Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: smooth and fun

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was recently refreshed, and it came out better for it. Well-equipped, smooth, and pleasant, we generally liked this compact and inexpensive crossover.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

The 2.4 liter engine ( 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque) has an aggressive tip-in to make it feel more powerful at launch, which could require some dainty-footing; it was quick in daily driving, aided by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that dropped the gear ratio on demand.

Automatic full-time all wheel drive put power to the ground; sticking to FWD did hurt launches. Once moving, it’s easy to drive gently or, um, sportily. The car slows faster than usual when coasting, and has a slow crawl when idling in Drive. Still, it is quite good at choosing ratios, and has both paddle and manual shifters make it pretend to be a six-speed. The paddle shifters act instantly.

mitsubishi outlander

The Outlander Sport GT was rated at 22 city, 27 highway with its 2.4 liter; the 2017s only have the more-economical 148 hp 2.0 liter.

Handling was fairly confident, but when the Outlander Sport hit a rough patch of road on a hard turn, it rapidly went into oversteer.  The ride was comfortable, making concrete roads seem like blacktop and dealing with bumps. The Outlander Sport felt like it cost more.

The electric power assist did not feel natural.

Inside the Mitsubishi Outlander

The seats were comfortable; the interior looked and felt good, as well, for the most part.

outlander dash

Gauges are clear and attractive, and not especially prone to glare. The trip computer shows gas mileage and distance for two trips, with outside temperature, service needs, and range to empty — one at a time, with a single-button control which also let you set a (very) few preferences.

Drivers can set the tilt of their HID headlights, to avoid blinding oncoming traffic or to see further; it’s a seriously useful feature that will no doubt be heavily abused by American drivers.

 

The stereo controls were nice in some ways and odd in others. Our stereo had an equalizer with five settings, of which “normal” worked best, surround and sound-field controls, and speed controlled volume.

stereo

The system recognized our 64 GB USB thumb drive, but was abysmally slow in reading it. Each time the car was restarted, the system ran through the entire drive again, taking nearly two minutes to provide playlist control and another two or three minutes for a folder list — then taking quite a while to respond to each press. The interface was pleasant enough with smaller drives. (Voice control does not come until the folder list arrives.)

Sound from the high-watt system was quite good once adjusted for the music, and I appreciated control over “punch.”

outlander front seats

The interior of the car was pleasantly light. Seats were done in a nice perforated leather, and the fixed sunroof lets a lot of light in, stretching from the front visors to the rear seats. The openings in the rear pillars were useful but still not enough.  The sun visors don’t slide into the middle, so Mitsubishi blacked out part of the windshield.

cargo bay

Our test car was the GT, which comes with paddle shifters, HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, and rear mirrors that automatically folded back against the car whenever it was locked. Other items included the glass roof, LED tail-lights, turn signals in the heated mirrors, locking AWD, rear heat ducts, aluminum pedals, and a nine-speaker, 710-watt stereo.

Other standard items were fog lights, rear wiper/washer, basic trip computer, leather, power front seats, filtered automatic climate control, tilt/telescope steering wheel, locking gas cap, USB stereo input, rear camera, ignition button (with a radio key), cruise, power locks and mirrors, garage door opener, and side airbags.

All this comes at a cost: $28,245, which is $10,000 more than the base Outlander Sport. It would be hard to find all that equipment for the price, but it’s still a lot of equipment on a fairly inexpensive base car.  Oh, and the powertrain warranty is ten years/100,000 miles, with a five year, 60,000 mile “bumper to bumper” warranty.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (not to be confused with the larger Outlander) is fun to drive, despite having a 168 horsepower four-cylinder moving 3,285 pounds, and it’s still comfortable, except for the time you’ll spend filling the gas tank.

David Zatz

David Zatz has been reviewing cars since the 1980s.