2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Outlander Sport SE AWC = smooth looks, ride

mitsu1Maybe I’m becoming more tolerant as I age, but I liked the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport better than I had the first time I drove it three years ago.

What I liked was its looks, a smooth sophisticated body, and its smooth well controlled ride, something one comes to appreciate in Spring-thaw Wisconsin when the frost heaves rise like moguls, and the washed out potholes resemble fox holes.

The Outlander Sport’s MacPherson struts up front and fine multi-link rear suspension give it a comfortable ride, never jolting, as I maneuvered around the road enragers that pretended to be pavement.

Sport is a compact sport-ute or crossover, a full 14.6 inches shorter than the Outlander, while riding on the same chassis and sharing Outlander’s 105.1-inch wheelbase. Sport’s shortcoming though remains its weak 2.0-liter 148-horse 4-cylinder engine that’s linked up with a lackluster CVT (continuously variable transmission). Acceleration remains less than exhilarating, actually slow and pokey. Torque is disappointing when you get on the gas pedal say, getting onto the freeway. There is no low-end oomph and the vehicle’s acceleration fades and fumbles between 25 and 35 mph.

Sadly, when you do demand some power, the CVT and engine moan and groan louder than a teenager being asked to clean his bedroom. I’d prefer the larger Outlander’s 168-horse 2.4-liter I4 engine.

As for the CVT, I understand that these are used to boost gas mileage and create smoother shifts. This one is smooth enough, but it just doesn’t make judicious use of the engine’s power.

Gas mileage also was less than I’d hoped, with a rating of 24 mpg city and 29 highway, and with my miles about evenly split, I got 23.4 mpg. Last time I had the Sport, also in winter, I got just 23.2 mpg, and that one was a two-wheel drive Sport, which is rated up at 31 mpg highway.mitsu2

The sparkling pearl white test vehicle did have the advantage (for driving) of 4-wheel-drive, what Mitsubishi calls All-Wheel-Control, or AWC. You press a button on the console and it immediately shifts into 4-wheel-drive. That gave the Sport good traction on a couple sloppy days.

I was a bit surprised that the steering, which was light and easy before, seemed more accurate this time around. The Outlander Sport’s steering is electric power assisted, and while not sporty, it was simple to control. The crossover also cornered well and I found it easy to handle in parking lots as its turning radius is fairly short at 34.8 feet.

Braking also is fine with four-wheel disc brakes and stability control. The Mitsubishi adds hill start assist to help you if you take it this crossover off road or onto steep inclines.

I liked Sport’s smooth, low and lean body lines, and how easy it was to get in and out of the vehicle.

Its interior is attractive too, the tested SE model featuring premium black cloth seats, with patterned inserts. These seats also are heated, with high and low levels. The buttons are on the console side of each, right beside the seats, so a bit hard to see, but easy to reach. The driver’s seat also is powered, part of a $1,000 premium package.

Overhead is a gray head liner, but no sunroof. That’s an option.

mitsu3The tester’s dash was a good looking textured black material with an attractive layout of gauges, buttons and knobs, not the least bit overwhelming. There are white numbers on the gauges and a digital computer and gas gauge between the speedometer and tach. Mitsubishi provides a 6.1-inch touchscreen in the SE, a CD player and small volume knob. The premium package on this model also includes a quality Rockford Fosgate sound system with 9 speakers and a subwoofer in the cargo area.

To switch the radio between FM and AM is not immediately intuitive. Took me the better part of a day to learn to punch the Menu button on the far side of the screen to find that feature. Also, the volume knob is way over there too, although there are backup buttons on the steering wheel’s hub, if you remember to use them.

Mitsubishi also puts the cruise control on its tilt/telescope steering wheel hub and the wheel has a leather wrap. Other features include push-button start and a trip computer accessed via a dash button to the left of the wheel. The Sport also has three cupholders on the console up front, and two in the rear seat fold-down center armrest.

Power door, window and lock buttons are located on the driver’s door and there’s a small roller button on the dash to adjust your headlight angle up and down. That’s a rare feature that could be more helpful in rural areas to increase your night sight lines. Climate controls are three simple large dials below the radio screen.

The Outlander's gauges are easy to see.
The Outlander’s gauges are easy to see.

While the seats are well contoured and comfortable here, the Sport is a bit shorter in length than many compact utes and its rear seat legroom is cramped if you’re carrying tall adults in back. Headroom is fine front and rear.

Cargo room is good under the hatch, with 20.1 cubic feet of space with the rear seats in place. They’ll also split and fold flat easily to boost that to 48.8 cubic feet. The hatch is easy to open and close and the cargo bay is a good height for loading and unloading.

The final positive is Outlander Sport’s price. While many compact utes start close to $30 grand now, and easily exceed that with just a few options added, the top-level SE with 4-wheel-drive starts at just $23,995 and adds a $825 delivery fee. With the $1,000 premium option package this one hit $25,820, a modest price for a 4-wheel-drive crossover with heated seats, to be sure.

If you’re in no hurry, but are looking for value while also needing cargo room and a comfortable ride and interior, the Sport is worth a look.

FAST Stats: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC
Hits: Good looks, well controlled comfortable ride, easy handling with good turning radius, and 4-wheel drive. Has a big touch screen, nice radio and heated front seats, plus is value priced.

Misses: Low on power, modest rear seat legroom, noisy engine and tranny under heavy acceleration.
Made in: Normal, Ill.
Engine: 2.0-liter I4 MiVEC, 148 hp
Transmission: Automatic CVT w/Sportronic
Weight: 3,263 lbs.
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 169.1 in.
Cargo: 20.1 cu.ft. (48.8 cu.ft. rear seats down)
MPG: 24/29
Base Price: $23,995
Dealer’s Price: $23,806
Major Options:
Premium package (710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium sound system w/9 speakers, subwoofer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power driver’s seat), $1,000
Delivery: $825
Test vehicle: $25,820
Sources: Mitsubishi, http://www.kbb.com

Photos: Mitsubishi




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