2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT 2WD Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO
The Outlander Sport is a good, solid choice in the compact crossover class
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS
The Outlander Sport has been Mitsubishi's most popular vehicle in the US since its debut for 2011, and after a week in a front-wheel drive example of the range-topping GT model I'm not surprised by that at all. The Outlander Sport is a an honest and unpretentious compact crossover. It doesn't try to be a luxury car or a sports car or anything other than what it is -- a comfortable, economical, useful, and competitively-priced small-footprint car with good space utilization, useful features as standard equipment even at entry level, and the capability to get you nearly anywhere you might sanely want to go in a car. Like other small crossovers, it's a tall wagon at heart, and is available in front- and all-wheel drive form, with the AWD called "All Wheel Control" or AWC.
If the styling hasn't changed tremendously since its introduction, the Outlander Sport has grown up since then. Its original 2.0-liter, 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine was joined by a 2.4-liter four with 168 hp last year, and at that time the entry ES and core SE trim levels were joined by the premium GT. For 2016 the front styling has been brought closer to that of its larger sibling Outlander. There are some interior enhancements, and a new SEL trim level between the SE and GT. The 2.0-liter engine is standard in the ES, with the 2.4 and option, and the ES 2.0 FWD can be had with a five-speed manual transmission. All others, FWD or AWC, are CVT-only -- a non-issue as Mitsubishi's CVT is one of the best in the business.
Equipment levels are high, with micron filtration air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, (heated) mirrors, and door locks, LED taillights, leather wrap on the steering wheel rim and shift knob, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with the FUSE Handsfree Link System™ for voice control of an iPod® and cell phone among the comfort and convenience amenities standard in the ES. A full suite of safety-oriented construction and technology is also found even in the "base" model.
Above that, depending on model, are features including HID headlights, a panoramic glass roof, LED interior mood lighting, upgraded audio, rain-sensing wipers, leather seating surfaces, a rearview camera, and proximity un/lock and stop/start with an electronic fob. These and more are standard in the GT. In looking through notes and previous reviews, it appears that the new Outlander Sport trim levels are really just the more popular option packages of previous years made into standalone models. This benefits everyone from the manufacturer to the customer with simplicity and ease of ordering and purchase. The $26,845 MSRP of my FWD 2016 Outlander Sport GT compares very well with the $27,170 of a FWD 2013 SE tested three years ago -- more powerful engine, similar fuel economy, same panoramic sunroof and 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system, with leather instead of cloth seating for less cash. The `13 had a navigation system with 40GB hard disk for $2,000. This one didn't -- but your phone or other device probably has those capabilities and you already have it.
More car for less money? Sounds good to me. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport may not make you the envy of your neighbors but it will get you wherever you need to go in comfort, with space and maneuverability and a minimal appetite for unleaded regular. It's a great car for the real world.
APPEARANCE: An Outlander Sport is a handsome iteration of the basic compact crossover two-box bauplan, neither overly bland nor absurdly aggressive. Which fits the car's character well. The old oversize grille has made way for the new "Dynamic Shield", more complex and visually-stimulating in detail and trim, but not all that different underneath. The plastic cladding beneath the front part of the car is less off-road skid plate than aerodynamic underbody air management. It matches the black cladding that surrounds the Outlander Sport's lower perimeter. At the rear, the taillight shape reprises that of the headlights and a single exhaust pipe exits at the lower right. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard for all models.
COMFORT: Inside, the Outlander Sport is simple, functional, and honest. Head- and leg-room are good, front and rear, with width less so -- but this is a compact, not midsize, crossover, and its relative narrowness works as an advantage when parking. Textured soft-touch materials are used for the upper parts of the instrument panel and doors in all trim levels. SELs and GTs get power folding outside mirrors that fold in when the car is locked and out as the driver (with fob) walks up to the car. They also have leather seating and a power driver's seat; they and the SE also have two-level heat for the front cushions. All get a tilt- and reach-adjustable steering wheel with a leather rim and audio, phone, and cruise controls. Seat comfort is very good, with an upright, high-eyepoint driving position for good visibility. The main instruments are brightly backlit and easily visible. A central touchscreen controls the GT's Rockford-Fosgate audio system, with choices of AM, FM, and Sirius/XM radio, CD, USB/iPod, and Bluetooth streaming. Climate controls are separate and simple. Rear seat width is better for two than three -- as in all small vehicles -- and a 60/40 folding seatback adds luggage/cargo versatility. If you're under 5-4, you could fold the rear seat down and camp, diagonally. Rear passengers get the best view out of the GT's fixed panoramic glass roof. A space-saver spare is found under the rear load floor.
SAFETY: IIHS Mitsubishi is justifiably proud that the Outlander Sport has earned a "Top Safety Pick" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Mitsubishi's Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) unibody design and construction, dual front and front side and driver's knee airbags, strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), Active Stability Control (ASC), all-speed traction control, Hill-Start Assist (HSA), and a brake over-ride system that will slow the car if both brake and accelerator pedals are pressed at the same time contributed to that.
RIDE AND HANDLING: There really isn't anything "sport"-oriented to the Outlander Sport's chassis tuning, and I suspect that will suit the majority of buyers. The fully-independent MacPherson strut/multilink is tuned for comfort, moderately firm but well-damped. Some body roll is apparent when getting enthusiastic -- this is no Lancer Evo, and at the end of a long day everyone inside will be happy of that. Steering is electrically assisted for benefits to efficiency, and is moderately light with some road feel. Brakes are strong and stop well. Like all crossovers, the Outlander Sport is not really made for serious off-road use, even in AWC form. But its 8.5 inches of clearance should be useful on forest and fire roads, and save the mechanical bits from smaller bit of roadway debris.
PERFORMANCE: Light weight -- just over 3100 pounds in FWD form -- means that even in 2.0-liter form the Outlander Sport is quick enough for everyday traffic and light on fuel consumption. Add the 2.4-liter engine's 20 more horsepower (168 at 6000 rpm) and 22 extra lb-ft of torque (167 at 4100 rpm) with no weight gain and acceleration improves a bit (0-60 is about a second quicker at around 9) and fuel economy changes little. I got an average of 25 mpg from a the 2013 2.0 SE; this 2.4 GT was good for 24. Both engines are 16-valve, dual overhead cam designs with the MIVEC variable valve timing and lift system and aluminum alloy block and head construction. The CVT is among the best in the industry, with no "rubber band" lag in acceleration. Its wide spread of virtual ratios helps to improve both acceleration and economy. Here there are shift paddles, but no real need to use them.
CONCLUSIONS: Mitsubishi's Outlander Sport is a good, solid choice in the compact crossover class.
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT 2WD
Base Price $ 25,995
Price As Tested $ 26,845
Engine Type DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with MIVEC valve control
Engine Size 2.4 liters / 144 cu. in.
Horsepower 168 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 167 @ 4100 rpm
Wheelbase / Length 105.1 in. / 171.5 in.
Curb Weight 3142 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 18.7
Fuel Capacity 15.8 gal.
Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires P225/55R18 97H m+s Nexen NPrinz
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS, EBD, BA standard
Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink
Ground Clearance 8.5 inches
Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 23 / 28 / 24
0 to 60 mph est 9 sec
OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Destination Charge $ 850