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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Driven Page 2

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Styling-wise, the Outlander Sport looks more like a tall hatch, and not at all much like a utility vehicle, especially from front angles. The blunt, sharklike front end looks just as good here as it does in the Outlander and Lancer family, and from pretty much any angle in front, it looks very nicely proportioned. The sheetmetal has a bit more excitement than that of Mitsubishi's other vehicles, with a gradually rising beltline crease that serves to interrupt the otherwise slab-sided look. From the back, the Outlander Sport can look a little more bulbous and chunky, and we wished the designers would have given it a less anonymous tail to match the bold front.

The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes with either a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or a five-speed manual gearbox, with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for all versions. Based on our recent driving experience with the Lancer GTS, as well as other Mitsubishis with a manual transmission, the stick will probably provide more driving satisfaction. The majority of buyers will probably go for the CVT, which is what our test car had; and in moderate, suburban-style driving, the Outlander Sport does just fine with the combination—neither sluggish nor overtly quick.

CVT is fine, but we'd pick the stick

But like many CVT boxes in four-cylinder applications, it can get a little buzzy and boomy sometimes, especially when in rapid stop-and-go driving, passing, when accelerating into high-speed traffic, or anything that brings revs around 4,000 rpm or beyond. The other issue is that even when you lock in one of the gears with the steering-wheel paddle-shifters, the Outlander Sport still has that loosey-goosey slushbox feel. On the positive side, its top gear ratio is nice and tall, keeping revs under 2,500 rpm at 75 mph.

The CVT keeps consumption in check, too. EPA fuel economy ratings for the Outlander Sport are 24 mpg city, 29 highway, and over about 120 miles we managed to hit 24 mpg in a mix of driving, with most of it urban and suburban short trips.

Sporty, space-efficient interior design

The design of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport interior is pretty sweet; from the inside, it doesn't feel much smaller than smaller compact crossovers, like the Sportage. Front seats feel fairly snug for my rather thin frame—which means they'll be too tight for larger occupants—but they have a fair amount of mid-back support, which is unusual in inexpensive vehicles, and the coarse cloth upholstery feels grippy and durable. In back, the seating position is quite firm and upright—and it's only passable for two adults across—but it's a perfectly good package, overall, for four adults going across town for an event or away for a few hours.

The back seats are split 60/40; there's a nice, low cargo floor, and the larger seatback includes a separate, slightly higher-up trunk p[ass-through that would be good for multiple sets of skis. Built into the same enclosure is a fold-down, padded armrest with two cupholders built in.

We really like the way the Outlander Sport is lit inside, too. Although it's red lighting, there's a lot of attention to detail, and the very large moonroof is even lit around the rim—a subtle touch that you might notice when parked but not when driving.

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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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