By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
With the large popularity of the big name compact crossovers, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport sometimes gets overlooked, but it?s still a viable option for new car shoppers.
The Outlander Sport is the shorter two-row variation of the three-row Outlander and has more of a ?sporty? nature by execution and of course by name. For 2016, the Outlander Sport gets a minor makeover inside and out with the most noticeable exterior changes being the new Mitsubishi ?Dynamic Shield? front-end design concept, a new 18-inch alloy wheel and power folding door mirrors with European style turn indicator lamps.
Inside a new leather-wrapped steering wheel (with telescoping and tilt adjustments) and improved seat fabrics dress up this latest version. Technical changes include an improved 6.1-inch display audio system and a dimming rearview mirror with the HomeLink? garage door opener built in.
The interior is comfortable featuring wide seats with mild bolsters but good support. The GT trim has heated perforated leather seating in the front. Controls are well-organized with user friendly buttons and knobs and less emphasis on sometimes tricky-to-use touch screens. The seating area has plenty of spaces for storage and most of the touchable surfaces are soft touch which make for a more upscale and quieter feel inside.
Audiophiles or people who like to turn the volume way up will appreciate the 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate? sound system with nine speakers including a massive cargo area-mounted subwoofer and the improved touch screen control. The audio system in the GT includes SiriusXM satellite radio and digital HR radio. It also has the FUSE Hands-Free Link System and Bluetooth?.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes in 11 trim variations when you count the four models (ES, SE, SEL and GT), the two engine variables and choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel control (Mitsubishi?s name for their all-wheel drive system).
Our top-of-the line GT 2.4 test vehicle was powered by the 168-hp 2.4-liter MIVEC DOHC four-cylinder engine. The engine has an all-aluminum block and cylinder heads. A Mitsubishi CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) drives the front wheels on standard models, or the optional AWC. The Outlander Sport accelerates from 0 to 60 in 8.6 seconds, according to buff magazine tests, making it one of slower models in the category. Someone wanting better performance would be better serviced by stepping up to the larger Outlander which has an available 224-hp V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
We did like that the CVT has steering wheel-mounted shift paddles which simulate manual shifting (six-speed automatic) giving the driver better control to hold a gear for cornering or to downshift for engine braking. This powertrain gets an EPA rating of 22 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Our actual numbers totaled 24.9 mpg during a week of easy driving. The somewhat sluggish performance and noisy engine during hard acceleration tend to distract a little from driving enjoyment.
The other available engine is a 2.0-liter MIVEC DOHC, rated at 148 hp. It comes standard with a five-speed manual or optional CVT.
The Outlander Sport is underpinned by MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link system in the rear, both with stabilizer bars. Together they deliver good handling and flat cornering. Contributing to the driving dynamics is an electric power steering system and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution and Brake Assist. The turning radius is a tight 34.8 feet helping give the Sport an agile feel in close quarters like negotiating through trees in the woods, or in a forest of cars in a parking lot.
Cargo space is better than average for crossovers of this size with 21.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 49.5 cubic feet with the rear seat back folded.
The little Mitsubishi has most all the normal safety equipment including features like Active Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, Engine immobilizer, anti-theft alarm system and seven air bags.
Pricing on the 11 trim levels of the 2016, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport start as low as $20,845, including the destination charge, for the front-wheel drive ES with 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission. The CVT is a $1,200 option and the All-Wheel Control System adds $1,400. The top model the GT 2.4 with AWC is priced at $28,245, and with all the available factory packages checked on the order, the price can go as high as $32,935. Still the Outlander Sport is one of the better values in the segment.
An additional plus for the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the fully transferable five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty,10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and the five-year unlimited mile roadside assistance program.