Category Archives: Mitsubishi

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC (822)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the ‘New for 2010’ Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT  S-AWC (AWC stands for All Wheel Control. I guess AWDrive wasn’t good enough).

Outlander is updated with a more aggressive styling that is most pronounced in the Jet Intake looking grille. It seems even more unusual without a traditional bumper. Well a bumper is an appendage anyway and if you have a front end collision the bumper affords little protection. In the old days, like 60 years ago plus, bumpers were actually used to push another car to get it started for example. And as the term implies they were for bumps not full on crashes. In fact government impact tests used to require minimal damage for low speed crashes of 5 mph but now it has been dropped to only 2 ½ mph and that only applies to passenger cars and excludes trucks and SUV’s.

No matter – bumpers will likely be totally eliminated over time. So this “Bumperless” grille work is just fine with me. Lets face it, when you exceed ‘bumper car’ speeds the damage from even low speed crashes will often ‘total’ the car and the airbag deployment will probably break your glasses if not your nose or neck.

The Outlander is offered in four trim levels with the ES and SE powered by a 168-horsepower 2.4-liter MIVEC 4-cylinder engine while the XLS and GT are powered by a 230-horsepower 3.0-liter MIVEC V6 engine. The GT features standard Super-All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) which includes an Active Front Differential (AFD) and an electronically-controlled center differential system to distribute power for optimal traction in various conditions.

Opinion:

Ever notice one lane will be bumper to bumper while the others are lightly populated. I think drivers tend to “nap” on their boring commutes. “Dear, I was just resting my eyes!” I’ve commented about ‘distracted’ drivers and the problems they cause and this is just one element of the problem. I can’t complain because it is better for those distracted bumper car drivers to stay put rather than make unsafe lane changes. Please stay alert and avoid collisions.

Handling & Performance:

Outlander is an all around good performer and a real enjoyable ride with good power. It also has important features like all wheel drive. That cuts into the fuel economy but the added safety is worth the cost. Disc brakes enhance sure braking and are increasingly more common each year – which brings to mind the 1970s when disc brakes really spiked in demand. I was in the brake business back then and we thought drum brakes would quickly be a thing of the past. We were wrong, of course, and more than a half century later ‘drum brakes’ still represent a significant percent of the braking systems on cars. Even though disc brakes have been an idea since 1890 it has been slow to dominate passenger car use.

Styling:

There is no such thing as too extreme these days and the departure from traditional designs is a part of the ever evolving auto industry. The air scoop grille is large and in your face as a very distinguishing feature that will be easy to identify as a Mitsubishi. Bravo – be all you can be and be proud of your difference. I like it, how about you?

Fit and Finish:

Very good Japanese attention to detail.

Cost:

Competitive with only the Korean brands busting the price barrier.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the comforts of home away from home.

Consumer Recommendation:

There are 17 competitors for this Outlander so your work is cut out for you. If price is a big consideration you are safe eliminating the more expensive brands because you can rest assurd you will be impressed with the newest kid on the block – Korea’s Kia and Hyundai are very good products and are priced much less. I’m inclined toward the “Big 3” – Ford, GM and Chrysler and as people become more nationalistic you will see American brands rise in demand.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Outlander $ 21-29,000, Chevrolet Equinox $23-30,000, Dodge Nitro $22-29,000, Ford Escape $21-27,000, GMC Terrain $24-31,000, Honda CR-V $22-30,000, Hyundai  Tucson $19-26,000, Jeep Liberty $23-29,000, Jeep Patriot $15-25,000, Jeep Wrangler $21-32,000, Kia Sorento $20-29,000, Kia Sportage $17-23,000, Mazda Tribute  $20-29,000, Nissan Rogue $20-25,000, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-27,000, Toyota Highlander $26-35,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000.

Good News:

Aggressive design that is not excessive, comfortable ride with good power and nice sound system.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy forgivable only in the sense it is AWD.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 230 hp V6 engine, 6-speed auto trans, all wheel drive, hill start assist, alarm system with engine immobilizer, 710 watt audio system with 9-speakers with a 10” subwoofer, Sirius satellite radio, color multi information display, service reminder system, paddle shifters, keyless entry, 18” Alloy wheels, aluminum pedals, front air bags seat mounted side bags and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor, LATCH child seat system, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes and independent suspension,

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. July 24, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,250.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart (808)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart 5-door Hatchback. The Sportback is my favorite of the Lancer models because I like the rear styling and it is more of a family car. The Evolution is fun to drive with 291 horsepower and more a kids car. The Sportback sports a 237 hp engine but the turbo gives it a real boost. Some won’t like the head jerking touchy pedal when the turbo kicks in. As you will recall, a Supercharger is belt driven off of the engine so power boost is instant whereas the Turbocharger depends on RPM of the engine and as it increases it adds boost that is delayed. I did get used to the touchy-ness – kind-a.

The first observation I made driving this Lancer was the unlikely comparison with the Nissan 370Z that I had just finished test driving. Well I traveled the exact test mountain course I frequently drive and I was amazed it was performing as well relative to the “Ride on Rails” performance of the Z. I suspect that in large part was due to the AWD (all wheel drive) feature of the Lancer compared to the rear wheel drive Z. So all things considered you have to be impressed with this Lancer.

Opinion:

Those pesky big rig trucks who share the highway with all of us are a nuisance but necessary. I think instinctively we all give them a wide berth, but I look at it with 3 reasons why those of us driving cars and small trucks should be aware of these big rig work horses.

  • They are bigger than us.
  • They can’t stop on a dime and certainly not as fast as we can
  • They haul up to 50 times the load volume of smaller trucks that are only a third to a quarter the footprint of the 18 wheeler. Therefore they take up a lot less space on the highway to do the important work of transporting everything we consume.

The point is don’t pick a fight that you’re sure to lose. Be courteous to them. They are professional drivers and have the patience of saints to put up with some stupid moves of car drivers.

Handling & Performance:

Very good. Lots of power with the Turbo.

Styling:

Bold grill work that I like. Some take exception that it is too big and is a copy of Audi’s signature feature.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

In the hunt with the added benefit of being an all wheel drive car, but it still has some stiff competition.

Conveniences and comfort:

Cruise control surfaces are flat or flush with the wheel and although they look good I prefer raised controls.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Audi A3 $27-31,000, BMW 1-Series $29-40,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Ford Focus $16-19,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $16-20,000, Kia Forte $14-17,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, MINI Clubman $20-31,000, MINI Cooper $19-34,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Subaru Impreza $17-27,000, Subaru Impreza WRX $25-35,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000, Volkswagen Golf $18-23,000, Volkswagen GTI $23-24,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-19,000.

Good News:

Fair to good fuel economy, fun to drive sporty car for a 4-door sedan.

Bad News:

Cruise controls need reconsideration.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged 237 hp engine, twin clutch sportronic transmission with paddle shifters, dual front, side & side curtain airbags, drivers side knee airbag, LATCH system child anchors, tire pressure monitoring, engine immobilizer with anti theft system, stability & traction control, turbocharger, all wheel drive with front Helical & rear mechanical limited slip differentials, sport tuned suspension, anti lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, front and rear stabilizer bars, climate control air conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, Audio with CD/MP3 and 6-speakers, aluminum pedals, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, power window, locks and mirrors, Bluetooth hands free system, fog lights, rear wing spoiler, rear wiper, and 18” alloy wheels.

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. April 27 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $27,600.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS 4-door Sedan. (789)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS 4-door sedan. The pictures are of the 2009 but I could see no significant visual differences at a glance. This is a real coin toss, because I can’t really see any standouts that would convince me it is anything but a very generic class. Compact all purpose sedans by their nature are just that – generic.

As I write this I’m reminded that it is December 7th. I guess it is fitting that I’m writing about a company’s product that built the war machines for the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th. Time has not made us forget but it has dulled the senses and reminds me that to err is human but to forgive is divine.

I was surprised that the Mitsubishi does as poorly in fuel economy numbers compared to the others listed here in class.

Handling & Performance:

Most of the others in class do better in the fuel consumption area. That is of growing importance. But it is fun to drive in part because of the front wheel drive. AWD would be cool but that is only in the Evolution.

Styling:

It is not like the compact segment of the market is unexciting or uninteresting because it is but mostly this class are just simply nice looking automobiles.

As you may know the Lancer was introduced in the US market in 2003 with its ‘shark nosed’ front end look and shares the Outlander platform. It is intended to be a fun to drive sporty economical compact sedan. It accomplishes its goal in my opinion.

Fit and Finish:

Mitsubishi has been consistently well put together and not unlike those noted below that are closest in price. It is typical Japanese work ethic applied to the automotive market. One caveat that must be noted however is that selected automotive products coming from Japan are sometimes assembled in other countries including the US and Mexico for example. But from my experience Japanese oversight management is excellent and the products are very good no matter what country they are assembled in.

Cost:

Competitive among a host of equally good competitors. Nothing so special as to set it far apart from others in class.

Conveniences and comfort:
Generally the Lancer falls behind in roominess. Nearly all other players in this segment noted below have more cargo space and inside space dimensions as well. All have similar electronics and gadgets available but standard stuff is good.

Consumer Recommendation:

Lancer models include the DE, ES, ES Sport GTS and Ralliart with prices ranging from $15,000 to $27,000. One of those listed that is at the top of the list, in my opinion, is the VW Jetta TDI. Look closely at the TDI (Turbo Diesel) which is perhaps my favorite in this group if I had to choose. With over 40 miles per gallon it has my attention.

Consider the philosophy of VW management (in an LA Auto Show Keynote addres VW’s Chairman Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder) that Diesel is the way to go and fully 50 % of all cars sold in Europe are diesel and for good reason – gas / diesel is about $8.00 a gallon in Europe. When (and it is not IF, but rather when) fuel prices in the US float to world levels people will embrace the diesel performers. Don’t wait for the rush but rather plan ahead. Seriously – Look at the TDI.
Recognized Competition:

Mitsubisi Lancer $15-27,000, Audi S4 $57-58,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Dodge Avenger $20-22,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Ford Focus $16-18,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24-27,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-18,000, Kia Forte $14-17,000, Kia Spectra $14-16,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Pontiac G5 $17-20,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Scion tC $17-18,000, Subaru Impreza $17-35,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $13-18,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000 and Volkswagen Jetta $18-23,000.

