Outlandish Outlander

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Hold on to your hats and don’t let them get sucked into that “jet fighter” grille: The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander is coming to the U.S. in November. I hadn’t seen any recent Japanese cars to enter in our ongoing Ugliness Sweepstakes until this one popped up.

The ’09 Outlander at least looked like a functional, if typical, SUV. This one, taken from the Outlander GT Prototype shown in April in New York, embodies every styling gimmick that is ornamental, tacked on, and serves no real purpose. The fleshy wheel arches flanking the car’s gaping maw give it the look of a bulbous hungry shark, as one reviewer noted approvingly. He found the car “understatedly handsome, while at the same time definitively athletic.” Another said, “The EVO grille looks pretty darn nice on it though, and makes it a pretty good looking package. Almost Audi-esque, which is a big step up for Mitsubishi.”

We suggest that both these people take a look at Car Design News. Though you can never get a majority to agree on car design, there are standards and principles that make the Audi grilles, for instance, look well-proportioned, while the Outlander’s looks, well, gaping. I know, we can argue forever about such things.

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander interiorUnderneath the sheet metal, it’s probably a better-than-average engineered machine. The interior looks straightforward. One reviewer suggests the U.S. car may be similar to its Australian counterpart, introduced last month.

In Australia, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander is available with a 167-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder mated to a 5-speed manual (optional CVT with Sports Mode sequential shift) or a 226-hp 3.0L V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic with Sports Mode sequential style shift change and INVECS Smart Logic.

Like most other Mitsu cars, this one will probably be competent, if uninspired. But why can’t they get the design right?

Am I just carping, or does this car look as silly to you as it does to me?

—jgoods

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