2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT AWC Review

Lipstick on a pig


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Great 100,000 warranty program.
Negatives: Sluggish engine, anesthetizing transmission, poor handling, styling that went from anonymous to unattractive, meh gas mileage, cheap-as-hell interior.
Bottom Line: Avoid the Outlander Sport like an STD. It might just be the worst compact crossover out there, and you can no longer justify its existence as a cheap crossover because the manual transmission that gave it a burp of verve is gone. There's just not much to like and nothing to love.
The Outlander Sport is in one of the toughest, most crowded segments in the industry. The Japanese brand has restyled some of the vehicle inside and out in order to be more appealing, but without a full redesign, it's an uphill battle. It gets sharper lines outside, LED lights all around, new wheels, updated climate controls, and another inch added to the infotainment screen. But all of this comes with a price bump, and the manual transmission is now gone for those who wanted the cheapest ES trim and rope their own gears. The CVT is now the only transmission. We drove the updated Outlander Sport with the more powerful 2.4-liter engine for a week to see how it fared against competitors that sell in far greater numbers. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

4.8

 

To drive the Outlander Sport, even with the more potent engine choice, is a tremendous disappointment. It almost feels intentional. If you throw a rock at any of the other competitors, you'll hit a better one. The Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, and the Kia Sportage are all head and shoulders above the Outlander in painfully obvious ways.

Ride Quality: The car feels unsettlingly firm and jarring when going over bumps. It's just not a good ride, by any means.

Acceleration: The droning CVT, and the weak-sauce naturally-aspirated engine make for a slow 8-second sprint to 60. While that might not be the bottom of the barrel in the segment, it feels slower than it is. It's about as unexciting as it gets.

Braking: The brakes are just okay. There's some initial mushiness and then things improve with more pedal travel, but the stopping distances are about average.

Steering: The steering is light and lacks precision. It's a vague experience that is at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the Mazda CX-5.

Handling: The Outlander Sport has a painful amount of body roll, and it provides virtually no confidence when cornering.

Technology

5.6

 

Mitsubishi's infotainment system is consistent with the rest of the car. Its functionality and appearance are severely wanting, and it's almost as if the brand had to put one in without spending any time on it.

Infotainment System: The 8" screen is bigger than last year's, but the icons are as dull as an elementary school slide show. Who did the menu icons, the DMV?

Controls: The audio knobs and climate control knobs are easy to operate, but we dislike the location of the heated seat controls that are low and in front of the shifter, instead of on the center console next to the actual seats.

Styling

5.6

 

Mitsu went ahead an tried to make the Outlander Sport look a lot like the new Eclipse Cross. This was a mistake. It might have sharper lines all around, but the result is a garish-looking, overstyled crossover that's better suited as the waterboy on a team of stars. The interior only makes things worse.

Front: There's a bit too much going on here with materials, styling elements, and disparate openings. We would rather have the old, vanilla fascia back (the lesser of two evils).

Rear: This is the best view of the new Outlander Sport. The new bi-color taillights have some character without totally overdoing it. We're not quite sure what other model in the Mitsu lineup it's supposed to take after since it actually looks more like a Subie from the back.

Profile: It looks like an awkward basketball shoe from the side view. The short rear overhang and the longer front look odd when paired with the rising body crease and that insipid faux front fender vent.

Cabin: There's so much cheap matte and piano black plastic in here that everything just looks and feels cheap. Even the leather shift knob quality seems a bit low-brow. The thick dash is overly bulky, too.

Comfort

6.3

 

Shy of the suffocating Ford EcoSport, it's hard to imagine a compact crossover that delivers fewer creature comforts. We just didn't enjoy seat time in our tester, and it wasn't even the base model.

Front Seats: Legroom and headroom are good, but the manual seats are on the hard side, and the seat fabric feels cheap.

Rear Seats: Seat cushions are flat, and tall adults will have a tough time back here.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The lack of good sound deadening material is evident. There's a lot of intrusion when driving over bumps, and road noise is evident when driving at high speeds. This thing would be exhausting on a road trip.

Visibility: Visibility is decent all around with no overly huge or steeply raked pillars that obstruct.

Climate: The climate control system isn't automatic, but it seems to work well in cold weather. The heated seats felt a little slow to fire up.

Safety

6

 

The Outlander Sport did ok in crash tests but failed to convince us in one crucial aspect from the IIHS. It does get additional standard safety tech, but there are far safer competitors that get top ratings when it comes to keeping your family protected.

IIHS Rating: It only received "acceptable" in the important small overlap front: driver-side crash test.

NHTSA Rating: The feds gave it 5 stars overall, but it still got a demerit in the driver's side crash test.

Standard Tech: The GT comes standard with Forward Collision Mitigation with Pedestrian Detection, Automatic High Beam, and Blind Spot Warning with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Also, there's no adaptive cruise control, which is a big disappointment.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

5.8

 

While the Outlander Sport isn't tiny, it also lacks some important storage features the competitors have. We're not sure if Mitsubishi designers just ran out of energy when finishing the interior.

Storage Space: The front row lacks good small gear storage space that's immediately accessible, with only a small cubby at the base of the center stack and cupholders. The rear passengers don't even get door pockets.

Cargo Room: The Outlander Sport has 21.7 cubic feet behind row two and 49.5 cubes with the seats folded flat. That's smaller than the RAV4, CX-5, and the Subaru Crosstrek. The wheel wells make the load floor narrower, as well. Ugh.

Fuel Economy

6.4

 

Compared to its better-looking, better-driving rivals, the Outlander Sport is an efficiency disappointment. The fact that we had to wring the hell out of it in order to experience any semblance of driving verve meant it did a lot worse than its already mediocre EPA rating.

Observed: 17.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 143 miles.

Audio

5.3

 

The base 6-speaker system is just ok. It lacked bass, richness, and generally did not impress. The only upside is that it didn't cost anything extra.



Final Thoughts

There really isn't much that we can say about the Outlander Sport to constitute a recommendation. It looks cheap, feels cheap, and drives poorly. In a world where even affordable crossovers like the Hyundai Kona and the Mazda CX-30 are superb, there's no excuse for this. Mitsubishi has a very long way to go, and their latest offerings fail to impress on just about every level.
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