Mitsubishi has given its crossover utility lineup a makeover. The Outlander and Outlander Sport each feature new styling and new content to make them more competitive in the very crowded utility segment. We recently tested the Outlander Sport GT and found the new little Mitsubishi to be a pleasant surprise.
This “other” Japanese automaker still sells vehicles in the U.S., even though you can count the number of models in the showroom on one hand. The Outlander Sport resides in the compact utility segment that is highly competitive but suits the automaker well, as almost all Mitsubishi models are under midsized these days.
Leading the model year changes is the new corporate Dynamic Shield front fascia and grille along with new wheel lip moldings and a few other refinements. Inside, Mitsubishi gives the Outlander Sport a new steering wheel, new seat fabrics, 6.1-inch display audio system, new rearview mirror, and new color options all around. Powering the cute ute are two four-cylinder engines: The base 148hp 2.0-liter MIVEC and the optional 168hp 2.4-liter MIVEC. These are mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a Sportronic CVT. Our GT tester had the latter in each case here and included steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The Outlander Sport is available in two-wheel drive and all-wheel control variants with primary power arriving via the front wheels. Fuel economy ranges from 22-24 mpg city and 27-31 mpg highway depending on engine and running gear. Our tester was right in the middle with 23 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The 2.4-liter engine was very peppy and the CVT gearbox kept it running at optimum powerband around town and on the open road. While I have not been a real fan of continuously variable transmissions we never found this unit to rev too high or get too harsh in the driving experience. Engineers have brought CVTs a long way since their inception.
We found our time in the Outlander Sport to be surprisingly pleasant. I expected a cheap box of scrap metal and this was everything but. Fit and finish was above grade and the content and design never disappointed. We ran around on stylish 18-inch alloy wheels, had more than ample room in the rear for grocery runs, and were always enjoying the rocking 710-watt RockfordFosgate premium audio system with subwoofer. The display audio system featured SiriusXM satellite radio, app suite, and rearview camera. Would like to see navigation added to this package.
Interior refinements are set off by leather seating surfaces and tilt/telescopic steering wheel as well as aluminum pedals. Overhead is a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade and mood lighting. Seating is comfortable and there is ample room for four adults but the Outlander Sport will seat up to five.
Pricing for the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport begins at $19,595 for a base ES model and goes up to $29,195 for the GT AWC. Our tester arrived with a final sticker of $26,845 in GT 2WD trim. Only the very base model comes with the five-speed manual transmission, all other Outlander Sports are fitted with the CVT and GT models receive the paddle shifters.
As I said, we were truly impressed with the quality of this little runabout and enjoyed our week behind the wheel. On road it was very quiet and drove quite stable, even through our usual set of twists and turns each day. The powertrain always had us able to step right into the powerband when needed yet settled into blissful harmony as driving conditions turned more tranquil. If you are shopping the compact crossover segment be sure to seek out the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for an alternate choice!