If you’re in the market for an affordable AWD SUV that is reasonably equipped with decent fuel economy and is sensibly priced, check out Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport. The Sport is the downsized version of Mitsubishi’s midsize three-row Outlander AWD SUV.
Offered in FWD and AWD and in trim levels ES, LE, SE and top line SEL, we tested the latter. Incidentally, there’s also a new U.S. arrival from Europe in the form of Mitsubishi’s PHEV plug-in hybrid AWD Outlander. Using two electric motors, the PHEV comes with an attractive starting price of $34,598.
Of the traditional line-up, the ES and LE get its power from a 2.0-liter, 148-hp inline four-cylinder that generates 145 lb/ft of torque. The SE and SEL come with a more potent 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that puts out 168-hp and 167 lb/ft of torque. When coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the combination garnered EPA Mileage estimates of 23 city, 28-higway mpg. These figures are helped somewhat by Mitsubishi’s one-touch Start/Stop engine technology that shuts down the powerplant at idle, be it at stop lights or bumper-bumper traffic jams.
Performance with the 2.4L is energetic. But propelling Sports’ 3,285-pound curb weight is a chore with four adults aboard. The SEL Sport was independently timed at 8.4 seconds for 0-60 mph, which isn’t bad for a car in this weight class. However, performance could be improved if Mitsubishi added a turbocharger for some added spunk. But then fuel economy may suffer if the vehicle isn’t driven economically. The engine though is quiet at idle, but a tad noisy under hard acceleration, a common trait among four-bangers.
Outlander Sports’ All Wheel Control (AWC) is essentially an AWD system with 2WD (front drive), 4WD Auto and 4WD Lock modes. This differs from many AWD vehicles in that they don’t offer Lock mode, the latter is important for us here in the Snowbelt. The Lock mode is activated by a button on the console and helps if getting stuck in deep snow or sticky mud. And unlike many crossovers that are not rated for even semi-rugged off-road use, the Outlander’s 8.5-inch undercarriage clearance allows it to traverse some modest backcountry roads and trails, with caution.
Aside from its sporty, aggressive yet cute appearance, Sports’ interior is attractive with perforated leather seats. After an easy 19-inch step-in, you’ll find the heated front seats are supportive and comfy while the back seats are a bit on the firm side. The vertical stack is sensibly arranged with large and easy to use HVAC controls and the hooded gauge set includes a small driver’s information display that gives out warnings and other operating data.
A 7-inch touchscreen offers a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect, however navigation and some other apps are controlled after linking with a smartphone.
Back seat space is rated for three, but tall adults will find legroom on the tight side. And ingress/egress could be easier if the rear doors would open somewhat wider.
The cargo area behind the 60/40 split folding back seats is rated at 21.7 cubic feet or 20.1 if equipped with a huge sub-woofer speaker. This space translates to a cargo area measuring 32.5 inches deep, 42.5 wide and 31 high. Flip the seatbacks and depth extends to 60 inches for a full five feet or 49.5 cubic feet without the woofer speaker.
Handling wise, the Sport remains planted on tight turns and parking is easy thanks to a tight 34.8 turning circle. Although it’s surname of Sport denotes sporty characteristics, it is not of that caliber. Outlander Sport is an affordable SUV, not an exotic Porsche Cayenne that costs three times as much.
The ride on 18-inch Nexen tires is a tad on the firm side. But on highways and byways it’s a quiet ride.
With an extremely long list of standard items and safety features, the base price of $25,895 increases somewhat after adding three options: The Touring Package ($2,000) added forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers and panoramic sunroof. A tonneau cover ($150) and carpeted floor mats ($125) brought the bottom line to an affordable $29,110 with a delivery charge of $940.
To its credit, Outlander Sport offers a generous 10 year, 100K powertrain warranty, 7/100K corrosion warranty, 5/60K new vehicle warranty and 5/unlimited roadside assistance coverage. You can’t go wrong with that.
Since the Sport is classed with some tough competition from Honda’s CR-V, Toyota’s RAV4 and Chevy’s Trax, the Outlander Sport can hold its own when considering its price, warranty and respectable fuel economy.