NICE, BUT NOT SPORTY
The Outander Sport is the best selling vehicle in the Mitsubishi lineup. Over 18,000 of them found homes here in the U.S. last year, and Mitsubishi is on track to sell even more this year. Now, these numbers aren’t huge in relation to others in its class, but for Mitsubishi they represent over one-third of their U.S. sales. The Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi’s pint-sized version of the seven-passenger Outlander SUV. The Sport is 14-inches shorter than the standard Outlander, and is up to 500 pounds lighter. It seats five passengers
The Sport projects a bulldog nose, with a huge blunt grille that has been slightly modified for 2013. Upsweeping character lines on the flanks catch the eye, and lighten the overall appearance. Optional black cargo rails on the roof provide a pleasing contrast to the body color, which was bright red on my test car.
The interior of the Sport will win no prizes for its sparkle. The dash is made of drab looking black vinyl, however controls for audio, air conditioning, and the optional navigation system are well placed and easy to use. Cloth seats in my test car were clad in fine-looking fabric, and provided good support. Passengers up front sit high and have a commanding view of the road. Those in the rear will find adequate head- and legroom, although the optional glass roof might encroach on tall folks. Storage space in the rear is just 21.7 cu.-ft., but it expands to nearly 50 cu.-ft. with back seats folded down.
The Sport is offered in three versions, the base model ES, the better-equipped SE and the top-of-the-line LE. The ES comes standard with keyless entry, air conditioning, and cruise control, as well as a tilt and telescoping steering wheel for driver comfort, and Mitsubishi’s Fuse audio interface for streaming music from your iPod/Mp3 player.
The SE adds 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition, automatic headlights, windshield wipers and climate control. The LE delivers luxury with chrome alloy wheels, color-keyed bumpers and trim, power front seats, leather upholstery and aluminum pedals. Buyers for the SE and LE can also order the Premium package, which offers a huge panoramic glass roof, a rearview camera, satellite radio and a Rockford Fosgate sound system. A navigation system is optional on all models.
Mitsubishi powers the Outlander Sport with a 2.0-liter, inline-4 engine that generates 148 horsepower. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on the ES; a CVT automatic is standard on the SE, and optional on the ES. This later combination is not a happy one. The motor does not pull well below 3000 rpm, and the CVT likes to keep the revs down for better fuel economy. Acceleration is sluggish, but the gas mileage is good at 27-mpg city/hwy combined.
Because of its power train, Mitsubishi’s crossover is not as sporty as its name would imply. However, it handles decently on the road. The steering feedback is somewhat vague, but body lean on tight turns is modest, and stops from highway speed are short and straight. But perhaps its best quality is the smoothness of its ride. It absorbs bumps around town quite well, and is also well composed on the highway.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has a starting price of $19,995 for the base ES model, and then ranges up to $25,720 for the LE with all-wheel drive. My test car, an SE front-wheel drive model, with navigation and the Premium package, had suggested price of $27,170.
Sluggish Power Train