The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander is by no means premium or luxurious, but it addresses nearly everything that matters to the practically minded shopper who wants a lot of space—and reasonably good comfort—in a small parking footprint.
From the inside, you might get to thinking that the Outlander Sport is nearly the same size as more mainstream compact crossovers, like the Ford Escape, even though it's really a half-size down. Front seats feel fairly snug but supportive, and in back there's real space for two adults or three kids. And with seat height just right for what many aging shoppers (or busy moms) seek—a little higher than a sedan, yet lower than a larger SUV—you get get in by merely sitting and turning, or load children in without straining your back.
A nice, low cargo floor and easy-folding rear seatbacks (split 60/40) combine to provide cargo space and versatility that's very impressive considering the compact exterior. There's also a slightly higher-up trunk pass-through that could accommodate multiple sets of skis. At the same place, there's a fold-down padded armrest with dual cupholders—a feature that's now standard on all Outlander Sports.
The red gauge illumination you get in the Outlander Sport is going to be polarizing, although we do tend to like the somewhat sporty look—including a number of subtle accent-lighting touches, such as how the large moonroof is lit around the rim.
Otherwise, the interior controls are mostly borrowed directly from the Lancer family, which is to say they're very straightforward and feel good—in a non-luxurious sense. Don't expect anything more than what you'd find in a budget compact sedan cabin, although there's a little more soft-touch here—mainly in the form of a padded dash covering.
Mitsubishi has until this year fallen flat with respect to interior materials; even compared to other on-a-budget small crossover alternatives, the Outlander Sport feels drab and plasticky inside. Mitsubishi notes that it's introduced new interior fabrics on pretty much all Outlander Sport models (ES and SE) for 2013—as well as new chrome door trim accents. We plan to revisit this vehicle soon and let you know whether it makes a meaningful difference.
One thing hasn't changed much, and it's perhaps the biggest drawback to the Outlander Sport, outside of its sluggish CVT powertrain: There's a lot of road noise, with tire and road rumble ever-present, and becoming obtrusive on the highway.