By on December 11, 2018

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport profile

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC

2.4-liter inline four, DOHC (168 hp @ 6000 rpm,  167 lb/ft. @ 4100 rpm)

Continuously-variable transmission, four-wheel drive

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

27.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $26,835 US

As Tested: $29,310 US

Prices include $940 destination charge.

Crossovers are the future. As much as I hate to say it, more and more buyers vote with their wallets every year, choosing a smaller-yet-taller, less fuel-efficient alternative to the traditional sedan. Automakers would build nothing but brown, diesel, manual station wagons if buyers would buy them — so you can’t fault the manufacturers for tossing every possible permutation of the CUV as chum for the always-hungry shopper.

Mitsubishi is no different. Of the four distinct models it offers here in the States, three are crossovers. But which one is right for you? Today, we look at the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the smallest of the trio. Is it distinct enough to be worthy of your driveway?

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport interior

The interior of the Outlander Sport works well — the age of the design is evident in places, but the materials all seem to be of good quality, if a bit hard in places where soft-touch plastics have become common in the competition. As many automakers have moved toward touchscreen controls for heating and cooling, I welcome the three simple knobs to adjust temperature, fan speed, and vent locations.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport front seats2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport rear seats

As Tim noticed in his review of the Outlander Sport last winter (and as I noted while driving the big-brother three-row Outlander in the spring), the seats rock. I don’t mean that in a Drew Carey, “Cleveland Rocks!” manner — the driver and front passenger seats literally rock back and forth under acceleration. It’s a weird sensation, as if the floorpan itself is flexing under the stress of an overfed journalist. The rear seats, however, don’t flex. The bottom cushion in the rear is a bit flat, but the kids were plenty comfortable.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport drive selector

The location and size of the four-wheel drive control button is unfortunate, however. It’s immediately forward of the shift lever, right where the driver might set a cellphone. After all, the USB ports are RIGHT THERE. In a rush to unplug my phone, I stabbed the 4WD button at least once. I’d imagine that if a passenger (because no driver would EVER touch their phone while driving, right?) grabbed a phone from that location while the Outlander Sport was at speed, there may be some nastiness from the drivetrain.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport dashboard

Most front-drive based all-wheel drive systems don’t need a button to toggle all-wheel drive — it’s computer controlled. This is an odd remnant from Mitsubishi’s heritage of building hard-core off-roaders with legitimately selectable four-wheel drive. I’ll grant that I didn’t take the Outlander Sport off-road, so I can’t say for certain that it can’t handle terrain, but from the 55-series tires mounted on 18-inch wheels, I can make an educated inference.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport center stack

Driving the Outlander Sport is a surprisingly decent experience. Continuously Variable Transmissions seem to be getting better all the time, including the unit fitted to this car. Other than the very occasional situation where the engine speed would hang a bit too fast for the situation — during abrupt throttle cuts when encountering an elevation change, for example — I hardly noticed any ill effects of the CVT.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport front quarter

Handling is similarly competent. A long drive on the freeway south from Detroit was my introduction to the Outlander Sport, and the ride was as good as most crossovers in the class. Road noise was elevated compared to others in the class; however, the optional nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system helped drown out the road with the help of Android Auto and Spotify.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport front

Let’s consider the styling. The odd shutline for the hood creates a funky pugnose effect when viewed head-on, much like a overweight football player wearing a Breathe Right strip over his oft-broken nose. The gaping black trapezoid created by that shutline, the polished chrome bar across the upper grille, the piano-black bumper beam cover, and the flat-black lower grille is a study in mating dissimilar materials into a disharmonious polygon. Beyond that nose, the rest of the Outlander Sport is unremarkable and inoffensive.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport rear

My big problem with the Outlander Sport is its place in Mitsubishi’s lineup. Now that the Eclipse Cross is available, the Outlander Sport seems redundant. The two crossovers share identical wheelbase and ground clearances, and similar overall dimensions inside and out. The Outlander Sport has more power, but the turbocharged 1.5-liter four in the Eclipse Cross offers more torque. Combined EPA fuel economy is identical. And yet the Eclipse Cross is a much newer design released in 2018, while this Outlander Sport was unveiled in 2010, with a few styling refreshes over nine model years.

I’ve only spent a few minutes in the Eclipse Cross so far, but the near-decade between the two crossovers is evident in moments behind the wheel.

Mitsubishi tells me that future generations will move the Outlander Sport downmarket, as a smaller, less-expensive complement to the more-mainstream Eclipse Cross. That’s probably the right move, because at this tester’s $29,310 delivered price, there are more compelling options nearly everywhere. Even on the same lot.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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24 Comments on “2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review – In the Shadows...”

  • avatar

    Hey, where can I buy a brown diesel manual station wagon?

  • avatar

    Nice piece. I’d be curious to know ATP on these because that figure is absurd for a 2010 era product from a third tier marque.

  • avatar
    Jessie Pinkman

    Funny story. I am in my 50’s and bought a new ES in 2015 in Blue. ES is the base but had a few adds. I went to several dealers who were not dealing. After that my wife opted not to be a part of the adventure.

    So on line I find an Octane Blue ES AWD and called the dealer which was three hours away. I tell them of my experience and are more then willing to work with me. I get there and it’s there waiting on me. Problem. I saw a GT fresh off the truck with added heated leather and the lighted glass roof. I called the wife after the this new found info and she didn’t car as long as it wasn’t black……Damn it was.

    Bought the ES. Wife happy. Me not so. It was too late in the year to order one in Octane Blue (I am a fan of the EVO 10 and the ’15 is the last year to mimic the Evo front end)

    I go to the Mitsubishi website. This should be step one for anyone in the market. Build and price. I became an expert. So for fun I built one with EVERY option. There was only one available a GT/SE I call the dealer and offer to trade my new ES with 1200 miles I just paid $22,300 for. Problem was the dealer was in Vegas. After a few weeks I threw in the towel and said I am sending a check. You send the car. The retail was $37,585. Turns out it was a promo vehicle used by Mitsubishi at their hq in Cypress California. Talk about luck.

