By on April 25, 2018

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL S-AWC

2.4-liter four-cylinder (168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 167 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm)

CVT, all-wheel drive

23 city / 28 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.3 city, 8.3 highway, 9.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $25,895 (U.S) / $30,598 (Canada)

As Tested: $28,170 (U.S.) / $32,798 (Canada)

Prices include $940 destination charge in the United States and $1,800 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

There are some vehicles on the market that offer bargain pricing without punishing their buyers.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC isn’t one of those.

Mitsubishi has seemingly been in “barely getting by mode” for years now, and the Outlander gives a clue as to why.

Here’s a hint: Quality matters. On paper, the Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC looks like it may actually offer a value proposition over other small crossovers, but that old cliché about getting what you pay for applies here. Arguably, you end up paying too much, anyway.

I loathe to be overly critical of fit and finish issues on any press loaner since the sample size is obviously a number of one, but when the driver’s seat rocks back and forth as you shift positions, as mine did the entire time I had it, well, that’s worth remarking upon.

[Get new and used Mitsubishi Outlander pricing here!]

So, too, is the fact that the radio just up and quit and required a re-fire of the engine while stopped at a light to work again.

These quality gremlins are too bad, because the Outlander isn’t as terrible in other regards as one might expect. Vehicles built by a struggling brand often become the victims of much side-eye, but the Outlander actually could be something worth driving if you weren’t worried about things breaking.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

It’s not fast – the 2.4-liter four-cylinder only offers up 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, saddled with all-wheel drive. But Mitsubishi has dialed a bit of personality into the steering and handling, and the ride was compliant enough around town. It may feel a bit low-rent, but the Outlander is pleasant enough to drive.

So, there’s a little bit of “sport.” That’s not enough to overcome concerns about build quality. What about the feature list?

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Standard features include heated front seats, leather seats, fog lights, tilt/telescope steering wheel, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radion, 7-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, and dual USBs, automatic climate control, and cruise control. A $2,000 Touring Package adds forward-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, premium audio, and a panoramic glass roof.

It all adds up to just a tick under $30K. The features list is pretty on par for the class, and so is the pricing – you aren’t saving a huge chunk of change over most of the competition. You are saving some money, though – enough that it might make a difference for stretched budgets. However, if the build quality leads to repair costs down the line, after the warranty is up, is it worth it?

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Maybe it’s a risk worth taking if the interior design wasn’t so darn unremarkable. Mitsubishi offers up big “tiled” app buttons in its touch screen, but unlike similar designs (such as what’s seen with Honda), it looks a little cheap and cheesy. The rest of the inside offers up old-fashioned buttons and knobs that are easy to use but look a bit outdated. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that the interior shapes are a little too simplistic – the center stack and other areas lack character. It’s nice to have simple buttons and knobs, but there are ways to keep them and still give the design pizzazz. The Outlander Sport doesn’t have that balance.

The exterior remains an odd exercise in angles, with a truncated front end and unimaginative styling aft of the A-pillar. It’s not the ugliest ride on the road and, stump snout aside, the side profile is perfectly pleasant. The weird mashup of taillight/turn signal/back-up light does mar the view of the rear.

Value often requires compromise, and the Outlander is not an exception. Except the compromise here isn’t in features or even performance. It’s in materials, design, and build quality.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Like I said above, I don’t like to harp too much on the build quality of a press loan because a sample size of one is statistically useless. But a rocking seat and disappearing radio are cause for concern, especially when we’re discussing a brand that’s fighting for survival. Context matters.

Maybe the Outlander you buy will be gremlin-free. But you’re still left with an underpowered four-banger and low-rent materials and design.

You really do get what you pay for.

[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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53 Comments on “2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC Review – Cheap and Value Aren’t the Same Thing...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Mitsubishi is in a class of its own thanks to what I imagine are eye-widening discounts and credit leniency. The spirit of the “Zero percent, zero down, zero every month” days linger. Nobody- I repeat, NOBODY- is cross shopping a Mitsubishi with something like a CR-V.They might as well be sold in different countries.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll give ’em points for chutzpah, though, as evidenced by this:

      https://www.mitsubishicars.com/eclipse-cross/2018#vehicle-hero-area

      I mean, who else puts a picture of their brand-new top-of-line model, complete with non-photoshopped gaping hood-fender gaps, right on the front page of their own website? Talk about balls.

