2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC

Mitsubishi has some solid ingredients here. The aggressive, Lancer Evolution-inspired styling looks trim and attractive on this larger vehicle, making the Outlander Sport more classically handsome than the avant-garde Nissan Juke. The interior, although hardly plush, is also attractive and is sufficiently refined for the segment. As others have noted, there's enough space in here to seat four real people, something other cute-crossovers have trouble doing. And like most Mitsubishis, it's surprisingly well sorted in the steering and handling department.

Unfortunately for Mitsubishi, this segment is already populated by other, more powerful offerings. The $23,775 base Outlander Sport is more than an all-wheel-drive, 188-hp Juke, and the as-tested price of $28,570 just about equals that of a 181-hp Mini Cooper S Countryman All4. The Outlander Sport is stuck with a weak 148-hp engine that parsimoniously distributes its power among the four wheels via a CVT automatic. Some automakers could make up for the performance disparity with extra luxury and equipment, but Mitsubishi frankly isn't one of them. The fussy infotainment system is annoying at best, and the cosmetic enhancements of the exterior sport package only heighten the disparity between the athletic appearance and wheezy performance.

Mitsubishi does have some fine performance hardware. How about, for instance, the Lancer Ralliart's powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine and fast shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission? If the Outlander Sport had that powertrain, even in a detuned form, it could put the Juke and Countryman on the trailer. A man can dream, at least.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

All of my notes more or less mirror those of my colleagues. I really like the Outlander Sport's chunky good looks. The extra-large moonroof is very cool, but the fact that it can't open -- or even vent -- is a bit weird and disappointing. The infotainment system is the same lackluster one from our departed 4S Lancer Evo, with those silly, tap-'em volume controls. Body roll is definitely apparent, but the steering is decent. The drone caused by the continuously variable transmission is not my cup of tea (is it anyone's?), but the paddle simulation works pretty well if you get bored or need to accelerate fairly quickly. The seat fabric is cool, but the seats themselves felt a bit too firm to me.

Essentially, I liked the Outlander Sport better as a bare-bones, $19,275 model, like the one we tested a few months ago. The $9300 worth of extras on this example puts it into a class where it's effectively outclassed.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

I like the OS's styling, too.Agreed regarding Mitsu's abysmal dealership network...The population of my city is upward of 300K, yet only one Mitsu dealership exists within 50 miles, paired with a Ford (?) dealership, and poorly located in a very shoddy area that I don't care to visit regularly for service and what-not.
This is definitely the best looking small cross over vehicle imo. Mitsubishi, if your listening, put some more h.p. in these things. I'd settle for 25 or 26 mpg if sufficient power is available.(ie 180-200 h.p.) Most people would agree with me I think.

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