Eye-catching Design in an Affordable Compact SUV
How would you like to make a product that matches up credibly with your competition, but your sales are so small that you feel nearly invisible? I am guessing this how the people at Mitsubishi feel regarding the Outlander Sport, which is their No. 1 selling vehicle in the U.S., but sells about as many in a full year as the segment leading Honda CR-V sells in a month.
So if you’re Mitsubishi, what to do? The first thing is exactly what they are doing by getting the Outlander Sport into the hands of journalists. Sit back and wait for a consensus of good reviews and then hope consumers pay attention. Let’s see what makes the Outlander Sport worth considering as your next compact SUV.
The front-wheel drive 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE is powered by a 2.0-liter, 16-valve DOHC engine producing 148 hp with 145 lb-ft of torque, driven through a CVT (Constant Velocity Transmission) with paddle shifters. All this delivers an EPA rating of 25 city/32 highway/28 combined mpg. Running on regular unleaded, I was able over 348 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving to average 29.3 mpg. Given the 15.3 gallon fuel tank this means just under 450 miles between fill-ups. And it means the Outlander Sport is a credible member of our 30 MPG SUV Club.
This combination of engine with transmission was smooth, but not terribly powerful, with the paddle shifters a bit of a help to hold the CVT in a power band for more pull. In a few unscientific 0 – 60 runs I averaged a slow and not-exciting 9.9 seconds. Once up to freeway speeds, where it cruised right along in a straight line, the CVT downshifts were noticeable when making passes, climbing a grade and lane changes.
Driving Experience: On the Road
At 3,131 lbs. the Outlander Sport SE feels just right for its dimensions, which are more like a high-riding hatchback than an SUV. In corner handling, it responded nicely, especially around town, with its front independent MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar and multi-link with stabilizer bar at the rear, and all-season tires on 18-inch wheels gripping better than expected.
Electric power-assisted steering was introduced in 2015 to reduce fuel consumption versus the previous hydraulic-assisted power steering system. The steering result is a bit light in town, but with a good balance between a comfortable highway ride and confident cornering. One thing to note is the short turning radius, which is greatly appreciated when whipping a U-turn and not needing to do the dreaded three-point turn maneuver. Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the four-wheel disc, ABS system.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The small and compact SUV category is crowded, so standing-out with a different design is important. Mitsubishi says the 2015 Outlander Sport is “eye-catching” with key aesthetic improvements
including stylish-looking LED running lights. I agree that the Outlander Sport is easily recognizable from its competitors—and in a good way. Looking from the rear, the lights are well-proportioned to the car’s width and height with a side view having a front-to-rear upsweeping beltline that creates a pleasant flow. Personally, I feel the front is too blunt, but such is the design trend these days of almost all SUVs, of any size and price point. The Outlander Sport is due a remodel or freshening so there could be good design styling on the horizon (as was hinted with the plug-in hybrid concept shown at the LA Auto Show).
Driving Experience: Interior
The dash layout is simple and clean with easy-to-find controls. I was especially pleased to see the radio had real knobs for volume and channel selecting and the climate control wheels were a different size than those of the radio, and were located away from the radio to eliminate any confusion. This may not seem like a big thing, but it is when reaching for these very different controls in the dark—regardless of your familiarity with the dash layout.
The Outlander Sport can seat three adults in the 60/40 split bench rear seat, but for longer trips two adults would be more comfortable and could take advantage of the fold down arm rest.
Overhead, the optional panoramic glass roof (no operable) has LED accent illumination. Where the Outlander Sport shines is on seating access height. Remember, this is more of a tall hatchback than a SUV. With this design, the benefit is easy access for loading and unloading children or for drivers and passengers that find getting into a low sedan to be a bit of a challenge. This is a real-world selling point that Mitsubishi should tout.
Both the driver’s eight-way power adjustable and the front passenger’s four-way manual adjustable seats are heated and were easy to adjust to a comfortable position. That was also possible with the leather-wrapped, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio and telephone controls.
As mentioned, the simplicity of the dash layout made reading the gauges and operating the sound system easy. The Outlander Sport SE Touring comes with a seven-inch HD touch screen with 3D mapping and rearview camera. The 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system with nine speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer has a built-in equalizer, which was greatly appreciated to dial out the booming bass. I listen to many sound systems and this was very nice to the ears.
This system came with SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3, USB port with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone.
Other nice interior features are the rear heater floor ducts, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, heated and power outside mirrors, center console with slide-adjustable arm rest, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 12-volt accessory outlets, one each, front and rear.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Outlander Sport ES Touring came with safety and convenience features including nine air bags, passive keyless entry, rain-sensing windshield wipers, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Active Stability Control (ASC), Traction Control Logic (TCL), four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and brake assist, hill start assist, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with LED fog and running lights, illuminated entry, anti-theft security alarm, anti-theft engine immobilizer and a collapsible steering column and foldaway brake pedals.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2015 Outlander Sport with the 5-speed manual transmission is $19,595, excluding the $850 Destination and Handling charge. Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Outlander Sport SE 2WD Touring had a MSRP of $27,695, excluding the $850 Destination and Handling charge.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes with these warranties:
- 5-year/60,000-mile New Vehicle
- 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain
- 5-year/Unlimited mile Roadside Assistance
- 7-year/100,000-mile Corrosion Perforation
Observations: 2015 Outlander Sport ES 2WD Touring
Mitsubishi has done something unique with the 2015 Outlander Sport: offering a well-equipped, fuel-efficient small SUV at the lowest price in its segment. With the base model under $20,000 and a pretty much fully loaded 2WD version coming in under $29,000, you will be hard pressed to find a better value in this category.
It isn’t as fast or fancy as its competition, but it has all the creature comforts you will need to haul a family with small children around town or take just the two of you taking a long weekend vacation. The price is right and the utility is right. Add the 2015 Outlander Sport to your shopping list and see for yourself.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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