2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: The Little Bruiser

13 Jun 2011 | 2,395 views | No Comment
  By Don Hammonds As each corner of the automotive market gets more crowded, it gets harder and harder to be unique, to be distinctive. But Mitsubishi seems to have licked that problem in fine style with its all new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, a small tough-looking SUV that puts down a pretty big image on the street. It looks plenty aggressive, has some cool character lines along its flanks lthat make it look fast standing still, and  large tires and menacing looking alloy wheels that, altogether, should make the new model stand out, especially with younger customers. All of this is to the good, of course, when you consider how late Mitsubishi is to the small SUV/crossover party. Nearly everybody's got one now,  making it tough for a small company like Mitsubishi to stand out, especially when you consider how expensive it is to launch a marketing campaign. Our test model was a SE two wheel drive version with a base price of $21,695. Adding a navigation system--a good one by the way-- plus destination charges put the price at $24,625. That price seems reasonable,, but at that price, there are an awful lot of small crossovers and SUVS that have built a pretty solid rep that consumers are likely to think of first before the Outlander Sport.  For that price you get all of the features of the base ES plus SE features. The standard items on the list for the ES include 16-inch steel wheels, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activation system and a four-speaker stereo with CD player plus auxiliary audio and USB input jacks. With the SE, you also get 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, a sliding armrest between the front seats, a second-row armrest with center pass-through, upgraded upholstery, heated seats, and a six speaker stereo system. Other SE standard features include a chrome grille surround, fog lights, color keyed door handles, rear spoiler, LED taillights, and nnice echaust finishers. But if you still prefer the less expensive ES  model, dono't expect to find a base ES with all wheel drive though,  because it isn't offered. That could pose a problem for consumers if you compare the Outlander Sport with other small crossovers that do offer all wheel drive across the board. The SE model we tested is powered with a 2.0 liter four cylinder engine putting out 148 horsepower. It's rated at 25/31 miles per gallon, and annual fuel costs are estimated at $1,665. The Outlander Sport's primary calling card is comfort and ease of handling.  No matter how bad the surface of the road got, there was composure and stability inside the car, and we never thought that things felt dicey. Quite the contrary.  It was well-behaved at all times. But we do have some issues with the engine. The Outlander Sport seemed to run out of steam when headed up hills, muscling for position off highway entry ramps, or trying to pass up the traffic. It simply needs a few more horsepower to be truly competitive. The interior, while nice and pleasant enough, doesn't offer a lot of aesthetic interest and excitement. It's not as elaborately finished as say, Chevy's Equinox, Nissan's Rogue, and unfortunately, the Outlander Sport's interior presentation and materials are also  outclassed by both Kia's Sportage and Hyundai's Tucson. But still, its cool exterior, quiet, capable ride and handling make the Outlander Sport a product worthy of consideration if you're looking for a small crossover or SUV.

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