The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a new model in its third year of production intended for younger buyers and smaller families. The Outlander Sport we’ll be test driving this week is currently the best-selling car in Mitsubishi Motors’ North American model lineup. The stylish crossover is built on the existing Outlander chassis, but it’s 14.6 inches shorter overall. This gives the Sport less cargo room, and rear legroom, but in a smaller more agile package.
Mitsubishi calls it a sport model, but the soft suspension and 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine keep it pretty tame. It does feature steering wheel paddle shifters, but it lacks the underpinnings to be a true sport model. The Outlander Sport is really about a comfortable ride, composed handling and a small maneuverable crossover offering seating for five. Not that those are bad things, but if you are looking for a sporty crossover, you’ll be disappointed.
The Outlander Sport offers an affordable attractive package
What the new 2013 Mitsubishi Sport does offer is fresh exterior styling, improved sound insulation and higher-quality speakers for the sound system. It features all-wheel-drive for good wet or dry driving situations and a functional SUV for a small family. The new Sport is also affordable and the base ES starts at $19,170. The well-equipped SE starts at $22,295 and is less than most of the competition.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, borrowed from the Lancer compact car is fuel-efficient and gets 31 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter powerplant produces 148 horsepower and comes with a five-speed manual or the CVT automatic. The Outlander Sport is not a performance vehicle and is designed for economy and fuel-efficiency. In the week of test driving, it performed adequately and had enough power for the average driver.
On I-70 at altitude, the CVT automatic kept the engine rpm’s up and it powered up the mountain without any passengers or cargo. But add some weight to the small crossover and it will struggle to pull a full load. At sea level; and on the flat, most families will find it has enough power. The all-wheel-drive has to be manually selected, but it performed well in deep snow in the Colorado mountains. In a Christmas Eve snowstorm, the Outlander Sport with AWD got us home without losing traction even once. It was stable and kept the passengers feeling safe on the dicey roads.
The interior features everything families will need to be comfortable. Its not going to wow you, but offers a comfortable stylish cabin. The SE model we tested came with push-button start and comfortable cool-looking cloth seats with a higher-quality fabric. The 2013 model features new chrome accent molding on the doors and a new All-Wheel-Control (AWC) push button on the center console. The cabin was quiet at high speeds due to the extra sound deadening material added for 2013.
In the back, there is 36-inches of legroom which is only a half-inch less than the full-size Outlander with the optional third row, but more than 3 inches less than the five-seat Outlander. The rear seat is a 60/40 that folds flat, and has a fold-down armrest with cupholders in the middle. The armrest contains a pass-through hole to carry long thin things like skis. There’s 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and 49.5 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat. That’s enough cargo space for a small family for grocery runs during the week and a weekend ski getaway to the mountains on the weekend.
The restyled 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a worthy contender in the compact crossover segment with an attractive base price. Its small and easy to get in and out of traffic and the cabin is quiet and has full utility.The ride is more on the comfortable side rather than sport and designed more for driving in town. The 2.0-liter engine with six-step CVT with manual mode could use some more power, but it gets excellent mileage and is built for economy, utility and efficiency.