First Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Things are a little different with the all-wheel drive CVT model we drove. No final weight specs have been released, but we expect the extra axles and differential to add somewhere around 150 lb. Combined with the CVT, the Sport seemed, well, less sporty. Not dog slow, mind you, but brisk acceleration, especially up hills, resulted in lots of Osterizer sounds from under the hood.

The tradeoff for the smaller engine, of course, is fuel economy, and Mitsubishi is betting on highway EPA numbers as high as 31 mpg for the two-wheel drive models.

Like the Outlander, with which the Sport shares its all-wheel drive system, the driver can select between 2WD operation and two AWD modes: "4WD Auto" and "4WD Lock." Both modes can vary the front-to-rear torque split as conditions warrant, but "Auto" mode limits the amount of torque sent to the rear for greater efficiency, "Lock" sends more power rearward for greater grip at the expense of efficiency. We think Mitsubishi should just call them "Eco" and "Traction" -- and then come up with a real "Auto" mode that routes power wherever it needs to.

Our time in the preproduction Outlander Sport was brief, but we look forward to spending more time with a full production version. Given the styling, equipment levels, and price points, we're pretty confident that this little cute-ute will help put Mitsubishi back on some shopping lists.

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Despite it coming with the 2.0, any chances for the turbocharged Evo engines in the future?

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