By on October 14, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi RVR (1 of 11)

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (U.S.)/RVR (Canada)

2.4-liter 4B12 MIVEC DOHC I-4 (168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 167 lbs-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm)

INVECS-III Sportronic CVT (w/ paddle shifters), AWC all-wheel drive

23 city/26 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

23.5 on the 'Merican Mitsubishi cycle, 70 percent highway. (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: GT Premium Package – $1,850 (U.S.)

Base Price (ES 2WD): $20,445* (U.S.)/$21,798* (Canada)

As Tested Price (2.4 GT 4WD): $28,545* (U.S.)/$31,358* (Canada)

* All prices include $850 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,800 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).

A preconceived notion — or simply, a bias — forms easily when correlations exist to support it.

Take Mitsubishi.

While the Japanese automaker has seen recent sales success, their newest nameplate — Mirage — has become the butt of many jokes and is often associated with a group of buyers one degree removed from the “Buy Here, Pay Here” crowd. Whether the Mirage deserves that reputation is another story.

The company’s largest model, the Outlander, recently received a refresh that is more than skin deep, but still not very dramatic. A new front fascia and revised rear sheet metal bring up the visual appeal a notch, and Mitsubishi does say numerous engineering changes have been employed on its latest and greatest crossover, but the crossover still houses the same, tired, premium fuel-drinking V-6 engine as always.

The recent news that Mitsubishi will shut down its manufacturing operations in Normal, Illinos, a plant that’s been open since 1988, also doesn’t help optics on the surface. And, unfortunately for the automaker, stories about sales gains just aren’t sexy enough to grab the attention of the average consumer.

Therefore, with all this bad news and bad press, you’d think the Outlander Sport (RVR in Canada) is just another zit on the face of the Japanese automaker.

But you’d be (mostly) wrong.

There’s a reason the Outlander Sport was the best-selling Mitsubishi last year. In a hot crossover and SUV market, it brings value (depending on where you live and how you option it), a pretty stellar 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and a “Made in the USA” badge affixed to the doorjamb — at least for now.

While the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport looks the same as it has for the last few years, it does receive a new engine under the hood as part of a mid-year update. Previously, the compact SUV was only available with a 2-liter four cylinder that produced less than 150 horsepower. For 2015, the larger 2.4-liter 4B12 MIVEC four-cylinder engine, with 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, is available on the base ES trim and standard on the GT (SE is 2.0 only). In Canada, only the upper Limited and GT trims are offered with the larger motor, and only as an option.

Other updates include some changes to interior trim pieces — fairly minor stuff.

2015 Mitsubishi RVR (2 of 11)

Since its debut in 2010, the Outlander Sport hasn’t changed much. Putting the 2011 model beside the newest version underscores how subtle its redesign was in 2013.

Up front, the Outlander Sport shows its own version of the Mitsubishi corporate face shared with the lesser Lancer. The headlights and grille are distinctly Mitsubishi. When the design first broke cover, it was sharp and aggressive — especially on the compact sedan. However, after six years on the market, the sheet metal has gone stale.

From the side, you’d be forgiven if you thought the Outlander Sport was a Volkswagen Tiguan. While the Mitsu isn’t nearly as slab sided as the VW, the proportions and silhouettes of the two are uncannily similar. Even the wheel designs on some trims would confuse the average VWVortex member.

At the back, again, the story hasn’t changed much. Sloping rear glass gives the Outlander Sport a bit of a froggish stance, but the sharp angles of the taillights and around the license plate recess have gone out of fashion. Even on the larger-engined 2.4 GT AWC tester we had, there is only a single exhaust outlet.

Overall, the Mitsu is as close as makes no difference to what arrived in 2010. However, there should be a new model for 2017. Here’s hoping Mitsubishi has the cash to give it a decent suit.

2015 Mitsubishi RVR (11 of 11)

I’m going to choose my words very carefully here.

