2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Road Trip

November 26, 2011

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This week I took the Outlander from L.A. to Monterey, CA. It's about 330 miles each way and involves driving along very scenic CA 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. This is one of those trips where the drive itself can be half the fun. Life being a journey and all that...

On a long trip like this, where you have open road and the ability to cruise at 60 or so for long stretches, the Mitsu was fine. Even without adjustable lumbar support for my finicky lower back, the front seats were very comfortable for hours at a time. My iPod was easy to run through the car's stereo, the Nav system helped us find some good eats and the cabin was quiet enough at high cruising speeds except when more serious inclines were tackled, where the engine's drone would require bumping the volume on the stereo.

Yes, I had to take (shifting) matters into my own hands while tackling the mountainous portions so as to keep the Outlander Sport up on its toes rather than flat on its feet. But even with the lack of power, it was still somewhat entertaining to drive as the little Mitsu is pretty good at cutting through curvy blacktop, thanks to its fairly quick steering and buttoned down composure. Too bad Mitsu didn't offer a Ralliart version of this rig...

We're heading back to L.A. shortly and will post another update after we get back with average fuel mileage and trip highlights.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 19,430 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: Race Weekend

October 26, 2011

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Our longterm 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE served as transportation, food service station, storage, clothesline and mobile changing room over this past weekend's 24 Hours of LeMons race at Infineon Raceway.

Though not at it's best as a mile eater -- too much road noise, tepid acceleration, sometimes choppy ride -- its alert steering and comfy seats are welcome in this class of vehicle.

One minor bummer -- where's the flip-down tailgate? I really liked that feature in the non-Sport Outlander. Good for loading, good for sitting. Ah well.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 16,627 miles.

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Road Noise

October 08, 2011

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There tends to be a lot of road noise echoing around the cabin of our 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Most of it is caused by these Goodyear Eagle LS2s. At speed, and most noticeably on the freeway, the tires emit a steady drone for all passengers to enjoy. Bumps and changes in road texture don't affect the pitch much, which maintains a persistent howl. I keep the radio volume up as a countermeasure.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 14,624 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: Trying to Like it

July 25, 2011

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I spent three days in our 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE and I wish I could be more enthusiastic about it. I drove to San Diego and liked the way it handled at highway speeds and the interior is attractive if you don't look to closely. It's also a good size for tight parking spaces and still has a roomy interior. But the navigation system is difficult to program and my cell phone had to be connected each time I got in the car. After driving 316 miles we got 25.3 mpg which is pretty good for a tall SUV.

I don't mind the lack of power as much as the feeling you get from the power delivery. You step on the gas, the engine buzzes and then it sort of accelerates. The problem is that the 2.0 L, 148-hp engine feels disconnected from the transmission. Years ago I owned a 2000 Mitsubishi Galant and, while it wasn't fast, it had good low-end torque. Around town it felt lively and responsive. An auto engineer once said something to me that has really stuck with me: "People buy horsepower but they drive torque." Unfortunately, the Outlander is short on both.

Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor @ 11,311 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: Daily Grind Delights

July 22, 2011

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We've all griped about the Outlander Sport's flat-footed nature when left to its own transmission devices. And as noted (and useful when dealing with L.A.'s legions of unpredictable and inattentive zombies) working the CVT manually puts some spring in this Outlander's step. Once you've got that down (or just don't care and leave it in D) you'll likely notice and appreciate this Mitsu's trio of upscale features:

Keyless entry/ignition: Until fairly recently, this was just something you'd see in premium brand luxury cars. Simply touching and then pulling the door handle rather than fishing and/or fumbling with a remote is handy, especially when you're running errands.

Xenon headlights: Another high-end feature that, like the above, is standard on the SE. We've all been on streets that seem to be illuminated with candles, so obviously having powerful headlights with a broad, sharply focused light spray make for a less stressful and more confident night time drive.

Back-up camera: Yes, we all know how to parallel park here. But let's be honest, a back-up camera makes it much easier to fine-tune your car's position on crowded city streets and strip malls (where the spaces here in L.A. are often sub-standard in size.)

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 10,996 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: Paddle and Row

June 01, 2011

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Each time I sit down behind the wheel of the Outlander Sport, I wonder why I don't like it more. The interior is unfussy, the seats are comfortable and adjust manually. The fabric is odd and, after all this time, still smells like Band-Aid. The controls and interfaces are simple and spread out. There's even AWD for the 16 snow days we're allotted out here.

Then I merge out into traffic, step into the gas, and wait. And wait some more, until the CVT gets its bearings and cuts an elliptical path from widest to seemingly tightest ratio. Then I remember why I don't like the Sport more.

