What’s New for 2015
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport receives a newly optional 2.4-liter engine that’s more powerful than the base 2.0-liter engine. An upgraded continuously variable transmission (CVT) improves the Sport’s fuel economy a bit this year. There are also a few minor sheet metal and cabin upgrades, better sound insulation and an upgraded electric power steering system.
Crossovers come in distinct flavors. Some are geared toward the most pragmatic shoppers. Cargo capacity is generous, fuel economy is strong and there’s typically ample feature content for an affordable price. On the other end of the spectrum are crossovers aimed at buyers who are more concerned with fun than functionality. With these picks, utility isn’t the focus; instead, they’re primed to deliver outstanding performance that makes them engaging partners on the road.
Sadly, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport doesn’t do a compelling job of fulfilling either mission. Don’t expect much in the way of practicality, since this model’s cargo capacity is limited. The Edmunds.com «D» rated Outlander Sport stumbles on the performance front, too. The standard 148-horsepower engine lacks muscle relative to the competition, and handling isn’t nearly as sharp and responsive as you’d expect from a vehicle with «Sport» in its name. For 2015, there is a more powerful 2.4-liter engine available that’s slightly more appealing, but it’s still mated to the same unrefined and noisy CVT.
The Outlander Sport doesn’t miss the mark entirely. Fuel economy is good and the crossover is attractively priced. It’s also quite easy on the eyes, with meaty fender bulges and assertive 18-inch alloy wheels. But with so much else available, we think you can do better than this little Mitsubishi. We recommend the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke or Kia Soul (if all-wheel drive isn’t important). Or, if you can step up a little in price, larger crossovers like the 2015 Ford Escape and 2015 Mazda CX-5 do a superb job of covering all the bases, offering more room, more refinement and more driver engagement than the Sport.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a compact crossover SUV that is offered in four trim levels: ES, 2.4 ES, SE and 2.4 GT.
Standard features for the entry-level ES include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, Mitsubishi’s Fuse voice-activated electronics interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The 2.4 ES gets the same standard equipment along with the upgraded engine and a black front center bumper.
The SE gets the same standard equipment as the ES, along with the 2.0-liter engine and adds automatic xenon headlights, foglights, LED running lights, automatic wipers, keyless ignition, automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, heated front seats, paddle shifters, a sliding armrest between the front seats, a rearview camera, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and HD radio.
The SE is available with several option packages. The Deluxe package includes leather upholstery and a power driver seat. The Premium package bundles a power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system, a panoramic sunroof, roof rack rails and adjustable LED mood lighting. The Touring package bundles all the features offered in the Navigation, Premium and Deluxe packages.
The 2.4 GT gets the same standard equipment as the SE plus a more powerful engine, the aforementioned roof rails, some chrome exterior trim, a power driver seat and aluminum pedals. The Premium package and the Touring package are also available for the 2.4 GT and add the same optional equipment.
All of the following packages are available on all trim levels. The Navigation package includes a 7-inch touchscreen display and a navigation system. The Park Assist Sensors package includes front and rear parking sensors. There are also a variety of port-installed optional packages that include exterior design and protection features, as well as interior design enhancements.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes standard with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 148 hp and 145 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on 2.0-liter front-drive ES models and a CVT is optional. Models equipped with the CVT and front-wheel drive earn EPA fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway), which is higher than average for a compact crossover SUV. In extensive Edmunds testing, we found those numbers easy to reproduce. All-wheel-drive versions earn 27 mpg combined (24/30). That drops to 26 mpg combined (24/30) with the manual transmission and front-wheel drive.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Outlander Sport with the 2.0-liter engine and a manual transmission accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in a respectable 8.8 seconds. One with the 2.0-liter and the CVT did it in 9.2 seconds.
Also available is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All other trim levels get a CVT as standard. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which simulate a traditional transmission, are included on SE and 2.4 GT models. Fuel economy for the 2.4-liter engine is almost exactly the same as the standard 2.0-liter engine, as front-wheel-drive models get an EPA estimated 27 mpg combined (25/31), while all-wheel-drive models return 26 mpg combined (24/29). Once again, our testing mirrored these numbers.
In Edmunds testing, this engine with the CVT and all-wheel drive brought the Outlander Sport from zero to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport include antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control, hill start assist, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A rearview camera is optional.
In government crash testing, the Outlander Sport received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Outlander Sport scored the highest possible rating of «Good» in the agency’s moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, it earned a second-best «Acceptable» rating. The head restraints and seat design earned a «Good» rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, an AWD Outlander Sport with the 2.0-liter engine came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for this segment. A front-wheel-drive Outlander Sport, also with the 2.0-liter engine, stopped from 60 mph in just 119 feet. This very impressively dropped to 113 feet in an Outlander Sport GT model.
Interior Design and Special Features
The inside of the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is pretty nondescript, but you get acceptable materials and straightforward gauges and controls. The standard voice-controlled Fuse system makes it possible to control some audio and navigation system functions without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. Unfortunately, the center screen is mounted low and out of sight, which makes it hard to see. It often fails to respond to commands as well, making it difficult to use.
Up front, average-sized occupants get comfortable seats with a good amount of head- and legroom. The standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel makes it possible to fine-tune the driving position, but taller drivers may still feel a bit cramped. The rear seats aren’t exactly spacious, but younger teens and smaller adults aren’t likely to have any complaints.
Behind those 60/40-split rear seats are 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold both sections down and the cargo hold expands to 49.5 cubic feet. This isn’t a lot, but it’s average for a subcompact crossover SUV.
When it comes down to it, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport just doesn’t feel very sporty. The 2.0-liter engine provides enough power for everyday errand running, but if you spend a lot of time in expressway traffic, you’ll likely wish for quicker acceleration, especially in models with the CVT. Opting for the 2.4-liter engine helps, but with either engine, the CVT results in more engine noise than you’ll experience in competitors.
Even with sporty-looking 18-inch wheels and tires, the Outlander Sport’s handling isn’t especially sharp, and rival crossover SUVs feel both more athletic and more refined. The steering in particular is sloppy and has an utter lack of feel. Ride comfort suffers as well. It skips and shudders over small road imperfections, while larger ones produce residual jostling long after the bump has passed.