2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE Review

Mitsubishi's compact crossover can't hang.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: March 21st, 2013

Mitsubishi is a brand in trouble. Its model lineup is small and outdated, and there doesn't appear to be much in the way of new product in the pipeline.

That doesn't mean the company isn't trying to hang on in the American market. One way it's doing so is by splitting the Outlander compact SUV nameplate into two. The larger Outlander seats up to seven while the smaller Sport, based on the Mitsubishi Lancer compact car, seats five.

Mitsubishi evidently thinks that seating five passengers instead of seven makes a vehicle sportier. We'll be the judge of that.

  • Performance

    The sole engine, a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, is noticeably underpowered. Tasked with lugging the extra weight of available all-wheel-drive around, the engine strains to do its job. Plan ahead when passing on the highway.

    Among a number of changes for 2013 is an attempt at improved steering feel, and Mitsubishi gets this right. Not surprising, really, since the Outlander Sport is based on the Lancer, and steering is one of the things that the Lancer does best, even in base form. Handling is competent if not totally engaging--the Lancer platform is a good place to start, but the laws of physics can only be bent so far.

    Mitsubishi upgrades the rear suspension for 2013, in search of a better ride. The Outlander Sport is still stiffly sprung, but it handles the coarser pavement with competence.

  • Exterior

    Slight changes to the front and rear fascias don't really get rid of the smushed look that the Outlander Sport exhibits--it's not the prettiest compact crossover SUV.

    It reminds us of a pug--not naturally beautiful, but good-looking in a tough way.

  • Interior

    Mitsubishi needs an interior design intervention. The materials look and feel cheap and outdated. It's like being transported back to the '90s. Even the biggest touch of modernity, the navigation system, looks and feels low-rent, and it sometimes requires sifting through too many menus to execute simple tasks.

    The available glass roof panel does redeem some sins, though. It gives the Outlander some much needed stylishness.

  • Final Thoughts

    The Outlander Sport shows that Mitsubishi is trying. We give it props for steering feel, and its ride and handling, while not great, are good enough. The glass roof is cool, too.

    It strikes us that Mitsubishi knows what's wrong, but can't or won't fix the problems. It's conceivable that the company can get new models with modern interiors and more-powerful engines to market soon, but will it be soon enough?

    Right now, only one Mitsu really makes a mark, and that's the Lancer Evo, which appeals to a specific set of enthusiast drivers. Mitsubishi needs to have success with mainstream vehicles like the Outlander, and it will take more than a glass roof to do it.

  • Specs, Features, and Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder

    Transmission: Continuously-variable automatic

    Drive Wheels: Front or all-wheel-drive

    Fuel Economy: 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway

    Base Price: $23,695

    Available Features: Navigation, glass roof, USB port, Bluetooth, heated front seats, push-button start, remote start, rearview camera, front- and rear-obstacle detection.

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