But I've taken to a little workaround.

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Don't Stop The Music

May 24, 2011

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The Sirius subscription in our Outlander Sport hasn't been renewed yet (it will be soon), following the end of our free three-month trial. Without satellite radio, it feels like something's missing in the Sport. And this, of course, underlines the fact that a crossover like this is mostly about the music. It was designed to essentially be a boom box on four wheels. And I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing.

With no Sirius to distract me, I paid more attention to the Sport's performance -- or lack thereof. Hit the gas and the crossover whines loudly as it takes its own sweet time getting up to speed. So yes, acceleration is still s-l-o-o-o-o-w.

Oh well. At least I can still amuse myself with the car's real-time traffic. No fee for that subscription; it's free on all Sports equipped with nav systems.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Fake Rear Diffuser

May 10, 2011

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It has been noted that our long-term 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is long on looks and short on performance. Witness the faux rear diffuser that is so high off the deck it could not possibly have any aero effect.

Still, it's a good looking car: one of the best looking compact SUV "Cute Utes."

Like many of you, I'm waiting for the Ralliart version.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~7,700 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Plenty of Room for More Motor

April 28, 2011

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Kind of wish Mitsubishi had used it. This is little four-cylinder is modern, efficient and reasonably powerful, but it struggles in this particular application. I figured that after more seat time I would get used to its modest powerband. I haven't.

The CVT sure doesn't help. When you have a small engine that's struggling to remain smooth while winding its heart out, a CVT only makes it worse.

Apart from the engine's lack of punch, I still like the general driving experience in the Outlander. Solid suspension tuning, minimal road noise and decent steering make it a good errand runner. Still looks way better than a CR-V too.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: I Wonder

April 26, 2011

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So I took our Outlander Sport (the Sport is the little Outlander) off onto a gravel path the other day and I wondered, "Is this the extent of the little Sport's off-road prowess?"

Many of these QUV's (Questionable Utility Vehicles - that's right, you heard that here first) hint at having some off-road ability, with their high-ish ground clearance and selectable 4-wheel drive, but can they do anything. Can they really drive off-road?

Dan Edmunds (seriously, his last name is a coincidence - he's not the owner) led our Countryman into unpaved territory and it got me to thinking how our other QUV's stack up.

Since we have three of these things at our long-term disposal (Juke, Outlander Sport and Countryman), who else would like to see a silty showdown? I promise to take pictures.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 7,221 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: ...With a Paddle

April 25, 2011

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I'm not a big fan of our Outlander Sport. Like our TSX Sport Wagon, I don't think the Mitsubishi deserves the "Sport" in its name. With a bovine groan under weak acceleration and lazy handling, this is pretty much the antithesis of sport in my book. But commend the manufacturer for adding the paddle shifter, which I think is one of the best executions of this type.

Mitsubishi nailed it with the dual-clutch transmission in the Evo. Now, I know the Outlander Sport's is a CVT with simulated gears, but the paddles are the same. Note to all car manufacturers: Mount the paddles to the steering column, the right paddle is an upshift and the left is a downshift. I absolutely hate paddles that are mounted to the wheel, primarily because it keeps you from selecting a gear mid-turn. As a shuffle-steer driver, the Mitsubishi's paddles are always in the perfect spot.

Some might contend that a car like this doesn't need paddle shifters, and I agree. But at least they did it right. On a few downhill grades, this option certainly came in handy. Too bad there's no rev-matching, though.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Wins 3 World Records

March 18, 2011

The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a Guinness World Record holder. Mitsubishi took the Sport and the 2011 Outlander to Ghost Lake in Alberta, Canada, with Guinness World Records along for the ride to try and break as many world records in 24 hours.

The result?

The Outlander Sport broke the following records:

300 m -- The greatest distance by a vehicle in reverse on snow in 30 seconds

56.2 m -- The shortest braking distance by a vehicle on ice (30-0)

1:11 min -- The fastest vehicle slalom relay on ice (1/4 mile)

That's all awesome and stuff, but would these record-breaking skills on ice appeal to the average consumer? You tell me.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: No Mode but Sports Mode

March 09, 2011

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My colleague Brent Romans said it best in this eloquent post on the necessity of paddle shifters in this crossover. I'll just second his comments here.

When I jumped into the Outlander Sport, I hadn't done any model homework and I didn't know that it has a continuously variable transmission. Now I know it does and I know I hate how it feels on acceleration. As Brent said, it's only the paddle shifters (and the pleasure of watching gear "shifts" on the display) that make the drive bearable.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 5,726 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: You Remind Me...of Dakar!

