Mitsubishi’s smallest SUV makes a statement.
Straddling the white space between subcompact and compact SUV is the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, a model big on value in a segment where prices continue to rise. The 2018 Outlander Sport comes in three grades, has available all-wheel drive, and provides two engine choices.
Charting the Changes
The current Outlander Sport rolled out way back in 2011. For 2018, it has undergone a number of changes, including an updated continuously variable automatic transmission paired with the 2.4-liter engine, a revised front grille, and a new rear fascia. Interior changes include a new center console design and a seven-inch touch panel color screen. Advanced driver-assist technologies are available.
Select Your 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The 2018 Outlander Sport is available in three grades: ES 2.0, SE 2.4, and SEL 2.4. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available across the model line.
Mitsubishi supplies two engine choices corresponding to the name of each grade. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 148 horsepower, while a slightly larger 2.4-liter engine generates 168 horsepower. Both engines work alongside a continuously variable automatic transmission. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard on the base front-wheel drive model.
Standard features include halogen headlights, folding and heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators, roof rails, LED tail lamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside, you’ll find front bucket seats, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, a tilt and telescopic steering column, automatic climate control, cruise control, full power accessories, a four-speaker audio system with HD Radio, a USB port, and a rearview camera. All models come with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and hill start assist.
Outlander Sport ES 2.0
Priced from $21,235 including a $940 destination charge, the base grade comes with a manual transmission. For $1,200 customers may upgrade to an automatic transmission. Add another $1,500 to obtain all-wheel drive.
This model offers seven standard exterior colors, including Diamond White Pearl ($200 extra). You have your choice of two interior fabric colors.
Numerous package options are for the choosing, including an LED Illumination Package ($440) adding floor illumination, tailgate light and interior light; a Protection Package ($495) bringing in scuff plates, a rear bumper plate and a bright tailgate protector. Standalone features include a rear large spoiler ($310), tonneau cover ($150), and roof rack crossbars ($315).
Outlander Sport SE 2.4
The mid-level SE costs $23,835. This model includes the carpeted floor mats and a tonneau cover. Individual items available include remote engine start ($545) and LED fog lights ($350).
Other upgrades include LED running lights, the larger engine, keyless entry with push-button start, Bluetooth wireless technology, and a 7-inch color display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility. Smartphone compatibility is a big deal for consumers — Mitsubishi offers it for no extra charge, while some luxury brands charge $300 for an upgrade!
Outlander Sport SEL 2.4
Mitsubishi prices the top-of-the-line SEL from $25,335. Upgrades here include high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, black roof rails, leather seating surfaces, and an 8-way power driver’s seat.
The SEL Touring Package ($2,000) brings in automatic high beam headlights, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, a panoramic glass roof with adjustable LED track lighting, and an enjoyable 9-speaker 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system. The track lighting was particularly surprising — at first, I thought it was sunlight, then I discovered the lights.
On the Road: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
My test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Outlander Sport SEL AWC, an all-wheel drive model. Mitsubishi equipped it with the SEL Touring Package and added a tonneau cover and carpeted floor mats. The price topped out at $29,110, including destination.
I’m glad that Mitsubishi offers two engines with this model. The base engine doesn’t seem powerful enough, while the 2.4-liter engine holds its own. Press hard on the accelerator and you’ll skip down the highway entrance ramp at a decent clip. The Outlander Sport stays poised and the ride is adequate, although the suspension doesn’t absorb bumps as well as I would have liked. That’s par for the small SUV course, however.
The engine is not nearly as noisy as some are in the segment, but my main complaint was wind noise, which not only seeped in through the front windows, but seemed to be leaking through the windshield. Either thicker laminated glass or an improved sealant would help here.
Mitsubishi calls its all-wheel drive system 4WD, which isn’t correct despite what the button says at the base of the center stack. Push that button once and all four wheels are engaged. Push it again and the rear axle locks, supposedly to supply better handling when cornering.
As with most any all-wheel drive SUV, your off-road antics should be limited to gravel roads or well-worn trails, while avoiding climbing over rocks, branches and other obstacles. That said, the Outlander Sport slips through shallow mud puddles with ease and with 4WD Lock engaged, you probably won’t get stuck. There is always a low gear to select if you do get stuck, but it isn’t the same as the 4-Lo with a transfer case offered on four-wheel drive systems.
Overall, I found the Outlander Sport offered decent comfort thanks to the adjustable driver’s seat covered in leather. As for rear seating passengers, you can fit three there in a pinch, but two would be best. Still, the interior room is on the small size for this class.
The Outlander Sport’s short wheelbase (105.1 inches) is slightly longer than the Nissan Rogue Sport, while its length (171.9) comes in about a half-inch shorter. The Mitsubishi also compares favorable size-wise with the first-generation Volkswagen Tiguan.
Because of its in-between size, consumers would do well by comparing the Outlander Sport to such subcompact models as the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, and Nissan Juke. Among compact models you’ll find the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox and the Nissan Rogue. The standard Outlander shares the same wheelbase, but is about a foot longer overall.
I’ve been hard on Mitsubishi in the past, especially as the automaker has reduced its product offerings, including dropping the Lancer, especially the performance Evo. Until last year, its very survival seemed in doubt — industry analysts expected Mitsubishi to go the way of Daihatsu, Isuzu, and Suzuki, three other small Japanese brands that quit the ultra-competitive and very unforgiving US market.
Since then, Mitsubishi has joined the Renault-Nissan Alliance and likely has its own fortune tied to Nissan specifically. We haven’t seen new products derived from that relationship yet, but the automaker’s new lease on life should give consumers the confidence they need to consider Mitsubishi. Add in one of the best warranty packages in the industry (see specifications below) and you have yet another reason to consider this brand.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Specifications
- Sticker price from $21,235 (including destination)
- Seats five
- Engine No. 1: 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas
- 148 horsepower @ 6,000 RPM
- 145 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,200 RPM
- 5-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission
- Engine No. 2: 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas
- 168 horsepower @ 6,000 RPM
- 167 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,100 RPM
- continuously variable automatic transmission
- Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
- Length: 171.9 inches
- Width: 71.3 inches
- Height: 64.8 inches
- Passenger volume: 97.5 cubic feet
- Storage volume: 21.7/49.5 cubic feet
- Towing capacity: NR
- EPA: 24/30 mpg city/highway (FWD, base engine.)
- Regular gasoline
- Fuel tank: 16.6 gallons
- Curb weight: From 3,109 to 3,285 pounds
- IIHS safety rating: Good or acceptable (2017)
- Limited vehicle warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty: 10 years/100,000 miles
- Corrosion warranty: 7 years/100,000 miles
- Vehicle assembly: Okazaki, Japan
Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.