    • 0 avatar
      rokop

      I have an 2015 Outlander Sport with 60k miles on it already. I have not had a single issue with it and only changed oil, filter and wiper blades in that time. It is rock solid, albeit a bit old fashioned, which suits me fine. It still has 40k miles or five years of powertrain warranty left.

      I think ya’ll are a little rough on these guys.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Perhaps, and I’m glad your experience with your Mitsu is OK. But honestly…when these guys give out press cars with loose seats and equipment that quits, what do you expect?

      • 0 avatar
        racerviii

        Agreed. Mitsubishi cars aren’t as bad as everyone seems to think. Seems like everyone just wants to jump on the “Let’s bash Mitsubishi” bandwagon these days just because they’ve read others bashing Mitsubishi. I bet the majority of these bashers have never even sat in or driven a Mitsubishi vehicle.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Maybe there marketing logo should be “yes our stuff is cheap and poor quality but at least we don’t intentionally make it ugly like some other companies” I know it doesn’t roll off the tongue but compared to the camry, es 300 and, Avalon featured in recent days this thing is a real looker.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If you want to be the scrappy and crude but cheap and cheerful value leader, you gotta deliver the value.

    It’s likely the actual selling price is a lot lower than the MSRP would suggest, but in that case, why ever set the MSRP that high?

    That’s always been a mystery to me; surely there are many shoppers that take one look at the bottom line on some online configurator and decide that if they are gonna pay Toyota prices, they might as well buy a Toyota. They’ll never actually make to a dealer who will tell them it doesn’t ACTUALLY cost that much.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Oh, the subtlety of taking pictures next to a garbage bin!

    Not a bad looking vehicle, and it should sell at the right – discounted -price. Too bad Mitsubishi has sunk so low from where it once was.

    • 0 avatar
      Rnaboz

      Building Zero’s?

      Oh, you probably meant Eclipse or Evo’s.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Ironically, if their claim to fame was indeed building Zeros, then little has changed – they’re still pumping out tinny stuff that blows up easily.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Well I suppose they had a sweet spot where they were cranking out stuff like the Pajero/Montero II, a stupendously tough and overbuilt truck by anyone’s measure.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The Zero was state of the art in 1941, the Japanese method of training pilots less so. By 1945 American aircraft manufacturers had redefined state of the art, while the American method of training pilots was tops in 1941 and improved dramatically by 1945. The Zero made short work of the biplanes at Pearl Harbor, but they were shot down in huge numbers by F6F Hellcats.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            My understanding is that American pilots quickly learned (starting with Chennault’s Tigers over China flying P40s) not to tangle with Zeros in traditional turning dog fights, where the lighter and more maneuverable Zero would always end up on an adversary’s tail. Instead the Americans learned to do fast diving attacks, then zoom away and regain altitude and repeat the process. The heavier sturdier and more powerful American fighter planes were well suited to this tactic. An American fighter could take a hit from a Zero, a Zero would get torn to shreds or burst into a fireball from sometimes just a few well placed .50 cal rounds.

            /WW2 plane nerd

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          IIRC, its actually Subaru’s parent company that has most in common with that WW2 era builder—Fuji Heavy Industries, not, amusingly, Mitsubishi.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    It’s hard to pay a little and get a lot.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Bad news: it’s poorly built.

    Good news: sporty aluminum pedals!

    (Checked out Mitsu at the recent car show here – they all felt like junk, and that includes the new Eclipse-cross-whatever they just brought out.)

  • avatar
    iMatt

    I’d be interested to hear from Dave in Calgary how his is holding up.

    They’re not uncommon up here in northern Alberta. My biggest reservation would be the durability of the CVT and thus would be far more compelled by an AWD with a manual transmission.

    As it is, I believe only the Crosstrek offers that combo in this category.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Same here. An AWD+5spd Outlander Sport would have me seriously tempted.