March 09, 2011

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The styling of our long-term 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC is taut, muscular, and purposeful, with short overhangs. It reminds me of its Dakar Rally cousins. To me the styling of our Outlander Sport is closer to the race Pajeros than the production Pajero.

I love the Dakar Rally and the race Pajeros. Some of you will see the lineage -- you could imagine a body kit and race replica paint on our AWD car. Others will think I'm viewing our Outlander Sport through rose-colored beer googles.

In any event, our Outlander Sport doesn't have the nads to back up these looks. The 2.0-liter I4 engine wheezes out only 148 hp and 143 lb-ft of torque. The CVT shift paddles help somewhat. And the steering is dead -- not even close to that of our Outlander GT.

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Five Things I Like

February 28, 2011

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1) Sporty styling. Typically small crossovers are as generic as Kirkland. But the Outlander Sport looks sharp.

2) The sunroof. Liked a couple of us have noted before, it's really pretty impressive in the way it airs out the cabin when open.

3) Easy to park. Driving a vehicle with a small footprint is always nice.

4) Cargo space. Sometimes I need more space than a sedan's trunk for a bulky item, but not that much more. The Sport's 50 cubic feet is sufficient for a lot of slightly extraordinary tasks.

5) Shift paddles. They're a useful workaround for the economy-tuned CVT.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,114 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Shift Paddles Needed

February 21, 2011

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On our regular Outlander, I've found its shift paddles enhance the model's sportiness, even though their overall usefulness is pretty minimal. On our Outlander Sport, though, I've found the paddles are key to avoiding an otherwise dreary driving experience.

The issue isn't so much the power of the engine but more the way Mitsubishi tuned the CVT. Accelerating from a stop, the CVT increases rpm to a decent level for power, but after about 25 mph it drops rpm back down to improve fuel economy. Consequently, the Outlander Sport does its to be a paradigm for "sluggish acceleration." The only way to avoid this is to step down more on the throttle to the point where the CVT "downshifts" or just switch into manual mode for the paddles and shift yourself to get the engine rpm you want.

I don't necessarily blame Mitsubishi. Whether it’s the sluggish throttle response on our 528i or the skip-shift feature on our Mustang, it's obvious automakers these days are looking for inexpensive ways to boost fuel economy for EPA estimates. But in the real world, it just doesn't work for the Outlander Sport. I'm just glad for its paddle shifters.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,952 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: Not Really.

February 09, 2011

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I'm the type of guy who pulls for the underdog, and that includes Mitsubishi. I've crowed to anyone who will listen how my dad's 2001 Galant has been a gem. Bought it new and it's given him not a lick of trouble in 130k miles apart from a recently departed A/C compressor. And it performs and rides like it has half that mileage.

But I have to say I'm disappointed with Mitsu's misnamed compact crossover...

Outlander SPORT?! Are you kidding? Don't get me wrong -- I'm not some single-minded gearhead that demands rip-snorting acceleration out of even four-cylinder-powered utilitarian vehicles. But this thing feels like it just rolled out of bed when you lean into it. And it even sounds annoyed when you do so.

Part of the blame lies with the CVT, which feels like it's doing its part to suck the life out of the engine. Yes, working the tranny manually helps as you can keep the revs up to get somewhat peppy performance, but that's gonna hurt the fuel mileage. Maybe a manual gearbox would be a better choice. Never mind -- that's only available on the the entry-level ES. Besides, although a real manual version would be more spirited and fun to drive, the reality is most folks shopping this segment get automatics.

Granted, these impressions are just based on my commute -- perhaps a stint on a twisty two-laner or a long road trip may earn it some more favorable comments. But for now -- and as a daily commuter -- no thanks. If I wanted a small crossover SUV that has "Sport" in its character and not just in its model name, I'd go with a Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson, hands down.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 4, 633 miles

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Can Slalom Traffic

January 31, 2011

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It's true, as editor Ed said, the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is slower than its name implies. And if it was pre-driving school Caroline -- when I was afraid to rev an engine for fear of hurting it (my dad, who's not a car guy, taught me that) -- I would have to resign myself to driving the Mitsu in the slow lane.

But since I now know that revving is OK, I have no problem downshifting to get that little boost to fly around slower-moving traffic. Another good thing is this Mitsu's size and supportive seats. I feel like I'm wearing it and therefore have no qualms about negotiating traffic, quickly. It handles well, with not too much roll, at least when slaloming Priuses on the 405.

Its track test backs me up: "Slalom: The Outlander Sport suffers from slow steering as well as a sensation that it's rolling from side to side on its springs with little help from the shock absorbers. But the fact that it's so small and narrow made it easy to toss around, and it has a stable and forgiving nature."

