By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.5
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport compact SUV is the company's answer to such cute-utes as the Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman. Mitsubishi forgoes turbocharged engines and high-priced add-ons, relying instead on a bold exterior design, nimble handling, a fuel-efficient engine, and pricing that makes the Outlander Sport one of the most affordable compact SUVs around. The Outlander Sport is as easy to maneuver around town as it is on twisting back roads, and it offers a number of technology upgrades and options younger buyers covet without pushing the bottom line out of their reach.
If you're looking for a compact SUV that is easy on the eyes, wallet and gas budget, but you don't want to drive some ho-hum crossover, check out the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Available all-wheel drive makes it a great year-round companion, as does the impressive 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Those in need of seating for seven should look to the larger Outlander SUV, while those needing more power for towing and performance might be happier with a Subaru Forester XT or Ford Escape. Mitsubishi's limited dealer network might also make purchasing and servicing somewhat inconvenient.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gains an improved continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and more sound insulation for a quieter cabin. SE trims gain LED running lights, piano black trim and repositioned seat heater switches.
Driving Impressions It only required a few minutes behind the wheel of our 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport tester to understand why this little SUV is a consumer favorite. The seating position is...... comfortable and supportive, and the view out is excellent all around. The Outlander Sport zips through traffic with ease, responding quickly to driver input. The new CVT now mimics a 7-speed transmission, delivering quicker response than last year's CVT especially when using the available paddle shifters. Too bad the slick 5-speed manual transmission is only available on the base model, although its nice to see one still being offered. While flat-out acceleration isn't the Outlander Sport's trump card, its impressive handling is. Things get even better when equipped with Mitsubishi's all-wheel-drive system that includes an all-wheel-control "auto" mode for enhanced grip on dry pavement and a "lock" mode for snow or light off-road adventuring.
ROCKFORD FOSGATE AUDIO SYSTEM
If you're all about great road tunes, you'll want to opt for the 9-speaker, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system offered in the Outlander Sport for 2015. The system includes a powerful subwoofer and SiriusXM radio, and it can be paired to a 40-gigabyte hard drive for increased music storage.
GREAT VALUE FOR THE MONEY
If you're searching for the lowest cost compact crossover SUV, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport will definitely make the list. Even when stocked with cutting edge audio, navigation and creature-comfort options, the Outlander Sport barely breaks the $30,000 mark.
For 2015, the Outlander Sport's interior remains easy on the eyes and easy to use. Front seats are reasonably comfortable, while the rear is snug for three adults but just fine for two. Behind the rear seat the cargo capacity is not great, at just over 20 cubic feet, but fold down the rear seats and the capacity more than doubles. There is leather on the steering wheel and shift knob, and leather seating is available with the SE Touring Package as an option. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport's interior doesn't claim to be luxurious, but it is useful and comfortable.Exterior
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport compact SUV gives prospective buyers lots of reasons to sign the dotted line. Up front, the nose is remindful of Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution performance line, while along the sides are deep creases and sculpturing that bring a lot of interest and neatly tie into the door handles. Big wheels and tires fill up the wheel wells, and the rear end is nicely tied off with wraparound taillights and a spoiler over the rear window. An optionally-available roof rack can be used to carry larger items that won't fit inside.
Even a base 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, 18-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 automatic on/off high-intensity headlights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, heated front seats, and six speakers instead of four along with a touch-screen audio display. Mitsubishi vehicles also come with a new-car warranty that includes 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain.
Many Outlander Sport options for 2015 are grouped into packages, including a Premium Package (SE trim), Premium Package with Panoramic Glass Roof (SE trim), Touring Package (SE trim), Exterior Package, Interior Package (with CVT only), and other packages for LED Illumination, LED Daytime Running Lights, Rear Park Assist Sensor, Cargo, All-Weather and Navigation. Stand-alone options include an alloy fuel door, roof rack crossbars, body side moldings, all-weather floormats, fog lights, wheel locks, and mudguards.
Mitsubishi offers just one engine for the Outlander Sport: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that runs on regular unleaded gasoline and is rated at 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a CVT automatic transmission or, for the base version of the vehicle, a 5-speed manual. While the powertrain is certainly willing, it would be unreasonable to expect large doses of performance. The Outlander Sport uses a "brake energy regeneration" system to reduce fuel usage and CO2 emissions, which works by capturing kinetic energy during deceleration and then intensively recharging the battery with that energy. The battery can then reduce its reliance on the engine's alternator, which helps conserve fuel. The result is a powertrain that is entirely adequate for the vehicle's uses and also delivers quite commendable fuel economy.
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30 mpg (manual), 25/32 mpg (automatic), 24/30 mpg (automatic, all-wheel drive)
A 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport compact crossover SUV is among the few compact-utility vehicles that start in the $20,000 range. 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. 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 2015 Outlander Sport SE with all-wheel drive can reach about $32,000, but at that level the buyer might be looking at a different vehicle. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are paying for this vehicle in your area. While the Outlander Sport represents a lot of value for the money, resale values are expected to be near the bottom of its class.