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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Sport is the subcompact version of the economical Outlander crossover, and Mitsubishi promises there are over a hundred different engineering and design improvements on the 2016 models such as an all-new 6.1-inch touchscreen and SEL trim.

I drove a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with the 168-horsepower 2.4-liter engine with a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission. Available in four trim grades – ES, SE, SEL and GT– my top-of-the-line GT test drive came with the following standard features: leather upholstery; five-passenger seating; dual-zone climate control; heated front seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; 6.1-inch touchscreen audio display; upgraded Rockford-Fosgate audio system; XM Radio; HD Radio; FUSE Hands-free Link System; power rear liftgate; rearview camera; steering-wheel mounted controls; paddle shifters; sunroof; roof rails; push-button start; LED head and tail lights; fog lights; eighteen-inch wheels. Total cost for vehicle described without options came to $25,995.

The Outlander Sport is part of the subcompact crossover movement that includes such rivals as the Mazda CX-3, Honda HV-R and Jeep Renegade. I have also test driven the mid-sized Outlander with the larger 224-horsepower 3-liter V6 engine paired to a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission featuring paddle shifters and Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) with Active Front Differential.

2016 Mitsubishi Press Introduction 2015 LA Auto Show


Stylish But Comfortable Results: To Mitsubishi’s credit, the interior image of the Outlander has increased over the last few years (highlights being color schemes and layout) but the materials and features really cannot rival the quality of what Honda, Kia and Mazda are putting out; the Rocksford-Fosgate audio system is happy exception. Hits and misses are still scattered throughout: lots of misplaced commands; screen is too small; and I had connection difficulties with FUSE. There is a notable lack of cargo space at 21.7 cubic feet (and a little less so with the upgraded subwoofer), whereas the Honda HR-V gets 24.3 cubic feet.

Reliability & Safety Factor: While the seven-passenger 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Sport version similarly has ratings of “Good” but takes a ding with an “Acceptable” in small overlap front. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle a 4-Star rating (both versions). Standard safety equipment includes hill-start assist, anti-lock brakes, active stability control, traction control logic, and an advanced airbag system with side curtain airbags. The larger Outlander offers a suite of safety technology (Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning).

Cost Issues: My smaller Outlander Sport GT starts at $25,995 with the larger seven-passenger Outlander GT at $30,995. 2016 Honda HR-V offers a very competitive price with the base LX starting at $19,215 with my top-of-the-line EX-L with Navigation reaching $24,690. The price of the Renegade ranges from a base Sport at $17,995 with a recent fully loaded Limited at $33,165.

Activity & Performance Ability: Far from sporty, the Outlander Sport felt retrained and was unpleasing to steer; suspension didn’t impress either (even at the GT trim level). It’s no match to Mazda’s impressive SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or even the road manners found on the standard 141-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine on the Honda HR-V. Unfortunately the larger 224-horsepower 3-liter V6 engine on the bigger Outlander just isn’t on par in terms of response and smoothness with most V6 engines in its class. There is also a base 2-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower.

The Green Concern: In regards to fuel economy, the Outlander stays competitive at 23-city and 28-highway for a combined 25 miles-per-gallon with two-wheel drive. While the Honda HR-V’s 1.8-liter is smaller, it offers 28-city and 35-highway for a combined 29 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive.

While Mitsubishi get kudos for throwing a product into the subcompact race, the Outlander Sport appears to be struggling with solid sales points.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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