First Drive: 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC
The small crossover segment is so vast and popular with CUV’s such as the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Hyundai Tucson, that we sometimes forget about the ones that don’t quite have the same large marketing budget as they do. Like the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for example. In fact, as most automakers CUV’s leap into six-figure sales goals, the Outlander Sports struggles to pull in the mid 70k range – at least according to last year’s numbers anyway. So we’re taking a look at the forgotten small crossover that’s still trying to make a name for itself.
At first sight, it seems the Outlander Sport has a bit of an identity crisis going on – the front looks like the sporty Lancer sedan – which we like. The rigid lines add a smart, aggressive presence. But the minute you pass the nose, it’s a different story. It seems as though they forgot what they were trying to accomplish and chop off the rear giving an awkward profile.
Unlike our normal top spec’d testers, our sampled Plain Jane White Pearl Outlander Sport sat right dab in the middle of its available three trim levels as the SE model. While the SE may not be top dog, it still offers a fair amount of attractive features like HID Headlamps with LED Daytime Lights, lovely standard 18” alloy wheels and LED Taillights.
Even more confident in the media’s opinion, Mitsubishi offered us the base 2.0-liter four cylinder engine over the more power 2.4L. This standard 2.0-liter produces 148 horsepower and 145lb-ft of torque – matte that to its CVT tranny and 60 mph is achieved in over 10 seconds… just barely.
At 3,300lbs, the Outlander Sport doesn’t weigh much more than the average car; however, pair with this weak 2.0-liter engine and CVT transmission, it starts to reflect how much it struggles to gain momentum. To help the Outlander Sport along, Mitsubishi included magnesium paddle shifter for a simulated 6-speed transmission – while that helps some to maneuver in and out of traffic situations, fact of the matter is, it’s still a CVT and struggles to find the right power band to keep you moving.
Our tester here was fitted with the optional all-wheel drive control that automatically syncs to your driving conditions and engages the four-wheel drive when needed – so when the going gets tough, the AWC powers through. Under normal road conditions, the Outlander is simple minded – the suspension provides a subtle ride quality and the steering isn’t overly sportatious providing generous feedback to the driver while maintaining a comfort level for parking lot maneuverability.
When getting into the Outlander Sport, there is a sense of being taken back to 2008. The design is humble but uses a fair amount of cheap materials and hard plastics. Fitted to our tester was the optional Touring Package, which will set you back $4,900, includes the touch screen Navigation, Leather Interior, Rockford Fosgate sound system, a Panoramic Glass Roof, and a few other goodies. The Navigation is what disappointed us the most, having an aftermarket feel it’s difficult to navigate while driving, the buttons are small, and the image is grainy. And while the glass roof with LED accent lights is pretty swanky, we wished it had some type of power retractable feature as our tester nearing 10,000 miles which had shuffled through multiple journalist started to have a vulgar odor that we couldn’t seem to get rid of.
On the positive side, our featured black leather interior was adequately comfortable offering driver side power adjustments and heated seats, two full size adults can fit in the back, and there is room in the trunk for life’s little adventures.
There is also a positive note for the CVT transmission which is fuel economy – rated at 24/30/27 (city/highway/combined) the Outlander Sport can achieve about 340 miles on regular grade fuel before needing another pitstop.
Around the big city, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport works – it’s small enough to maneuver around narrow streets and big enough to haul a group of friends to dinner. The biggest problem we see here is that it still has a lot of growing up to do before it can officially compete against its top competitors. And settling at an as tested price near 30-grand, there are some better alternatives to be had.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC:||$24,195|