By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.5
The Mitsubishi Outlander has the distinction of being one of the first subcompact SUV options on the market. This year, it gets a pretty competitive upgrade, with the 2016 Outlander Sport getting a new nose, revised interior and a new higher-end trim level in the form of the Outlander Sport SEL. Going head-to-head with the Kia Sportage, Mini Countryman, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V, the Outlander Sport offers decent power from its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, and a price that won't break the bank even if you go a little nuts with the options. Around town its small size makes it easy to maneuver, and the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder -- the engine you'll want to get -- offers solid fuel economy around town.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016 the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gets a new nose with a grille that looks more like the bigger Outlander. The interior also gets some improvements in the form of a new steering wheel, new seat fabrics, an upgraded audio system, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a new light-gray interior color option.
Although the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport offers upgrades to the styling, there's no hiding that this little SUV has been around since 2011. That's an eternity in the new-car market...
... -- most of its competitors from 2011 have been redesigned since then -- but the little Mitsu remains the best-selling Mitsubishi model on the market today. It's comfortable behind the wheel, with supportive seats, and the small size and big windows give the driver excellent visibility. The 2.4-liter engine offers good power, and the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) received an upgrade last year to give it a more natural and less buzzy driving experience. Still, the age shows, and overall the Outlander Sport driving experience trails competitors like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. That said, the Outlander Sport undercuts them both on price without feeling cheap, especially if you spring for the Rockford Fosgate sound system.
ROCKFORD FOSGATE AUDIO SYSTEM
The upgrade Rockford Fosgate audio system available in the 2016 Outlander Sport offers up 710 watts of 9-speaker audio glory, including a powerful subwoofer and SiriusXM radio. Pair it with the 40-gigabyte hard drive for increased music storage.
GREAT VALUE FOR THE MONEY
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a little smaller than its competitors, but it offers a much smaller price tag. Even when you tick all-wheel drive and the most expensive model, you're still looking at a price that's about $30,000, which can be thousands less than its competitors.
The 2016 Outlander Sport interior offers a new steering wheel with piano-black accents, new trim around the center stack, framing a new 6.1-inch display audio system, and even a new light-gray interior color option that helps brighten up what was a somber black interior. The comfortable front seats are supportive over a long drive, while the rear seats are definitely for smaller adults; 6-footers will feel cramped. Behind the second row is a pretty small cargo area, offering just 20 cubic feet of space, although it opens up considerably when you fold down the rear seatbacks.
There's no doubting the 2016 Outlander Sport is a sharp-looking little SUV. The new nose mimics the styling of the bigger Outlander that debuted last year, and while it's more aggressive, it looks good here. The rest of the vehicle remains largely the same with the exception of new molding around the wheelwells, but that's a good thing. The proportions are spot-on, and the compact size -- it's about eight inches shorter than a CR-V -- makes it easy to maneuver around tight urban parking lots. An optionally available roof rack can carry larger items that won't fit inside.
The base Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES offers some solid features for its roughly $20,500 price, including leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, LED taillights, 18-inch alloy 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. A multicolor information display reads out fuel consumption, outside temperature and other data. Safety systems include hill-start assist, stability control and seven standard airbags, plus a driver's-side knee airbag. Mitsubishi vehicles also come with a new-car warranty that includes 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain.
Skip the base 2.0-liter engine and get the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which offers more power and torque with only a minor penalty in fuel economy. Otherwise, features get added as you work up the trim ladder. The SE model adds fog lights, push-button ignition, a rearview camera and the new 6.1-inch display audio system, while the SEL takes that and adds leather seating, chrome exhaust and power-folding sideview mirrors. The top-line GT adds a panoramic glass roof, HID headlights, and the awesome Rockford Fosgate audio system. All-wheel drive is available on all models.
The base engine in the 2016 Outlander Sport is a forgettable 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with only 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission, but it's overwhelmed by this little SUV, which comes in front-wheel or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD). Instead, get the available 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. At 168 horsepower it's no powerhouse, but it doesn't have to work as hard to get the Outlander Sport moving, so it's quieter as well as offering more punch. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is the only option, but it mimics a standard transmission with "shift" points, and it was smooth enough. An AWD system is available on all models, offering peace of mind for slippery-road conditions.
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 mpg (manual), 24/31 mpg (automatic, FWD), 23/29 mpg (automatic, AWD)
168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
167 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg (FWD), 22/27 mpg (AWD)
Mitsubishi holds the line on the 2016 Outlander Sport, with a front-wheel-drive base ES model starting with a reasonable $20,500 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), including the $850 destination charge. The new Outlander Sport SEL model starts at a little under $25,000, and the GT starts at a bit less than $27,000. AWD adds about $1,400 to any Outlander Sport model. That price undercuts 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 if you load up an Outlander Sport GT with AWD you'll still be around the $30,000 mark. Whatever you choose, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are paying for this vehicle in your area. The downside is that the Outlander Sport is near the bottom of the class for resale value.