Mitsubishi Counts on Redesigned 2020 Outlander Sport for Comeback
- New exterior styling
- 4-cylinder powertrains carry over
- Available in front- and all-wheel drive
- Offered in ES, SE and GT trim levels
- Pricing to start at about $22,000
Mitsubishi characterizes its Outlander Sport as “a compact SUV designed for the city, offering wide-ranging versatility that makes it perfect for everything from everyday use to exciting adventures” and its design concept as “Impact and Impulse.” That translates to “signature Mitsubishi toughness” and “a strong image, inviting drivers to follow their impulses and take on new challenges.” Okay. We’ll just agree that it looks better, and pretty good to us.
Its new signature “Dynamic Shield” face presents a “central protective shape,” while the squared-off horizontal and vertical lines of the grille and under-bumper skid plate project strength and toughness. The hood sculpting is deeper, and the distinctive LED lighting layout puts the turn signals and fog lamps at the bumper’s ends (in keeping with Mitsubishi’s current brand look) with the headlamps outboard and lower for both styling and effectiveness.
New colors added
Around back, the LED rear combination lamps stretch full width to accentuate the CUV’s wide stance, and the skid plate (as in front) is designed to look tough and strong. Bold new available 2020 colors include a “vivid, intensely brilliant” Red Diamond, “sporty and energetic” Sunshine Orange and “sleek, refined” Oak Brown. Meanwhile, the “improved usability” improvements inside include an eight-inch diagonal infotainment screen (an inch bigger than before) with volume and control knobs, improved Smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) with advanced connectivity and on-screen video viewing capability when the vehicle is stopped.
Aside from the nice restyling inside and out, the 2020 Outlander Sport relies on carryover mechanicals including the standard 2.0L, optional 2.4L four-cylinder engines and continuously variable transmission (CVT) along with the availability of front- or all-wheel drive.
Again offered in three trim levels, ES, SE and GT, the 2020 Outlander Sport is expected to be priced along the lines of the current model, which starts at $22,000 for the base ES and tops out at around $27,500 for an AWD GT mode.
The company’s North American president and CEO Fred Diaz (a former Nissan North America vice president and, before that, president/CEO of Fiat Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand) is working hard to execute a big one, with able help from his refreshed U.S. team and the company’s engineers and designers in Japan.
Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales peaked at nearly 350,000 in 2002, then bottomed out below 54,000 during recession year 2009 largely due to bad management decisions and aging products. But new leaders here and at Mitsubishi Motor Corp. (MMC) in Japan have been providing much better products and improving customer care – Mitsubishi was the best non-luxury Asian brand in J.D. Power’s 2018 Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) -- have seen U.S. sales recover to above the 100K mark in 2017 and 118K in 2018.
While MMNA’s 355 U.S. dealers (down from 650 at its peak) serve just 61 percent of the market today, its U.S. sales have grown for six straight years, and it has been the fastest-growing Asian brand here for the last two. Diaz’s near-term goal is to increase his dealer count to 475-500 and market coverage to about 90 percent in the next two-to-three years. He adds that design and new technologies to improve the shopping and buying experience are key strategic elements going forward. “Our success depends on doing things differently,” he says. And because MMC is now part of the global Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, his growing U.S. product line will include battery-electric vehicles and more hybrids.