Full 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is an all-new model.
What's in a name? Certainly, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but a name can also create some suspicion. Would you trust something called a Big Mac Lite, for instance? In this spirit, the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has us raising our eyebrows in doubt. It might look the part with its aggressive Lancer Evolution-inspired styling, but there's little else to justify adding the "Sport" moniker to this small crossover.
Mitsubishi does have some history with offering derivative "Sport" models, with the last being the Montero Sport that ran from 1997-2004. In this case, the all-new 2011 Outlander Sport is based on the Mitsubishi Outlander, a crossover SUV we've praised in the past for its agile handling. The Outlander Sport is 14 inches shorter, 2 inches shorter in height and up to 700 pounds lighter -- a promising foundation for added agility and performance.
In the real world, however, we've found that these changes haven't yielded anything particularly beneficial. Reduced weight should mean quicker acceleration, but the Sport also happens to be less powerful. Fitted with the 2.0-liter engine from the Lancer sedan, the Sport offers only modest acceleration. The Sport's handling is also below expectations, as substantial body roll and low grip during cornering will disappoint spirited drivers. The Sport also lacks its bigger brother's utility, as its small footprint means small cargo capacity.
On the positive side, the Outlander Sport's price is lower than that of the Outlander by at least $2,000 for base models. And you also get a fair amount of standard equipment, a smooth ride quality and a quiet cabin. But compared to other compact crossover SUVs, the Outlander Sport just doesn't have enough to offer. Models like the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox, 2011 Honda CR-V and 2011 Toyota RAV4 all justify their added cost through their additional space and refinement. And for drivers seeking the type of athleticism that the Outlander Sport's name implies, the 2011 Kia Sportage, Mini Countryman, 2011 Nissan Juke and Nissan Rogue are all better choices.
Perhaps "Outlander Lite" would be a more suitable name for the new 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. But even if it were renamed, we'd still suggest going with the competition first.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a compact crossover SUV that is offered in two trim levels: the base ES and SE.
Standard features for the ES include 16-inch steel wheels, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activation system and a four-speaker stereo with CD player plus auxiliary audio and USB input jacks.
The SE adds 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, a sliding armrest between the front seats, a second-row armrest with center pass-through, upgraded upholstery and a six speaker stereo. All-wheel drive is only offered on the SE model and also gets you heated front seats.
Most options are grouped together into packages that are available on any Outlander Sport trim level. The Exterior Sport package adds several cosmetic and aerodynamic elements along with an aluminum fuel door, while the Interior package (available on models with automatic transmissions only) adds piano-black interior trim and an aluminum shift knob. Other packages add interior mood lighting, exterior protection (scuff plates, mud guards and bumper guards) and cargo solutions. Stand-alone options include 16-inch alloy wheels for the ES, a hard-drive-based navigation system, remote ignition and the six-CD changer.
Available on the SE AWD is a Premium package that includes a panoramic sunroof, roof rails and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio. The Navigation package is also only available on the SE AWD and includes the nav system plus real-time traffic, a rearview camera and an auxiliary video input jack.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The standard transmission offered in the ES is a five-speed manual. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available as an option and is standard on the SE models. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available on the SE. As with the regular Outlander, AWD models feature three driver-selectable modes to optimize traction.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Outlander Sport with a manual transmission accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds. That's a reasonably quick time, but with the more commonly installed CVT we expect the Sport to turn in just average performance. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 25 city/31 highway mpg and 27 mpg in combined driving for an automatic front-wheel-drive model. The manual earns 24/31/26 mpg while the AWD comes in at 24/29/26 mpg.
Standard safety features on the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport include front side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, driver-side knee airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, hill start assist, traction control and stability control.
In Edmunds brake testing, a front-wheel-drive Outlander Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 141 feet, which is about 15 feet more than what comparable crossovers need to stop.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport's interior offers little in the way of visual excitement or impressive materials. Fortunately, front passengers of all sizes will likely find a comfortable seating position thanks to well-shaped seats, plenty of head- and legroom and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column for the driver. The rear seats have slightly less room, but an average-sized adult should be comfortable enough.
The controls are within easy reach and simple in operation, and the Fuse voice activation system makes some audio and navigation functions a hands-free affair. Even more surprising is that the Fuse system is standard on all Outlander Sports. Less impressive is the Sport's limited cargo capacity -- maximum cargo capacity is just 49.5 cubic feet.
Despite its name, the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport offers little in the way of athleticism. Acceleration performance is passable, but often you'll find yourself wishing for more power when entering highways and passing. Handling is similarly disappointing, with an abundance of body roll that does little to instill driver confidence or fun. To its credit, at least the Sport does have a quiet and smooth ride.
Read our Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test