The Outlander Sport’s interior is, at best, logical and usable; at worst, it’s unfortunate. The interior isn’t bad, but it definitely isn’t good. In its defense, the poor Mitsu is going on six years on the market now, and even when it arrived it didn’t have best-in-class materials strewn about its cabin.

Brightening up the situation is a panoramic glass roof. Unfortunately, it’s a fixed piece of glass. There are no hands-out-the-sunroof shenanigans happening in the Outlander Sport.

However, I’m glad Mitsubishi gives the option of fabric or leather in its top-trim models. Nothing infuriates me more than top trims forcing you into leather seating. For those of us with pets that get hauled around to the park and on trips, leather might be easy to clean, but it gets damaged in a hurry. With fabric, all you need to do is vacuum it whenever the pup has been in the car and maybe hit it up with an upholstery cleaner for the bigger soils.

2015 Mitsubishi RVR (9 of 11)

Open the rear hatch and you can easily carry the week’s shopping or a few boxes behind the rear seats with the 20.1 cubic feet of space available when equipped with a subwoofer like our tester (21.7 without). Drop the rear row, which unfortunately doesn’t fold completely flat, and you’ll more than double the available space to 48.8 cubic feet when equipped the panoramic roof (49.5 without).

The Outlander Sport is far from the most cavernous vehicle in the segment. If you need more space, the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Chevrolet Equinox, Subaru Forester/Outback, GMC Terrain and Hyundai Tucson are all up to the tasks of carrying an additional gig gear if needed — some could even fit a couple extra monitor speakers. Only the Jeep Renegade and Nissan Juke offer significantly less cargo space. The Jeep Patriot/Compass, Chevrolet Trax, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Kia Sportage and (aha!) Volkswagen Tiguan are about on par.

This all makes sense. The Outlander Sport is a bit smaller on the outside versus others in the compact crossover class and it translates on the inside to less empty spaces you can fill.

For the sake of comparison during the rest of this review, let’s say the Patriot/Compass, Trax, Crosstrek, Sportage and Tiguan are our competitive set here.

2015 Outlander Sport SE.

If you are looking for the latest and greatest in infotainment and audio, you’re reading the wrong review.

To drive this point home, the above image — supplied by the manufacturer — is the clearest one I could find of the infotainment system for 2015. I had to source it from the manufacturer because I didn’t remember to take a photo of it myself. That’s how much of an impression it left on me.

If the current crop of infotainment systems are akin to iPhones and Androids, the system in the Outlander Sport is a Handspring Visor Deluxe.

That said, the nine speaker, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system is decent for a semi-higher-end option that costs nearly nothing (it’s part of the $2,100 Premium package on the SE trim, which also includes the panoramic roof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power driver’s seat and roof rails).

The 2.4-liter four cylinder in the Outlander Sport may be new for the model, but it’s far from being a new power plant. Therefore, there’s no direct injection or other fancy, modern technology bolted on. It makes a respectable 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Adequate.

Without whiz-bang drivetrain technology, the 2.4-liter mill relies on the Sportronic continuously variable transmission to eke out decent fuel economy. And before you bash it, try it.

In my review of the Jeep Renegade, I slammed the powertrain for being too rough, too lazy and too revvy to deliver an acceptable driving experience. The engine in the Renegade is related to the one found in this Mitsubishi. Yet, in the Outlander Sport and paired with the CVT, it’s actually quite enjoyable.

The exhaust note is better than most four-cylinder engines on the market. The CVT is far from horrible. And, to my surprise, the combination of the two really suits the car. Acceleration is smooth and the CVT does its best to keep revs low.

Better yet, the Outlander Sport returns better fuel economy than the Jeep Compass/Patriot (2.4L CVT w/ 4WD), Volkswagen Tiguan (2.0T 4motion) and Kia Sportage (2.4L AWD). It’s only bested by the Chevrolet Trax AWD — and its miserable 1.4-liter turbocharged four — and the Subaru XV Crosstrek with its 2-liter boxer four, from our earlier-defined competitive set.