Good News:

Sporty, a fun to drive performer with all wheel drive and Lancer has a better warranty and crash test record generally than its competitors.

Bad News:

Lancer does more poorly than its competition in fuel economy and generally less cargo and interior space.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 168 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, sport tuned suspension, ABS brakes, front, side and side curtain airbags and driver knee bag, LATCH system for child seats, tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, engine immobilizer and anti theft alarm system, stability control, traction control, climate control air conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel mounted cruise and audio controls, CD/MP3 audio head unit with 6 speakers, tilt steering wheel, manual adjust driver seat, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, power windows and locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth hands free system, auto off halogen headlights, fog lights, rear spoiler, 18” allow wheels.

Gas Stats:

$2.81/ Gal avg. December 7, ‘09
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

20 City and 28 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $18,990.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart (750)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart 5-door Hatchback. The Sportback is my favorite of the Lancer models because I like the rear styling and it is more of a family car. The Evolution is fun to drive with 291 horsepower and more a kids car. The Sportback sports a 237 hp engine but the turbo gives it a real boost. Some won’t like the head jerking touchy pedal when the turbo kicks in. As you will recall, a Supercharger is belt driven off of the engine so power boost is instant whereas the Turbocharger depends on RPM of the engine and as it increases it adds boost that is delayed. I did get used to the touchy-ness – kind-a.

The first observation I made driving this Lancer was the unlikely comparison with the Nissan 370Z that I had just finished test driving. Well I traveled the exact test mountain course I frequently drive and I was amazed it was performing as well relative to the “Ride on Rails” performance of the Z. I suspect that in large part was due to the AWD (all wheel drive) feature of the Lancer compared to the rear wheel drive Z.

General Info:

Parts – Japan 81%, Engine – Japan; Transmission – Germany

Assembly – Misushima, Japan

Class:  – Small Station Wagons

Cars: – Eclipse, Endeavor, Galant, Lancer, Lancer Evolution, Lancer Sportback, Outlander and              Raider.

Opinion:

Those pesky big rig trucks who share the highway with us all. I think intstinctively we all give them a wide berth, but I look at it with 3 reasons why those of us driving cars and small trucks should be aware of these big rig work horses.

  • They are bigger than us.
  • They can’t stop on a dime and certainly not as fast as you can
  • They haul up to 50 times the load volume of smaller trucks that are only a third to a quarter the footprint of the 18 wheeler. Therefore they take up a lot less space on the highway to do the same work.

The point is don’t pick a fight that you’re sure to lose.

Handling & Performance:

Very good. Lots of power with the Turbo.

Styling:

Bold grill work that I like. Some take exception that it is too big and is a copy of Audi’s signature feature.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

In the hunt for an all wheel drive car but it has some stiff competition.

Conveniences and comfort:

Cruise controls are flat and although they look good I prefer raised controls.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Audi A3 $27-31,000, BMW 1-Series $29-40,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Ford Focus $16-19,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $16-20,000, Kia Forte $14-17,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, MINI Clubman $20-31,000, MINI Cooper $19-34,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Subaru Impreza $17-27,000, Subaru Impreza WRX $25-35,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000, Volkswagen Golf $18-23,000, Volkswagen GTI $23-24,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-19,000.

Bad News:

Cruise controls need reconsideration,

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged 237 hp engine, twin clutch sportronic transmission with paddle shifters, dual front, side & side curtain airbags, drivers side knee airbag, LATCH system child anchors, tire pressure monitoring, engine immobilizer with anti theft system, stability & traction control, turbocharger, all wheel drive with front Helical & rear mechanical limited slip differentials, sport tuned suspension, anti lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, front and rear stabilizer bars, climate control air conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, Audio with CD/MP3 and 6-speakers, aluminum pedals, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, power window, locks and mirrors, Bluetooth hands free system, fog lights, rear wing spoiler, rear wiper, and 18” alloy wheels.

Gas Stats:

$3.01/ Gal avg. April 17 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $27,600.

 

2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart 4 Dr. Sedan (706)

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Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart 4-Door Sedan. After writing about the stylishly exciting Dodge Challenger everything else seems a bit boring. But at about 15 average miles per gallon using the Challenger as a commuter is not practical for most of us. This Galant IS practical and realistic for general driving needs.

The Ralliart model is the top of the Galant line at over $27,000 and sports a 258 hp V6, and a lot less fuel performance than the other trims. The ES and Sport Edition with a more fuel efficient Inline 4-cylinder 160 hp engine knock down between 20 and 30 mpg. The Sport V6 and Ralliart both have the 3.8 liter V6 engine that gets 230 and 258 hp respectively.

