2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Twins
June 17, 2011
We have a 2011 Hyundai Tuscon in our garage for a few days for testing. Beneath the skin, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the same. Same size, same platform, same engine and transmission, same interior architecture and space. There are plenty of mechanical differences, of course, but the way the equation comes together is so similar that I can't see any distinction between them.
Theres not much you can do to style vehicles that are so short and tall, and both the Outlander Sport and the Tuscon show evidence of what happens when the designers try too hard. The Hyundai guys have applied their current design themes as best they can, but the result looks as if a potato had been attacked with a paring knife. Ill take the Walter daSilva-autograph, overstated full-frame grille on the Mitsubishi.
The Tuscon is pretty zippy within the cabin with the usual Hyundai interior flourishes plus some surprisingly well-chosen two-tone colors. But while I hate to go all boring, I still prefer the motorsport-style black of the Outlander Sport. At the same time, the Mitsubishis silly shift paddles on the steering wheel simply serve to obscure the stalks used to operate the lights and the windshield wipers, as you can tell after driving the Tuscon.
More important is the difference in dynamics here. Whatever clumsiness our editorial staff finds in the Outlander Sport, this Mitsubishi seems like a Dakar rally-raid special compared to the Tuscon. The Hyundai stumbles along on its suspension springs as if the dampers have been installed purely for show, while the drivetrain surging produced by the throttle tip-in and the lax CVT engagement make you feel like a very bad taxi driver. And the onset of concern from the Hyundais safety net of dynamic control electronics comes so soon that it actually annoys you.
Overall, the Tuscon feels like it has been tuned by a quick drive around the parking lot, while the Outlander Sport is a wonder of mature refinement in comparison.
These vehicles should be identical aside from the way they look, yet they prove surprisingly distinct when you drive them. Apparently, careful tuning (or the lack of it) is surprisingly important and development still matters.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 9,750 miles