Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review - The Car With a Generational Crisis

October 2013
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We recently tested out the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, I was looking forward to trying a SUV that comes with a fairly reasonable price tag.

I have only owned one Mitsubishi before and it was short lived due to someone sideswiping me, so this was going to be a fresh look at Mitsubishi and where they are with their cars today.

At first glance it looks like a lot of other SUV's which isn't bad, nor is it good. I definitely wouldn't spot it in the grocery parking lot as "there is my beautiful car", but nowadays all the SUV's seem to all blend together. I personally like to have a car that looks nice from the outside, but looks can always be deceiving even with cars, and as cliché as it is beauty really is on the inside. What really matters is what is under the hood and what the interior is like. I found the interior of the Outlander sport to be pretty basic, but as far as I know it isn't marketed as a luxury vehicle so I wasn't expecting a lot of "bells and whistles".

I have heard a couple of people say that they really didn't like the temperature controls, I didn't actually have any issues with those, I found them to be just fine. Very easy to get the inside of the vehicle to the right temperature. If I had to point out something that I didn't like on the inside of the car (and "didn't like" is putting it mildly) I would have to say that I couldn't stand the Fuse Handsfree Link System. This is the system for the touchscreen in front of you that you need for radio, GPS and more. The hands free part wasn't an issue, but it was a huge pain to use the touchscreen.

As soon as I attempted to navigate the controls for it, I knew for this reason alone I could never purchase this SUV. Now that may sound a little harsh especially since I hadn't even taken it past my driveway when I came to this conclusion. But this is why... I am a mom of two kids who are pretty well behaved in the car, but they do have their moments and the last thing I need is something else in the car to start yelling at. The screen was so unresponsive and annoying. It's one thing to be annoyed with unruly kids in the car it's another for your car to be unruly. No thank you, I don't need that. You want everything in your car to be working for you, it's like a overpaid butler... it's supposed to make driving a pleasure not turn it into work. Speaking of things that were hard work and definitely not pleasurable, let's move onto the engine.

The Outlander Sport has a CVT transmission (continuously variable automatic) I have only heard horror stories about cars with CVT's, but had never driven a vehicle with a CVT transmission before. The only way I can possibly describe it is to say it was like I was 16 all over again and trying to learn how to drive a manual. You step on the gas expecting it to go but instead all you get is noise and you start to ask yourself "what am I doing wrong?" then you realize it's not you, you didn't get hit in the head and forget how to drive... no it's the car. There's nothing sporty about slowly getting somewhere and sounding constantly like you are killing your engine. After a minute I realized if I let up off the gas it would sound normal again. It was as if I had to treat the gas pedal like a clutch. Definitely not ideal. CVT''s are supposed to give you better gas mileage, but with the Outlander that comes at a cost. It's slow, unresponsive, and the engine is noisy. The Outlander doesn't come with a lot of power anyway, so the last thing you want is to take more away.

One bonus that the Outlander has that fellow music lovers might enjoy is the Rockford Fosgate system. I was surprised to see this addition on the Outlander considering its price range. The Rockford Fosgate system give you more thump with your music, if that is a feature you would love you might want to take the Outlander for a test drive. Don't quote me on this, but I think Mitsubishi is the only car manufacturer that has Rockford Fosgate systems in their vehicles. When I first tried it out, it was pretty cool. After a while though I realized it had incredible thump and base, but I just didn't feel that the sound was as clear and crisp as it should be. I really did feel like someone had this car in mind for a young adult in their late teens to early 20's. Unfortunately as much as I might try to pretend, I just don't fit in that demographic anymore. The Outlander Sport would probably make for a great first car.

When it come to the size of the Outlander it definitely is more of a compact SUV, but I didn't feel like I was crammed. The kids were able to get in and out of the vehicle with no issues and their car seats fit just fine. The cargo space was what you would expect for a SUV in its class. We didn't utilize the cargo room for anything special, but it packed in enough grocery's when we went to the store.

For all my fuel efficiency concerned readers you will get roughly 29 MPG highway and 24 city. Not horrible, until you realize you only have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. For such little power you should be able to squeeze out some more fuel economy. 

There were two things that I was really impressed by with the Outlander, the first was the soundproofing. I couldn't believe how quite it was (even when the engine was over working it's self). I thought some of the cars we had before where pretty quiet on the inside, but the Outlander took quiet to a new level. It was like the Prius in reverse. The Toyota Prius is so quiet on the outside you really could sneak up on someone and bump into them. In the Outlander I think if you blindfolded your passengers they would have no idea you were even driving. Definitely a plus in my book. Nothing like a peaceful quiet ride. Another huge plus where the headlights, now I know that might sound like a weird thing to be super impressed with, but they were amazing! My picture above isn't great, but you can basically tell that they light up the whole road really well. I actually thought my brights were on the first time I drove at night. I went to turn them on and then I was scrambling to turn them off. I kept yelling at my husband to help me figure out how to turn the brights off! Then he laughed for a minute, and said "sweetie those are just the headlights" needless to say I felt pretty stupid. They lit up the road so well, I just couldn't believe it. Where we live I always worry about animals darting out into the road, but I felt at ease with the Outlander's Super Wide Range HID headlamps. I could see the full span from one side of the road to the other.

The Outlander Sport starts at $23,295 which definitely undercuts the competition, which could make it tempting. Although I think that temptation would just lead to disappointment. There were so many good things that the Outlander had going for it and if Mitsubishi had just built upon those it would be an excellent vehicle. I think somewhere along the journey of creating it they got lost, and what they ended up with just doesn't make the cut. It seemed as if they had people from several different generations in mind when they made the car, but they fell short and now it has no real identity. For me it was unfortunately a fairly disappointing first encounter with Mitsubishi. I always like to try and keep an open mind, so I am hoping to try out more of their vehicles in the future and hopefully I will find that the 2013 Outlander Sport was just a fluke.


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