      I’d like to see more data than just the sample size of 1 as far as how these hold up. In regard to the seat being loose, to quote our president “It also could be somebody sitting on their [seat] that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke in [that Mitsubishi seat]…” :p

      I had a rental previous-gen Outlander a few years back with 30k rental miles on it and it was not pleasant sounding/feeling. But the engines are fundamentally sound, the real question is CVT longevity IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      You rang?

      I didn’t want to be one of these folks who is every other comment in an article about a vehicle he owns, but since you asked, here are my findings so far.

      Also, in the RVR at least, AWD = CVT. Only the super base model gets a stick, but no AWD.

      Ours is a 2017 RVR 2.4 SE. Its the second highest trim below the GT here in Canada. It has heated cloth seats, auto climate control, heated mirrors, bluetooth and USB input, keyless entry, 18″ alloys, basic standard fair essentially. The GT adds panoramic roof, HIDs, power leather seats, subwoofer, and a few other baubles. One thing we did was had the dealer swap to a set of 16″ alloys off a 2.0 model. The difference in ride quality was astounding, and the 18s actually would have been a deal breaker. The 16s ride better, are more durable, cheaper to replace rubber, etc.

      The interior layout is simple, its true, but for me that was a selling point rather than an issue. The car is dead simple to operate and has great tactile feedback in its interface. The auto CC works well, the seats are comfortable, and the radio, while basic, does everything I need it to. I havent had any crashing issues like Tim mentions with the screen, but I know mine is a less featured, older model, (pre-Android Auto and Car Play) so maybe it has less to go wrong. Sound quality is only so-so, but its a cheap car so I don’t care.

      Ergonomically the car is good. A big selling point was the exterior style (we really like it, I always though the RVR was a great looking small crossover), and it doesnt have an aggressively rising belt line, so the the visibility out of it is really good. Also I love the huge side view mirrors. The basic cloth seats are also comfortable and don’t have that crazy forward angle on the headrests.

      We have had the car 7 months and put 18k kms (11k miles) on it. It has performed excellently so far, and has only required oil changes (which is what I would expect for a brand new car). It rides well and is comfortable. Biggest driving disappointment so far is, its not great on fuel, and is very susceptible to weather conditions on the highway. A summer/fall cruise at 100-110 kph netted 7.5L/100 kms (31 mpg), where as the Christmas trip across the prairies at 125 kph and -40 air temp returned 11.5 L/100 kms (20 mpg). Around town I’m generally getting about 10-10.5 L/100 kms (23 mpg). Obviously I cannot yet speak to durability, but the CVT is well behaved and works great around town. The thing I like it is it actually acts like a CVT! If I’m accelerating, it sits in the power band rather than trying to emulate a conventional auto, which just doesnt make sense. If you have a CVT, use it for the best efficiency. The power train is un-inspiring but does the job. One last note, I know many people think paddle shifters are a gimmick. I love them though, but only for grabbing a couple gears down to decelerate. Tap tap, car slows down. As a life long manual driver, I always downshift to slow down, even in autos. I don’t use them for anything else but love this aspect of their functionality.

      What is awesome is the way it is setup in the awd capacity. It has great ground clearance, and the selectable AWD is fantastic. Usually I am running around in FWD mode. First thing I did was turf them OEM rubber and install Nokian WR G3 SUV all weather rubber. Ground clearance and good tires really do work wonders. However, when the snow is fresh, the AWD lock setting does its best to put 60% of the power to the rear axle, and its fun to hoon around on the slippery ground.

      To sum it up, I know that Mitsubishi isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire these days, but I think the RVR/Outlander Sport is an honest, good looking, low tech CUV with a great AWD system for those of us who care what the system is doing. If it proves to be solid and mechanically sound in the long run, then I’ll be as happy as can be in the long run, even though its not the fanciest or most upscale vehicle in the world. And heck, we have the full 10 year/160k kms new car bumper to bumper warranty, for that extra piece of mind. Hard to go wrong there. If one can get it at a price that suits them, they should do so.

      PS The Eclipse-Cross is ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        iMatt

        Thanks for the detailed reply, pretty much confirms my overall feeling toward this car.

