When Mitsubishi brought its Outlander GT Prototype to the New York Auto Show earlier this year, we were excited by the prospect of the Lancer's "Jet Fighter" nose becoming the new face of Mitsubishi and the spy shots we've received today confirm that the new Outlander will wear it proudly.
On sale in the U.S. since the 2004 model year and only lightly updated after a face-lift in 2007, the Mitsubishi Outlander has been showing its age with a conservative and rather dated look. Not anymore, though. Mitsubishi rolled out an aggressive new concept in New York called the Outlander GT Prototype that fused the powerful, angry looks of the hot new Lancer with an SUV body, a move we whole-heartedly approved of.
Of course, it's not unusual for concepts to lose a lot of their spark on the way to production, but the Outlander has apparently proved itself an exception to the rule. Our eagle-eyed spy photographer caught this production-looking Outlander V6 sitting quietly in the parking lot at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races this past weekend completely unmasked and shod with California distributor license plates.
From what we can tell, Mitsubishi has made very few changes to the Outlander GT Prototype on the way to production. The "Jet Fighter" nose remains mostly intact, with only a small swath of the lower fascia now clad in black plastic rather than body-color paint, which tones down the look of the gun-slit brake ducts. Around on the sides, the running boards have lost their chrome trim and the GT moniker is gone, but the lower edges of the windows have picked up some slim chrome trim pieces to set them off.
Out back, the edgier styling of the Outlander GT Prototype has again survived and the only noticeable difference is to the tail lights, which no longer feature the dark, smoked lenses of the concept but are instead clearer and a bit less tuner-looking. Down below, the Outlander has picked itself up a new pair of shoes that are decidedly more OEM and less aftermarket in appearance, though we're hoping some more stylish wheels are also offered.
Taking a look at the badging, we see that this is no grocery-getter CUV but still an off-road-ready machine with 4WD and a V-6 engine, possibly the upgraded 230-hp 3.0L MIVEC from the Outlander GT Prototype. If it is, a small boost in fuel economy and a drop in emissions are also possibilities. It isn't known whether the automatic transmission in this vehicle features Mitsubishi's new Idle Neutral Logic system, which shifts the transmission into neutral when idling, but it's a fair bet.
Glancing through the driver's side window, we see an interior clearly inspired by the one found in the Lancer and very similar to the one see on the concept. Again, only one major element stands out and that is the new steering wheel, which is a bit softer in design than the hard-edged wheel seen on the concept. The Rockford Fosgate stereo/nav system and the manually-shiftable automatic transmission have also survived the transition from concept to production.
As Mitsubishi has given no indication to this point that the Outlander GT Prototype would ever see production in the first place, we know very little about when or where this production-spec model might debut. Given how production-ready it looks, we wouldn't be surprised to see it debut by the end of this year as a 2010 model, since no 2010 Outlander has yet been revealed. Check back for more information as it becomes available.