The Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi's best selling model, thanks in large part to its great cost to quality ratio. However, while its price point still can't be beat the Outlander has fallen behind its competitors in technology, drive feel, and fuel economy. The 2018 attempts to recoup a bit of their market presence. It offers upgraded interiors, new safety fe, tures and a new, more powerful engine. Mitsubishi have made modest updates to the look of the Outlander Sport. But its most important selling point, the price, remains the same. Starting at $21,000 and coming in at just around $30,000 for a fully loaded model, the Outlander Sport is a value for money.
Don't forget that the Outlander is one of the few cars in this price range to offer third-row seating. This is a virtue if you're in the market for a larger crossover, and that remains the case for the 2018 model. The latest edition has three different trims on offer. It may not be the most revolutionary ride on the road. Nevertheless, the Outlander is an attractive option for budget-conscious car owners looking for a reliable and comfortable crossover.
What's new for the 2018 Outlander Sport?
2018 marks the Outlander's 8th year, and it remains Mitsubishi's best seller. Launched in 2011, the Outlander received its first update in 2013, with the second coming in three years later for the 2016 model year. However, in the past two or three years, cars have undergone a seismic shift in design, technology, ride quality and safety, so to keep pace, the Outlander was due for a major redesign. The 4th generation model of the Outlander Sport has a new face, but it's posed on the same body. The old horizontal front grilles have gone, and modern mesh grille inserts take their place, with brand new LED running lines and a thin duct sliced into the lower black trim. The new back bumper is chunky and comes adorned with chrome accents, giving it a more updated look though it is slightly betrayed by the previous generation's lines. Daytime running lights and fog lights are standard on the SE, and SEL trims, which also have available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's a new 7-inch touchscreen display, and the Touring package comes with updated safety features.
Has the interior cabin been upgraded?
The cabin remains largely unchanged from the previous model but has added a few details to enhance comfort and functionality. The interior is decked out in a basic textured black plastic in line with previous models, but this generation adds patches of soft-touch surfaces throughout. While not the most comfortable in its class, the Outlander's second-row seats offer an adequate amount of foot and headspace and have been covered with a new soft cloth. One thing that Mitsubishi has done exceptionally well is the positioning of those seats: they're neither too high nor too low which enables you to slide in and out with absolutely no effort. However, the third row is really suited to children only as it doesn't have much in the way of head or legroom. The trunk also sits comfortably low so getting groceries or other cargo in and out is a breeze, and there are 10.3 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row and 63.3 cubic feet with all of the seats folded. Also, the back seat has a pass-through for those longer items that don't require putting the back seats fully down, although they do fold down if needed using a three-step process. It's not the quietest cabin and shocks aren't absorbed fully, a nod to an economical suspension, but mild bumps in the road are handled well.
What are engine options and fuel economy?
The base model Outlander Sport has a 2.0 liter inline 4, which produces 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque. From there you have a few different choices which produce a low amount of power for a car of this class and generate adequate, though far from class-leading, fuel economy. The standard five-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive clocks up 25 mpg in the city and 29 mpg highway. The other option is Mitsubishi's latest version of their CVT8 (continuously variable transmission) available in both front wheel drive, and all-wheel drive, each of which comes in at the EPA rated at 24/30 and 23/29 MPG, respectively. New to the Outlander Sport this year is the more powerful, 2.4 liters in-line 4, upping power outage to 168hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the base engine, the 2.4 liter only comes with the CVT8 system but does still give you the option of front or all-wheel drive. The AWD, CVT8 has the worst mileage performance of the lot at 22/27 mpg, but this is nonetheless in line with other crossovers in this price range.
What are the differences between the trims?
The 2018 Outlander Sport comes in three different trims, and higher ones have a significant difference from both the base trim and previous generations. The base level ES and is the only one that comes with the 2.0-liter engine but contains standard features such as 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, four-speaker audio system and Bluetooth connectivity. It may not be a revolutionary list, but it's pretty good for $21,000. The next level trim is the SE with the 2.4-liter engine and standard CVT, an upgraded audio system, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The SE package also comes with heated front seats, fog light, and keyless ignition, as well as soft touch materials in the cabin (although there is still a healthy dose of plastic inside). The highest tier is the SEL which will get you leather seats with power adjustment for the driver, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlights and paddle shifters on the CVT system. The SEL trim also offers the optional Touring Package, adding advanced safety features, an upgraded stereo system, and a panoramic sunroof. If you decide that you do want it all, it'll only set you back a very reputable $31,000, which no other crossover on the market can touch. There is a reason why the Outlander is Mitsubishi's best selling model.
How does it perform?
Previous incarnations of the Outlander Sport were not known for drive quality or speed, but the 2018 version does its best to change all of that. Its offline speed has been dramatically improved, going 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds. Because of the offline kick, it feels faster than that, though the weight coupled with the low horsepower evens out the 2.4-liter engine before you can get too crazy. On the highway, full throttle has enough power to pass with ease. Not only is this the fastest version of the Sport to date but it's faster than its rivals the Jeep Wrangler and Honda HR-V: neither of those models is particularly known as speed demons, but for the price, the Outlander makes its point. Handling is strong and stable with no rolling in the corners, producing a smooth and comfortable ride. Lane Assist works well, and the 2018 model also includes anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, electronic brake force distribution, and front and side curtain airbags. That's a good amount of safety features for an SUV crossover, and it retains its high rating as a result. Should there be a problem, Mitsubishi offers one of the longest warranties on the market at five years or 60,000 miles, a clear sign of faith in the 2018 Outlander Sport.