Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Road Test
A chopped version of the small Outlander SUV
The Outlander Sport is a chopped version of the small Outlander SUV, with reduced rear-seat and cargo space. The term "Sport" is used loosely here, referring more to size than performance. This is not a fun car to drive. It handles less nimbly than the larger Outlander, and acceleration is adequate at best. A choppy ride and a very noisy cabin further detract from driving fun. Still, even with its diminished dimensions the Outlander Sport retains the high seating position and some of the passenger-and-cargo versatility of its larger brand-mate. All-wheel drive comes only with the pricey top-trim version, where the Outlander Sport finds itself competing with sportier and roomier SUVs including the regular Outlander, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester.
Handling: Unlike the regular Outlander, handling feels vague and uncommunicative. While body lean is not excessive, at moderate speeds it builds fast if you try to hustle around corners. At our track, the Sport reached its cornering limits early on, wanting to run wide until the well-calibrated stability-control intervened. It proved secure and controllable threading our avoidance maneuver, though, posting a respectable speed and instilling driver confidence.
Powertrain: Acceleration from the 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine feels sluggish. We measured 23 mpg overall using regular fuel -- not bad for an AWD SUV but not great for a small vehicle. The CVT is step-less, but it holds engine revs high which exacerbates engine noise. The company claims to have addressed some of these complaints for 2015, recalibrating the CVT.
The shift selector's zig-zag gate is slightly awkward to maneuver through. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel simulate six manual-shift points. You can switch off the all-wheel-drive system, theoretically to save fuel, and even select a Lock mode which yokes together all four wheels for use in slippery driving conditions.
Lows: Noise, ride, agility, acceleration, fit and finish.
All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.
Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.