New & Used Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: In Depth
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The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a compact family vehicle that has a bigger sibling in the Mitsu Outlander, though the cars don't share much at all other than the name.
The Outlander Sport is a rival for a wide range of vehicles including the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4.
MORE: Read our 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport review for pricing with options, gas-mileage ratings, and specifications
The Sport is derived from today's Lancer sedan, with a four-cylinder engine driving the front or all wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).The smaller Mitsubishi crossover first arrived in the U.S. as a 2011 model, and it has received various minor updates since then. In other markets, it's called either the RVR or the ASX, but it gives the struggling Japanese automaker an entry in a high-volume but very competitive segment. It's short enough that it could almost be viewed as a subcompact in some respects, and its selling point is more interior space in a smaller footprint than other entries.
Although the two aren't really related, the Sport's front end bears a resemblance to the larger Outlander. It's profile is more hatchback than crossover or SUV, and the dimensions are tidy. The same carlike feel extends to the interior, with a practical layout and a high roof. Seats are supportive, three kids or two adults will fit comfortably in the back seat, and there's a low cargo floor for easy loading. The Outlander Sport's fault, like other Mitsubishis, is material feel that's below that in competitors, making the vehicle seem very much like it was built to a price.
There's only one engine choice: All Outlander Sport models come with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers can choose a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or opt to shift for themselves with a five-speed manual gearbox. The manual is our choice, without hesitation, because the CVT tends to make the engine feel sluggish and boomy, especially on the highway. Fuel economy is unremarkable, at 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway at best
The Outlander Sport stands out as a strong value for the money, especially considering that the base model starts at less than $20,000. Even at the base level, front knee airbags are a standard safety feature you won't find in many other models, and keyless entry, A/C, and a 140-watt sound system are all included. Top-of-the-line SE models include automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, premium audio, and heated seats.
Road noise has been an issue since the Outlander Sport was launched—although Mitsubishi reported a few improvements for 2012, including much needed additional sound insulation. Then for 2013, the model also received a modestly redesigned (and smoother) version of the shark-like front end, plus a new bumper design and revised lower-body trim. Mitsubishi further updated the feature list for 2013 as well, adding standard alloy wheels on all trim levels, with new seat fabrics—and even more noise insulation, possibly soothing some of the harsh, low-rent impression. For 2014, the Outlander Sport gets a new touch-screen audio system on SE models, as well as a new seven-inch touch-panel navigation system with real-time traffic. With new black leather seating, it's part of an SE Touring Package.
The 2015 model year brought another round of refinement improvements, adding a new version of the CVT with better off-the-line performance and slightly better highway fuel economy (a 1-mpg improvement), plus yet more noise insulation.