Handling & Performance:

I tested the Ralliart model so the 258 hp is plenty powerful enough. I don’t want to be able to burn the tires off the rims but I do expect good performance over the mountains and be able to accelerate quickly enough to be safe on Los Angeles highways. It’s a jungle out there and people can be brutal so you want to be able to get out of your own way in those situations. This Galant won’t let you down.

Styling:

Cookie cutter styling that is uninteresting and common in today’s world. But the lines are clean and this is a decently comfortable commuter and family car. Not all cars can be different from the pack. Cars like the PT Cruiser, Plymouth Prowler, Corvette Z06, Chrysler 300 and of course the Dodge Challenger are several of the cars that stand out and come to mind.

Fit and Finish:

Good

Cost:

Competitive in class. The other two trims (ES and Sport Edition) are just over $20,000.

Features and Conveniences:

Many new cars have Bluetooth connectivity for your cell phone. But if you don’t have that built in you can buy a battery operated portable version under $100. I’m sure prices will come down further as they become more popular with the demand of law. And you can also have them tied into your radio system for a few more bucks. The technology is common on high end pricey brands, so the portable versions will take off with the mandatory hands free cell usage in cars beginning July 1, 2008.

Consumer Recommendation: Resource – www.safercar.gov

If you are contemplating a change in your family’s cars the Galant can fill the need for economy. Then you can pamper your passion for your Hummer (soon to be history) or other SUV (now a very cheap purchase option). You can have the gas guzzler and simply drive it less frequently.

In fact my suggestion is that you look more closely at adding a third family car to include a Smart Car for about $11,000 that gets about 50 mpg of regular gas. Those are all the rage in Europe and experiencing a supply backlog for orders in the US. Remember if you want to cut the cost of fuel, doubling miles per gallon is like paying $2.00 a gallon of gas in your present gas burner getting 25 or even fewer miles per gallon.

You may recall my test drive of the Smart Car last year for its launch in the US. If you missed it and want to see that review it was published in the November 10, 2007 issue of the Country Journal. Or, simply email me or call the Journal and we’ll see you get a copy.

Recognized Competition:

2009s Mitsubishi Galant $21-27,000, Toyota Camry $19-28,000, Hyundai Sonata $18-26,000, Buick LaCrosse $n/a, Chevrolet Malibu $n/a,
2008s – Pontiac Grand Prix $22-29,000, Saturn Aura $20-26,000, Honda Accord $20-31,000, Dodge Avenger $19-26,000, Chevrolet Impala $22-29,000, Ford Fusion $18-25,000, Nissan Altima $19-29,000, Kia Optima $16-21,000, Chrysler Sebring $19-32,000, Mazda 6 $19-28,000.

Good News:

Well equipped and well priced mid-size ‘all around’ family sedan.

Bad News:

Uninteresting styling and only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment: including options.

3.8 liter 258 hp V6 engine, 5-speed automatic trans, front and side airbags with side curtain airbags, child safety locks and LATCH system, daytime running lights, tire pressure monitor system, engine immobilizer, 18” allow wheels, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes, power rack & pinion steering, traction control, stabilizer bars, power glass sunroof, auto air conditioning, cruise control, audio system with 8 speakers 6-disc CD/MP3 player, SIRIUS satellite radio incl. 6 month service, sport wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, power windows and door locks, leather seating surfaces, center console, 8-way power driver seat, rear armrest with cup holders and trunk pass through, heated front seats, power heated mirrors, illuminated vanity mirrors, remote keyless entry, theft deterrent system, fog lights, and auto off headlights.

Options:

Navigation Package $1,500

Gas Stats:

$4.53/ Gal avg. June 25 ‘08
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

16 City and 25 Highway MPG
www.safercar.gov
or 888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $27,299, with options $28,799.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2008 – An Automotive Love Affair

2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS 4WD (671)

General Info:

Parts – Japan 100%
Assembly – Japan
Class:  – Special Purpose. SUV
Cars: – Eclipse, Endeavor, Galant, Lancer, Outlander and Raider.

“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia       2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS 4WD

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS 4-Wheel Drive
Sport Utility 4-door. Overall I liked this new crossover even though I
haven’t been a big fan of Mitsubishi, this new model gave me pause to
re-think my initial biased expectations.

However, one little complaint I must report is the unexpected noticeable
wind noise that reminds me of the little squeaks of cars of a generation ago
that were so common. So I try to overlook the little things in view of the
fact that today’s cars are far and away better than those classic cars of
the 50s and 60s.

Handling & Performance:

The first thing you’ll notice is a rather stiff ride, but that configuration
allows for greater handling which is especially noticeable driving the
winding mountain roads. It is really impressive for a high profile SUV. In
addition I tested it without a load which of course softens the ride when
carrying passengers and / or cargo. So this is not a negative since the
overall handling is excellent. The 220 hp V6 is very responsive and still
delivers 26 highway MPG. I can’t think of a better argument for moving away
from more expensive brands, badges and logos.

The 4-wheel drive facility is unneeded, in my opinion, but if 4-WD is your
thing you can easily switch on the fly from 2-WD to 4-WD and Lock positions.

