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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

      This Old Crossover

    On the day I was getting the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a week-long test, meteorologists were calling for a massive snowstorm in Metro Detroit. Depending on where you lived, snowfall was expected to range from six inches to almost a foot. As I was signing the paperwork and getting the key, the snow was beginning to fall at a heavy rate. It would be an interesting week with one of oldest crossovers on sale.

    The current Outlander Sport has been with us since 2011 and it still stands out from other crossovers in the class. This comes down to an aggressive design and Mitsubishi making a number of changes to the design in the past few years. For 2018, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander Sport with new bumpers and LED running lights. Up front, Mitsubishi went with a dual grille setup - a narrow one on top and a large mesh one for the bottom. 18-inch wheels come standard on all Outlander Sports and look quite sharp.

    Mitsubishi hasn’t done much to the Outlander Sport’s interior since its launch and it clearly shows. The design is very uninspired with seemingly endless black plastic and almost no brightwork. Most materials used feel brittle and cheap, which is very disappointing when compared to other models such as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. Mitsubishi does redeem itself a little bit with the dash being covered in soft-touch material. Another plus point to the Outlander Sport’s interior is the control layout. The buttons and knobs are laid out in a logical fashion and are within easy reach.

    Getting comfortable in the front seats is not hard thanks to a decent amount of manual adjustments on offer, along with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel for the driver. Slightly worrying was my test Outlander Sport having a driver’s seat that slightly rocked whenever the vehicle accelerated and stopped. I know this issue isn’t isolated to my test vehicle. Speaking to some who have driven different 2018 Outlander Sports, they have reported the same issue. Mitsubishi really needs to figure out this issue and get a fix out ASAP.

    The rear seat offers a decent amount of headroom, but there is barely enough legroom for taller passengers. Cargo space is quite good with 21.7 cubic feet of space behind the front seats and 49.5 cubic feet when folded.

    For 2018, Mitsubishi has installed a new 7-inch infotainment system on all Outlander Sports. Higher trims like our test SEL add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Compared to Mitsubishi’s previous infotainment systems, the one in the Outlander Sport is excellent. The system is very easy to use with a simple and vibrant interface. Performance is quite good as the system quickly responds to a user’s input.

    Mitsubishi offers two engines for the Outlander Sport. ES and LE models use a 2.0L four-cylinder, while the SE and SEL models feature a larger 2.4L four-cylinder. Our test vehicle had the latter engine which produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front- or Mitsubishi's All-Wheel Control (AWC) system. Out of the two engines, the 2.4 is the one to get as is feels noticeably quicker when leaving a stop. But it will run out of steam at higher speeds, making passing or getting onto the freeway a bit difficult. The CVT is somewhat slow to respond whenever you step on the accelerator. 

    The AWC system redeems the Outlander Sport to a point. AWC offers the driver three different modes - 2WD, 4WD Auto, and 4WD Lock. The difference between the two 4WD settings is Auto only sends power to rear wheels if it detects slip where Lock sends power to all wheels. Putting the system into 4WD Lock, the Outlander Sport easily went through roads with close to a foot of snow on the ground with no issue. The system was able to quickly shift power to the wheels with grip to help keep the car moving. I believe if you fit you a set of snow tires to the Sport, you will have a very good winter vehicle.

    Fuel economy figures of 22 City/27 Highway/24 Combined put the Outlander Sport towards the bottom of the class. My average for the week landed around 23.2 mpg.

    For a subcompact crossover, the Outlander Sport’s ride is pleasant. It glides over bumps and other imperfections. Handling is a mixed affair. Drive the Outlander Sport normally around a corner and it feels composed. Begin to push it and there is a fair amount of body roll. Steering has a very rubbery feel and there is a noticeable dead zone when the wheel is centered.

    This might be the first review I have done where I have two verdicts on the Outlander Sport. As a whole, the model really needs to be replaced. In many areas, the Outlander Sport significantly trails competitors. It doesn’t help that the as-tested price was $29,310 which makes the Sport a bit of poor value. I know dealers put a lot of cash on the hoods of Outlander Sports to get them moving, which is likely one reason why it is Mitsubishi’s best selling model. But I would rather put my money into a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, the new Hyundai Kona, and others since they are newer and offer so much more.

    But I will admit that the Outlander Sport came at a very opportune time. The snowstorm really brought up some of the Outlander Sport’s best qualities, primarily the AWC system and punchy four-cylinder around town. I remember an auto writer once saying that some of the most memorable vehicles are those that are not the best, but can show some bright spots in a difficult situation. The Outlander Sport for me is one of those vehicles.

    Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2018
    Make: Mitsubishi
    Model: Outlander Sport
    Trim: SEL
    Engine: 2.4L MIVEC DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,000 
    Torque @ RPM: 167 @ 4,100
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/28/25
    Curb Weight: N/A
    Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
    Base Price: $25,895
    As Tested Price: $29,310 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Touring Package - $2,000.00
    Diamond White Pearl - $200.00
    Tonneau Cover - $150.00
    Carpeted Floormats and Portfolio - $125.00




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    Nice read, like the info about tall people for the back seat being not the best and the experience of how this handled in a snowstorm. Very informative and your right, with a ton of cash on the hood, these auto's should sell and do well till they can update and replace it.

    Thanks Bill, I learned alot about this auto.

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    I really like this article....love the two ways of thinking here.

