The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is offered in well-equipped ES, premium SE and sporty GT trims. The standard engine in ES and SE trims is a 148-horsepower, 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder engine. A new 168-horsepower 2.4L four is optional in the ES and SE and standard in the GT. On 2-wheel-drive ES models, a 5-speed manual gearbox is standard, while a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional and standard on all other Outlander Sports.
All-wheel drive is available on all trim levels, and the system, which is geared toward improved traction on slippery roads, includes a separate 2WD mode for improved fuel efficiency.
The Outlander Sport is laid out more as a tall car than as a traditional utility vehicle, and with responsive, quick-ratio electric power steering it drives more like a sporty hatchback on the road. It maneuvers well and parks easily in the city, and CVT models offer steering-wheel paddle-shifters that let you toggle between six simulated gears.
Inside, the Outlander Sport has space for five. Rear seatbacks are split 60/40 and fold forward, while back-seat occupants get a fold-down padded armrest. There's also a trunk pass-through for skis and longer items.
All Outlander Sport models include Mitsubishi's FUSE connectivity system for hands-free cellphone use, as well as a USB port for cellphone or iPod control, plus steering-wheel audio controls. The standard sound system has 140 watts and four speakers. Other standard features on the ES include rear LED tail lamps, a trip computer, air conditioning, and rear heat ducts. SE models add a 6-speaker system, automatic climate control, HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, rearview camera, and push-button engine start. The GT trim includes chrome exterior accents, integrated turn signals in the mirrors, a power driver's seat, roof rails, and aluminum pedals.
Top options on the Outlander Sport include a navigation system with real-time traffic data plus music-server storage; a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system with nine speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer; Sirius XM satellite radio; and a panoramic glass roof with adjustable LED lighting.
On the safety front, all models include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, Hill Start Assist, active front headrests, and a driver knee bag in addition to a full set of frontal and side airbags.
The rear of the car I'm driving says "Sport" and "GT." Wide paddle shifters attach to the steering column, Ferrari-style. On a twisty road, I should be up for a pretty good time. But the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, in GT trim, doesn't exactly deliver. Oh, the power comes on eagerly, but soft-tuned dampers let the body wallow in the turns, so that I don't want to push it too hard, and the steering lacks the tight response I would want for clipping apexes.
No, despite the paddle shifters, "Sport" in the Outlander's name refers more to mountain biking, or kayaking, or any of the myriad other outdoor activities we first-worlders get to do by choice rather than necessity. It certainly isn't a comment on the Outlander Sport's driving character.
And as a compact SUV, akin to the Honda HR-V, performance driving is not likely among its buyers' expectations.
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