The Outlander and the Outlander Sport may share platforms and names, but there's no mistaking the two when placed side by side. While the Outlander Sport is a smaller crossover designed to target young buyers, the Outlander is now a more mature, sophisticated, and family-friendly offering than ever before. Although this second-generation model dates back to 2006, a midcycle update lent the Outlander an aggressive, sporty exterior (blatantly inspired by the Lancer Evolution), along with some upgraded interior materials. A 2.4-liter I-4 powers both the base ES and midlevel SE trims--the latter is available in both front- and all-wheel-drive forms. Mated with a continuously variable transmission, the four-cylinder can deliver up to 28 mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive form, but with nearly 3400 pounds of mass to move, acceleration predictably suffers. We'd recommend stepping up to the GT, which is the only Outlander that offers six-cylinder power. A 3.0-liter V-6 provides an adequate 230 hp and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, opting for all-wheel drive on a GT model ushers in Mitsubishi's S-AWC driveline. Also found in the Lancer Evolution, this system can vector torque between the rear wheels, improving both traction and cornering. Although competitors such as the Subaru Outback and the Hyundai Santa Fe offer a little more interior sophistication and a little less road noise, the Outlander--especially in GT form--delivers impressive handling, a comfortable ride, and room for up to seven.
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