Test Drive: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Entry Price: $19,795
Price as Tested: $26,590
This week, we’re driving the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the smaller version of big brother Outlander. Available in either front or all wheel drive, Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi’s compact five-passenger crossover that delivers good fuel mileage and a roomy interior.
Although the larger Outlander rides on the same size wheelbase, the difference comes via body length and seating arrangement as the larger Outlander seats seven to Outlander Sport’s five. Other than that, there’s not much difference in the mechanicals.
Corporately, it’s been a tough ride for Mitsubishi lately. The company went from one of the most dominant niche market manufacturers from 1989 through 2011, collaring the youth market with its Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eclipse Spyder. Regardless of gender, owning and driving an Eclipse made you part of the “in crowd.”
Hopefully, Mitsubishi can re-organize its vehicle manufacturing and regain some of its lost luster as the improvements to the recent Outlanders deserve note, but still leave room for more in this crowded market we call “compact crossovers.”
For 2017, Outlander Sport is available in five distinct trims ala ES, LE, SE, SEL and GT. The entry ES with a five-speed manual starts at just $19,595 and then tops out with the GT model, which begins at $27,695 and features a CVT automatic transmission and all wheel control (AWC) as standard fare.
All models offer a 10-year/100,000 mile drivetrain warranty, nice interior upgrades and some design tweaks to the rear deck. Overall, Outlander Sport is a fine looking vehicle that offers a low cost alternative to higher priced competition. Two engines are available, including a 2.4-liter four on the SE, SEL and GT models or a smaller base 2.0-liter on the lower cost ES and LE versions.
The 2017 Sport is a virtual twin of the 2016 model sans some minor tweaks here and there. Our tester’s SEL AWC base price came in at $25,695 (add $895 for delivery) powered by the aforementioned 2.4-liter four cylinder that generates 168 horsepower. This engine is more responsive than the smaller 148-horse 2.0-liter four as once you load the Outlander with some passengers and cargo, you’ll need the extra ponies.
The engine mates to a CVT six-speed Sportronic automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters, the latter for those seeking more revolutions per minute (RPM) engine management. All this works in tandem to deliver decent 22 city and 27 highway MPG estimates for a 4x4 vehicle. If you choose either an ES or LE Outlander with the smaller four and the manual transmission, expect 24 city and 30 highway.
Outlander 4x4 mechanicals feature Mitsubishi’s electronically controlled active front differential with a “push button” 4x4 mode. Underneath sits a fully independent suspension good for highway comfort. If you desire off-road ventures, this vehicle is OK for minor excursions only, but rock climbing is out of the question. The ride is comfortable on highways but not what I would call “sporty.”
Numerous SEL standard features include high-density headlamps, rear LED taillights, 18-inch tires on nice two-tone alloys, safety backup camera, leather seating, park alert, push button start, air, power folding and heated side mirrors, roof rails, cruise, all the powers, heated power front seats, aluminum pedals, high contrast instrumentation and a 140 watt stereo Sirius/XM/CD/MP3/USB with Bluetooth, navigation and a 6.1-inch color display. There are even more standard features, which your Mitsubishi dealer will gladly explain.
A few negatives.
Interior noise, especially from the engine, is high. The CVT transmission adds to this roar when the pedal is matted fully or even half way. It’s not that anything is wrong because a CVT works in a manner that finds the car “catching up” in speed to the now very high RPM engine. These CVTs are slowly being replaced by multi-clutch, manual style automatics that shift fine and also offer good fuel mileage. There is also some outside noise, too, something more insulation would correct.
On the plus side is crash worthiness, with four and five star government safety ratings throughout all tests thanks to its standard seven air bags. We also like Outlander’s looks and many convenience and safety features like stability control, traction control, electronic brakeforce, rear safety camera and rear seat folding console with cupholders.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1 inches, from 21.7 to 49.5 cu. ft. of cargo space, 3,265 lb. curb weight, 8.5-inches of ground clearance, and a 15.8 gallon fuel tank.
Current dealer incentives and discounts usually slash a minimum $2,500 up to $4,000 on higher priced Outlander Sport models. If you can get into a brand new well equipped Mitsubishi Sport SEL for under $23,500 or the LE with the optional bigger engine for $20,000 or less after incentives, I’d say you got yourself a good deal.
The tradeoff is always in what you receive for money spent. If thriftiness is an important factor in your buying decision, the lower priced Outlander should be a serious consideration.
Likes: Cargo space, interior, fuel mileage, lots of standard features.
Dislikes: Engine noise, still needs more horsepower, CVT becoming outdated.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.