     

    I feel the same-but I know a co worker who picked up one of these-and even with those faults-fell in love with it.

    Also helps she got a nice deal on it too...

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    i like your writeup, for fairness.

    I've looked at this vehicle several times since it came out and have driven it many times.  Why?  At one time it was to potentially be my inexpensive Cobalt replacement with AWD.  So in that aspect it was a step up.  And the Mitsubishi dealers here are very good and the actual prices you can buy these things at are jaw dropping low if you factor in incentives and discounts and the standard warranties.  I had always looked at this as one of the first steps up from the old Suzuki SX4 of which i am quite familiar with and actually sold for awhile.  And for a small SUV, it's room and space are very very good.  Which is great for larger guys.  

    Vehicles like HRV, CX3, Juke etc. don't seem to have the spaciousness of the OS.  I like the interior in spite of its cheap spots and datedness.  I like its simplicity.  I don't like the non reclining rear seats.  The cargo area is good sized.

    I have also found that at highway cruising, regardless of 2.0 or 2.4 it is comfortably decent at speed and can get close to 30 consistently on the highway with AWD.

    The Encore has an extra sense of luxury to it that this may lack, but comparatively, you can make a case for an Outlander Sport as a better buy / product than a Trax.  Me personally, I would never get a Kona, HRV or CX3 over the OS.

    (side note, outlanders are not that much more than outlander sports).

    The OS really sort of takes over now for what the Lancer was in Mits product lineup.  The volume selling small car.  The eclipse Cross should have been larger.

    I do think the OS only makes sense up to a certain price point.  I wouldn't look at a loaded one due to its datedness.  But for an AWD crossover at or below 18-20k in real money, for the right buyers i endorse it.  I think there is a point where you start to look at lower level Escapes as an upgrade competitior.

    We have some friends who have one and they have always liked it.

    I could be fine putting my teenage daughter in one when she starts driving, if it is a good money choice.

    Mitsubishis biggest fault with this so far is never putting a real awesome powertrain it it.

     

     

    Edited by regfootball

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    There has always been something slightly redeeming to me about both the Outlander and Outlander Sport. Yes they're dated, but they do their jobs well especially for the price you'll pay and the warranty that comes with it.  It's kinda buying a poor man's LR Defender in 2017.... You don't expect much in creature comforts, but you get everything you expect and enough capability to get you there.

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    ocnblu

    Posted (edited)

    People down the block traded their CR-V for a new Outlander.  Eclipse Cross AWC whipped the Compass Limited 4X4 in several drag races over onto the YouTube... CVT v. 9 speed auto... Mitsu is way down on advertised horses but has better torque... results were shocking to me, moreso because of the Mitsu's 153 hp rating and CVT than the Compass' pronounced, and verified, lack of speed.  Yes yes, a drag race is a narrow measure of a vehicle... but it is a valid one... the whole powertrain working together to give a result that belies the advertised ratings proves what I'm saying.  It is not the sheer numbers but the competitive comparison of a drag race that bears this out.

    Eclipse Cross also acquitted itself well on their off-road course... leading me to call the Mitsu AWC system as "unsung hero" in comparison to the Jeep, which performed flawlessly of course on the same route, but that is expected.

    I have to remember that Mitsu has a pretty good history of authentic off-road and rally vehicles, so their lighter duty system being capable was only a mild surprise.

    Haha, now I want to go lurking on the Mitsu lot this weekend to put noseprints on the Eclipse Cross. 

    Edited by ocnblu
    • Like 2

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    On 4/26/2018 at 5:40 AM, ocnblu said:

    People down the block traded their CR-V for a new Outlander.  Eclipse Cross AWC whipped the Compass Limited 4X4 in several drag races over onto the YouTube... CVT v. 9 speed auto... Mitsu is way down on advertised horses but has better torque... results were shocking to me, moreso because of the Mitsu's 153 hp rating and CVT than the Compass' pronounced, and verified, lack of speed.  Yes yes, a drag race is a narrow measure of a vehicle... but it is a valid one... the whole powertrain working together to give a result that belies the advertised ratings proves what I'm saying.  It is not the sheer numbers but the competitive comparison of a drag race that bears this out.

    Eclipse Cross also acquitted itself well on their off-road course... leading me to call the Mitsu AWC system as "unsung hero" in comparison to the Jeep, which performed flawlessly of course on the same route, but that is expected.

    I have to remember that Mitsu has a pretty good history of authentic off-road and rally vehicles, so their lighter duty system being capable was only a mild surprise.

    Haha, now I want to go lurking on the Mitsu lot this weekend to put noseprints on the Eclipse Cross. 

    Huge discounts in future are inevitable for the Eclipse Cross.  To get one now while they are holding close to MSRP is a recipe for being upside down, if one isn't willing to wait.  Of course, maybe there is a chance they won't have to for awhile, but Mits history suggests the discounts are needed.  Now, i must try an Eclipse Cross.  Still at the end of the day, I would judge it vs an Escape 2.0 at a low price.

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    ocnblu

    Posted (edited)

    Local Mitsu dealer is a sad place.  The lot was dirty.  And on top of that, they had rows of brand new vehicles, all backed INTO EACH OTHER.  I'm serious... their rear bumpers were touching!  WHO would want to buy a new car from a place like that?  It is sad to know I worked there when it was a proud Lincoln-Mercury dealer for six years... now it is a dump, under different ownership.  :(

    Edited by ocnblu

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