi is in a must-bargain position. Its U.S. sales were down 49 percent last year.

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