Despite having “Sport” affixed to its name, the Outlander Sport doesn’t deliver meaningful performance. Its two engine options are underpowered for SUV’s heft and the CVT most receive doesn’t do any favors. Safety and reliability scores are lower than average, so there isn’t any tradeoff. Unless you opt for the base trim with the manual transmission, we’d skip this SUV for almost any other competitor.
Even the base ES trim receives a respectable amount of standard features including heated mirrors with turn signal indicators, LED tail lights, and a micron air filter system. You can also get a good old fashioned 5-speed manual transmission, which is rare for the segment. We’d recommend this model for its low price and better performance. The CVT hasn’t been well-received by critics and many owners complain of poor acceleration to the point that it hinders driving safely. This SUV submits one of the best warranties around, with a 10 year, 100,000-mile powertrain coverage. However, once you move up the trims, many competitors offer better all-around SUVs for the money.
The Outlander Sport is available with two different engines: a DOHC 16-valve 2 Liter inline 4 cylinder and a DOHC 16-valve 2.4 Liter inline 4 cylinder. The first is available with a 5 speed manual on the lowest trim, while the second is only available with a Continuously Variable Transmission. The first is good for a 9.5 second trip to sixty (quicker with the 5-speed) and the second will do it about a second quicker. Neither are very quick. But once you’re up to speed, the ride isn’t altogether unpleasant and the steering is well-weighted with a bit of feedback. The CVT holds revs high to get any meaningful power out of either undersized engines, which means you’ll likely get actual fuel economy well below the EPA ratings of 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The brakes are average and begin to fade under repeated heavy braking. The performance of this subcompact is below average. If you’re looking for a quick subcompact, you should consider either the Subaru CrossTrek or Mazda CX-3.
As you might expect from a budget-priced subcompact SUV, the interior is basic. At least the upper dash is soft touch, which is better than the hard plastic dashes found in many competitors. The gauges and controls are simple, the stock audio display isn’t a touchscreen. Moving up the trim levels will get you a 6.1-inch touchscreen display with a standard rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All radios receive Mitsubishi’s Fuse system to connect your phone via Bluetooth or USB port. The steering wheel is well-designed and of an agreeable thickness.
The seats lack lumbar support but are comfortable for all but tall drivers who complain about poor thigh support. Rear seats provide decent headroom and legroom but are short on a proper place to place your feet. Despite the micro ute’s size, there’s actually plenty of cargo capacity with up to 49.5 cubic feet overall and 21.7 cubes behind the rear row. The 2018 refresh promises some changes to the interior including a 7-inch infotainment system and the availability of advanced driver assistance features and we’ll update you when more information is available. The cabin is about what you’d expect in an SUV at this price point and contributes generous utility for its size.
Of all our gripes about this little Mitsu SUV, the exterior isn’t one of them. It’s definitely stylish. With a front end reminiscent of the Lancer Evo, the Outlander comes across as capable and sporty without being immature. The side profile features bulging fenders and rising lines to the wider, higher rear. Speaking of, the backend isn’t bad either with a tidy hatchback trimmed with tail lights and a shark fin antenna. Unlike many competitors, a spoiler is only available as an option instead of standard. The good news is the various wheel options are all attractive and succeed in creating an athletic aesthetic. The 2018 refresh adds a restyled front fascia with LED daytime running lamps, as well as a redesigned rear bumper and new wheels.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards the Outlander Sport a 4-star overall rating due to a 4-star rating in the frontal crash test. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Outlander Sport received all “GOOD” ratings, except for the strenuous small overlap front test. It received an “ACCEPTABLE” rating in this test due to the dummy’s head making brief contact with the front airbag then sliding between the front and side airbag, exposing the head to the A-pillar area.
The dummy kinematics report did not show a likelihood of serious injury, which is why it received an acceptable rating rather than marginal or poor. Furthermore, both headlight systems available are rated “POOR” by the IIHS. Advanced safety technology like autonomous emergency braking isn’t available in any Mitsubishi vehicles at this time and many competitors do offer these. The 2018 model is rumored to receive these technologies as part of the Grand Touring trim level. These issues paired with the sluggish CVT make the Outlander Sport a rather unsafe SUV, we’d recommend choosing a competitor.
The Outlander Sport receives a 2.5 out of 5 predicted reliability rating from JD power and a 3 out of 5 predicted reliability rating from Consumer Reports for 2017. These scores indicate average reliability for the segment. The 2017 model has no open recalls with the NHTSA and just a few complaints, while the 2016 has 3 recalls and several more complaints. One of the recalls is for a hesitation in acceleration with the CVT, which is also the source of many of the complaints. There’s a disconcerting complaint about the steering wheel and engine locking up, causing an accident.
Another for headlights that burned out prematurely. There are also a few complaints about premature wheel bearing failure. There are several complaints about improper waterproofing that allows water to seep through. Based on our research, we wouldn’t recommend the Outlander Sport as a reliable subcompact SUV, especially when there are several alternatives at the same price that have stellar reliability ratings like the Honda HR-V and Toyota RAV4. One caveat we will add is that the standard 10 year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty may make this purchase feasible, assuming you live near a Mitsubishi dealer.
