We first saw the refreshed 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earlier this year at the Geneva auto show, but there weren't many details yet on Mitsu's most popular model. While we came away impressed with the new look, we wondered if Mitsubishi had done enough to lure buyers away from bigger brands.
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Second Look
Getting to Know Mitsu's Refreshed Compact SUV
An actual drive of the 2020 Outlander Sport is still a few months away, but we recently had an opportunity to get up close and personal with the updated ute at Mitsubishi's R&D facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After inspecting the updates firsthand, we're in a better position to discuss whether the Outlander Sport's current below-average rating from our test team might be about to improve.
The First Impression
You'll immediately notice the new design language, which is highlighted by a fresh face — Mitsubishi calls it "Dynamic Shield." Though the headlights look similar to those of other SUVs, the narrow top light is actually an LED headlight, while the boxy light structure underneath comprises the LED foglight and turn signal.
Under the metal, however, the suspension and powertrains haven't changed. All models will come standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The ES, LE and SE will utilize a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque, while the GT model gets a 2.4-liter four that cranks out 168 hp and 167 lb-ft. Although turbocharging is increasingly common in mainstream SUVs — including Mitsubishi's own Eclipse Cross — the Outlander Sport continues to go without.
All-wheel drive will be available across the 2020 Outlander Sport lineup. At the push of a button, AWD-equipped models can increase clamping pressure to the center differential, sending more torque to the rear wheels in slippery scenarios such as an icy or muddy driveway.
While most of the interior carries over unchanged, including the dashboard design and its handy trio of climate-control knobs, there are some meaningful tweaks. Most notably, the touchscreen infotainment system is all-new, and its larger 8-inch display is more prominent.
Certain interior materials have been spruced up as well. On fancier models, the seats are wrapped in a combination of microsuede and synthetic leather, with red contrast stitching. Passenger space is unchanged, though, which means you can expect rear legroom to continue to be at a premium.
Is It Different Enough?
Mitsubishi tells us that Outlander Sport owners tend to be pleased with the value of the car, highlighting its build quality, user friendliness and low operating costs. We can see where they're coming from. If you don't want to spring for the sprightlier and more spacious Eclipse Cross, the Outlander Sport hits many of the same notes at a significantly lower price.
But is the gently modified 2020 Outlander Sport different enough to change our minds about its subpar rating? We're leaning toward "probably not." But check back with us in the fall for the final verdict, as the 2020 Outlander Sport's scheduled launch in September 2019 means we'll be putting it through its paces shortly thereafter.