Mitsubishi has received criticism in the past for not offering a complete line of vehicles, but the brand has been working on that front. The latest addition is the Outlander Sport, a new small crossover. Based on its big brother Outlander, the smaller Outlander Sport is a rookie looking to fight in a very hot and highly contested market segment. Does it have the chops to take on all comers? Read on…
The Outlander Sport certainly looks the part. I am a fan of the ‘face’ of Mitsubishi cars, the leaning forward, aggressive mien looks great and seems to work well on the latest Mitsubishi vehicles. From other angles, the Outlander Sport is more anonymous in appearance, but sporty nonetheless. The side sills and rear spoiler separate the Outlander Sport from the herd as well. To sum, the Outlander Sport manages to be sporty and aggressive yet rather cleanly styled.
Unfortunately, that sporty exterior does not translate inside. While the seats were comfortable, controls and gauges simple to use and easy to understand, the interior of the Outlander Sport is simply uninspiring. Apart from a few pieces of silver painted trim, there is nothing to break up the sea of blackness. I was grateful for our test car’s panoramic glass roof, lined with LED lights, as I feared without it the cabin would be a dark and depressing place. The quality of materials was simply average. I loved the meaty steering wheel and sleek metal shift paddles, but Mitsubishi has a long way to go to sell me on the sport being inside the car too.
Which brings us to the drivetrain. All Outlander Sports share a 2.0L four rated at 148hp. A five-speed manual is standard in the base ES model. Drivers can choose between front and all-wheel drive. The top-spec SE, and all-wheel drive Outlander Sports come with a CVT. It’s a combination that offers little in the way of driving excitement. The ride was comfortable, again, never felt very sporty. This was a shock, since the handling of the Outlander GT was one of the aspects that won us over.
The Outlander is available in ES and SE trims. Our test car was an SE with all-wheel drive. Starting with a base price of $22,995USD, the Outlander Sport SE comes standard with 18″ alloys, auto climate control, heated seats, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, foglights and LED taillights. Our test car included the Premium Package, which added a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, a Rockford Fosgate premium sound system, Sirius satellite radio, and a Navigation Package with rearview camera. Total price of our Outlander Sport came to $27,575, including delivery.
If I seem harsh on the Outlander Sport, I don’t mean to be-it is not a bad car. My problem is the sporty exterior promises more than the car can deliver, so it’s like you are being set up to be let down. The notion of the sporty crossover is gaining momentum. Cars like the Nissan Juke, MINI Countryman, and Kia Sportage give credence to the demand, and given such intense competition, Mitsubishi had to come in with some heavy artillery. While the Outlander Sport may look the part, dynamically it simply does not have what it takes to compete on the same level as these cars.