Driven: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT

Driven: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a good little SUV.

The Outlander Sport was redesigned for 2016 | Mitsubishi photos

The Outlander Sport was redesigned for 2016 | Mitsubishi photos

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a good little SUV. Not a great one, mind you, but for someone who wants a stylish compact wagon that’s a bit different from the run of the mill, the Outlander Sport is not a bad way to go.

Outlander Sport is the smaller SUV of two Outlander models. It competes with utes such as the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. Recently restyled, the Outlander Sport has a sharply modern look that sets it apart in this hot portion of the new-car market.

Outlander Sport is small but roomy inside

Outlander Sport is small but roomy inside

The Sport GT version that I drove was dressed up with some stylistic embellishments that made it look hotter than it really is, including 18-inch alloy wheels. The GT is powered by a 2.4-liter inline four rather than the 2.0-liter engine of the base model, although it’s still not what you’d call quick. The engine is coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The Mitsubishi was a capable companion during a lengthy road trip primarily at interstate speeds, with some exposure to back roads and city streets. Highway driving was fairly quiet and stable for this short-wheelbase craft, although there did seem to be excessive body movement over undulating surfaces or when braking. There was also some bump steer over rough pavement.

Off the freeway, the Outlander Sport handled predictably with firm steering and controlled body sway, about on par with other wee SUVs in this class. The GT derivation seems like a bit of a misnomer since it comes across more as a level of trim than a tighter, sportier model. But again, it’s not a bad little truckette that delivered some fun driving moments.

The compact SUV drives well on the highway

The compact SUV drives well on the highway

The continuously variable transmission was not too annoying and functioned well, no doubt adding to overall fuel mileage. Though really, while I know CVTs are in some ways superior to conventional multi-gear automatics in terms of efficiency and lower mechanical complexity, most drivers – myself included – feel that they detract from the driving experience.

And while you’d think that the Sport GT model would offer the option of manual shifting, that five-speed transmission is available only in the cheapest model with the lesser 2.0 engine. All the others get the CVT.

Like some other Mitsubishis, the Outlander Sport feels like it’s a step behind the competition in drivability and features, although it makes up with some of that with relatively modest price points for its seven models of trim, starting just under $20,000 for the base version with manual transmission. All-wheel-drive versions of each model add about two grand to the bottom line.

The interior is conventional but well-equipped in the GT model

The interior is conventional but well-equipped in the GT model

The front-wheel-drive Sport GT that I drove came to $26,800 including shipping, which is a low-to-average price in this class. The Sport GT is well-endowed with features, all of which came standard on this model, including Rockford-Fosgate audio system; panoramic glass roof with adjustable LED “mood lighting;” rain-sensing wipers; leather seats, steering wheel, shift knob and parking-brake handle; aluminum pedals; door-lock and engine-start remote; and Active Stability Control and Traction Control. Not a bad package for the money, really.

The 2016 Outlander Sport has been brought up quite a few notches stylistically, with a powerful look and sculpted details, with the GT version adding chrome and body trim that set off the look.

The interior was not bad but nothing special, although the Sport GT features, upgraded trim and excellent sound system were appreciated. There were a few things that gave me pause in terms of durability, such as the Velcro strips that attach the rear-compartment rug to the back of the seats. Looked and felt chintzy.

But overall, the Outlander Sport GT did well on our road trip, capable and comfortable, and never as if we were settling for something less.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, five-door crossover, front-wheel drive
Base price: $25,995 Price as tested: $26,890
Engine: 2.4-liter inline-4, 268 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 161 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches Overall length/width: 171.5 inches / 71.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,142 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 23 city / 28 highway / 25 combined
Assembled in: Okazaki, Japan

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