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Looks Good, Feels Slow

January 18, 2011

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Can't say that I'm all that surprised that the Outlander feels slow. That's what happens when you saddle this much vehicle with 150 horsepower and a CVT. It's a shame too as it looks like it might be a shade sporty on the outside, even says so right there in the name.

Then again, that's pretty much been the promise of very compact SUV built over the last decade or so. The smaller size always makes them look more nimble and fun yet they're always saddled with tiny engines. This Outlander's four-cylinder is so over matched that you just don't even try to go fast. It's slightly relaxing though, like driving my old 200-hp F-250. You just resign yourself to the slow lane and turn on the radio. It's not so bad really, but I probably wouldn't pay $28,000 for it though.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: On-Demand 4WD

January 07, 2011

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So when I get into the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES AWC last week it's pouring down rain, a fairly remarkable occurrence here in Southern California. The Sport has just returned from a skiing expedition and I look down to see the control knob for the four-wheel-drive system still dialed to its 4wd slot.

Ah, what to do. Do you drive away in 2wd mode or 4wd mode?

Out there in the real world where there's real weather, real people know the moment when it's smart to dial in the AWC knob to four-wheel drive. Meanwhile, the rest of us are wrestling with half-remembered misconceptions about the nature of four-wheel drive and its impact on fuel economy as well as general overall vehicle karma.

As it turns out, only a tickle of torque is being sent to the rear wheels once you engage the Outlander Sport's 4wd system, maybe some 15 percent under steady-state cruising and occasionally as little as 10 percent depending on conditions. There's a torque shift to the rear of 25 percent when you're accelerating hard above 40 mph, and as much as 40 percent when you're accelerating with full throttle at less than 40 mph. When you engage 4wd Lock, 60 percent of the torque is sent to the rear wheels.

The 4wd system's impact on fuel economy is hard to hard to gauge. A two-wheel-drive, CVT-equipped 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is EPA rated at 25 mpg City/31 mpg Highway and 27 mpg Combined, while a four-wheel-drive, CVT-equipped Outlander Sport is EPA rated at 24 mpg City/29 mpg Highway and 26 mpg Combined. But the difference in the mpg ratings is only because the extra 143 pounds of the 4wd system put the Outland Sport AWC into a different inertia weight class, as the actual testing occurs in 2wd mode. So basically it's hard to know what impact that driving in 4wd mode really has on fuel efficiency.

And then I finally realized that this is entirely the wrong question to ask yourself when you're staring at the 4wd knob. The last thing that you want to tell a tow truck driver as he's dragging your upside-down car out of a ditch is that you were trying to save a dollar of gas by driving in 2wd rather than 4wd.

We carry around all these stereotypes about 4wd, but these days, the weight penalty is minimal, the fuel cost is negligible, and the four-wheel-drive system indeed will get you farther than an extra 100 yards before you get stuck again anyway. Worrying about these things is like worrying that your turn signal will burn out if you use it too much.

The only thing that you should be thinking about when looking down at the 4wd knob is whether the Outlander Sport will drive better. All the other stuff might sound clever, but it's really pointless. Just pick the mode that is best for the kind of driving you're doing at the moment. Out there in the real world where there's real weather, real people already know this.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Things That Are Quicker...

December 28, 2010

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The following is a visual list of things that are quicker than our 10-second-to-60 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: 4B11 Tuning

December 23, 2010

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If you're a Mitsubishi guy, you might have a T-shirt that says, "4B11." This is of course the name of the stout four-cylinder engine that in turbocharged form makes the Lancer Evolution X go. It's kind of famous.

So if you thinking there's some kind of antiquated, second-rate four-cylinder engine under the hood of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, maybe you should think again. You'll find instead a 4B11, which is no bad thing.

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE: Road Trip +'s and -'s

December 21, 2010

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First stop on our road trip was Tahoe, and we were lucky enough to be driving our new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. I say lucky because while we were in Tahoe it snowed 6 feet in town and almost 10 feet in the pass on US-50 and the Outlander's 4wd came in handy.

4wd isn't the only reason taking the Outlander on a road trip was great. In fact the best part of our Outlander on a road trip is the flexibility of the media system, it has RCA/Usb ins, CD player, and satellite radio. Virtually everything you could want to keep you entertained for a 480+ mile road trip our Outlander has it, and it's easy to use with a simple intuitive touch screen. The only real negative that we observed was the amount of road and wind noise when traveling at highway speeds.

Seth Compton, Field Producer @ 2589 miles

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