By on February 12, 2019

Image: Mitsubishi

Feast your eyes on the 2020 version of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the compact crossover that attracts more American and Canadian customers than any other vehicle in Mitsu’s relatively sparse lineup. Looks more like a new Mitsubishi, doesn’t it? Sure does. The model’s updated “Dynamic Shield” front end styling now resembles that of its bigger Outlander brother and the newer Eclipse Cross.

It is not, however, a new vehicle, as this 2020 makeover is just the latest in a series of refreshes bestowed on the CUV since the current generation bowed in 2010.

Sold as the ASX in most overseas countries, the RVR in Japan and Canada, and Outlander Sport in America, Mitsubishi’s smallest crossover was once expected to shrink in size to give the Eclipse Cross some breathing room, but company brass shoved that plan onto the back burner.

Instead, the significantly restyled 2020 model gives the Outlander Sport a new face to put out there until Mitsubishi, with the help of its alliance partners, crafts a replacement. The not very new model officially debuts at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The brawnier, shinier grille and remolded front fascia gives the Outlander Sport and measure of visual toughness not present in past iterations, while a taller hood now cuts into the front fender. Fog lamps and turn signals huddle together for warmth. Out back, reformed tail lamps seem to mimic a signature feature of Volvo’s headlamps. Mitsubishi says it hoped to broaden the model’s beam, at least visually, with these rear end styling changes.

Image: Mitsubishi

Of course, the illusion of a rear skid plate, coupled with the lower bumper treatment up front, telegraphs to buyers that this is a rugged, outdoorsy SUV, which of course it is not. Not in the Range Rover sense, anyway.

It’s worth noting that buyers of the 2020 Outlander Sport gain an extra inch of infotainment screen (it’s now 8 inches), though there’s no word on whether the driver’s rocking chair stages a return.

Originally, the plan was to downsize the Outlander Sport for the 2019 model year, but Renault-Nissan Alliance membership threw things off track. In early 2018, former Mitsubishi North America senior VP Don Swearingen said a replacement wouldn’t come along for another two or three years.

Not that an aging Outlander Sport is hurting the brand. Last year saw the model’s volume grow 18.1 percent as the brand recorded its sixth consecutive year of sales growth

[Images: Mitsubishi Motors]

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22 Comments on “2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: More Like Its Siblings, but Still Not an Outlander Sport Replacement...”


  • avatar
    gtem

    “rugged, outdoorsy SUV, which of course it is not. Not in the Range Rover sense, anyway.”

    I don’t think of a Range Rover as a rugged outdoorsy SUV these days either. And, this Outlander Sport is one of the more capable CUVs out there based on its AWC AWD system, and good (for the class) geometric clearance. Not quite hanging with a Renegade perhaps, but besting many others (HRV, Trax, etc).

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    You know what’s still older? The Dodge Journey (which, incidentally, uses the same Mitsubishi GS/FCA JS platform as the Outlander Sport). The Journey dates back to 2009, and hasn’t had any meaningful update since 2011.

    And it still has a *4-speed* transmission in the 4-cylinder models. I got one as a loaner for a few days while they were replacing the radiator in my 2015 Grand Cherokee. A base-model Journey SE. What a terrible vehicle.

    At least the Outlander Sport will look fresh, even if it isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Kyree so did the radiator replacement fix your heat when accelerating issue?

      On a somewhat related note, I had the unpleasant discovery of learning my T&C came from the factory with a CAFE-crumb-chasing spare tire delete kit, and have to shell out about $300 to buy one online. Just total idiocy.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yeah, I suspected it was one of those components. The radiator was faulty, and was not retaining enough coolant in the system. It also explains why the car would temporarily overheat when cold.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      You know what is older? Nissan Frontier born in 2004 and gets older every year without a redesign.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    As keeping with Mitsubishi’s “Dodge, but Japanese” product philosophy you can get a new Outlander Sport for $15k, but in doing so you must sign a deal with the dark lord.

    In 18 months satan will return for payment in the form of your EGR solenoid, which by that point will be discontinued and out of stock.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “you can get a new Outlander Sport for $15k”

      Of the 15 within 20 miles of my zip that cars.com shows none are under 25k.

      Interestingly, all are 2019s, no laggard 2018s left.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    It’s not at all like a Montero, which is what they really need–something that can compete directly with the Jeep Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I’d partially agree. While your idea is sound, I’d say one smidge smaller with something like the old Sidekick / Tracker.

      Back in the day, you’d see about a bazillion Geo Trackers on the road. Pretty rugged little trucks. Body on frame. Cheaper than a Wrangler.

      So if I were Mitsu, I’d have a modern day Geo Tracker on offer. But barring that, your idea would be my next choice. A real honest to goodness tough off road SUV from a Japanese nameplate. Think old school Nissan Patrol or original FJ40 kind of thing. Relatively simple, low frills, big on off road capability, make it look tough-ish.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Here is some free advice, Mitsubishi:

    You need to differentiate your product in the US marketplace. Right now, nobody has any reason to buy an Outlander or Outlander Sport vs. a Toyota or Honda product. Or Nissan product. Etc.

    Here is one easy way you instantly differentiate. Offer a stick shift with AWD. Subaru is about the only one who does it anymore, and they’ve even killed it with the Forester.

    Sure, there are only a few thousand people a year interested in such a thing. But a few thousand sales is a lot considering how low your volume is.

    If you can’t stand out with the base product, at least offer it in a unique configuration that the big boys won’t match. Capitalize on their lack of presence in the niche.

    Yeah, yeah, I know the reasons you “can’t” do it. Fine. Go ahead and remain an irrelevant also-ran.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      I thought that Mitsubishi buyers were essentially buying a 10-year warranty on four wheels? That’s pretty unique.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        There aren’t enough buyers who care about warranty alone and no other factors whatsoever. Also, too many competitors with cars so good that the warranty length is a relatively minor concern.

        If you only want to sell a few tens of thousands of cars a year in the US, yeah, you can probably get away with selling mediocre product that has no “hook” at all and weak resale value by offering a ridiculously long warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Trucky McTruckface

      What, you mean those ads with the rapping salesman, or the rapping little girl aren’t effective product differentiation?

      Because they’re very effective in making me as annoyed as ever that Mitsubishi still tries to peddle their wares here.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Here is some free advice, Mitsubishi:”

      *offers irrelevant advice about stick shifts*

      Mitsubishi has had consistent and strong growth the last couple of years, built around having a crossover-heavy but pared-down lineup that caters in price and warranty to the lower end of the market. Cheap and fairly reliable AWD vehicles, perfect for the times. Even the Mirage has seen surprising sales, owing to its cheapest-new-car-in-America position.

      I’d love to see them bring a Montero back to feed into the current cheap-gas SUV frenzy, an L200 pickup, or throw a bone to enthusiasts with another Evo. But much more practical would be to continue to build momentum, improve the dealership network and experience, improve the Outlander and Outlander Sport to keep them relevant with the latest crop of competitors.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    +1, they need to market their 3rd world tested toughness as an asset.A Tracker type vehicle ,if they could get it to pass crash tests ,would only add to their growth. Jeeps are getting really expensive.
    That and an updated trans./reworked CVT from Nissan. I noticed on the Motor Trend (I know , they’re the worst writers) SUV of the Year test , the Eclipse was the only AWD vehicle to get stuck.

  • avatar
    kushman1

    If mitsubishi offered this at 15k new (truly) and eclipse cross at 20, and outlander at 25, plus a compact pick up they would be killing it. Mistu dealers have been hiking the pricing and they need to be volume not overpriced

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