2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Small crossover tweaks styling

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The top-selling vehicle in Mitsubishi’s lineup is the Outlander, a small crossover for soft-road and around-town utility. An all-season vehicle with good fuel economy and compact size, Outlander was initially known as the Mitsubishi Airtrek when it was launched in Japan in 2001. By the second generation, in 2005, Airtrek became Outlander.

Mitsubishi added a smaller, sportier and more affordable Outlander configuration in 2011 – the Sport. Carrying the Outlander badge, the trendy Sport and has earned its own following as Mitsubishi’s entry-level crossover, positioned below the Eclipse Cross and three-row Outlander crossovers.

Available in nine trims, Outlander Sport remains mostly untouched for 2018, receiving enhanced styling and interior tweaks to reduce cabin noise. Exterior advancements for 2018 include a revised front grille; LED running lights added as standard on SE, SEL tailgates; and Alloy Silver paint, replaces Cool Silver paint. Inside, the Outlander Sport gets a new center console design, shift lever and USB ports; a 7-inch touch panel display audio unit with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming is now standard for the ES trim; Apple CarPlay™ support and Android Auto™ are now standard on SE and SEL trims; a new Touring Package is offered on SEL with advanced safety technologies including Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Rockford Fosgate® Premium Audio System and panoramic roof; and the addition of new-generation CVT8 transmission on the 2.4L SE and SEL.

The Outlander Sport’s architecture is rounded and aggressively forward-leaning, utilizing an aerodynamic, low-drag body design with a clean, sloping demeanor, a short hood, raked windshield, angular corners and the “Dynamic Shield” grille bisected horizontally by a thick black centerpiece. Side action lines are sculpted in, and the rear employs a front-focused stance.

For 2018, Outlander Sport in 2.4 SEL configuration (as was my test drive) is light at 3285 lbs. in AWD, and measures 171.9 inches long, 71.3 inches wide and 64.8 inches high on a 105.1-inch wheelbase. Ground clearance is 8.5 inches.

Outlander Sport power comes from either a 2.0-liter engine that provides 148 hp and 145 lbs.-ft. of torque, with an estimated 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway for 2WD models and 23 city/29 highway for AWD; or the 2.4-liter MIVEC 4-cylinder engine which is rated at 168hp and 167 lbs.-ft. and is estimated 23/29 2WD and 23/28 AWD. Both engines are set up with a 5-speed manual or Sportronic® continuously-variable transmission. My test ride, an Outlander Sport SEL, was outfitted with the 2.4-liter engine that is less noisy than the smaller engine. However, while quicker than the 2.0, the name “Sport” doesn’t translate into sportscar performance. You get steady and predictable acceleration, and uphill grades are easily and successfully conquered, but passing at speed takes some strategy and track tests showed a sluggish at 7.9 seconds for a zero-to-60mph run and a 16.4-second quarter-mile excursion. A week of mixed-use tests on snowy and slick surfaces yielded an average of 24.4mpg.

Behind the wheel, Outlander Sport has a compact sedan feel rather than a sports-ute experience, and the electric power steering was vague at times. Driving in town was enjoyable, as Sport easily maneuvers into tight spaces and around obstacles, making it better suited for urban than off-road scenarios -- Sport is more congenial and relaxed than it is rugged. The MacPherson front struts with stabilizer bar and multi-link rear with stabilizer bar skillfully leveled minor road and highway bumps and gave good road feel, but soft-road seemed about its upper level.

The Outlander Sport cabin is driver and passenger friendly, and is packed with tech and infotainment. With the Panoramic Roof above, the interior provides 39.4 inches of front headroom with 37.9 inches for row two. Legroom is comfortable up front at 41.6 inches up front, but tighter in the rear at 36.3 inches. Shoulder room is 56.2 inches in row one and 55.5 inches for the rear seats.

Regarding price … for comparison, the full-size 2018 Outlander starts at $24,945 for the ES 2.4 trim and tops at (before options and add-ons) at $32,245 in GT trim. The smaller 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is available in nine trims and starts at $20,395 for the 2WD ES 2.0 trim with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the automatic version bases at $21,595. All-wheel drive takes the base 2.0 to $23,095. The 2.4 engine model begins with the SE 2.4 at $22,995 in manual 2WD and tops at $25,995 for the 2.4 Sport SEL (my review ride) in all-wheel-drive automatic.

The Touring Package added $2000 for a Panoramic Glass Roof, Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam and a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate ® Premium Audio system with 9 speakers. The Exterior Package added $415 for a rear undercover and a Large Rear Spoiler; Remote Engine Start added $545; The Quick Value Package 1 added wheel locks, front and rear mudguards, cargo net, aluminum/leather shift knob and cargo mat; The Quick Value Package 2 added a hood protector, roof rack crossbars, all weather floormats and cargo tray for $510 and Destination and Handling added $995 for a sticker-as-tested of $31,140, but a factory discount of $1500 may be available so go talk with your dealer.

Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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