2015 Mitsubishi RVR (4 of 11)

While everything above may point to a compact crossover that comes out average, the Outlander Sport has one wicked trump card: ride quality.

During the week I had the little Mitsu, I was reminded why I hate the Toyota RAV4 so much. You see, the RAV4 — which used to be a go-anywhere, subcompact offroader and turned into a go-someplaces, compact softroader — has one of the stiffest suspensions in the segment. And for what? It literally has no sporting intentions whatsoever. People who buy RAV4s aren’t going to drive them down anything more severe than a graded, gravel road to get to the cottage. And when have you ever seen someone take a RAV4 around a corner in anger?

The Outlander Sport nails it. Yes, it can do some softroading just like the rest of the compact crossovers on the market, but it isn’t going to punish you for it (at least in the ride quality department).

Inside, sure, it feels like 2008 and there are an assortment of hard plastics and questionable design decisions. And yes, the outside is old and boring and completely inoffensive. Yet, for someone who isn’t caught up in brand cache, wants a long warranty, has no kids (or a very small kid), yet still wants a vehicle with a bit of pep and a good compromise between ride and dynamics, this really nails it.

Now if they can just do this with the Outlander.

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69 Comments on “2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – Diamond Star in the Rough...”

  • avatar

    1-year/100,000-mile warranty? :)

  • avatar

    A CVT 4 banger that gobbles 23.6mpg (official 26mpg) needs to be taken out back and shot.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Without a decent, competitive midsize or compact sedan, they got no chance in the US.

  • avatar

    New Lancer coming out soon? I hope. I know there will be a Mirage sedan and hatch, Montero, and Montero Sport (possibly). Also, a new mid size sedan….possibly a rebadged Nissan.
    Lets hope this keeps Mitsubishi stays around for years to come. Their quality is good and old Mitsu’s from Japan seem to run forever.

  • avatar

    26mpg highway. Nearly every single one of its natural competitors will beat that easily.

  • avatar

    A TTAC post that included a discussion of a vehicles ride quality?

    You must be new.

  • avatar

    Not enough cheaper than CR-V or RAV4 to warrant dealing with the sketchy dealerships and debatable future for the brand in the US.

    CR surprisingly likes the Sport. But CR invariably likes the CR-AV4s.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This vehicle would have to be a home run and then some to make me take a chance on Mitsubishi. But there is too much so-so about it.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you would find that the real-world price of one of these is MUCH lower than a Honda or Toyota. My Aunt and two of my cousins each have examples of the big Outlander – the discounts were epic. They all seem to like them.

      It’s not like anything in this class is a work of art, might as well get the decently made cheap option.

  • avatar

    As Tested Price (2.4 GT 4WD): $28,545*

    But how much they willing to part with it for?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I know someone who just bought one of these, in base trim, because it had AWD and was dirt freaking cheap. That’s pretty much it. Everything looks good when the price is right.

    Roads in my area aren’t bad enough to be put off by the RAV4’s ride. The Limited trim is apparently noticeably worse than the LE and XLE. Regardless, I’d be trying real hard to get into one of those or any number of competitors over this Mitsu.

    • 0 avatar

      I think these are nifty little cars within the “cheap subcompact CUV” class. I’d argue the Outlander non-Sport is the CRV/Rav4 competitor, and the Sport is in the Patriot/Compass niche of cheapest-AWD-you-can-get segment. Mark slams it for looking ‘stale,’ to me this is one of the better looking automobiles in production currently. Then again I also like how the Patriot looks (much more so than the Renegade). Nissan Rogue Select is the wildcard here, as you get a bit more interior room and a slightly better(?) badge for about the same price. Worse warranty, however. Coincidentally, Rogue Selects also have a remarkably comfy ride.

