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2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2015

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport reminds us of an old maxim that appears in numerous traditions: Judge me by my fruits, not by my roots. We've been guilty of judging the Outlander Sport by its roots in the past. When Mitsubishi's smallest crossover first debuted, we focused on its lowly Dodge Caliber-derived platform, wondering what anything based on that now-defunct hatchback could amount to.

But the Outlander Sport quickly became Mitsubishi's best-selling vehicle.

The more time we spend with the Outlander Sport, the more we appreciate what it brings to the table. It perches the driver up high, providing the expansive visibility that crossover fans love. It's a legitimately compact vehicle that makes quick work of congested parking lots. It has a surprisingly roomy, adult-friendly back seat. And Mitsubishi's FUSE voice-command system comes standard, giving you hands-free control of phones and portable music devices.

As in previous model years, the Outlander Sport's main weakness is in the engine room, where the base 2.0-liter inline-4 labors to get this Mitsu moving. The available 2.4-liter engine, a new addition for 2015, is a must-have if you want respectable acceleration. But otherwise, the Outlander Sport is a pretty compelling crossover. Kudos to Mitsubishi for turning those questionable roots into some surprisingly tasty fruit.

What's New for 2015?

The new 2.4 ES and 2.4 GT trim levels include an upgraded 2.4-liter engine with 168 horsepower. Other improvements include an overhauled continuously variable transmission (CVT) with simulated conventional gears, sound insulation and electric power steering.

What We Like

Low price; tidy dimensions; adult-friendly back seat; agreeable ride quality; lots of standard equipment

What We Don't

Noisy and underpowered base engine; unpleasant CVT; scant cargo capacity

How Much?

$19,791-$24,445

Fuel Economy

The Outlander Sport starts with a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the base 2.0 ES, while the 2.0 SE comes only with a CVT that's optional on the 2.0 ES.

The 2.4 ES and 2.4 GT step up to a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 168 hp and 167 lb-ft. The CVT is the only transmission offered.

Front-wheel drive is standard on all models, while the AWC all-wheel-drive system is optional with the CVT.

Fuel economy for the 2.0-liter engine is 24 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and 25 city/32 hwy with the CVT. Adding all-wheel drive (which requires the CVT) drops you back to 24 city/30 hwy.

The 2.4-liter engine returns 23 city/28 hwy with front-wheel drive and 23 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is offered in 2.0 ES, 2.0 SE, 2.4 ES and 2.4 GT trim levels.

The 2.0 ES ($19,791) starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, power accessories, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, the FUSE voice-command system for phones and music devices and a 4-speaker audio system with USB connectivity.

The 2.4 ES ($22,145) essentially adds the larger engine and mild aesthetic upgrades such as a color-keyed front bumper.

The 2.0 SE ($23,420) reverts to the smaller engine but adds lots of luxuries, including xenon headlights, fog lights, LED running lights and taillights, heated front seats, piano-black interior trim, a sliding center armrest, automatic climate control, a 6.1-in touchscreen and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio.

The 2.4 GT ($24,445) gets the 2.0 SE's equipment plus the larger engine and such extras as black roof rails, an 8-way power driver's seat and aluminum pedals.

Some of the fancier standard features are optional on lower trim levels. Other options include a hard-drive-based navigation system with a 7-in touchscreen, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, adjustable LED mood lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 9-speaker 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with a subwoofer.

Safety

The Outlander Sport comes with standard stability control, anti-lock brakes and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain).

In government crash tests, the Outlander Sport received four stars out of five overall. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Outlander Sport its highest rating of Good in every crash test except the small front-overlap test, where the Mitsubishi was deemed Acceptable (the second-best rating of four).

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we deemed the Outlander Sport surprisingly nice inside, thanks to such design features as its dark, sleek look and the soft-touch material on the dashboard. The front seats aren't memorably supportive, but the standard height-adjustable driver seat elevates the driving position to an agreeable midpoint between hatchbacks and SUVs.

The tilt-telescopic steering wheel is a welcome feature for taller pilots (the related Lancer's wheel, for example, lacks a telescoping function). The deeply hooded tachometer and speedometer feature crisp white backlighting and numerals that are easily read at a glance. The ergonomics are generally good, including both the manual and automatic climate controls.

The Outlander Sport's accommodating back seat is a pleasant surprise. Despite this crossover's compact dimensions, adults should have no problem getting comfortable in the second row. Cargo space is not a high point, however, measuring 21.7 cu ft. behind the back seat and topping out at 49.5 cu ft. with the rear seatbacks folded down.

The base 2.0-liter engine is this Mitsu's weak link. It's noisy and slow compared to others in the segment, though at least the CVT has been revised for 2015 with simulated gears for a more conventional feel during acceleration. The upgraded 2.4-liter engine makes a difference; make sure to try it before settling on the smaller motor.

Although the Outlander Sport's pugnacious face evokes the high-performance Lancer Evolution sedan, don't expect the same athletic handling on the road. This is a softly sprung crossover designed for urban duty. The available all-wheel-drive system is a nice feature for snowy climates, but it doesn't transform the Outlander Sport into a real SUV by any means. Happily, the Sport is an agreeable companion on the pavement, riding smoothly and fairly quietly for a bargain-priced SUV.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Kia Soul -- More of a tall wagon than a crossover, the redesigned Soul brings funky style and a healthy technology roster of its own.

2015 Hyundai Tucson -- The Tucson is similarly compact, and its available 2.4-liter engine is a close relative of the Outlander Sport's optional power plant.

2015 Mazda CX-5 -- The CX-5 is a bit more expensive, but with its excellent road manners and nice cabin, it's a strong rival to high-end versions of the Outlander Sport.

Used Mitsubishi Outlander -- Take a look at your Mitsubishi dealer's inventory and see if there's a certified pre-owned Outlander V6 available. It's got plenty of power, and you get more space inside, too.

AutoTrader's Advice

The 2.4 ES gives you the stronger engine without breaking the bank. It's the sweet spot.

Find a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport FWD ES
Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
$12,920
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport FWD ES
Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
$13,400
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: New Car Review - Autotrader