We know it's easy to do, but don't confuse the Mitsubishi Outlander with the Outlander Sport. Although the two vehicles share names, platforms, and styling cues, their personalities are markedly different. While the Outlander has evolved into a larger, family-oriented vehicle, the Sport is a svelte crossover targeted at buyers who want an affordable and frugal sport-utility vehicle. If the Outlander Sport looks like a Lancer Sportback on stilts, that's because it essentially is. The compact crossover shares its basic underpinnings, powertrain, and a number of components--including the instrument panel, for instance--with Mitsubishi's entry-level sedan. All Outlander Sports crib the 2.0-liter, 148-hp four-cylinder engine from the Lancer DE and ES models. A five-speed manual transmission is available on ES models, although a CVT is available and is standard on the higher-grade SE trim. Not only does the CVT improve fuel economy (25/31 mpg city/highway), but it's also available with an optional all-wheel-drive system. The Outlander Sport's Lancer roots bless it with great steering and decent handling, but it doesn't exactly live up to its name. Although the four-cylinder engine sips fuel, it feels markedly underpowered. The five-speed manual livens things up a bit, but acceleration in CVT models--especially those coupled with all-wheel drive--is adequate at best. If you can't live with a Lancer hatchback and can forgo the power offered by several competitors, the Outlander Sport may be a perfect fit.
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