Styling:

I like the crossover design that brings the two very popular SUV and the
Mini Van together for a great result. They have designed a neat and
innovative fold down rear bumper for easy loading of cargo. Nice touch.

On the other hand the design folks need to revisit the instrumentation and
consider more conventional gauges. The orange lighting is ok at night but I
found it difficult to read in daylight. The fuel gauge is a bar and although
I don’t dislike that all that much I found it to be inaccurate. Heading out
one morning over the mountain range between the desert and Los Angeles the
gauge indicated distance to empty as 70 miles. Then after about 2 miles it
adjusted to 60 then 50 then 40 within 10 miles. Then after concern if I
would have enough gas to get over the 30 miles ahead of me, the DTE
indicator display was magically back to 70 miles to empty. If they want to
include that feature it really needs to be more accurate.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Competitive.

Conveniences and comfort:

I really like the new satellite radio systems like XM Radio and Sirius but
the nod goes to XM. I find the Sirius to be unstable and reception cuts in
and out very often which is annoying.

Of course the big draw for these kinds of vehicles which have evolved over
the years is the roominess for 5 passengers and generally the many features
that seek to make the driving experience one of comfort with comfortable
seating, handy storage, lots of cup holders, great sound systems with CD
players and seating that is flexible.

Consumer Recommendation:

If the crossover SUV is of interest for your need, look seriously at the
Chrysler Town and Country for 2008. It stretches the limits for family
vehicles with seating options of Stow and Go (where seats fold easily down
into the floor), or a Swivel and Go configuration (that uses the third row
seats and second row to face each other around a table) that may better suit
your family needs than an SUV.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Outlander $21-25,000, Mazda Tribute $19-26,000, Saturn Vue
$21-29,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000, Mercury Mariner $21-26,000, Ford Escape
$19-26,000, Subaru Forester $21-28,000, Nissan Xterra $20-28,000, Jeep
Liberty $20-26,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Chevrolet Equinox
$22-29,000, Honda CRV $21-28,000, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000.

Good News:

Nice performing V6 and better than expected handling, roomy.

Bad News:

More wind noise than expected, difficult to read digital gauges in daylight,
irritating interruptions of Sirius satellite radio,

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 220 hp V6 engine, 6 speed auto transmission, front and side air
bags and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, child latch
seat system, day time running lights, security alarm and immobilizer system,
electronic 4-WD system with driver selector 2/4 and lock, 4-wheel ABS disc
brakes, 4-wheel independent suspension, air conditioning, rear privacy
glass, stereo with CD / MP3, power door and tailgate locks, power windows
and mirrors, cruise control with steering wheel controls for cruise and
audio, keyless entry, flap folding tailgate, intermittent wipers, 8-way
power driver seat, 60/40 split fold / tumble rear seats, prewired for
Bluetooth, 16″ allow wheels, auto off headlights, and roof rails.
Options: LS sun and sound package including added speaker, Punch sound
system upgrade, SIRIUS satellite radio with 6 months included, 6-CD in dash
changer, power glass sunroof $1740; Entertainment package including DVD rear
seat 9″ monitor, remote control, wireless head set $1150.

Gas Stats:

$2.85/ Gal avg. October 9, ’07
www.fueleconomy.gov <http://www.fueleconomy.gov>
for more information.

19 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $23,770 / $27,285 with options.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
<mailto:joe@atthewheel.com>
Copyright (c) 2007 – An Automotive Love Affair

2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT (620)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT sport car convertible with a small rear seat. It will work for children and smaller people in a pinch, but it is really a two seater. Mom at 86 years old was able to wiggle into the back for a short trip.

She felt confined but didn’t complain all that much. If it had been the new and popular Pontiac Solstice (new in 2006) and sister Saturn Sky new for 2007 a third passenger would have been out of the question.

This Eclipse just gets better every time I test it, which has been a couple of years ago. You’ll love it as much as I did if you’re into performance. Perhaps the most memorable sport car (albeit only a two seater) for me keeps coming to mind and that is the Nissan 350Z. But neither of us would be likely to kick this Eclipse out of bed.

General Info:

Parts – U.S./Canada 51%, Japan 34%.

Assembly –   Japan

Class:  – Mini compact

Cars: – Eclipse, Endeavor, Galant, Lancer, Montero, Outlander and Raider.

Public Service:

I recently attended the National Energy Symposium at the California State Capitol. It was fascinating at the very least. But it was also interesting that one of the panelists, Petros Ioannou, Ph.D. stated that “efficiency is the key to solving the energy problem”. He pointed out that use of such devices as Adaptive Cruise Control conserves a significant amount of fuel. Dr. Ioannou is Director of the Center of Advanced Transportation Technologies , USC Viterbi School of Engineering in Los Angeles .

He also discussed his departments extensive research on transportation technology, where they concluded that accidents contribute to significant waste and pollution. Ok, so dah, is that what they get the big bucks to tell us? While waiting in traffic because of an accident we came to the same conclusion and it didn’t cost the tax payers nearly as much to discover that well kept secret. He suggested the use of GPS devices could assist in the quicker removal of obstructions from accidents.

