First Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Predictable ride, surprising steering
Mitsubishi says the Outlander Sport cabin is quieter than that of the larger Outlander. That may be true when the Sport is wearing its standard sixteen-inch wheels, but the available 18-inch tires are seriously louder and transmit a significant amount of road noise. Wind noise is also plenty noticeable, but not obtrusive. The ride favors comfort, with a generous suspension travel. In aggressive turns, there is a bit of lean, and over rough roads the suspension can sometimes knock and clunk as if someone forgot to install a few bushings. The electric power steering, though, is excellent. In its first use of this popular technology, Mitsubishi has nailed the calibration. The effort builds naturally, there's great on-center response, and you actually get some road feedback through the steering wheel. Mitsubishi doesn't just have the best steering in the compact crossover segment, it betters many cars with much sportier pretentions.

A family affair
The front end of the Outlander Sport is unmistakably Mitsubishi, becoming the third vehicle to wear the trapezoidal maw first seen on the Lancer Evolution. It's a face that evokes speed and performance, but the rest of the car is a relatively conservative -- and attractive -- in both styling and dynamic prowess. There are family genes under the sheetmetal, too. The new Sport is based on the same platform as the larger Outlander and both cars have the same wheelbase. But here, Mitsubishi chopped the front and rear overhangs to make the Sport almost 15 inches shorter.

tscurt
Begs for a turbo, which would probably put it close to $30k. Whoa....

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