This is the kind of weather that owners of four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles live for. Don’t kid yourself. When the owner of a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander bemoans only the latest snowfall, it’s only to draw attention that he—or she—can get home from work, and you, sucker, good luck with the white stuff in your car.
Indeed we were glad to have the crystalline precipitation while we had our week with the Mitsubishi Outlander because, well, Mitsubishi has one of the better all-wheel drive systems in the SUV-crossover field, as we noted in our first drive of the Outlander.
Our current test vehicle was a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC. Deciphering the name is easy enough. Mitsubishi has two SUV-crossover models, the Outlander and Outlander Sport. The Outlander is a three-row vehicle while the Outlander Sport is a completely different and smaller five-person hauler. Just remember, longer name, shorter vehicle. It’s confusing, but Mitsubishi is leveraging “Outlander” name recognition, so deal with it.
The “3.0” and “GT” are redundant. Of the three Outlander trim levels, only the GT has the 3.0-liter V-6 engine. The base ES and mid-level SE come with the 166 horsepower, 2.4-liter four. They might as well have left off the S-AWC, too, because the GT is available only with the all-wheel drive drivetrain.
While we found in our first drive of the Mitsubishi Outlander that the four-cylinder has its work cut out for it, the three-liter is rated at 224 horses and 215 lb-ft of torque, peaking at a more-or-less average 3,750 rpm. While the Outlander GT won’t have owners Googling on “drag strips,” the GT still has a lot of punch, and jumping into traffic never means having to text “OMG.”
While the four-cylinder is available only with a continuously variable transmission, even with the S-AWC all-wheel drive Outlander SE, the V-6 is teamed with a conventional six-speed automatic, with paddle shifting for extra control.
And control is the last word in S-AWC. The acronym isn’t something exotic, just “Super All-Wheel Control,” and it’s a generic term for Mitsu, meaning a different configuration in the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, for example. The S-AWC system is similar to most all-wheel drive drivetrains that are nominally front-wheel drive vehicles that in normal operation have the all-wheel system active, and while sending most of the engine’s torque to the front axle most of the time, if the front wheels slip or even during hard acceleration, up to 50 percent of torque can be sent to the rear.
Where S-AWC differs from other all-wheel drive systems is the use of “active yaw control” on the front axle. Rather than use the brakes to drag one wheel or the other, as per conventional stability control systems, AYC sends engine power to the outside front wheel to help push the car around the corner, proactive rather than reactive brake-dragging ABS stability control systems. Which the S-AWC system also has because, after all, you’re not always under power.
The instrument panel has a representation of AYC in action, showing which wheels are getting how much torque—but any time the driver might best be able to use that info, it’s better to be looking through the windshield rather than focusing between the tachometer and speedometer.
Like many all-wheel drive systems, that of the 2014 Mitsubishi Outback GT can lock the center differential for very low traction situations, such as deep snow, but its four modes include Normal, Snow, Lock and AWC Eco. The snow mode transfers more torque rearward earlier than normal load. The AWC Eco saves gas by disengaging the rear axle, reducing mechanical drag and increasing gas mileage. AWC Edo will activate the all-wheel drive system if slip is detected, however.
We didn’t have the ability to perform a reliable fuel use test between normal versus AWC Eco modes. Overall, though, in normal driving on highway and local roads in a hilly area and cold temperatures, we recorded a 19.0 mpg overall, which compares reasonably with the EPA rating of 20/28 mpg city/highway.
However, as we mentioned earlier, nature did provide us with the winter weather that puts the smirk on the faces of all-wheel drive vehicle drivers, and yes, we easily navigated a woodland road—more of a trail—that earlier left a front-drive car sunk into its axles. Us, smirk? Yes, that’s right, ‘cause that’s how we roll in the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT.
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT, price and key specifications as tested
Body style/layout: 5-door crossover-SUV, front engine/all-wheel drive
Base price: $27,795
Price as tested: $34,720
- Type: 3.0-liter 24-valve SOHC V-6
- Displacement, cc: 2998
- Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
- Compression ratio: 10.0:1
- Horsepower: 224 @ 6,250 rpm
- Torque: 215 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm
- Recommended fuel: premium unleaded
- Fuel economy, EPA est.: 20/28 mpg city/highway
- Fuel economy, observed: 19.0 mpg
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/ paddle shift
- Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson strut / multilink
- Wheels: 18 x 7.0 aluminum alloy
- Tires: 225/55R18
- Brakes: 4-wheel disc; 11.6-inch dia. front/11.9-inch dia. rear
- Steering: electric power rack-and-pinion
- Turning circle: 34.8 ft.
- Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
- Length: 183.3 in.
- Height: 66.1 in.
- Width: 70.9 in.
- Curb weight: 3,571 lbs
- Trunk volume, min/max: 10.3/63.3 cu. ft.
- Fuel tank: 15.8 gal.
- Airbags: Front, front side, driver knee, side curtain
- Anti-lock brakes: Yes Traction control: Yes Stability control: Yes Electronic brake-force distribution: Yes Brake assist: Yes
- Other: lane department warning, forward collision mitigation, rain-sensing wipers, rearview camera, hill start assist,
Warranty: 6-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper; 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain; 7-year/100,000-mile corrosion, 1-year/12,000-mile ‘adjustments”, 5-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance