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  • 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC

    Posted on December 14th, 2017 ninarussin

    Value-focused subcompact crossover

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    It’s no secret that Mitsubishi has struggled to maintain its foothold in recent years, and as-a-result has shifted its focus from high-performance vehicles such as the Evo to bread-and-butter models including the Outlander and Outlander Sport crossovers. In-an-effort to lure customers back into the fold, the automaker adopted a value strategy that goes beyond pricing to include one of the best warranties in the industry that, unlike many competitors, is fully transferable.

    Still potential customers want to know if the cars Mitsubishi is producing are worth the investment. While the Outlander Sport’s $20,000 starting price is a bargain by anyone’s standards, it’s still a big chunk of money in a post 2008 economy where customers are still spending carefully.

    Mitsubishi has always had a reputation for producing sturdy engines and cars that can go the distance. Decades back, the now-discontinued Montero was a popular choice among off-road racers, including the grueling Paris-Dakar rally. The automaker continues in that tradition today. The 2.4-liter engine and continuously-variable automatic transmission that power the five-passenger Outlander Sport are well-engineered and well matched for years of good service.

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    The test car is the all-wheel drive SEL, priced from $25,895 excluding destination. Being the upscale grade, the SEL comes loaded with comfort and convenience features including keyless entry and start, high intensity discharge headlamps, LED daytime running lamps and tail lamps, roof rails, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seating and automatic climate control.

    A touring package on the test car adds lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, automatic headlamps, Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system and a panoramic sunroof. Final MSRP including destination is $29,110.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    Over the past week I drove the Outlander Sport around Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley including the cities of Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale, as well as a section of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. While styling isn’t as eye-catching as the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 it competes against, Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive crossover does a good job of delivering solid, all-round performance.

    The 2.4-liter engine produces 168-peak horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque: not exactly a barn burner but plenty to keep up with traffic, even on higher-speed roads such as the I-10 freeway connecting Phoenix and Tucson. The newest version of Mitsubishi’s continuously variable automatic transmission delivers linear acceleration, avoiding the rubber band feel these units can suffer from.

    An electric power steering system produces ample assist at low speeds for maneuverability. A 34.8-foot turning circle makes it easy to maneuver into tight parking spots on the street or perform the occasional U-turn. On-center response at higher speeds is soft, but drivers shouldn’t feel disconnected from the steering wheel.

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    A four-wheel independent suspension is a step ahead of Honda and Mazda, both of whom equip their subcompacts with solid rear axles. It does a good job of absorbing bumps in the road, keeping both rows of occupants comfortable. A stabilizer bar up front keeps the chassis flat in the corners.

    Ventilated rotors up front and solid disc brakes in the rear stop the car in firm linear fashion.

    Visibility around the vehicle’s perimeter is good. I had no problems monitoring vehicles when merging onto the highway or seeing traffic in adjacent lanes. The standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back in the center stack screen when the driver shifts into reverse, making it easier to pull out of a slot in a crowded parking lot.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing engine, road and wind noise intrusion to the interior so both rows of occupants can converse on the highway or enjoy the premium audio system.

    Versatile interior

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

    Its configurable interior makes the Outlander Sport a good choice for buyers with active lifestyles. Folding the rear seats flat, the car meets our bicycle-friendly standards, enabling cyclists to stash the bikes out of the weather and protect them from theft.

    Mitsubishi has improved its interior fit and finish: something that has been a sticking point in years past. Materials choices are also better, though not quite on par with some competitive vehicles.

    I found both the gauge cluster and center stack screen easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. The high intensity discharge headlamps project bright, long beams of light after dark to make poorly lit rural and suburban thoroughfares easier to navigate.

    The power driver’s seat is easy to adjust, with plenty of lower lumbar support for longer drives.

    Standard safety

    The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring and a rearview camera.

    Mitsubishi builds the Outlander Sport at its assembly plant in Okazaki, Japan.

    Like: A versatile, affordably priced subcompact crossover with a high level of standard active and passive safety features.

    Dislike: Bland styling.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Mitsubishi
    Model: Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $25,895
    As tested: $29,110
    Horsepower: 168 HP @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 167 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 23/28 mpg city/highway

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