The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is an inexpensive compact crossover, but that doesn't mean it's a good value. Read the review and see photos at Car and Driver.and more »
Despite sales numbers that are a fraction of what they used to be, Mitsubishi keeps trucking along in the United States—and we do mean trucking. With the Lancer sedan and the i-MiEV glorified golf cart both goners for 2018, the vast majority of light-duty Mitsubishi vehicles sold in the U.S. will soon be a crossover called Outlander.
The smaller of the two Outlanders is the Outlander Sport, an SUV that lines up most closely with the subcompact-crossover segment (think Kia Soul, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade). Introduced back in 2010, it’s now getting on in years despite Mitsubishi bestowing numerous updates on it during that time. After a few visual tweaks in 2016, Mitsubishi added a Limited Edition model for 2017, which we tested here. With attractive 18-inch wheels and bits of black trim complementing the athletic lines, it gives off a modern vibe even if it’s not exactly a styling standout.
Can’t Keep Up
The Outlander Sport’s facelifts and special editions may keep its appearance fresh, but they do nothing to address this Mitsubishi’s woefully overmatched engine. The LE comes with the smaller of the Outlander Sport’s two powertrains, a 2.0-liter inline-four with 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque; a 168-hp 2.4-liter four is included on higher trim levels.
Although the 2.0-liter four-banger doesn’t have much mass to pull around—3283 pounds, in this case—it’s still not up to the task. It takes 9.5 seconds to reach 60 mph, and it’s not a pleasant journey getting there. The engine is buzzy and unrefined, while the continuously variable automatic feels several steps behind in responsiveness compared with other automakers’ newest versions of this transmission type. Just keeping up with traffic requires heavy use of the throttle, which probably explains our average fuel economy of just 21 mpg, which is 5 mpg below the EPA’s combined estimate. And our Sport burned fuel at a rate of 28 mpg during our 75-mph highway test, 1 mpg worse than its EPA highway rating.
Once up to speed, the Outlander Sport’s chassis acquits itself somewhat better. The steering is nicely weighted and provides a modicum of feedback from the road. Cornering and braking numbers are entirely average for a small crossover—0.80 g of grip around the skidpad and a stop from 70 mph in 178 feet—but the tightly controlled ride quality and predictable handling give the Mitsubishi a buttoned-down feel overall.
Bad and Budget
The Outlander Sport’s other main failing is the cheap feel that pervades the interior. From the moment you pull the so-light-they-feel-chintzy door handles and swing open the hollow-feeling front doors, you’re in a plasticky shell of an SUV with mediocre build quality and subpar materials. Hard plastics are everywhere, including key touchpoints such as the shifter, the door panels, and the turn-signal lever that clunks unpleasantly into place each time it’s activated.
Mitsubishi at least succeeds on a pure features-per-dollar basis. This Limited Edition model sits above the base ES trim and includes heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a backup camera, and HID headlights—a decent list of standard equipment for its $24,435 base price (the front-drive LE is $1500 cheaper). Mitsubishi’s in-between size strategy also means that the Outlander Sport has a bit more cargo space and rear-seat room than many (but not all) of the subcompact crossovers that it lines up against price-wise.
Even so, it’s difficult to call such a cut-rate car a good value. You get what you pay for with the Outlander Sport. It’s a mediocre, uncompetitive product that’s well past its prime, and it would take a lot more than a lowish price for it to merit consideration against the sea of fresher and more appealing crossover competitors.
Mitsubishi,Outlander Sport,2017,LE,Limited Edition,2.0-liter,S-AWC,all-wheel drive,AWD,four-cylinder,CVT,continuously variable transmission,mitsu,2.0L,mivec,crossover,compact,suv,subcompact,acceleration,fuel economy,mpg,cargo space,driving impressions,handling,review,instrumented test,cars,car news