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  •   Engine
    2.0L I4
  •   Power
    148 HP / 145 LB-FT
  •   Transmission
    CVT
  •   Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  •   Engine Placement
    Front
  •   Curb Weight
    3,250 LBS (est.)
  •   Seating
    2+3
  •   Cargo
    49.5 CU-FT (max)
  •   MPG
    24 City / 30 HWY
  •   As Tested Price
    $29,945
  •  
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is not new. It is also not sporty. Despite it all, the Outlander Sport is selling better than ever. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people take one of these crossovers home each month. That's good for Mitsubishi, a company clinging to life in the US market. But the Outlander's sales are a mere blip; that's about a week's worth of handshakes and signatures on Ford Escapes, at best.

Until new product arrives, this is the stuff Mitsubishi has on the ground to sell, and the company has said it's committed to sticking around. That means I got to spend some time recently with a 2015 Outlander Sport SE with AWC (All-Wheel Control – you know, all-wheel drive). There are updates and changes for 2015, including an available 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine for ES and GT models, revised CVT, LED running lamps, thicker glass, better sound insulation, and electric power steering. But because I drove an E, I was locked into the 2.0 liter engine. It's the 4B11, a version of the GEMA engine, co-developed with Hyundai and DaimlerChrysler back in the Cretaceous.

Driving Notes

  • The most amazing thing I found after a week with the Outlander Sport is that it can bend the laws of physics. This is not a compact crossover so much as it's a time machine. Swing that door shut, and every trip takes place in 2008.
  • Styling is pretty good. There's not a bad line on the Outlander Sport. It sits right on its relatively short wheelbase, and looks good doing it.
  • I had low expectations for the powertrain. Most of my GEMA engine experienced comes from time with the Jeep Compass and Patriot, which are horrific NVH factories. Mitsubishi's version of this engine is more refined, and has a healthy 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque.
  • The CVT has been revised to mimic the action of a seven-speed transmission. Why bother? The simulacrum doesn't hold. It's the typical 70/30 CVT split: unobtrusive 70 percent of the time, slippy and weird the other 30 percent.
  • That same 70/30 split applies to on-road behavior. Most of the time, the Outlander Sport drives decently. Those other times, it just wants you to chill.
  • Structural rigidity isn't up there with the segment leaders.
  • Road noise is still higher than I'd have liked.
  • This car has the single worst infotainment system I have ever experienced. Totally refused to pair with my phone, ever. This is not an isolated case for a Mitsu with this headunit. The 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio hardware is decent enough, but the non-intuitive menus and high distraction and annoyance levels seem to have been designed for maximum infuriation.
  • Brings the cheapness. Everywhere you look, it's obvious that the Outlander Sport has been built to a (low) price. That would be fine, except...
  • High-ish sticker price. You can get into a lot of far superior competitors for the $29,945 bottom line this car carried.
  • Part of the stiff price is the $4,900 Touring Package that includes Nav, leather, upgraded audio, power driver's seat and non-opening panorama roof. Leave it out and you've got a $24,000 rig.
  • The warranty is generous at five years/60,000 miles and 10 years/100,000 miles for powertrain.

The Outlander Sport is an economy car that's been given some new gingerbread to help keep it enticing. At the end of the day, though, it's not competitive with the much newer hardware flooding into the small crossover segment. Mitsubishi's dealer network is small, and the brand's presence is all but non-existent in terms of top-of-mind awareness. Put it all together, and nearly 20 consecutive months of increased sales numbers look like the effects of a recovering economy more than demand for a stellar product.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own — we do not accept sponsored editorial.


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