We could insert nearly any competitor here and give a list of reasons why it’s a better SUV than the Outlander Sport. We’ll save our breath and just select one: the Mazda CX-3, one of our favorite subcompact SUVs. Even the $19,960 base CX-3 includes a standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a rearview camera. At nearly every trim level, the CX-3 provides more for the money. Not to mention, some of the best interior and exterior designs in the segment. The CX-3’s 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder puts up nearly identical power numbers but its six-speed automatic transmission in leagues better than the Mitsu’s CVT. As a result, it achieves significantly better fuel economy at 29 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. The handling and steering are much more responsive, putting the CX-3 in another class when it comes to performance.
Unlike the Mitsu, the Mazda’s cabin is upscale and modern. The front seats are more supportive, but the rear seats aren’t as good as those in the Outlander Sport. There’s less room in the CX-3. This lack extends to cargo as well, where there is just 12.4 cubes behind the rear seat and 44.5 overall, which isn’t much less than the Outlander Sport. The CX-3 is also safer and picks up a coveted “Top Safety Pick+” title from the IIHS. Though they both receive identical reliability ratings, the CX-3 has a far cleaner NHTSA record, leading us to believe it’s the more reliable of the two as well. If we had to choose between the two, we’d go with the CX-3 though the base ES allows the satisfaction of shifting your own gears.
The ES 2.0 stars from $19,795 with a 2.0 Liter DOHC 16-valve inline 4 cylinder that makes 148 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. This engine is mated to a 5-speed do-it-yourself gearbox. The front suspension is a MacPherson strut with stabilizer while the rear features multi-link suspension with a stabilizer bar. An electric power steering system points you in the direction you need to go. 18 x 7 inch J aluminum alloy wheels with Nexen P225/55R18 tires surround the ventilated single piston 11.6 inch front disc brakes and the 11.9 inch solid single piston rear disc brakes. Standard exterior features include halogen headlamps, rear LED combination tail lights, color-keyed front bumper, color-keyed power adjustable side view mirrors with turn signal indicators and heat function, shark fin antenna, rear privacy glass, wheel arch moldings, front windshield variable intermittent wipers, and rear window intermittent wiper/washer with defroster. There’s a Color LCD multi-information display inside, along with dual visor vanity mirrors, rear dome light, rear cargo area light, Upshift indicator light for manual transmission, Eco Driver indicator light for CVT, fabric-trimmed seating for five, micron air filtration, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped shift knob, soft-touch upper instrument panel and door trim, Carbon design audio panel, carpeted floor mats, and remote hood and fuel door release lever. A 140 watt 4 speaker audio system is standard and includes FUSE Hands-Free Link System with Bluetooth and USB port connectivity. 7 standard airbags with driver knee airbag, active stability control, traction control logic, and RISE body construction are among features that protect occupants. LED fog lights cost $335. Roof Rack Crossbars are $315. A Navigation System Package is available for $1,800. A CVT transmission is available for $1,200 and All-Wheel Control is an extra $1,600.
The LE 2.0 trim costs $21,995 and installs a Continuously Variable Transmission, super wide HID headlights, fog lights, black side-view mirrors with turn signal indicators, 18-inch black painted alloy wheels, heated driver & front passenger seats, leather-wrapped parking brake handle, red-stitched steering wheel, red stitched shift knob, red stitched parking brake handle, aluminum pedals, 6. 5 inch audio display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth technology, and Rearview camera system. All Wheel Control is $1,500 extra. The Limited Edition Value Package adds a rear undercover, scuff plates and a large rear spoiler for $425. LED fog lights cost $335. Roof Rack Crossbars are $315.
The SE 2.4 trim receives a larger, 2.4 Liter inline 4 cylinder that makes 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque. This trim reverts to halogen headlights and 18 inch alloy two-tone wheels but gets dual visor vanity mirrors with illumination, a 6.1 inch touchscreen audio display with Digital HD Radio, a rearview camera, a 140-watt sound system with 6 speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio, and FAST-key passive entry system with one-touch start/stop engine switch for $22,695. All Wheel Control costs $1,500. LED fog lights cost $335. Roof Rack Crossbars are $315. A Navigation System Package is available for $1,800.
The SEL 2.4 trim begins at $24,195 and installs power folding side mirrors, silver front bumper under garnish, black roof rails, chrome beltline molding, front windshield rain-sensing intermittent wipers, single exhaust outlet with chrome tip, leather seating surfaces, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, gloss black with silver accent audio panel, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, center slide-adjustable armrest, and paddle shifters. All Wheel Control costs $1,500. LED fog lights cost $335. Roof Rack Crossbars are $315. A Navigation System Package is available for $1,800.
The GT 2.4 AWC trim starts from $27,695 and includes all-wheel drive standard, as well as HID headlights, a panoramic glass roof, adjustable LED mood lighting, drive mode selector, a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system with 8 speakers, a 10-inch subwoofer with Punch Control, and Dolby Volume control. All Wheel Control costs $1,500. LED fog lights cost $335. Roof Rack Crossbars are $315. A Navigation System Package is available for $1,800.