The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Windy City Review By Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

Here in the U.S., Mitsubishi just closed out 2014 with a whopping nearly 25 percent increase in overall sales. The Outlander Sport, Mitsubishi’s top selling model, makes up about 40 percent of their total sales volume. And, Outlander Sport sales for 2014 were up 24.5 percent.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

It’s not surprising that Outlander Sport sales are climbing. The compact crossover segment is hot. Young and old alike are flocking to these vehicles, replacing larger SUVs or moving from a 4-door sedan to a more lifestyle-friendly and versatile compact crossover SUV.

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Power comes from a 148 HP DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Two trim packages are offered, an ES and an SE. T

he 2-wheel drive ES is priced starting at $19,595 and the all-wheel drive ES is priced at $22,195.

I spent a week running around doing pre-holiday shopping and hauling home our Christmas tree on the roof of an SE all-wheel drive model priced at $24,195. Also equipped on my test car was the $4,900 Touring Package that brings items such as a navigation system, leather seating surfaces, 710W Rockford Fosgate premium sound system with 9 speakers including a subwoofer, and a panoramic glass roof with some very cool LED illumination around the perimeter.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Compact crossovers are quite versatile. We’ve often heard it said that American’s don’t like hatchbacks…cars that is. But the rear-opening hatch of the Outlander Sport, typical of most every SUV, opens up to space and versatility for hauling. With the rear seat up there’s 20.1 cuft of space in models with the subwoofer. The volume is a bit larger if you opt to not have the subwoofer sound system. Fold down the 60/40 split rear seat and you get more than double the space at 48.8 cuft in panoramic sunroof models. It’s a bit larger without the panoramic roof that intrudes a bit along the headliner.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The rear cargo volume of the Outlander is not the best on the market, but it all depends on your needs as to what works for you.

Combine the versatile interior cargo space, room for five people and a city-friendly 169.1 inch overall length, and the Mitsubishi Outlander makes for a nice urban dweller household family vehicle.

EPA test fuel economy ratings are best in the two-wheel drive configuration with 25 city mpg and 32 highway mpg, for a combined test rating of 28 mpg. The all-wheel drive models drop one mpg in the city test and two mpg in the highway test.

Like many new vehicles today, steering is electric-assisted power to make for easy maneuvering and turning without robbing the engine of power and increasing fuel consumption.

Mitsubishi’s acclaimed driver-selectable, electronically-controlled All-Wheel Control (AWC) all-wheel drive system provides the choice of two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive automatic, or four-wheel drive locked.

Performance got a boost for 2015 from a next-generation CVT that now mimics a 7-speed automatic transmission. It provides better response, improved performance from a standing start, and a more unified feeling of acceleration, along with reduced fuel consumption.

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned an IIHS "Top Safety Pick" rating, marking the fourth straight year that the brand's best-selling vehicle has achieved this safety designation.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Safety features and technologies include Active Stability Control (ASC) with Hill Start Assist (HSA); Traction Control Logic (TCL); a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS); anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist; and a seven (7) air bag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) with front air bags with passenger weight and driver's seat position sensors, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and curtain side air bags with roll-over sensors.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Overall, the Outlander Sport handled the mostly flat highways and byways of Chicagoland fairly well. I was typically driving alone and from time to time my wife was along, so the Outlander wasn’t too heavily loaded. The 148HP engine did fine in moving us from stop to stop and merging on local boulevards and expressways. I’m thinking that if you live in hilly country, or drive more heavily loaded the powertrain may be a bit lacking.

I’m sensitive to road noise, whether it be from the engine, tires or wind. I thought the Outlander Sport could be better. I’m not a lover of CVTs and a part of that is the constant higher engine RPM they bring. Although, by using the SE-equipped paddle shifter that can be mitigated with their mimicking of a seven-speed transmission. SUV’s in themselves tend to be echoey, like big open rooms, and the Outlander had a good amount of interior noise.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

I hope Outlander gets a rework soon. Although it’s loaded with premium features including a rear view camera and others I already mentioned, the interior material quality needs some upgrading to compete better in today’s market. Luxury features, fit, finish and materials have moved down to smaller vehicles and you no longer need to buy a big luxo-barge to get that stuff.

But then again, it comes down to price. And, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport does very well in that regard.

© 2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy