Though you wouldn’t know by looking at them, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is safer than the visually identical 2011 model. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just named the 2012 Outlander Sport crossover a Top Safety Pick after the automaker strengthened the roof structure for better protection in a rollover accident.
Merely “Acceptable” performance in the roof strength test is what keeps the larger Mitsubishi Outlander from becoming a Top Safety Pick, too. The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport joins the Lancer — with the exception of the Ralliart and Evolution models — in earning the IIHS’ award. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has only tested the 2012 Outlander Sport in a rollover test, in which it received four stars out of a possible five.
A driver knee airbag is standard on the Outlander Sport, as well as front airbags that have passenger weight and driver’s seat-position sensors, plus front side airbags and air curtains. Like all 2012 model year vehicles, stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard, too. Other small crossovers already Top Safety Picks include the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Jeep Patriot (when equipped with optional side torso airbags), Subaru Forester, Chevrolet Equinox, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Outlander Sport is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual and CVT are offered, though the latter is the only option for the available all-wheel drive. With the 2013 model year likely bringing an all-new Mitsubishi Outlander, it should be long before we find out whether the new crossover joins the Outlander Sport on the list of IIHS Top Safety Picks.