The Outlander Sport could be a fantastic CUV down the road.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT AWC Review

The Outlander Sport tries hard in a tough segment

By: Wade Thiel

Web2Carz Senior Staff Writer

Published: May 27th, 2016

Crossover utility vehicles are selling like hotcakes and automakers have to put forth their very best vehicles to stand out in the industry. As time goes on, this segment continues to get better and better. While CUV sales are dominated by vehicles like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, there's still room for minor players, and the Outlander Sport works hard to snatch up some sales for Mitsubishi.

In a segment that's only going to get more crowded as time goes on, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport manages to stay relevant thanks to its unique styling and simplistic approach to a vehicle type that continues to get more and more complex as time goes one. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport might not be the fastest or most advanced CUV on the road, but it stands out because it's different in a time when most CUVs feel more or less the same.

  • Driving Impressions

    The best thing about driving the Outlander Sport is the steering. It's light, responsive and almost makes the vehicle fun to drive. Unfortunately, the CVT saps all the engine's power, and drones on annoyingly. When you really get on the gas, the Outlander Sport's engine roars with impotent rage. Still, no matter how angry you make the engine sound, you only achieve mild acceleration and the rubber band feeling of the CVT makes it seem like the car is even slower.

    • Ride Quality: The little Outlander isn't an uncomfortable car, but you definitely feel the bumps in the road more so than, say, a RAV4. Despite this, we found ourselves enjoying the ride because you really feel connected with the road in a way that a smooth riding vehicle doesn't.
    • Steering: The steering is light, easy, responsive and features good road feel.
    • Acceleration: Lackluster at best. Ours had the bigger 2.4-liter engine and we still felt like we were being left in the dust. This engine paired with a different transmission would likely perform well.
    • Braking: Smooth and progressive brakes make stopping the Outlander Sport one of the vehicle's high points.
    • Handling: Maneuvering the CUV was easy and parking a cinch. We also enjoyed throwing it around curves although it is not very sport, despite its name.

  • Technology & Safety

    Everything in the Outlander Sport feels at least five years too old. The touchscreen's layout, the cheap plastic buttons and knobs, the quality of the icons and images on the screen and the connections on the dash and in the center console all feel dated. The only positive thing about this dated system is that it's extremely easy to use because it's so simple.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The 6.1-inch touchscreen display is too small and even if it was bigger, the graphics are bad enough that it wouldn't look good. Mitsubishi should focus on system and graphic refinement before going with a bigger screen size.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Phone pairing was pretty simple, though we did have issues connecting at first because the vehicle wasn't an option as a connection (this could possible be our phone). After some fiddling with the system, we were able to make and keep a connection.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Sound quality wasn't as high as other vehicles we've driven and voices sounded hollow and far off, but there were no interruptions or any real difficulty hearing each other. The sound good playing music, though sometimes you have to crank the volume due to road noise.
    • Controls: The controls in the Outlander Sport are simple and easy to use, but feel cheap.
    • Safety: The Outlander Sport comes well-equipped with hill start assist, ABS brakes, active stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, front, knee, side and side curtain airbags and child-safety door locks.

  • Exterior Design and Styling

    One of the best things about the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the exterior design and styling. The vehicle sits at about the perfect height, looking good from the outside and providing good visibility inside. The exterior styling is simple, aggressive and unique. This isn't just a shrunken version of the standard Outlander, it's really its own vehicle.

    • Front: The front benefits from aggressive headlights and a horizontally split grille. While we liked the grille we wish the split wasn't piano black. It cheapens the look.
    • Rear: The rear of the vehicle features large wraparound LED taillights and Mitsubishi's logo as well as the Outlander Sport badging. It's a simple and smartly laid out rear.
    • Profile: The profile of the Outlander Sport makes the car look pretty small, but its exterior size beguiles the interior space. Don't let its compact SUV-like profile fool you.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    The interior of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is plenty spacious -- and feels even more so thanks to a panoramic glass roof -- but unfortunately, the seats are merely okay. They are reasonably bolstered and supportive, but spending more than an hour or two in the car was uncomfortable. The seats could use some more cushioning and additional adjustments. Also, a telescoping steering wheel's needed. We had to move our seat pretty far up to reach the steering wheel and found our legs a bit cramped.

