Introduced for the 2011 model year, Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport compact crossover has become the best-selling vehicle in the Japanese company’s North American lineup.
Based on the older, larger Outlander that has been around for about a decade, the Outlander Sport offers a competitive price and good fuel economy for its class, and it has enough creature comforts to make for a pleasant, if slightly less exhilarating, driving experience.
The 2013 Outlander Sport is offered in only two trim levels, the base ES and the SE. Both are available in front-wheel or all-wheel-drive configurations with the 2WD ES starting at $19,995, including destination and deliver and the 2WD SE at $23,190. AWD adds another $1,200 to the MSRP.
Both models come with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at a mild 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The upper-trim level SE model comes with a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) that many reviewers have criticized for its lack of power.
The five-speed manual transmission that is standard on the ES, however, delivers a bit more more in the way of performance and acceleration, assuming you are deft enough with the clutch.
The Outlander Sport is lighter than its big brother Outlander, so that helps makes it feel a bit more agile as well.
It also helps in the way of fuel economy.
EPA ratings for 2WD models are 24 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway with the manual transmission and 24/31 for the CVT. AWD figures are the same for the city, but mileage is a bit less for the CVT on the highway (29).
The CVT, by the way, is available as an option on the ES model, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you just really, really don’t like to bother with shifting gears.
The Outlander Sport’s cabin is pretty basic. Both the ES and SE come with fabric seats, though the SE gets upgraded “premium” fabric. Leather is also available as an option on the SE. Seats are mechanically adjustable on both models, and they offer good support for a comfortable ride.
The front seat has plenty of head and legroom, unless you happen to be an NBA center, and controls are easy to reach intuitive to operate. There’s a lot to be said — and all of it good — for knobs to turn to operate the radio and the climate control and buttons to push for audio presents. There also are duplicate audio controls on the steering wheel.
Mitsubishi’s Fuse hands-free, voice-activation system is standard on both the ES and SE to operate some functions, including the optional navigation system.
Cargo capacity is less-than overwhelming for the segment, however. It is listed as a maximum 21.7 cubic feet behind the second row, 49.5 with the second-row seats down. That’s enough to handle most of your weekly chores.
Overall, the Outlander doesn’t overwhelm you with any feature in particular that would make you sit up and say, “Wow! Got to have that!”
But neither is there a whole lot to find fault with or turn you off, especially when you take into consideration its competitive price and fuel economy.
And it has the attractive looks of a more expensive vehicle as well. It’s easy to see why it is setting the selling pace for Mitsubishi.