2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Improved underdog

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It’s been 13 years since the Mitsubishi Outlander joined the sport utility vehicle segment. Different trims joined the lineup in three generations, but nothing has drastically changed, including in the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Tte Outlander replaced the Montero and the former has improved with each generation and trim. Mitsubishi has diligently attempted to penetrate the stronghold Honda, Mazda, Toyota and Ford have in the segment. But the Outlander, despite some good features, remains an underdog.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

It’s been two years since I last drove a Mitsubishi Outlander and now I’ve driven two within a few months and they’re largely the same. This time around, it’s the smaller Sport model and the compact crossover’s top-end 2.4 GT trim with 168 horsepower.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Four trims

The Sport is also available in ES, SE and SEL trims. The SE, SEL and GT trims have the larger 2.4-liter engine and with all of the features from other trims plus xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof with adjustable LED mood lighting and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has two rows of seating and seats five.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has two rows of seating for five. All Images © James Raia.

A continuously variable transmission is standard as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional.

It’s easy to dismiss the Outlander Sport because its competition is superior. But to Mitsubishi’s credit, the Outlander Sport looks and drives better than its older siblings dating to the trim’s debut in 2011.

New are a more aggressive front grille and a few other styling tweaks. The interior, while largely uninspired, has a new 6.1-inch touchscreen interface and available power-folding side mirrors.

The Outlander Sport, however, lacks the craftsmanship and driving pleasantries of its competitors. There’s considerable wind rush in highway driving, and the gearing and shifting is rough. Maneuvering from drive to park mode, for example, is particularly bothersome.

Likes:

Comfortable seating configuration.

Good definition in back-up camera system.

Retractable side mirrors.

Strong warranty.

Dislikes:

Sub-par gas mileage for segment.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander (Sport)

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.8 seconds.
Airbags, 7.
Fuel economy: 23 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway), 25 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 168.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $25,995.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.mitsubishicars.com.
Price As tested: $26,845.00.
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is simply outclassed by other small crossover SUVs. Its rivals are going to be superior choices.” — Edmunds.com
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“Handling has been noticeably improved for 2016 thanks to reinforcements to the platform that increase rigidity, and new retuned shocks. The downside is the ride is too firm. — Kelley Blue Book.com.

“Given what it takes to make the honor roll in a small SUV marketplace full of overachievers, the Outlander settles for a ‘Participant’ ribbon.” — Consumer Reports.

 

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The Mitsubishi Outlander continues to improve and has moved past its former reputation as an SUV to avoid at all costs. Still, while there’s nothing particularly bad about the new Outlander, there’s nothing spectacular, either. As such, why would a potential buyer opt for an Outlander against long-proven rivals?”

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