By Matt Degen - Updated Date: 2/29/2012
For the Outlander Sport, Mitsubishi borrowed a portion of the SUV's name and all of the wheelbase from its more established older brother, the Outlander, but despite a similar name, the 2012 Outlander Sport is very much its own vehicle. The Sport burst into Mitsubishi's lineup in 2011 and has already found competition in the highly competitive sport-utility vehicle market from other recent arrivals such as the Mini Countryman and Nissan Juke, not to mention slightly bigger SUVs like the Honda CR-V. While small and seating a max of five, the Outlander Sport offers commendable fuel economy, a low starting price, desirable options and laudable warranty.You'll Like This Car If...
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport headlines when you want a small SUV that stands out for its style as much as its low price and respectable fuel economy. And since it's a newer vehicle from a smaller manufacturer, the Outlander Sport stands out on the road and in parking lots.You May Not Like This Car If...
Shop elsewhere if you need a compact SUV that has ample power for acceleration and towing. The choice of only one engine - and a not very powerful one at that - is the Outlander Sport's Achilles heel. Its smaller size also limits passenger and cargo space compared with slightly roomier choices like the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage and new Mazda CX-5.What's Significant About This Car?
The 2012 Outlander Sport is indicative of Mitsubishi downsizing its vehicle lineup while upsizing their fuel economy figures. In a wider context, the Outlander Sport is among a new crop of SUVs whose dimensions are meager, but whose available features are not.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has a comfortable driving position and great visibility. Getting up to speed quickly is not the Mitsubishi's forte, but once rolling, it provides a compliant, relatively quiet ride. Automatic versions of the Outlander Sport use a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that can take getting used to since it doesn't have traditional shift points. However, magnesium paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel offer manual control. The 5-speed manual transmission, only on base Outlander Sport ES models, is light and easy to use. With its small size, the Outlander Sport is a snap to maneuver and park, but the name belies the SUV's less-spirited driving personality when it comes to carving corners. While the Outlander Sport is not meant for serious off-roading, models equipped with Mitsubishi's All Wheel Control have a 2-mode 4WD switch: "auto" for better grip in general and "lock" for slippery conditions.Favorite Features
Rockford Fosgate Audio System
You'll literally feel the music with this 9-speaker, 710-watt sound system that includes a powerful subwoofer. And with a built-in 6-disc CD changer, SiriusXM receiver and available 40-gig hard drive with music server, you'll never be lacking for tunes.
Panoramic Glass Roof
Also part of the Premium Package that includes the Rockford Fosgate system, this expanse of glass spans the Outlander Sport's roof to create a feeling of openness with the outside. Too bad the only thing it doesn't do is literally open.
The 2012 Outlander Sport has a simple, user-friendly interior. Buttons for climate and audio functions are easy to find and use. Leather adorns the steering wheel and shift knob, but you'll have to look to another vehicle if you want seats covered in it. As for interior hue, to take a cue from Henry Ford: You can have any color, as long as it's black. In this case it looks more like a gray scale, but dark all the same and a shame that it doesn't carry over the vibrancy that can be had on the Outlander Sport's outer skin. The front seats are relatively comfortable, while rear seating is tight for three adults but quite tolerable for two. Cargo capacity behind the rear seat is modest by SUV standards at just over 20 cubic feet, but more than doubles that capacity with the seats folded.Exterior
Here's where the Outlander Sport shines. Up front is an aggressive face that would rightly remind some of Mitsubishi's snarling Lancer Evolution sports car, while the sides are highlighted by deeply sculpted lines that bisect the doors. Big, 18-inch wheels help the SE version stand out, while 16-inchers are standard on ES models. In back is a cute butt that is even more appealing with the optional roof-mounted spoiler. A roof rack can be added to put more of the "u" in this compact utility vehicle.Notable Standard Equipment
Even a base 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES packs a good amount of comfort, safety and convenience features. Among them are leather wrapping the shift knob and the tilt/telescoping steering wheel, LED taillights, 16-inch wheels, air conditioning with pollen filter, steering-wheel-mounted cruise control and audio buttons, a 4-speaker/140-watt AM/FM/CD system, and Fuse voice-control system. SE models add 18-inch wheels, automatic on/off high-intensity headlights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, premium fabric seats, and six speakers instead of four. Mitsubishi vehicles also come with a new-car warranty that includes 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain.Notable Optional Equipment
2012 Outlander Sport models can be spruced up with a navigation system and 40-gig hard drive, rear-view camera, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, remote engine start, and a panoramic glass roof. All-wheel drive is only available on the higher-end Outlander Sport SE, while the rest are front-wheel drive.Under the Hood
Just one engine is available for Outlander Sport models, a 4-cylinder that runs on regular unleaded. It is mated to a CVT automatic transmission or, for the base version of the vehicle, a 5-speed manual. The Outlander Sport uses a "brake energy regeneration" system to reduce fuel and CO2 emissions that works by capturing kinetic energy during deceleration and then intensively recharging the battery with it. The battery can then reduce its reliance on the engine's alternator which helps conserve fuel.
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (manual), 25/31 mpg (automatic), 23/28 (automatic, all-wheel drive)
A 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is among the few compact utility vehicles that start under $20,000, including destination. Its entry price undercuts rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, Nissan Juke, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Mini Cooper and even the Hyundai Tucson by hundreds to thousands of dollars. With a base price of $19,605 for a 2012 Outlander Sport, only the Kia Sportage comes in lower at $19,300. Even a well-equipped Outlander Sport is relatively easy on the wallet, climbing to the mid-$20,000 mark. A fully loaded, top-of-the-line 2012 Outlander Sport SE with all-wheel drive can reach about $30,000. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are paying for this vehicle in your area. Resale values for the Outlander Sport are near the bottom of its class.