Well Doctor, I’ve got a better solution – equip Highway Patrol cars with “Snow Plow” blades on the front of their cars so they can simply push the car off the highway to allow traffic to pass and clean up the mess after rush hour. As for the people, they can wait for the ambulance which, by the way, would be able to get to the accident site much quicker if traffic is moving. Sorry Doc, but most of us have a keen sense of the obvious.

Handling & Performance:

Outstanding and impressive with this way cool powerful V6. 0-60 in just 6.5 seconds is all you’ll need, and more than most of what the competition offers.

Styling:

This is the nicest design look and feel of any previous attempts.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Pricey if you consider a Sky or Solstice sell from $16-23,000. But I’m always reminded there is no free lunch and the quality of construction and performance difference is significant. What I don’t know is if that difference is worth the $7-14,000 price differential.

Conveniences and comfort:

You’ll notice this one fits like a glove. Some will complain it is confining. But I like the feel a lot. My first impressions were after stepping off United flight 527 from Sacramento in the dark. I sank down into a comfortable seat, observed the beautiful blue and white gauges as I zipped down the freeway enjoying 9 speaker audio that capped off the day just beautifully. And I wondered more about those “Brain-iacs” at the Capitol conference.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you have little guys the back seat will work for quick trips or if you duct tape the little buggers you can drive further. If no children you’ll likely use the back seats for storage overflow from a small trunk. But this is a great option to a two seat sport car. Really nice and a must drive in your selection search. This is arguably the best of the competition in this class.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Eclipse $20-28,000, Hyundai Tiburon $16-21,000, Ford Focus $13-18,000, Ford Mustang $19-32,000, Infiniti G35 $31-34,000, Honda Civic $15-24,000, Subaru Impreza $18-33,000, Nissan 350Z $28-40,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $13-21,000, Scion tC $16,400, Mazda MX5 $20-26,000, Volkswagen GTI $22,000, Mazda RX-8 $26-31,000.

Good News:

Fun fun fun to drive, powerful, smooth and tight drive train and quick suspension for that driving on rails feeling.

Bad News:

A little pricey, small trunk and confining interior feel.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter 260 horsepower V6 front drive engine, 6-speed manual trans with overdrive, dual front and side air bags, engine immobilizer, anti-theft system, daytime running lights, power assisted 4-wheel ANS disc brakes, power steering, traction control, air conditioning, power cloth top with rear glass window, power tonneau cover, power windows and locks, cruise control, Rockford Fosgate audio system with 6-indash CD player, MP3 playback, steering wheel audio controls, clock, compass and outside temp on display, 6-way power driver seat, keyless entry, 17” alloy wheels, power mirrors, integrated rear spoiler and fog lights.

Gas Stats: $2.50/ Gal avg.

17 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $28,269.

2006 Mitsubishi Endeavor LS AWD – 4-Door SUV. (608)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2006 Mitsubishi Endeavor LS AWD SUV. It is a 4-Door 5-passenger sport Ute and God help me I love these things. But I must admit I feel guilty driving gas guzzlers of any kind. If Mao Tse Tung could convince a billion Chinese to limit families to only one baby you’d think we could convince the driving public to buy more fuel efficient cars.

Mao’s policy is still in effect and it has reduced the population of China by 350 million people (the population of the entire United States ).

But noooooooooooooooo, we keep buying the damn things and contribute to the ruin of  what’s left of the polar ice caps. It is conceivable we’ll have SUV’s long after the Polar Bear is extinct. I didn’t use to feel this way because I expected supply and demand to solve all the problems in this area. People would react to the increasing price of gas and “Natural Selection” would rule. Consumers would opt to eat rather than feed their big Suburbans, Tahoe’s, Ford Explorers, Hummer – one, two and three and on and on ad nauseam.

It hasn’t worked for a few reasons but mainly because the US has subsidized the cost of gas. And not until the beginning of the 21st century did government begin to stay out of the gas issue. Oh sure they start a few wars to assure us of having the fuel we demand but they refuse to use Americas oil reserves to keep the price down. After all we may want to embark on another World War and that would require us having those oil reserves available. Government is a dirty business, eh?

Public Service:

Subject is Boom Boxes. Come on, tell me it drives you crazy too. In any case I won’t offend anyone because the annoying people who pound your senses with more watts than should be legal can’t read anyway. I hate to stereotype those people but you do your own ‘straw poll’ and see if it doesn’t lean heavily in one direction. I’m sure you know what I mean? You pull up to a light or stop sign and your car begins to rumble and you go to close your windows and find they’re already shut tight. But that boom, boom, thud, thud, bang, bang snakes its way through any crack and crevice of your car to assault you ear drums and other senses. How can we change that? Any ideas? I’ll print them next time.

Reader Mail:

After the Toyota Yaris column ran I received email from Dave and Karen regarding a typo of the model year being a 2006. Indeed the Yaris debuted as a 2007. So I asked if they owned one and this was the reply: “Yeah, we have one and are getting 40 mpg average!  We went to buy a Toyota Corolla and saw this Yaris in the lot.  The salesman wasn\’t interested in showing it to us but we were insistent – we were shopping for a commuter car and this is perfect as we drive an \’05 SUV and an \’02 2500 HD GMV Pick Up!”

