Kuyper: Mitsubishi Sport takes on tough competition

The SEL model of Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport has a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 168-horsepower engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. An alternate 2-liter engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
The SEL model of Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport has a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 168-horsepower engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. An alternate 2-liter engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

The 2018 Mitsubishi Sport faces stiff competition in the market of small SUVs. Competitors of note are Ford’s new EcoSport, Chevrolet’s Trax, Toyota’s C-HR, Honda’s HR-V and Jeep’s Renegade.

Lacking quality in certain areas, the Sport makes up for deficiencies in price and warranty. The basic warranty of five years or 60,000 miles outdoes most, if not all, the competition. Add to that a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and buyers should feel somewhat protected.

Pricing basically ranges from $20,000 to $26,000 for the trim levels, which are ES, LE, SE and SEL. Choices are front- or all-wheel-drive and a 2- or 2.4-liter engine. The 2-liter engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and the 2.4-liter is mated to a continuously variable transmission. Either way, the powertrain is pokey. Having tested these powertrains in recent years and, lately, the 2.4-liter, 168-horsepower inline four-cylinder, getting from zero to 60 mph can take a “long” time – almost 10 seconds with the CVT and around 8 seconds with the manual.

A top-of-the-line, all-wheel-drive Sport SEL priced from $25,995 was tested recently and confirmed a company tradition of cheap materials, modest insulation and lack of power. Open doors sound tinny when closed. It can be noisy in the cabin, which does little to encourage conversation between occupants.

Even so, a Sport comes relatively loaded, even at the entry trim level. The SEL adds a power driver’s seat, leather seat trim and an exterior mirror that folds by power. Mirrors on all trim models are power and heated.

Smartphones, Bluetooth and a seven-inch color infotainment screen are welcome in all Sport models. The SEL has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, LED running lights, black roof rails, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a single exhaust outlet with chrome tip and an SEL badge. A panoramic glass roof is optional.

Seats are comfortable and the ride relatively benign. The suspension system works well. The vehicle holds to the road well, also, even around sharp corners at sport speeds. All the Sport models wear 18-inch P225 tires. The SEL comes with flashy wheel spokes.

The Sport’s lighted cargo area expands from 21.7 cubic feet to 49.5 cubic feet after the split rear seats have been folded. This is pretty good for a subcompact SUV. Even when the rear seats are upright, there is lots of room for purchases from grocery or big-box stores. The cargo area is not hampered by an extremely sloping roof (for that svelte look) that can impinge on useful storage possibilities. Severe contours in the shapes of roofs designed recently for small SUVs are impractical.

There are inset bins toward the rear behind the wheel wells. Under a floor lid, there is a cavity to hold the temporary spare tire and wheel.

Leg room is good front and rear for adults in the six-foot range or even several inches taller. Amenities are many, including air conditioning, cruise control, climate control with a micron filter, fog lights in front, power door locks, heated front seats, manual tilt and telescoping steering wheel with redundant sound controls mounted on it, lighted vanity mirrors on front visors, variable intermittent wipers, two 12-volt outlets, a RockfordFosgate sound system for AM-FM-satellite radio, auxiliary outlets, MP3 player, armrests, cupholders, storage bins and rear privacy glass.

Safety features include seven airbags including one for the driver’s knee and overhead for two rows. These airbags complement other safety inclusions such as traction and stability controls, a four-wheel antilock braking system, latch system for child seats and hill start assist.

Roadside assistance is available for five years. Mileage is unlimited for assistance during that time frame.


Vehicle: ]2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

Type: five-passenger, four-door, all-wheel-drive subcompact SUV

Price: $25,595

Engine: 2.4-liter, 168-horsepower, double overhead cam, in-line four-cylinder

Transmission: continuously variable

Fuel: regular unleaded

Fuel tank: 16.6 gallons

Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 25 mpg combined

Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 105.1, 171.9, 71.3, 64.8, 8.5

Weight: 3,285 pounds

Leg room: 41.6 inches front, 36.3 inches rear

Cargo: 21.7 cubic feet rear seats up, 49.5 cubic feet rear seats down

Suspension: struts front, multi-links rear, stabilizer bars

Tires (P225), alloy wheels: 18-inch

Brakes: discs, 11.6-inch ventilated front, 11.9-inch solid rear

Turning curb-to-curb: 34.8 feet

Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles, 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain

Assembly: Japan


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