      I’m also glad to hear I’m not the only one that thinks the ride in the Rav4 (my gf’s parents have a Limited) is atrocious. It’s a real head scratcher.

  • avatar

    I don’t ever want to get Suzuki’d again. My wife and I bought a Kizashi, then an Equator a year and some change later. When we caught wind that they were going to exit the market, we took a bath on them (nearest brand dealer was 180 miles away and was shutting down) since we would have had a tough time with the warranty. Of course, we bought a gasser Sportwagen in May and we all know how that’s going.

    Maybe if I buy a GM or Ford product, they’ll go out of business too.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m genuinely curious about ditching either of your Suzukis, but especially the Equator. Did you figure that something big enough would go sideways in the warranty period to make up for the resale hit?

      The Equator especially is just a Frontier, so parts and service should have been no issue.

      I went the other way and bought a Grand Vitara at the end of 2013. The service centers are 1.5-2 hrs away, but I saved somewhere between 10 and 15 thousand dollars on the thing versus a comparably equipped competitor, so I can live with the hassle IF it needs warranty work.

      • 0 avatar

        I loved the Equator. My understanding is that the suspension/handling tuning was slightly different, but it was a great truck. I went into it knowing full well I was buying a Suzuki-ized Frontier for a steep discount. Nevermind that the front clip was more attractive too. Got great mileage, 23-24 on the highway and even got 17-18 towing an old 1980 Subaru GL wagon on a U-Haul dolly.

        The Kizashi was less of an emotional purchase and ownership experience. When we cut that loose, I didn’t really care as much, we had run our course. Anyway, before I made the choice to lose my shirt on the Equator, I called the Suzuki warranty line and verified they wouldn’t let my local Nissan dealer perform any paid warranty work on it (kind of a no duh in retrospect), but I was hoping maybe they would, given the whole leaving the USA thing. At the time, I planned on keeping my next vehicle for a while and I would’ve kept this if it weren’t for the tenuous warranty situation. As I said before, the nearest Suzuki dealer, 180 miles away, was closing down in anticipation of the company’s departure from the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Please be sure to let us know what your NEXT automotive purchase is going to be so I can short the stock of the parent company.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sure I can cut you in on the action. However, if you need further assurance of my credentials, I’ve also owned a couple Mitsubishis and several SAABs previously.

  • avatar

    “I went the other way and bought a Grand Vitara at the end of 2013.”

    I’m just not sure I could own a vehicle that sounds like it was named after a leadership position in a white supremacist organization.

    • 0 avatar

      The final gen of Grand Vitaras are really interesting trucklets. Longitudinal engine layout with RWD with independent rear suspension, and the option for a low-range-equipped transfer case. Assuming one is comfortable with hunting around for parts and maybe doing their own servicing/repairs as the vehicle gets older, they are an incredible value on the used market (as well as new as we just heard). The drivetrain/powertrain are solid, not the latest and greatest but they seem to hold up well.

      My brother has an ’02 Grand Vitara XL7 with a 5spd manual (BOF, solid rear axle) and the small 2.7L V6 (danger danger 28 cars!) and it’s held up well, considering the offroading abuse it is subjected to. Then again he’s a mechanic so some things that for him were minor fixes would have caused others some headaches. I think he’s in the process of changing the timing chain tensioner and/or guides so that unlucky displacement lives up to its reputation I suppose.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    In my mind, the Outlander Sport and Tiguan are closer to subcompact than compact.

    • 0 avatar

      They definitely tread that line, don’t they? That’s why I was doing my comparisons based on cargo capacity. At least that way all the vehicles are roughly the same size.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, they are very similar.

      However in terms of price, Subaru XV is closer comparison.
      I bought the Subaru XV, after back to back test with the Mitsu, I find the Subaru have better interior quality, ride quality, fuel economy and smoother drive train ( also CVT )The Mitsu have better response from standstill, but that’s just it.

