Drive a new car off the dealership lot in 2011 and no matter the make or model, you’re almost certainly in a car that’s safe, reliable, and competent on the road. We live in a time in which “bad cars” are practically extinct, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a prime example of that. Mitsubishi’s compact crossover is a brand-new vehicle with a design that’s years fresher than many of the segment’s stalwarts. Despite that, it stumbles to the back of the pack right out of the gate. There’s nothing perilously wrong with this Mitsubishi, but neither does it really sell itself. While its long-term reliability is untested, the Outlander Sport definitely suffers from the perception of low quality. The cabin creaks and rattles, the suspension occasionally crashes and clunks, and the interior feels decidedly cheap. Engine vibrations are evident at higher rpms, which you’ll often see in efforts to get this 3040-pound vehicle moving with 148 hp. All that is a shame, because the Outlander Sport steers nicely and looks pretty sharp among some stodgier competitors.
– Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Besides the fact that its name is confusing (see Mr. Tingwall’s initial review of this car), the new Outlander Sport is a nice small hatchback. It’s nothing fancy, but perfectly fine, especially when you consider the car’s $19,275 base price. Our test car-with its wheel covers, stick shift, and cloth seats-was a bare-bones, no-options model, a rarity among press cars but somewhat refreshing nonetheless. As Eric mentioned, though, the Outlander Sport’s lack of refinement is plainly evident. I, too, liked the car’s looks and steering, but I was unimpressed by its extreme amounts of body roll during cornering. The tradeoff, of course, is ride quality that’s much more tolerable than that of, say, a Lancer Evolution.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
No, Rusty, this isn’t an Evo, but Mitsubishi already offers something — the Lancer Sportback Ralliart — for those who want to mix hatchback practicality with sports-car handling. The Outlander Sport, however, is something different: a micro-sized crossover that manages to drive like a tall Lancer (which, mechanically speaking, it is).
That means the Outlander Sport is blessed with quick, well-weighted steering, along with brakes that deliver nice bite and respectable pedal feel. The 148-horsepower 2.0-liter provides adequate power for a 3032-pound vehicle, but as my colleagues note, it is rather coarse when pushed hard.
I’d argue the biggest downfall lies within the cabin. The interior is a marginal improvement over Mitsubishi’s other offerings (the dash pad, for instance, is slightly softer than that on the Lancer and Outlander), but is still a sea of hard, cheap-looking plastics. I didn’t notice any substantial rattle or squeaks during my weekend with the vehicle, but I can see how a number of surfaces may be prone to scuffing or scratching.
Some of that can be forgiven after a glance at the price tag. At $19,275, standard equipment includes keyless entry, an AM/FM/MP3 stereo with a USB audio input, Bluetooth, ABS, stability control, hill-start assist, and seven airbags. If Mitsubishi could see fit to improve the cabin, I think the Outlander Sport could have plenty of potential.
– Evan McCausland, Web Producer
There aren’t a lot of sub-$20,000 crossovers on the market, which makes the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, on paper at least, a pretty good deal. As most of my colleagues have noted, however, the Outlander Sport doesn’t have anything that makes it stand out in the marketplace, and the materials, while not shoddy, don’t give a perception of high quality. As with all Mitsubishi models, the Outlander Sport’s gaping maw of a grille practically shouts at you to notice it, but other than that, the experience of driving this vehicle is rather underwhelming. Still, the price is right, and there will likely be consumers to whom that is the Outlander Sport’s most attractive asset.
– Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES
Base price (with destination): $19,275
Price as tested: $19,275
2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
5-speed manual transmission
Tire pressure monitoring system
Hill start assist
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Heated side mirrors
AM/FM/CD/MP3 head unit with 4 speakers
Auxiliary audio input
Fuse hands free link system with USB port
Telescoping steering column
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
60/40-split rear seat
Options on this vehicle:
Key options not on vehicle:
Navigation package — $2150
CVT automatic transmission — $1500
Exterior sport package — $995
Fuel economy: 24/31/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.0L DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 148 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Curb weight: 3032 lb
Wheels/tires: 16 x 6.5-inch steel wheels with covers; 215/70R16 Yokohama Geolander G033 all-season tires