2018 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER SPORT

MODESTLY UPGRADED

Although the Outlander Sport has been the most popular Mitsubishi vehicle for several years, sales have tailed-off recently. So, to give the Sport a shot in the arm, Mitsubishi updated the 2018 edition with a light facelift and some interior improvements.

Unless you have been following the Outlander Sport closely, you won’t notice the latest updates. On the outside, the busy-looking grille gets a bit more chrome trim and new LED running lights. Inside, the changes are more functional. The Sport now comes with a larger 7.0-inch display screen with Apply CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and a redesigned center console, with the cup holders placed closer to the passengers for better access.

Overall, the Sport is a pleasant looking crossover SUV, but the cabin could stand some improvement. The culprit is the drab-looking vinyl that clads the dash, console and doors. Mitsubishi could do better. However, on the plus side, the touchscreen, as well as the controls for radio and air conditioning, are easy to operate.

The Outlander Sport has a reasonable amount of interior space for a compact SUV. Front passengers sit high in bolstered bucket seats with adequate head- and legroom and good view of the road. In the rear, two adults (three in a pinch) have sufficient space for their knees, but headroom could be problematical for tall folks. Cargo space behind the seats is a bit below average for its class at 21.3 cu-ft., but it expands to over 50 cubes with the rear seatback folded down.

Mitsubishi offers the Outlander Sport in five levels of trim. The plain-Jane ES comes with few frills, except automatic air conditioning. LE and SE models deliver more goodies, such as push-button entry and start, upgraded audio and a rearview camera. The SEL and GT version add upscale features like a power driver’s seat, leather upholstery and automatic headlights. If you’re looking for active safety equipment, you will need to choose the optional Touring package. It provides features, like lane departure warning and frontal collision mitigation, but unfortunately, no blind-spot monitor.

Mitsubishi provides buyers a choice of two four-cylinder engines, a 2.0-liter, with 148-hp, and a 2.4-liter, that pumps out 168. The smaller engine is available with a 5-speed manual gearbox and a continuously variable (automatic) transmission (CVT). The larger motor comes only with the CVT. My test car had the 2.4-liter engine with the automatic. The acceleration was decent, and the tranny did not annoy with loud groaning sounds when power was requested. Front-wheel drive is standard and AWD is optional. Gas mileage ranges from 25 to 27 mpg in combined city/hwy. driving, depending on he power train.

On the road, the Outlander Sport displays predictable handling, and quick steering, which makes it feel nimble. The ride is bumpy on secondary roads, with side to side rocking motion, but it’s no worse than some of its competition. Furthermore, the ride smooths out on the freeway, and the Sport is quieter than its predecessor, transmitting less road noise into the cabin.

The Outlander Sport is a decent compact SUV, but it excels in no particular area, with the exception of price. For example, the base ES with manual transmission can be had for just $20,295; the mid-range SE goes for $22,895, and the SEL $24,395.

 

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