Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the smaller brother to Outlander. Both ride the same wheelbase, but the Sport caters to the compact crossover crowd, while the larger Outlander trends toward midsize competitors.
|2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport|
Base Price: $18,795
As-Tested Price: $21,900
Built in Japan.
Navigation System Package (HDD navigation system with music server and real-time traffic information)
Engine: 2.0-Liter I4
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual
Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive
The Outlander Sport seats five passengers on twin front bucket seats and a three-place folding rear bench seat. It comes with front- or all-wheel drive and competes with vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, MINI Countryman, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester.
Two trim levels are offered: ES and SE. Both come standard with front-wheel drive. Optional on the SE is an all-wheel-drive system that's not intended for off-road use but does have a 50/50 torque-split switch.
The only powertrain is a 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It mates to either a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic on the ES. All SE models get the CVT, which also includes steering-wheel-mounted paddles that allow manual manipulation of the transmission to mimic a traditional automatic.
Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat active head restraints, hill-ascent control, tire-pressure monitor and dual-front, front-side, curtain-side and driver-knee airbags. A rear-obstacle detection system is optional. A rear-view camera is available on the SE but not the ES.
The front-drive ES lists for $18,795 and includes air conditioning, tilt-telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, height-adjustable driver seat, center console, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with USB port, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, voice recognition, trip computer, outside-temperature indicator, intermittent wipers, rear defogger, intermittent rear wiper/washer, automatic-off headlights, floormats, theft-deterrent system, rear privacy glass and 215/70R16 tires.
Front-drive SE model stickers for $21,995 and adds to the ES automatic climate control, keyless access and starting, rain-sensing wipers, illuminated visor mirrors, trunk pass-through, automatic xenon headlights, fog lights, 225/55R18 tires and alloy wheels. All-wheel-drive SE's start at $23,295 and also include heated front seats and heated power mirrors.
Options include a Rockford Fosgate AM/FM radio w/in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer, navigation system with real-time traffic data and panoramic glass roof panel. The Outlander Sport is built in Japan and has a $810 destination charge.
Get Up and Go Regardless of transmission, Outlander Sport is no stoplight racer. Acceleration is adequate and no more. That's normal for the class, though, and more than adequate for most needs. The CVT has been re-programmed for 2012 to provide quicker throttle response and that's most-noticed in highway passing situations and when pulling away from a stop. The manual transmission could use a taller final gear for more relaxed highway cruising. Still, the shift action and clutch feel are quite good for the class.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the front-drive model are 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. That's comparable to other vehicles in the class. Outlander Sport runs fine on regular-grade gasoline. Real-world driving is likely to yield about 25 mpg overall. Higher if you spend a lot of time cruising the highway and lower if you mix in some rush-hour slogging.
On the Road Outlander Sport rides with more road feel than most competitors. The ride is not bouncy or annoying, rather the it's firm and communicative. Most impacts are nicely absorbed by the suspension and there's little bobbing or bounding on rough roads.
The firm suspension grows flaccid when the roads get twisty. That's too bad because the Outlander Sport borders on being fun to toss about. There's just too much body lean and understeer to call the Sport sporty. Steering tracks straight and true on the highway and the turning circle is quite tidy. Brakes have a lot of pedal travel and require more pressure than expected.
As with most compact crossovers, Outlander Sport isn't a quiet ride. There's too much engine and wind noise on the highway and the tires hum on coarse pavement. Additional sound deadening was added for 2012 and it's quite welcome.
Behind the Wheel As you might expect for a $20,000 car, the interior of the Outlander Sport is nothing special. Still, most passenger-facing surfaces are padded and that's a nice touch. Also the design is fresh and functional. The glass roof with its LED lighting is a nice feature in the class.
Driver's face two large dials: One for engine speed and the other vehicle speed. In between there's a digital display for fuel, temperature and vehicle information. The center stack is dominated by the audio system, while the climate controls consist of three simple dials that are placed below. Window and mirror switches are conveniently placed on the door armrest. Optional navigation system muddies up the control interface slightly, but it's easy enough to figure out.
Front seats are comfortable but could use a little more back and lateral support. Head and leg room are good for a small vehicle and much appreciated. Outward visibility is reasonably good and the driving position is raised just enough to give a good view of the road without making ingress/egress an issue.
The rear seat offers a surprising amount of space for a compact crossover. There's above average knee and leg room and good head room. The driveline hump inhibits long-distance three-across seating.
Cargo space is modest compared to class leaders like the Hyundai Tucson or Subaru Forester. Still it is better than in a compact sedan and, with the higher roofline, larger opening and split-folding seats much more versatile. Interior storage is highlighted by large map pockets and a deep center-console bin.
Bottom Line Make no mistake, Outlander Sport is not the best compact crossover. Still, it's plenty competent and offers a lot of value at a tick over $20,000. Mitsubishi made a number of improvements for 2012 that go a long way to making the Sport a much more livable vehicle. It's versatile, affordable, efficient and an easy drive.
|Specifications, 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport|
|Dimensions||4-door wagon||Engine||DOHC I4|
|Wheelbase, in.||105.1||Size, liters/cu. in.||2.0 / 122|
|Length, in.||169.1||Horsepower @ rpm||148 @ 6000|
|Width, in.||69.7||Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm||145 @ 4200|
|Height, in.||64.2||Transmission||5-Speed Manual|
|Weight, lbs.||3098||EPA Estimates, mpg||24 city / 31 highway|
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.||49.5|| |
|Fuel Capacity, gals.||16.6||Manufacturer's Warranty|
|Seating Capacity||5||Bumper-to-Bumper||5 years / 60,000 miles|
|Front Head Room, in.||39.4||Powertrain||10 years / 100,000 miles|
|Front Leg Room, in.||41.6||Corrosion||7 years / 100,000 miles|
|Second-Row Head Room, in.||37.9||Free Roadside Assistance||5 years / Unlimited miles|
|Second-Row Leg Room, in.||36.6||Free Scheduled Maintenance||None|