    Living with the Outlander x 2 has been a great experience. I am a former Mitsu owner and bought my son a Lancer OZ in 2003 for his first car. He still has it. and has 247K miles.
    I wanted to spend my cash on proven reliability and if I choose to keep it for the next 20 years plus and rack up tons of miles I am here. I looked around and these are really under the radar.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah I think what is quite underappreciated by the layman “car guy” is that Mitsu’s stuff, while technically outdated and kind of mediocre in many ways, is generally quite reliable when maintained with even a bit of care.

      • 0 avatar

        I will say that although there were never really all that many Endeavors built they do seem to “take a licking and keep on ticking” through some fairly neglectful owners.

      • 0 avatar

        I put 79000 miles running my 04 Lancer Sportback as a courier vehicle. It did not miss a beat until someone rear-ended me, totaling it. I wasn’t sad to see it go, but it was fine mechanically. The seats, sucked.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised there were no complaints about the head unit; it appears to be pretty much the same mediocre one they OEM to Honda for the CR-V, down to the afterthought of a volume knob. The only obvious difference is the “soft” buttons being on the right instead of the left.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeez, the last thing I care about in a car is that nuisancey crap that sits between the upper vents and the knobs that make the desired temp of air come out of them.

      After learning how to make NPR come out of the radio my exploration ceases.

  • avatar

    I sort of like the grill design, which is reminiscent of a samurai helmet. It gives an interesting depth or texture to the front of the car.

    I definitely hate the radio touchscreen, which looks like a smudge magnet and there’s no way that interface is easy to use while driving.

    Two things that prove this website is not C&D:
    “Handling is similarly competent.”
    Wow, that statement is terse. There’s nothing else you could say about this car’s handling?

    “I’d imagine that if a passenger (because no driver would EVER touch their phone while driving, right?) grabbed a phone from that location while the Outlander Sport was at speed, there may be some nastiness from the drivetrain.”
    On your loaner/rental vehicle, you didn’t test this? Or at least look it up in the manual / online PDF manual? It probably took you longer to write this speculative sentence than it would have taken to find out the answer.

  • avatar

    look at that 1990’s interior. That is a $12k car, financed at 29.99% APR.

    Mitsubishi used to be pretty cool–loved the old Monteros. I am glad to see a little funkiness come back with the Eclipse Cross…despite it being a crossover at least it looks funky & Japanese as it should. Yet this price is stupid on this plain basic car. Mitsubishi should be the one to bring back the cheap basic pickup that would bring them back

  • avatar

    I’ve liked the style of these and the size. The styling makes me think of early 80’s Subies, just a little taller. I do not like the powertrain choice, though I experienced it in the big Outlander and it wasn’t terrible, but still not a CVT fan.

    There’s a cheapness to Mitsubishi’s, especially inside, that is tangible only if you cross-shop with Toyota and Honda and even Nissan. Mitsubishi is for those who want a bargain but don’t want something Korean. Or whose credit won’t let them shop elsewhere. Or both? Or nothing? You won’t pay sticker, that’s for sure and this all day over a Ford Ecosport.

    I mean, I had perfect credit and still bought a Mitsubishi. But it was quite a deal and filled a need perfectly. But, after 3 years and 79,000 troublefree miles, I wasn’t sad to see it go either after it was totaled when someone rear-ended me. Wouldn’t stop me from buying another one if it were the right thing at the right time.

    I’d take this over the odd Eclipse Cross or whatever that is.

  • avatar

    This thing is so old, everything must be amortized. Why not take it downscale now? That’s stupid money for a 2010 car. Especially when the Eclipse Cross is right there next to it in the showroom for roughly the same dough, looking retro-future 80s-show-car fabulous and not embarrassing itself when driven back to back with modern competitors.

  • avatar
    Mike Swing

    I chimed in before. Having actually owned a Mitsubishi brand vehicle previous and currently the owner of two 2015 Outlander Sports some takeaways. I have both an ES and SE/GT premium. The vehicle as well as interior on my ES has held up well with over 120K miles so far. I fully expect to achieve 300+ Outdated? Not on your life. It works. No rattles no issues and my ass doesn’t hurt from a typical long drive. What more can you expect. My wife has the SE/GT and has 20K miles. The days of trading after a few years is over for me. I am keeping mine longer. I have had many brands and have an 864 credit score and CAN buy anything I want. All SUV’s and CUV’s look the same. I wanted the best deal but more importantly want longevety. Can’t get that in a GM, Ford or FCA. In the years to come I fully expect to be driving my Mitsu all the while seeing more expensive examples in the bone yard way before mine.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a sold proven sub compact cuv in the space as it was one of the first (after suzuki sx4). One of the big things Mitsubishi should be doing is drop the price on this model to be a volume/value cuv and pick up buyers who are looking for deal and tap into the demos that used to buy jeep patriots. Before Mitsu joined the Alliance I think they had the best business case to do what toyota did in the 80’s but this time around with the outlander cuvs. They could’ve undercut everyone on price and move more units by offering affordable, if not slightly old proven cuvs. Then once they joined the alliance in a year pricing went up like crazy which will backfire on the brand as people won’t buy the brand when they can buy something better. So if mitsubishi offered 3 cuvs priced to undercut everyone, and a small pickup as america’s most affordable pickup they would be killing it. But no, quick greed and trying to squeeze out more money per few models sold wins again. What a lost opportunity for Mitsubishi to be the kia, Huyndai, toyota etc of the suv/truck world by offering value

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