Having not seen it in person, you might think the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport to be little more than Mitsubishi’s well-known Outlander with a tacked-on body kit and some sharp wheels. But that’s where you would be wrong, because this is a completely different vehicle – an entry-level SUV meant to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Tuscon , Kia’s new Sportage and Nissan’s Rogue and upcoming Juke. At over a foot shorter than the Outlander, the Sport shares no body panels with its larger namesake save the side mirrors, so once you see one out on the road it becomes readily obvious that the two vehicles are, in fact, entirely different. Shaving around 400 lbs from the Outlander has improved the chassis’ responses, and with its low drag coefficient, CVT transmission and 2.0-liter engine, the Outlander Sport clearly has its eye on the economically minded buyer. If you thought the crossover craze was nearing its end, you might want to think again.
What's to Like
A starting price of under $19,000 and highway fuel economy of around 30 mpg are a good place to start in the compact crossover segment. While the CVT transmission still has a tendency to feel a bit rubber-bandy in automatic mode, the fake gear ratios offered up in manual mode are extremely convincing, making power more accessible. Aggressive styling brings some much-needed muscle to the compact crossover market.
What's Not to Like
The interior is a bit drab and mono-colored, though the information display between the gauges and optional navigation screen do brighten it up a bit. Some may lament the lack of a traditional automatic transmission.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Those familiar with the compact SUV/crossover segment will feel right at home with the Outlander Sport, as despite its aggressive appearance, the seating position and ride quality are of the standard we’ve come to expect in this class. Road noise is relatively minimal, but the engine note has little issue penetrating the cabin, especially when stuck at high revs under acceleration thanks to the CVT. Steering is heavy, but all other controls are relatively light, especially the clutch in the manual. Acceleration is far from rampant given that the Outlander Sport has just 148 horsepower to work with, but even with a cabin full of adults, the power output feels more than adequate, though you may notice it takes some high revs to make progress. All in all, it drives like a tall wagon, which is sure to please most buyers.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Outlander Sport is available with just one engine – a 2.0-liter inline four-cylin...