2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC Review

The Little SUV That Shouldn't

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: June 17th, 2014

The Outlander Sport is not trying to impress anyone, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone to learn that it's an unimpressive SUV. That's not to say that it's a bad car - it fulfils the general requirements of its segment and provides a decent ride, and its price is in line with the competition.

With a base price under $25,000, there's no pretense that this is a luxury vehicle, but let's be honest: $25,000 is still a huge sum of money, and in exchange for it, one should expect a product with at least a modicum of flair.

Outside, the Outlander looks exactly like every other SUV, which appears to be something beyond the control of individual automakers. But SUVs are all about the inside, so there's no way to not be disappointed in the blandness of the vast sea of molded polymers that constitute the Outlander's roomy interior.

The good news is, what the Outlander lacks in personality it makes up for in comfort. The seats in the SE AWC (all-wheel control) trim level were plenty comfortable, and the cabin is sensibly outfitted with all the storage a family of four could need for their various drinks, cell phones, and other gadgets.

Speaking of gadgets, the Outlander's infotainment system is mostly useless. We were unable to play music through the USB connection most of the time and had to stream via Bluetooth, despite having our phones plugged in. That's not exactly a major concern, but when one's car offers the ability to hardwire a smart phone, one should be able to use that feature as intended.

Don't get us wrong, the Outlander isn't a bad car at all. If anything it's too good at being a purely utilitarian vehicle. Driving the Outlander is effortless, and it's adequately powered with its 3.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but it's not exactly what anyone would consider "sporty." Having enough power to get up to speed on the freeway should not be the yardstick by which we measure "sportiness," but at least this car has that much power, if not very much more.

Also, we liked the way the Outlander handled, even if we never mistook it for a track-day car. The continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is a technological wonder that does an amazing job of eking out extra mpgs, but it makes for a very boring drive. We even attempted a one-way commute using only the very silly-looking plastic paddle shifters, but even that couldn't save the Outlander from its overwhelming SUV-ness. As a daily conveyance, the Outlander performed like a champ, so while it may not be a head-turner, at least it is dependable.

Its economy is surely the Outlander's most attractive feature, and with the base model starting just under $20,000 this car is definitely affordable. The problem is, once you start adding things like a navigation system or a moon roof, you're well out of bargain territory and quite near $30,000 (the model we tested, which featured no option packages, still totaled out at close to $25,000).

Fuel-economy-wise, the Outlander is on par with its competition. But as most of our time in the Outlander took place during rush hours, we only ever managed to eke out mileage in the well under 30 mpg range. That, too, is typical of vehicles in this segment.

Ultimately whether you choose the Outlander over any of its competitors will most likely come down to cost. But if you value a solid, no-nonsense driving experience and an extremely unpretentious design, the Outlander may be the perfect car for you.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder

    Transmission: Continuously variable

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 148 hp / 145 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 24 city / 30 highway

    Price (base): $23,995

    Price (as tested): $24,845 (includes $850 destination charge)

    Available Features: SE AWC Trim includes drive mode selector, paddle shifters, auto on/off headlights, 6.1-inch touchscreen, 18-inch alloy wheels, HD and SiriusXM radio.

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