      Perhaps its just my personal experience, but could TTAC please do the comparison again between the two? Perhaps throw in H-RV in the mix?

      It might be useful for some of us just avoid german brands ( money and reliability issues anyone?) Toyota Rav 4 and CRVs are just way too expensive.

      Thanks a bunch

  • avatar

    Yeah, that awful reputation was hard-earned by poorly-thought-out gambits like the hillariously-named Zero! Zero! Zero! financing ploy, giving away Eclipses and Lancers to people who could barely afford 30-day temporary insurance binders and a tank of gas much less the first month’s payment no matter how long it was deferred.

    Mitsubishi – Quality and Engineering You’ll Appreciate For The Eight Months You Make Payments!

    • 0 avatar

      I have actually “appreciated” the quality and engineering of my 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart for the better part of six years now. Granted, I bought it used back in 2010 (it was sitting unwanted in a sea of CUVs and SUVs when I found it), but it has been a stellar vehicle. My only two complaints are that the wagon didn’t come in a manual transmission and the fuel mileage is rather low (I get excited if I can plug 26 MPG out of it on the interstate).

      The Sport intrigues me, as we’re looking to replace either my Lancer or the wife’s tC next year with something we can more easily haul a few dogs and camping equipment with, but neither of us wants a huge honkin’ SUV. I’ve seen a few of the Sports here and think they are just off enough to be interesting. As a used car proposition, I’d think they would be a decent buy (I am kind of *new car purchase* adverse).

      • 0 avatar

        My buddy is a mechanic. Last time I visited him, he had Outlander on his lift, with broken front spring. I said, a broken spring? [while looking at it]. To which he said, what do you expect? – this is Mitsu. Only then I realized it was Outlander. I thought it was Chevy

  • avatar

    Isn’t saying the Outlander is the best selling Mitsubishi a bit like saying Larry of The Three Stooges is the smart one?

  • avatar

    IMO this is a good-looking vehicle. I thought it was handsome when new and I still do. I appreciate it lacking some of the current styling tropes. The lines on the side are purposeful and not random like some other flame-surfaced cars. The oversized grille is toned down considerably by the body-colored bumper bar running across it. The turn signals are amber like they should be. I like the Lancer nose.

    Would I buy one? No. Do I mind seeing them on the road? Definitely not.

  • avatar

    For a while there, the Outlander Sport was one of the few CUV still available with a proper clutch pedal. This review seems to imply that it is CVT or nothing now.

    True or false?

  • avatar

    “If the current crop of infotainment systems are akin to iPhones and Androids, the system in the Outlander Sport is a Handspring Visor Deluxe.”

    Oh man, that takes me back.

  • avatar

    Roof rails. Can someone explain what exactly WHY they are there? For carrying mattresses like seemingly 5 out of 10 cars on the road are doing every weekend?

    Our 2002 CR-V has them, and those black things sure have turned ugly over the years.

    • 0 avatar

      Whatever is killing you from lower back on down, grabbing a roof rail and Tarzanning into your car seat can wonderfully ease the pain. Ditto for leaving the vehicle.

      Pretend it’s for active kiddies, sell to oldies.

    • 0 avatar

      Our FX has them too. Can’t be removed (leaves holes in the roof) and can’t carry much weight. They also don’t feel strong enough to tie more than a Christmas tree down. Maybe that is their sole purpose.

      Although they do appear to work well enough for mattresses folded upwards by the wind on the interstate at 80mph.

      • 0 avatar

        They came in very very handy but need the crossbars. On my Jeep the bars hold 200 pounds. I’ve put couches on there and brought them home from store. Also for canoe, bike racks, skis ect. I’ll agree thought on FX useless as the roof is so round. Just have to get over trusting them, they’ll support a lot. Nice to tie a Christmas tree on them on a cold day instead of having to leave windows cranked.

  • avatar

    I don’t really have a problem with the interior. It looks simple and functional.

