Maybe it’s the economy, but the compact crossover segment is one of the hottest in the market. The Outlander Sport by Mitsubishi, now in its second model year, sees few adjustments aside from a few performance and trim tweaks. But maybe it’s also the practicality: The Outlander Sport has some of the heft of an SUV, but more closely aligns itself with hatchbacks in shape and size.
Powered by a 2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, the Outlander Sport comes in two trim levels: the ES and the SE, which may prove confusing to dyslexics. The base ES can come outfitted with 5-speed or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive; the SE is equipped only with the CVT and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Standard features for the ES include 16-inch wheels, keyless entry and a 4-speaker sound system with USB and voice-activated Bluetooth. The SE adds 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights and climate control, amongst other items. With a fuel tank of over 16 gallons, the vehicle is estimated at a decent 25 mpg city/31 hwy with the manual, but slips to 23/25 with the CVT and AWD.
And it’s true many have complained that the name is deceptive—the Outlander Sport’s ride is still loud in spite of attempts to quiet the engine, and the CVT is sluggish, although the manual transmission performs better. (The 5-speed gets from 0 to 60 in 8.6 seconds.) The car’s handling gets better marks, with a responsive electronic steering system giving you the feeling of total control.
The interior itself is clean but unremarkable, but that’s okay, especially given the Outlander Sport’s price point. The fully-loaded SE AWD comes with a panoramic sunroof, rear-view camera (integrated with rear-view mirror) and 9-speaker stereo system, which make it a relative bargain.
Also, it feels reasonably spacious for people and their stuff, in spite of being on the smaller side for cars of its class (48.8 cubic feet of storage with seats down). Still, when one compares it head-on with its competition, the Outlander Sport seems to be outshone in almost every feature.
Safety-wise, there is good news: The Outlander Sport receives an IIHS Top Safety Pick, along with its sibling the Lancer. It comes equipped with 7 airbags, including a driver’s-side knee airbag, something not usually included in this class. Antilock brakes, hill assist and traction control are a few of the other features making it one of the safest compact crossovers out there; it’s something to consider, especially when transporting your family.
MSRP $7 900