The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is fighting to conceal its age. This compact crossover receives a minor facelift for the 2018 model year, and continues to offer a fairly high level of standard equipment for what is a fairly reasonable price in a bid to remain attractive.
Besides that, it comes with the elevated driving position loved by many, outward vision is good and the Outlander Sport is small enough to take the dread out of congested parking lots. But the same could be said for its newer rivals.
What’s New for 2018?
Restyling at the front and rear, bringing LED running lights to the higher trims. Mitsubishi says it has worked at reducing noise, vibration and harshness to make the ride quieter. The infotainment system receives a 7-inch touchscreen and is now compatible with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone interfaces. The center console has a new design, and so does the shift lever. There’s also a new-for-2018 optional Touring package that brings some advanced driver aids. The GT version (previously the top trim level) has been dropped, resulting in some equipment being reshuffled. See the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport models for sale near you
What We Like
Low price; tidy dimensions; adult-friendly back seat; agreeable ride quality; decent amount of standard equipment
What We Don’t
Noisy and underpowered base engine; unpleasant CVT; scant cargo capacity
The Outlander Sport starts with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard in the 2.0 ES; a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional with the front-drive version, standard with all-wheel drive.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy for the 2.0-liter engine with the manual transmission at 23 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. With the CVT, it’s 24 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. Adding optional all-wheel drive (which requires the CVT) results in 23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
A 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard in the SE and SEL. It’s rated at 168 hp and 167 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is still optional. The CVT is the only transmission offered with this engine, which returns 23mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 23 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is offered in 2.0 ES, 2.0 LE, 2.4 SE and 2.4 SEL trim levels.
The 2.0 ES ($21,235) starts with 18-in alloy wheels, LED taillights, heated mirrors, power accessories, automatic climate control, cruise control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, voice command for phones and music devices, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, rearview camera, a 7-in touchscreen and a 4-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, USB connectivity and HD radio.
The 2.0 LE ($23,435) adds fog lights, LED running lights, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The 2.4 SE ($23,835) has the larger engine and CVT, plus keyless entry/ignition, dual USB ports, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
The 2.4 SEL ($25,335) brings rain-sensing wipers, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, leather seating surfaces, sliding rear center armrest, power-folding mirrors, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, aluminum pedals, steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles, black roof rails and a self-dimming rearview mirror.
Some of the fancier standard features in the higher trims are optional in the lower levels.
The Touring package is available in the SEL trim, bringing a panoramic sunroof, forward-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, automatic on/off high beams and a 9-speaker/710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system (bear in mind that this setup’s subwoofer cuts cargo space behind the rear seats from 21.7 cu ft. to 20.1 cu ft.).
The Outlander Sport comes with standard stability control, anti-lock brakes and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver knee and full-length side curtain). It also has hill start assist as standard.
In government crash tests, it 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 it was deemed Acceptable (the second-best rating of four).
Behind the Wheel
Thanks to features such as soft-touch plastics on the dashboard, the Outlander Sport’s cabin is quite nice. The front seats aren’t memorably supportive, but the standard height-adjustable driver’s seat elevates the driving position to an agreeable midpoint between hatchbacks and SUVs.
The hooded rev counter 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 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 seats folded down (or 48.8 cu ft. if the upgraded audio system is installed).
The base 2.0-liter engine is weak. It’s noisy and slow compared with others in the segment. But at least the CVT has simulated gears for a more conventional feel during acceleration. The 2.4-liter engine makes a bit of a difference; be sure to try it before settling on the smaller motor.
This is a softly sprung crossover designed for urban duty. The available all-wheel drive system is a useful feature for snowy climates, but doesn’t transform the Outlander Sport into a real SUV by any means. It’s agreeable enough on the pavement, riding smoothly and fairly quietly for a bargain-priced SUV.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Honda HR-V — Based on the excellent Fit. Good cargo/people combinations and a much newer model than the Outlander Sport.
2018 Mazda CX-3 — Also a newer model than the Outlander Sport and one of the more entertaining vehicles in this class.
2018 Jeep Renegade — A little ruggedness is cool. And this is yet another newer model.
2018 Fiat 500X — Charming, affordable and, yes, newer than the Outlander Sport.
2018 Subaru Crosstrek — Comes with all-wheel drive as standard and is popular with the Subaru faithful. Not blessed with a punchy engine, however. An all-new generation debuted for the 2018 model year.
Used Honda CR-V — It’s bigger, but still considered compact. This is the best-selling crossover for a reason — it’s so good at so many things.
At these prices, the 2.4 SEL is probably affordable. Better to have the gutsier engine and equipment. Consider the Touring package for the extra safety features as well. However, your ideal small crossover might lie beyond the confines of a Mitsubishi dealership.