Full 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gets a few refinements, including steering wheel audio controls across the lineup and a new touchscreen audio system with HD radio on SE models.
The first word in the phrase "sport-utility vehicle" has always been something of a misnomer, as but a few SUVs offer driving characteristics that are remotely sporty, much less exciting. Accordingly, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the budget-priced 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has a hard time living up to the performance its name seems to imply.
While the Outlander Sport shares its name with Mitsubishi's regular Outlander, the two models are only loosely related: The regular Outlander has been redesigned this year while the Sport, based on the old Outlander, carries on largely unchanged. To its credit, the Sport is still smaller and lighter, and it looks sporty enough with its muscular fender bulges and large 18-inch alloy wheels. Unfortunately, that's pretty much where the Outlander Sport's performance aspirations end.
Take the Mitsubishi's 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT), for example, a combination that produces acceleration that can best be described as adequate. Likewise, the Outlander Sport's suspension, tuned to favor a smooth ride over sharp handling, is not going to fan the flames of anyone's racecar-driving dreams.
On the upside, the Outlander Sport returns pretty respectable fuel economy and is priced lower than some of its more popular competitors. But overall, it's hard to find a reason to choose this Mitsubishi over the segment's many more refined choices. If you're after a small crossover that actually has the performance to back up its sporty looks, we'd suggest checking out the Kia Sportage or perhaps the Nissan Juke. If spending a little more won't break the bank, chances are you'll be happier with category leaders like the 2014 Ford Escape or 2014 Mazda CX-5, which are roomier, more polished and quite a bit more enjoyable to drive.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a compact crossover SUV that is offered in two trim levels: base ES and top-of-the-line SE.
Standard features for the entry-level ES include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-activated electronics interface and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The SE adds automatic xenon headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, keyless entry/ignition, automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, heated front seats, a sliding armrest between the front seats, a second-row armrest with center pass-through, a rearview camera, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and HD radio.
Most options are grouped into packages. The Navigation package includes a 7-inch touchscreen display and a navigation system. For the SE, the Premium package bundles a power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. A Premium package with Panoramic Roof builds on the contents of the previous package with, yes, a panoramic sunroof plus roof rack rails and adjustable LED mood lighting. The SE's Touring package includes all of the above, plus leather upholstery and the touchscreen navigation system. Some of these features are also available separately as accessories.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gets a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 148 hp and 145 pound-feet of torque. Both ES and SE are available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on front-drive ES models. Optional on the front-drive ES and standard on the AWD ES and all SE models is a CVT, which takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are included in SE models.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Outlander Sport with a manual transmission accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in a respectable 8.8 seconds.
Models equipped with that CVT earn EPA fuel economy estimates of 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city/31 mpg highway) with front-wheel-drive, which is higher than average for a compact crossover SUV. With the manual transmission and front-wheel drive, those numbers drop to 26 combined (24/30). All-wheel-drive versions with the CVT also earn 26 mpg combined (24/29).
Standard safety features on the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport include antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, hill start assist, side-impact airbags for front seat occupants, side curtain airbags that cover both rows and a driver-side knee airbag.
In government crash testing, the Outlander Sport received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and four stars for overall side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Outlander Sport scored "Good" (the highest possible rating) in the agency's moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, it earned a second-best "Acceptable" rating. The head restraints/seat design earned a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, an AWD Outlander Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for this segment.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport offers an understated but attractive cabin and average-quality materials. Gauges and controls are refreshingly straightforward, including the standard voice-controlled Fuse system, which makes it possible to control some audio and navigation system functions without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
Up front, average-sized occupants get comfortable seats with a good amount of head- and legroom. The standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel makes it possible to fine-tune the driving position, but taller drivers may still feel a bit cramped. The rear seats aren't exactly spacious, but younger teens and smaller adults aren't likely to have any complaints.
Behind those 60/40-split rear seats are 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space; fold both sections down and the cargo hold expands to 49.5 cubic feet. To put those measurements in perspective, they're considerably less than what's offered in most other compact crossovers, but more than the pint-sized Nissan Juke.
When it comes down to it, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport just doesn't feel very sporty. The 2.0-liter engine provides enough power for everyday errand running, but if you spend a lot of time in expressway traffic, you'll likely wish for quicker acceleration, especially in models with the CVT.
Even with sporty looking 18-inch wheels and tires, the Outlander Sport's handling around turns isn't especially sharp, and rival crossover SUVs feel both more athletic and more refined. The Mitsubishi's soft suspension tuning does make for a smooth ride, however, and that gives the Outlander some appeal on longer commutes and road trips.