        It reminds me of the early gen Rav4s.

        Fuel economy sounds like it’s disappointing at speeds in the winter time. My driving usually sees not more than 1.5 l/100 kms increase to 7.5 during extreme cold temps at those same speeds.(in a 2.slow jetta)

        Btw I have driven the FWD stick in the RVR, and it’s definitely not sporty in the slightest. Closest comparison I can think of is to that of an old GM truck tranny!

  • avatar
    ajla

    Going solely by online advertised prices the four cheapest (sub $17k) CUVs you can get are the Outlander Sport, EcoSport, Trax, and Journey SE.

    In that quartet the Mitsubishi doesn’t look as bad.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Don’t forget the Rogue “Select,” unless they finally stopped making them. And until very recently, the Patriot.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d go Patriot of that lot.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Patriot’s got the most room of that CUV bunch aside from the Journey, which I always though of more as a Mazda-5 type van thing. I had a rental one recently (FWD, Pentastar) and it really was a pretty decent driving car.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I didn’t see any new Patriots or Rogue Selects within 300 miles of me.

        There were some examples of the “Rogue Sport” for under $20k but still not as cheap as the others I listed above. Although that may be a regional situation.

        If we stretch the definition of “CUV”, Kia Souls are available in that $14k-$17k price as well and that’s probably what I’d lean towards.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Talk about a gang of winners…yecch.

      I’m with ajla…as long as AWD isn’t a necessity, a Soul is a decent ride, and you can get one with a manual.

      But under no circumstances should you consider the Ecosport. At this price point, you don’t get AWD, which makes it completely useless. Shun it.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I drove one of these with a stick a few years ago. The steering was so bad I asked the salesman if it was broken.

  • avatar

    What’s happened to the styling is that A) they don’t have much money to spend, and B) they’ve updated the corporate face of the front, but left the back end sitting in ’08.

    They’re really the AMC of Japan.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    New these may not be a good value, but on the used market they’re absolutely dirt cheap. Pretty tempting given the popularity and high residuals of CRVs and Rav4s.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Conversely, I think a crazy-heavily discounted new one is where the sweet spot is. At least you get a new car warranty out of it. Locally you can get into a well equipped fullsize AWD Outlander 4cyl (heated seats, alloys, other odds and ends) for an as-listed $19k. There is something to be said for that, especially when combined with easy financing for those in a pinch.

      EDIT: I knew they were close, but Nissan’s Rogue (the current one) really breathes down the Outlander’s neck price/features-wise. That’s a tough spot for Mitsu to be in.

      • 0 avatar

        I think at that money I might check out an Impreza hatchback, though I realize that’s “not the same.”

        I’m sure it wouldn’t have heated seats at base level either.

        • 0 avatar
          midwestTDI

          Purchased a 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport a year ago to replace my VW Golf TDI. It’s not the same but have not grown to dislike the Subie. AWD tech are not all equal and the symmetrical all-wheel drive system worked nicely this past winter.

          So after 20k miles my absolute best mileage has been 37-38 mpg at 75 mph with the expected 25 mpg being the worst in the dead of winter (near 0 temps).

          Not sure at what price point the heated seats came in but chose the Sport due to the larger screen, sunroof, heated seats, and a number of other added features (eye-sight). All came in under $27k.

          Miss the TDI torque but the Subie has been a nice transition over other brands.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, you get the warranty, but if this thing’s junk, all that means is that the zillion trips to the dealer will be free.

        I’ll pass.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “Well, you get the warranty, but if this thing’s junk, all that means is that the zillion trips to the dealer will be free.

          I’ll pass.”

          I think you’re lumping Mitsubishi into FCA/Land Rover/VW territory reliability wise, and I think that’s statistically simply not true. Couldn’t someone make the same argument about your Jetta? Historical data would suggest they’d have more reason to worry about a VW than just about any Mitsubishi that isn’t a rebadged Dodge Dakota.

