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.