Great testimony and one that supports what I believe more and more folks will do realizing the need for large vehicles for work and play. Pull the boat or haul tools etc. for work life, but on the commute these inexpensive high mileage cars are really the hot ticket.

Handling & Performance:

Quite good, but in a sea of SUV ‘s they’re all like sisters with similar builds. High profiles generally make them obviously top heavy so less steady on their feet. Kinda like a woman in high heals.

The 3.8 liter V6 is more than enough by providing 225 horses to push you down the road as fast as your heart and the Highway Patrol will allow you to go.

Styling:

Nice outside and I got quickly comfortable with the interior lay out.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Not bad, based on the competition and because it is Japanese the demand means a higher purchase price.

Conveniences:

See the listing of features below and you get an idea of how many goodies are standard. $2,000 more will add a Road Trip Package that includes a DVD video entertainment system with wireless headphones and remote control, Infinity AM/FM with 6-disc CD changer with MP3 playback and 7 speakers, steering wheel audio controls, color info display for compass, outside temp, drive computer and maintenance recorder, cargo net and soft cover and anti-theft alarm system.

Consumer Recommendation:

Buy the SUV if that’s your thing – want – or need and then look at the Yaris as a commuter. We all know we’re headed for parity with the world and $4 a gallon is only the beginning. Act early.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Endeavor $27-32,000, Chevrolet TrailBlazer $24-32,000, Ford Explorer $27-36,000, Volvo XC 70 $36,135, Toyota Highlander $25-32,000, Infiniti FX $38-50,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $27-43,000, Honda Pilot $27-35,000, Kia Sorento $19-27,000, Subaru Outback $19-36,000, Dodge Durango $29-38,000, Nissan Murano $28-32,000, Saab 9-7X $39-41,000.

Good News:

Comfortable ride, powerful V6, well appointed and assembled, and competitively priced.

Bad News:

Gas guzzler.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter V6 225 horsepower engine, 4-speed auto trans (w/OD), dual front and side airbags, anti theft engine immobilizer, latch system for child seats and safety locks, tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, power assist rack and pinion steering, front and ear stabilizer bars, vented front and solid rear disc brakes, front Mac Pherson strut and rear multilink suspension, stainless steel exhaust, full size spare, air conditioning, 140 watt CD/MPs playback with 6 speakers, power windows and locks, power mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, auto off headlights, rear hatch with flip up window, fabric seating, height adjustable steering column, illuminated vanity mirrors, 60/40 split rear folding seats, rear intermittent wiper / washer, carpeted mats, 17′ alloy wheels, roof rails, privacy glass.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 22 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $27,999.

2006 Mitsubishi Raider 4WD DC (578)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2006 Mitsubishi Raider 4WD DC V8 Pickup truck. I recently took the Isuzu I 280 very basic pick up with a jump seat in the rear. It is admittedly built for light duty work and can only carry 3 people legally.

At the other end of the spectrum are trucks like this Raider. This more mimics an SUV but with a tough utility bed for dirty work not suited to the SUV class of workhorse.

Handling & Performance:

Ok guys give me a break. The 3.7-liter V6 develops 210 hp and gets 10% better fuel economy than the 4.7 liter V8 in this puppy and only develops 20 hp more. The question is whether the extra muscle is worth the money to buy along with 10% less fuel economy.

The model I tested didn’t have the bed extender option and I think I’d opt to have one for those longer loads. I’ve used them before and like the feature because with the tailgate up it provides a place to keep smaller loads from shifting.

Styling:

Rugged and macho in look and feel. Not that women wouldn’t want to own one but trucks tend to be a guy thing.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

There is a very wide range of configurations I can’t go into here but you can have it close to your need and price range that goes from $19,000 to $34,000. Somewhere in that range you’ll find the perfect match for your need. Your want may be another matter completely.

Conveniences:

When I drove the Hummer H3 recently and reported to you of its prowess I failed to mention it would be hard to keep clean if you don’t have mud flaps. Well, this is something Mitsubishi has thought about on this Raider. The fender flares and mudguards save a lot of cleaning time and wear and tear on the body parts most affected by splattering mud and debris on the paint job.

Consumer Recommendation:

If comfort and convenience is more important than the extra dough to purchase and operate, this is my choice or at least in the top 5 trucks I’d own. You may know from prior reviews that I drive a Dodge Ram 3500 Dualee and that has to be in the top 5 as well. To round out the list, I like the Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan and I’d have to think about which GM product would match up with the above. I must admit I haven’t tested many Ford trucks because they are more difficult to schedule but I did enjoy driving the Harley Edition pickup from Ford in 2001 and more recently the F350. I guess the only reason I lean to the big Chrysler trucks is the Cummins Diesel power plants I’m more comfortable with. That influence comes from experience with my Peterbilt Cummins powered Truck and transfer.

