That's all good, but we're certainly not in love with the powertrain. The 2012 Outlander Sport comes powered by a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with either a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or a five-speed manual gearbox. The stick is a good choice, but the CVT that will be easiest to find at the dealership can make the engine sluggish and boomy when you want to tap into highway passing power—though in the city, it's quite docile. Adding to that impression is a whole lot of road noise from inside the cabin.
Behind the wheel, the Outlander Sport is a lot more like a compact sedan than a larger crossover. There's a light, responsive feel—and not much heft—and we really like the tuning of the electric power steering here (trust us: so many get it wrong). It handles with the poise of a lower vehicle--perkier than the likes of the Scion xD or xB, and smaller in driving feel than the Honda CR-V or Ford Escape--and has particularly good steering compared to other vehicles in its class, with nice weighting and actually some feedback from the road. Brakes are excellent, too.
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