By Steve & Tami Laser
Let’s say you’re shopping for a compact SUV and you don’t want to follow the pack with a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. You’re looking for something different, with sportier styling that’s not likely to blend into the background within rows of identical vehicles in a parking lot. Mitsubishi, a company known for sporty cars like the Lancer Evolution, offers a solution called Outlander Sport.
As the best-selling model in Mitsubishi’s U.S. lineup, Outlander Sport combines snazzy good looks with high-tech features, a fuel-efficient powertrain and a lengthy roster of safety features. It’s also priced right with the base model starting below $20,000.
Mitsubishi’s lineup of SUVs can be a bit confusing. The Outlander Sport has two rows of seats with five-passenger capacity. There’s a separate model called Outlander that shares the same wheelbase yet its longer body accommodates a standard third-row seat bringing seating capacity to seven.
The 2014 Outlander Sport was named a “Top Safety Pick+” vehicle by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the highest rating bestowed by this non-profit organization. To receive this score, Outlander Sport had to rank “Good,” the top rating, in separate Small Overlap Front, Moderate Overlap Front, Side, Roof Strength and Head Restraints and Seats categories.
Mitsubishi updated Outlander Sport last year, endowing it with a bolder trapezoidal grille that gives it a more muscular appearance. Those who prefer American-made vehicles will be pleased to learn that Outlander Sport is built in the “Land of Lincoln” at Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Illinois.
Manual gearbox fans give Mitsubishi credit for not abandoning them like competitors. A 5-speed manual is standard on the front-drive ES. Optional on ES and standard on SE is a Continuously Variable Transmission.
CVTs are popular since they provide an infinite number of “gear ratios” to help improve fuel economy. Steering wheel-mounted paddle “shifters” provide another level of control.
Our Outlander Sport SE front-drive tester was fitted with the CVT and standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s rated at 148 horsepower and 145 ft-lbs of torque. This gives it a good combo of performance and efficient operation. With fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg city/31 highway and 27 combined, we scored 22 mpg during a week of driving on freeways, city streets and country roads.
ES and SE models can be fitted with Mitsubishi’s All Wheel Control system that combines the grip of electronically controlled four-wheel drive with the intelligence of active stability and traction control for improved performance on a variety of road conditions.
SE’s comfy cabin is loaded with standard features including automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, color multi-information display, 60/40-split folding rear seat, 6.1-inch touchscreen display audio with rearview camera and fast-key entry with one-touch start.
With a base price of $22,595, our tester added a Premium Package with an excellent Rockford-Fosgate sound system and eight speakers plus a 10-inch dual-voice coil subwoofer with Punch Control, DTS Neural Surround, PremiDIA-WIDE surround and Dolby volume, along with an auto-dimming rearview mirror and power driver’s seat. This brought the bottom line to a still very reasonable $24,420.
Those buying their first Mitsubishi can take solace in the fact that the manufacturer provides a stellar warranty including 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain and 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage plus 5-year/unlimited miles roadside assistance.
When you’re ready to go compact SUV shopping and if you’re still thinking about the CR-V and RAV4, be sure to put the value-priced Outlander Sport on your shopping list.
[2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport press fleet vehicle provided by Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.]
Story ©2014 CarNichiWa