Recognized Competition:

Mitsubishi Raider $14-27,000, Chevrolet Colorado $15-25,000, Toyota Tacoma $14-26,000, Ford Ranger $14-27,000, GMC Canyon $15-24,000, Nissan Frontier $16-27,000, Dodge Dakota $20-30,000, Mazda Truck $15-26,000.

Good News:

Great styling, rugged image and feel, heavy duty, wide range of price and configurations, and well equipped for the money.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

4.7 liter V8 engine, 5-speed electronically controlled auto trans with overdrive, dual airbags, front vented disc brakes with 4-wheel anti locking system, part time 4-wheel drive, power rack and pinion steering, air conditioning, AM/FM with CD player, folding center armrest storage, 60/40 split rear seat, power windows and locks, cruise control, keyless entry, height adjustable steering column, HD shocks, skid plate package for front suspension and fuel tank, fender flares and mudguards, all terrain Goodrich tires, 6X9 power heated fold away mirrors, fog lights, front tow hooks, cargo bed liner, HD service components including 750 amp battery, trans and power steering coolers, leather trimmed steering wheel, Class IV trailer hitch with 7 pin wiring harness and 4 pin adaptor, limited slip rear differential, 6-way power driver seat, hands free Bluetooth phone interface and auto dim mirror.

Gas Stats:

15 City and 20 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,845.

2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS (575)

Overview:

Portland Oregon was the beginning point for the test drive to southern Oregon in a 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS 2-door sport coupe. I panicked because I realized I still had my travel bag with a huge golf bag and all the other stuff I picked up at Pinehurst, NC. Once I saw this small sports car I was certain I would have to strap the club bag to the top.

But when I opened the hatchback I was amazed and relieved all at the same time.

This Eclipse was a pleasant surprise of great new styling and more importantly everything fit comfortably. And if you can believe this, I could have had a friend join me for a twosome with equally large golf bag and luggage to boot. Wow. Thank you Mitsubishi.

It is about 5 hours from Portland to Medford and although I had hoped to hit the links the weather didn’t cooperate. The ride however did and that was a delightful drive.

General Info:

Parts – 47% US / Canadian, 35% Japan including engine and transmission.

Assembly – Normal, Illinois, USA

Class:  – Subcompact

Cars:  Eclipse, Endeavor, Galant, Lancer, Montero, Outlander and Raider.

Handling & Performance:

You gotta just love the excitement of driving a sports car. It is no surprise such cars are the choice of many men in their second midlife crisis. It truly makes you feel young again.

If 162 hp (up from 147 in ’05) horsepower isn’t enough for you the GT model sports a 3.8 liter 263 hp (up from 210 in ’05) V6 engine. However you’ll give up 5 mpg around town and for my money that is not a necessary tradeoff. I never wanted for power – ever, as the gearing is great for the 162 horsepower at my disposal.

Front wheel drive is a departure from the all wheel drive previous generation and with several hundred pounds added weight you’ll notice a slight change in steering characteristics. I didn’t find it a problem however and it shouldn’t deter you from considering this very capable sports car.

A four speed automatic is optional which isn’t recommended for the smaller engine. Traction control and Stability control is not available on the GS but I couldn’t get too excited about that for the price. For $4,000 more you can get the GT with Traction control standard with the 3.8 liter 263 hp engine.

Styling:

Perhaps this is the best-looking Eclipse ever – in my opinion. Its racy new design may remind you of the Lexus SC 430 as it does me. This new Eclipse is roomier and larger … but you may be disappointed with the marginal rear seat space. However that is true of the much more expensive ($65,000) Lexus SC430 as well.

Perhaps the most common complaint is the limited rear seat space. But in a pinch it is usable which can’t be said for “no, zip, nada, none” as in a two seater.

Fit and Finish:

Very good to outstanding.

Cost:

Great pricing in these days where the dollar seems to have lost its value. Before looking at the price I drove the car over 300 miles. After that familiarization I was impressed with how affordable it is.

Conveniences:

All the usual stuff – enough but not too much. And for the money you won’t do any better.

Consumer Recommendation:

Drive the Nissan 350Z and then the more affordable Eclipse before you make your decision on the sports car to own.

The Competition:

Mitsubishi Eclipse $19-24,000, Mazda RX8 $25-32,000, Toyota Celica $18-22,000, Scion tC $16,000, Ford Mustang $19-31,000, Acura RSX $20-24,000, Nissan 350Z $27-40,000.

Good News:

Decent fuel economy, well priced, fun to drive, good hatchback storage space closed off from the front that makes it a trunk with great access.

Bad News:

Very small rear seat area.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 162 horsepower inline 4 cylinder engine with anti theft immobilizer, 5 speed manual transmission, dual front and side and curtain airbags, upper and lower child restraint anchor system, power assisted 4-wheel ABS disc brake system, power rack and pinion steering, 4-wheel independent suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, AM/FM with CD player and six speakers and MP3 playback, cruise control, 6-way power driver seat with lumbar support, remote keyless entry, 50/50 split fold down rear seat and height adjustable steering column.

Gas Stats:

23 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $19,399.