          Speaking of FCA, I’ve recently had two FCA rentals (Journey with 32k iirc and a Pacifica with 42k). Both drove like basically new cars with two notable exceptions: the Journey would get an awful groaning sound from what I deduced was the power steering pump, typical “low on fluid” sound. Pacifica had creaking from the doors on which is apparently a common and easy to solve problem (greasing door latches). I think in general we’ve got it pretty good with reliability and build quality. There are more so longer term concerns that might crop up 7+ years on on used cars (DI valve coking, CVT durability, etc).

          Going back to the seat issue:

          Curiously, cars.com staff noticed a similar issue on a fullsize Outlander:
          https://www.cars.com/reviews/our-view-2016-mitsubishi-outlander-1420689357965/

          “Another thing that’s just not good enough are the Outlander’s quality issues. Our test model’s driver’s seat rocked backward every time I accelerated from a standstill, as if the seat wasn’t attached properly. That’s unacceptable.”

          So maybe there’s more to it than just my Trumpian 400lb-er theory.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Jettas actually carried a CR recommendation when I bought mine, so reliability must not have been too severe an issue.

            I’m sure the Mitsu won’t suffer a large number of “strand the driver” issues – it’s rare that this even happens nowadays. But trips to the dealer for things like loose seats or non-working radios are reliability issues nonetheless, even if the tab’s on the manufacturer.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Fair enough, and I didn’t know about the CR recommendation, good on them! I wonder if that translates over to Chattanooga built Passats as well which I seem to be perpetually eyeballing.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The USP for the Outlander is that it has a standard third row.

        Now, it isn’t a very large or very comfortable 3rd row, but for transporting your kid’s friends across town or something like that it’s a nice feature, especially for a single-vehicle family.

        Now that it’s looking like Mitsubishi won’t leave the North American market, $19k for a brand new 3-row AWD vehicle with a long warranty is a good value. CVT longevity and interior durability are still the big question marks though.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Now that I’ve noticed that the upcoming Chevy Silverado has almost the same front fascia “side-notch blackout” treatment as this Mitsubishi, I cannot unsee the resemblance:

    bit.ly/2HqnUDA

  • avatar
    e30gator

    I occasionally see Outlander leases advertised at ridiculously cheap monthly rates. I’m talking like base-level VW Golf prices for a well-enough equipped CUV that you will be able to walk away from in 2-3 years. For a lease vehicle, it’s not a bad value at all.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Knew someone who bought a base FWD one with a manual a few years ago. Not bad for the $20k MSRP and even better at the actual transaction price. Loaded up to thirty thousand dollars? Uhh….

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Loaded up to thirty thousand dollars? Uhh….” We can probably apply the same correlation as your friend with the $20k base model that he paid a lot less for. I’d be willing to bet you could find a top-trim Outlander Sport loaded to the hilt in the low $20s.

      http://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/717942265/overview/
      http://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/717942147/overview/

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Too true, apparently.

        Eight grand off a brand “new” refreshed vehicle, in the booming CUV class? That’s a great deal but a very bad omen for Mitsubishi.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Agreed. It’s hard to discount-price your way to success. Fiat has a similar pricing problem.

          • 0 avatar
            e30gator

            Though it’s hard to imagine them having any more success by pricing them higher. I can’t think of many alternatives that I wouldn’t consider over a Mitsubishi product at the same price point.

            Maybe if they started building better stuff and followed the path of Hyundai/Kia, but I doubt that they have the bank roll for it.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    As rude as this sound, I consider these things to be the automotive equivalent of cockroaches.

  • avatar

    Here is yet another CUV that is better than the Ford Edge. The Edge scored last in a recent crash test.
    Soon Ford will cancel their decent passenger cars for unsafe and poorly designed SUVs.

    Even Mitsubishi will be better than Ford.

    What a disgrace!!!!!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    My co-worker has this exact vehicle in orange but of 2017 model year. It has been far from trouble free and has required numerous visits to the service department to fix SEL lights, malfunctioning bluetooth, a quirky radio, a failed wheel bearing at only 40K miles and now he says it has a bad clunk in the rear end. I have ridden it in several times and can agree it is very cheap inside and it’s ride/handling and NVH feel almost last century. I’m not even going to talk about the steering….


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