Mitsubishi’s Entry-level Compact Crossover
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is attracting buyers with a low entry price, sharp styling and an excellent warranty. But in the hot compact crossover segment, the Outlander Sport has not made much a dent in its competitor’s sales. There are various reasons for this, so what does Mitsubishi’s smallest CUV have to offer?
The all-wheel control, not all-wheel drive, of the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport LE is powered by a 2.0-liter, 16-valve DOHC engine. The 87-octane gasoline engine puts out 148 horsepower with 145 pounds-feet of torque, driven through a Sportronic Constant Velocity Transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters.
The EPA fuel economy rating of 23 city/29 highway/26 combined mpg is mid-to-low for this category (going with the 2WD version buys you one more mpg in each category). Ratings for key competitors to the Outlander Sport include the Subaru Crosstrek at 27 city/33 highway/30 combined; the Jeep Compass 23/32/28; and the Honda HR-V at 28/34/30.
Over 469 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving Clean Fleet Report averaged 26.4 mpg. In an all-freeway run of 204 miles with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we averaged 29.1 mpg. On a long road trip, the 15.8 gallon fuel tank could get you about 450 miles down the road.
Fuel economy reported by Clean Fleet Report is non-scientific and represents the reviewer’s driving experience. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains or spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
The engine and transmission combination was not as smooth as others in the category, not terribly powerful and was noisy. The paddle shifters helped a bit by holding the CVT in a power band for more pull. In a few 0-to–60 runs, we averaged a so-so 8.9 seconds. Once up to freeway speeds, it cruised along nicely. Note: The Outlander Sport has a 2.4-liter engine as an option, which has 20 more horsepower and better torque numbers. The fuel economy numbers remain about the same.
Driving Experience: On the Road
At 3,252 lbs. the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport LE AWC feels just right for its dimensions. Our test Outlander had the Limited Edition Package that included 18-inch, black painted wheels and 225/55 Nexen N-Priz RH7 tires that delivered solid driving stability on the freeway and around curves. Cornering, especially when selecting the AWD Auto driving mode, responded nicely to modest directional changes. The suspension consists of front independent MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar, and multi-link with stabilizer bar at the rear.
The electric power-assisted steering was a bit light in town, but there was good feeling when on the highway. The short turning radius was greatly appreciated when whipping a U-turn to avoid the dreaded three-point turn maneuver. Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the four-wheel disc, ABS system with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, and stability and traction control.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The small/compact SUV category is crowded, so standing-out with a different design is important. The Outlander has had some freshening-up over the past few years, but with the same basic design since 2011, means it is long overdo for a complete makeover.
However, for 2018, the Outlander Sport with the Limited Edition Package is a pleasant-looking crossover. Clean Fleet Report ventured to the Vasquez Rocks, famous as the backdrop for hundreds of movies, television programs and commercials. We wanted to show the Outlander Sport in its element, where its smooth lines are contrasted by the dramatic rock formations.
The front end has a downward lean to it with more chrome than most crossovers. The high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, fog lights and LED running lights meshed well into the front fascia and grille.
Looking from the side view, the front-to-rear upsweeping belt line creates a pleasant flow, with smooth but sculpted doors. The near-flat roof has a shark fin antenna and ends in a small, integrated spoiler over the rear hatch window. The rear LED combination tail lights are connected by a chrome strip, with the Mitsubishi three diamond chrome badge centered below the rear windshield wiper.
Driving Experience: Interior
The interior is basic and shows its design age. The materials are mostly hard plastic with only a small amount of the desired soft touch materials. If you can get over not being in the most modern interior, the dash layout is simple with clean with easy-to-find controls. Clean Fleet Report staff are big fans of volume and channel selection radio knobs. 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.
As mentioned, the simplicity of the dash layout made reading gauges, with black faces and white numbers, easy on the eyes. The Outlander Sport with the Limited
Edition Package comes with a 7.0-inch touch screen with navigation and a rear view 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 and extremely easy to program and operate. The system came with SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), digital HD AM/FM/CD radio, MP3, USB port with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone. The rearview mirror was autodialing and Homelink equipped.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport can seat three adults on the 60/40 split bench rear seat, but for longer trips two adults would be more comfortable, as would redesigned seats. Storage was good with the rear seat up, but much improved when folded flat. Where the Outlander Sport shines is on seating access height, resulting in 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. The cargo load-in height is low, too. These are real world selling points that Mitsubishi should tout.
Both the driver eight-way power adjustable and the front passenger four-way manual adjustable seats are heated and were easy to adjust, but lumbar adjustments would be greatly appreciated. A driving position conducive to long road trips was possible by adjusting the leather-wrapped, tilt and telescopic steering wheel.
Other nice interior features are the rear seat folding armrest with cup holders, 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. The black leather-covered steering wheel, gear shifter and emergency brake handle had contrasting red topstitching.
Safety and Convenience
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport came with convenience features, including cruise control, remote and passive keyless entry, rear cargo tie-down hooks, rear floor heat ducts, tire pressure monitoring system, hill start assist, remote engine start, and an anti-theft security alarm and anti-theft immobilizer.
Either as standard or optional equipment, active and passive safety features are available on the Outlander. These include seven air bags, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation and rear park assist sensors.
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 Outlander Sport 2.0L LE AWC had a base MSRP of $23,995. With the rear cargo tonneau cover ($150) and carpeted floor mats ($125) options, the price came to $24,270. All prices do not include the $940 destination and handling charge.
In testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the 2018 Outlander Sport received four stars (five stars is their highest rating), while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Outlander Sport Good and Superior ratings for crashworthiness and front crash prevention.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain 10 years/100,000 miles
- Basic Five years/60,000 miles
- Corrosion Seven years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport LE AWC
Mitsubishi has positioned the 2018 Outlander Sport LE AWC as a well-equipped small crossover under $25,000. The features, design and warranty make this a very tempting package. With the right price and good utility, the Outlander Sport is compelling.
The Outlander Sport has got some good selling points, but also has a lot of catching up to do
The main drawback on the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is that it was introduced new in 2011, and except for a few minor changes and styling upgrades, it is essentially the same car. The drivetrain is not as refined as its competitors and the fuel economy is on the low side. It really isn’t a bad CUV, but with so many competitors that offer more power and better fuel economy, it is important to do cross-shopping among brands to see what you like.
Our hope is that Mitsubishi is getting ready to announce that an all-new Outlander Sport will be coming soon. In the fast-changing compact crossover segment, seven-plus years is a long time to be squeezing-out every last drop before launching a new model. The Outlander’s plug-in hybrid variant and the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross are good signs.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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