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