Top dog in Mitsubishi’s abbreviated U.S. lineup, the Outlander Sport claims an affordable price tag, a big warranty and a loyal following.
With winter in the offing, the compact crossover presents a solid value proposition: AWD trims start at $23,020, including destination, FWD at $20,420.
The 2015 Outlander Sport — the <em>Sport</em> differentiates it from its larger sibling, the midsize, three-row Outlander — receives numerous improvements. Outside, a freshly restyled grille and black-out lower valances jazz up its tidy proportions. Recessed fog lamps get new chrome surrounds. The upper SE trim ($23,620/$25,020) adds new LED tail lamps.
Inside, fabrics are new and improved. There are new chrome accents and the steering wheel and shift knob are leather-wrapped.
All models are quieter this year, thanks to thicker front-door window glass and new sound insulation in the rear quarter-panels.
Standard gear includes automatic halogen headlights, heated mirrors, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, Mitsubishi's voice-activated Fuse electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker audio system with CD player, auxiliary audio jack and USB/iPod interface.
Stepping up to the SE fetches heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, xenon headlights and an upgraded six-speaker audio system with satellite radio come along for the ride.
A navigation package, with 7-inch touchscreen, and a park assist program, with front and rear sensors, are available on both trims.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, hill start assist, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A rearview camera is optional.
All trims are powered by a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. The base ES trim can be had with a five-speed manual transmission; all others get a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has been revised this year for improved efficiency and acceleration. Modifications include programmed “shift points” that replicate the effect of a 7-speed automatic.
Even the electric power steering system is recalibrated this year for improved economy.
Front-drive trims equipped with the CVT earn an estimated 28 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway); AWD versions are rated at 27/24/30. With the five-speed stick, the FWD ES is rated at 26/24/30.
Despite the nomenclature and steering-wheel paddle shifters aside, not much “sport” is involved here. Manual-transmission models run the 0-60 sprint in just under 9 seconds, with CVT trims a few ticks slower.
The Outlander Sport’s softly sprung all-independent suspension favors ride quality over handling, but at freeway speeds, it feels stable and planted. Decent on-center steering feel minimizes driver fatigue over long distances.
Every Outlander Sport is backed by a transferable 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, a transferable 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and a 5-year/unlimited miles roadside assistance program.
Some compact crossovers are more refined. Some are sportier and others more utilitarian. But, for buyers facing winter weather on a limited budget, the Outlander Sport may be the value proposition they’re seeking.
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWD
Vehicle base price: $18,942
Trim level base price: $24,195
As tested: $29,945
Optional equipment included navigation, with real-time traffic and 3D mapping; leather seating surfaces; premium sound system; auto-dimming rearview mirror; power driver’s seat; panoramic glass roof with LED illumination; black roof rails.
EPA ratings: 27 combined/24 city/30 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified