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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Driven

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Mitsubishi's idea, last year, of previewing its Outlander Sport by making it the first model ever that could be remotely test driven, live—via a virtual system that promised way more than a tilt-and-pan virtual showroom tour—was the first of its kind. And it's definitely one of the coolest launch ideas of this past year.

The messaging, in a way, prepared us for an unexciting yet tech-laden vehicle; it sounded like the kind of marketing gimmickry that's applied to vehicles that aren't much fun to drive.

In both respects, that's not the case. The Outlander Sport doesn't boast much (if any) more onboard tech extras than most other vehicles in its class, but thankfully it's not at all bland from behind the wheel. For a 'tall small' whatchamacalit, the Outlander Sport shows surprising athleticism, with the excellent steering that we've come to expect in all of Mitsubishi's smaller vehicles.

More than a hatchback, or not quite a hefty crossover?

It makes sense when you consider that the Outlander Sport is, according to Mitsubishi, a lighter, shorter version of the Outlander crossover vehicle—about a foot shorter but the same in wheelbase, with nearly the same overall width and height. But to us, it drives quite differently. A lot of the heft is gone from the experience, replaced by better responsiveness, and it feels a lot more like the Lancer sedan, which also shares some underpinnings. Its 3,100-pounds weight and excellent steering contribute to the light-and-nimble feel, no doubt, and drives a class smaller than most compact crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, or even the Kia Sportage—but it also doesn't feel as anesthetized as the Scion xD or xB in their standard tune.

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Comments (4)
  1. I wanted to like this car when I test-drove it. I loved the looks and everything inside that it had to offer. I drove it twice...and couldn't get past how loud and underpowered it is. I'm now looking at a Nissan Rogue or 2012 Honda CR-V (depending on what it ends up looking like, as there's not even a spy shot out there yet).

  2. Appreciated this review, Bengt. I would put this car pretty much at the top of my futures list. I would buy one with the AWD that you mention thaht goes for $25,575 that includes the sunroof and Rockford Fosgate stereo system. My '08 Lancer GTS also has this and ZZ Top's 'Fandango' never sounded so good than it did on this stereo the other night in Coeur d'Alene, ID.
    Who cares about a little road noise when you're diggin' music that loud and might I add, accurately loud? That RF sound system is flawless. Mitsubishi designed it so the sound comes from all 9 speakers right at the front seat occupants-loud and proud. Rock to some Foghat, Guess Who, Tragically Hip and Drive-By Truckers in your 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

  3. I have the same model, an AWD one with the upgraded audio system and the panoramic roof. I was inclined to go for just an AWD without any options, but the dealership I went to (the more reasonably priced one) only had one AWD and that was the one with options. I'm glad that I had to get this, because I LOVE the audio system. The tweeters direct some mid and high levels directly at you and the subwoofer adds a nice punch if you're in the mood for some bass. I don't even bother to close the roof because it feels much more roomy when it's open. I put on 1300 miles in a month and a half, and I got 25.03 mpg calculated at my last fill up (50% city, 50% highway).

  4. Things I don't like about this car:
    1. There's some sort of a rattle that comes from somewhere in the front when the rpm is around 2300-3000. I haven't been able to place the source, but this should NOT happen in a new car.
    2. The engine can be whiny and noisy when pushed.
    3. The back hatch gets really dirty VERY quick. I live in WA and we have rain/drizzle almost every other day. One day after washing, if there's a slight drizzle for 5-10 minutes, the hatch gets huge dirt spots. I think it's because of the way the rear tires are positioned, with almost no overhang at the back. Sides look clean, back looks like it's been offroading.
    4. They could have provided a tad more space in the back. It's very nice and compact and easy to park, but 6 more inches in the back wouldn't have made much of a difference but given tons more cargo room.
    I almost always have music playing, so the noise problems aren't too bothersome, but occasionally when I do turn it off it can get annoying.

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