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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - Click above for high-res image gallery

Let's just go on ahead and make that much needed volume leader. The great economic collapse of 2009 smashed Mitsubishi in the teeth with a much larger brick than most other manufacturers. Thinks have slightly improved, but their February sales were still down 10 percent, and from an already frighteningly low level. Obviously, something must be done.

Meet the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, or as they're calling it in alphanumeric-loving Europe, the ASX. We've covered this particular small crossover pretty extensively already, so here's the U.S. spec deal. It's 15 inches shorter than the Outlander GT. Like its big brother, it gets magnesium paddle shifters. However, they are connected to a CVT instead of Mitsu's sweet dual-clutch gearbox. Now, no one has driven the Outlander Sport yet, and CVTs have gotten massively better in the last few years, so don't bunch your panties up quite yet.

The real upshot of that CVT is the Outlander Sport's 31 mpg highway figure, a right respectable number for a small crossover. In fact, that means the Outlander Sport is competitive with a small CUV we like a whole bunch, the new Hyundai Tucson. Besides the CVT, Mitsu has installed weight-saving plastic front fenders, electric power steering and has sculpted the Outlander Sport down to a admirably slippery 0.33 Cd. The Outlander Sport can also be shifted from front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive and yes, you will be able to order yours in this particularly vibrant shade of show car blue.

Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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