  • avatar

    There are two of these in my development. Time to move.

  • avatar

    We’ve been thinking about what to do when the Aztek finally expires and with that in mind I took the wife to the new car show last February to look at possible replacements. I liked the Outlander Sport, other than the fact you can’t get a stick with the big engine. I’m a little leery of CVTs having heard so many horror stories about them. I like the no nonsense interior and the exterior is handsome in it’s own way. I guess I really don’t need the trendiest car out there.

    However, my wife thought the model we sat in was too cheaply outfitted and claimed the seats weren’t comfortable. Oh well, I guess I will cross the Outback Sport off of my list…

  • avatar


    A CVT in a Mitsubishi. *What* could possibly go wrong??

    I’d rather deal with the constant shifting and hunting for appropriate gears with the lackluster 7-speed slush box on a well-worn GLK350 Benz than place any bets on a CVT-equipped Mitsu.

    But hey, pass that 100k-mile warranty flavored Kool-Aid all around and drink from it.

    Let’s not forget to revisit this Outlander five years from now. I’m sure you’ll find its overheating issues, cracked dashboard, and other nuisances that come with lower-tier automotive brand purchases rather endearing.

    And don’t get me started on Mitsu’s notoriously-awful resale values.

    But just look at this shimmering 100k mile warranty!!!!

    Oh boy!

  • avatar

    “For the sake of comparison during the rest of this review, let’s say the Patriot/Compass, Trax, Crosstrek, Sportage and Tiguan are our competitive set here.”

    It’s unfortunate that the only way this vehicle is competitive at all is to -ignore- the most popular HALF of the competitors.

  • avatar

    Ha, I’m sorry but $28,000 for this. Twenty-eight grand for something from 2008. That’s Outback 2.5i Premium money. It’s also CRV EX-L AWD money.

    Guess which will be worth more in three years.

  • avatar

    Also I almost forgot the RVR used to be… the (Dodge/Plymouth/Colt/Renault/Eagle) Summit Vista Wagon and the Mitsu Expo. As such, I do not find this current Outlander Sport as suitable replacement.

  • avatar

    I used to have a ’01 Montero Sport Limited. Nice truck/SUV. It was rugged, luxurious, and dependable. It NEVER stranded me. The only reason I sold it was, gas mileage. 15-16 city, 21 hwy. 17 combined. In addition, it had a truck-like ride…having been built on a truck. It made long trips tiring, being so rough.
    It was replaced with an ’02 Volvo V70 XC. Similar quality over all. Gas mileage is 19-20 around town, and 30 hwy. The ride quality is a major improvement over the Montero Sport. I now have over 200K on the Volvo.
    My point being. During my time with the Montero Sport, I had little to no trouble…it was very reliable. I would gladly buy a new Montero or Montero Sport again….if only they would bring them back…as they just might, or so I’ve heard.
    PS. These vehicles are my dog hauling cars. The XC70 is much more dog friendly.

  • avatar

    My wife actually drove one of these for a couple years, so I actually have some real world experience with it.

    Hers was a 2011. Her ’06 Altima died (right after she made her last payment) and at the time, things were fairly tight. One of her coworkers had bought one, so she wanted to go look at them. I don’t remember the exact figures, but we got the thing really cheap. $18k or somewhere around there, so I went along with it.

    This car is an appliance. It’s not very exciting to drive, but at the same time not offensive. It was fairly slow, but gas mileage was great. We had the smaller engine and had no problems getting into the 30s on trips.

    The interior wasn’t premium, but it was durable. Our German Shepherd tested it, and it did fine. I’m a big guy, and it was decently comfortable.

    Reliability was fine. A few months after we got it, I scored a new job a couple hours away. For a few months until she found her new job, we were making trips every weekend. We racked up about 50k trouble free miles on the ‘bishi. The great mpg came in clutch.

    In hindsight, if I was low on funds and needed a vehicle, I’d buy it again.

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