    • Front Seats: The seats look good but the leather feels low-grade and additional seat adjustment would make long runs in the Outlander Sport more enjoyable.
    • Rear Seats: There's plenty of room in the rear seats for two adults or three kids, but any more people and you'd want a different vehicle.
    • Visibility: Great visibility all around and near perfect seating height.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    Mitsubishi doesn't seem all that interested in providing plenty of places for people to store things. The cabin of the vehicle is plenty spacious and it seems like there would be more places or at least more spacious bins and cubbies to put things. The trunk area, however, was on par with most vehicles in the segment, although it certainly wasn't the biggest.

    • Storage: The center console storage space is small, and the door pockets are also small. Don't plan on bringing too much with you. Luckily the cup holders are the right size and deep enough to be useful.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: The trunk is plenty spacious and you can always fold down the rear seats for a total of 49.5 cubic feet of space.

  • Final Impressions

    The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is one of Mitsubishi's better vehicles, but unfortunately, that isn't saying much. The vehicle lacks the power and technology to be a true competitor and has to rely on its low price, and good looks for sales. While some people may actually appreciate the simplicity of the technology, there's no option to upgrade. We had the top trim level and wonder what the base model is like.

    We see the Outlander Sport as a good platform for a new Mitsubishi to build on. The company got many things right with this vehicle, but it still needs to take things a step further. Hopefully, Nissan's takeover will help the Outlander Sport progess as it needs to.

    Mitsubishi should punt the crappy CVT and put in a good infotainment system. If the company does that, this vehicle could be a serious contender. As it is, we'd encourage shoppers to test drive a model with a manual transmission because we have a feeling it would enhance this vehicle quite a bit and turn it into a car that's enjoyable to drive.

  • Specifications & Price:

    Engine: 2.4-liter four cylinder

    Transmission: CVT

    Drivetrain/Layout: Front Engine, All-wheel Control

    Power Output: 168 hp / 167 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 22 city / 27 highway

    Base Price: $27,395

    As Tested: $28,345 (incl. $895)

    Standard Features: Electric power steering MacPherson Strut front suspension with stabilizer bar, multi-link suspension rear with stabilizer bar, all-wheel control, steering wheel with paddle shifters, super wide high intensity discharge headlights, auto on/off headlights, fog lights, rear LED combination tail lights, color-keyed side-view mirrors, with turn signal indicators, black roof rails, chrome beltline molding, short pole antenna, 4WD decal, panoramic glass roof with adjustable LED mood lighting, heated side mirrors, rear window intermittent wiper/washer with defroster, rain sensing windshield wipers, rear privacy glass, single exhaust outlet with chrome tip, 18-inch two-one alloy wheels, 225/55R18 all-season tires, power folding side mirrors, wheel arch moldings, color LCD multi-information display, high-contrast meter gauge cluster, dual-visor vanity mirrors with illumination, rear cargo area light, ECO driver indicator light, drive mode selector, leather seating surfaces, heated driver and front passenger seats, 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, 4-way manually adjustable passenger seat, 60/40 split rear seatback, rear eat adjustable head restraints, driver's side seat back pocket, automatic air conditioning climate control, micron air filtration, rear heated floor ducts, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped shift knob, leather wrapped parking brake handle, aluminum pedals, soft-touch upper I/P and door trim, chrome-plated interior door handles, gloss black with silver accent audio panel carpeted floor mats, remote hood and fuel door release lever, 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system with 9 speakers, 6.1-inch touch panel display audio system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 3-month subscription, Digital HD Radio, FUSE Hands-Free Link System, with Bluetooth, USB port, and steering wheel controls, rearview camera, steering wheel audio controls, FAST-key passive entry system with panic feature, one touch start/stop engine switch, cruise control, power door locks and side view mirrors, power windows with driver's aide auto up/down, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, 12-volt accessory outlets, center console box with armrest and cup holders, center slide-adjustable armrest, instrument panel lower-center storage, front door storage pockets with bottle holders, Pocket tissue and pen holder, rear seat center armrest with cup holders, rear cargo compartment, cargo tie-down utility hooks, retractable assist grips, hill start assist, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, active stability control, traction control logic, tire pressure monitoring system, front and rear side curtain airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, driver's knee airbag, advanced dual-stage front airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts with pretensioner, three-point seatbelts and head restraints, LATCH child-safety-seat anchors and upper tethers, child-safety rear door locks, anti-theft security alarm system, anti-theft engine immobilizer, RISE body construction, side-impact door beams

    Options on our test vehicle: Accessory Wheel Locks

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