2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

The Outlander Sport is a small crossover based on Mitsubishi's larger Outlander model. It comes up short on cargo room, engine power and handling compared to many similarly-priced rivals, but pleasant styling and decent fuel efficiency make it worth a look.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gains a new look and a nicer cabin.

An angular front fascia that falls in line with the Japanese car maker's new Dynamic Shield design language gives the Outlander Sport a focused look while preserving the small 'ute's pint-sized and playful overall design theme. Underneath the sheet metal, the Outlander Sport uses the same suspension setup as the larger Outlander - a MacPherson strut layout in front with a trailing multi-link at the rear. The configuration delivers a smooth ride quality but falls short in the realm of handling dynamics. Electric power steering comes standard.

Life Aboard
The cabin features a rather non-descript design, but it feels more upscale than before thanks to an extra dose of soft-touch materials. Road noise is kept to a minimum thanks to increased sound insulation, helping occupants appreciate the improved sound quality from the available premium sound system.

Cargo space, at 49.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, is quite limited by the standards of the segment.

While well-equipped Outlander Sports come with a 6.1-inch dash-mounted touch screen that runs the entertainment system but Mitsubishi's Fuse infotainment system is available at an option. Fuse packs the car's connectivity, navigation and entertainment systems into a single easy-to-use touch screen-based software that features voice command in addition to knobs and buttons.

Under The Hood
Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. Entry-level models get a five-speed manual gearbox while more expensive versions are fitted with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Acceleration isn't blistering but fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive model is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the stick, and 24 in the city and 31 on the highway with the CVT. An optional all-wheel-drive system (available only with the CVT) improves all-weather traction but lowers mileage to 24 in the city and 29 on the highway.

Buyers who want more power have access to a 2.4-liter four-banger that's tuned to generate 168 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 167 lb-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. The 2.4-liter is bolted to a CVT regardless of whether power is sent to the front axle or to all four wheels. The 2.4-liter can replace the 2.0-liter in base cars at an extra cost, and it comes standard on the top three trims.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Outlander Sport is offered in five trim levels called 2.0 ES 2WD, 2.0 ES AWC, 2.4 ES 2WD, 2.4 ES AWC, and 2.4 SE 2WD, respectively.

The base trim comes standard with halogen headlights, LED tail lamps, heated mirrors, tinted windows, 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped by all-terrain tires, cloth upholstery, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, a 60/40 split fold-down rear bench, manual A/C, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 140-watt stereo with four speakers, a multi-function steering wheel, FUSE, cruise control and power locks.

The 2.0 ES AWC features all of the aforementioned features but it adds all-wheel drive. Similarly, the 2.4 ES 2WD is the same as the 2.0 ES but with a bigger engine, and the 2.4 ES AWC adds a bigger engine and all-wheel drive.

Finally, the range-topping 2.4 SE 2WD adds fog lights, illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors, heated front seats, automatic A/C, a 6.1 inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, digital HD radio, a six-month subscription to SiriusXM, a rear-view camera, and a keyless ignition.

Highlights from the options list include leather upholstery, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio system, parking sensors, piano black trim, a remote engine starter, and a navigation system controlled by a seven-inch touch screen mounted on the center stack.

Occupant Safety
All Outlander Sport models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Key Competitors
As the Outlander Sport is focused more on fun on-road dynamics than tackling difficult off-road trails, its main rivals include sporty small 'utes like the Kia Sportage and the Volkswagen Tiguan. More mainstream offerings like the bigger Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are also worth a test drive.