A Victory & Reseda review of the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Let’s say you want a small SUV and you in a neighborhood with high population density and a lack of parking space, your choices just opened up.
That is usually the narrative when it comes to subcompact SUVs. They’re designed for “urban dwellers.” And, they drive likewise.
When Mitsubishi developed the Outlander Sport, they wanted their small SUV to live anywhere, go anywhere, and do everything. That has always been the primary mission of this vehicle.
Having examined this popular SUV in the past, it was time to revisit it. I wanted to see how Mitsubishi’s smallest SUV remains a good choice in a segment that is growing every year.
First off, the 2020 Outlander Sport had an extensive makeover. The front end is completely new. The Dynamic Shield front end was affixed to the Outlander Sport, but Mitsubishi did not stop there. The headlamp units are narrower and emit a better light than before. They integrated a four-bulb lighting unit below each headlamp that combines fog lamps and turn signals. Plus, the grille is more aggressive than before.
The hood is new, now cascading into the new front fenders. It reminds me of its bigger brothers – the Outlander – and the Eclipse Cross. It gives this vehicle a new personality – for a vehicle that already has its own fun-loving personality to begin with.
The taillights are new, as is the rear bumper skin. You will find a more aggressive “skid plate” out back that fits the Outlander Sport’s personality. The roofline and center/rear profile has not been touched. That is a good thing, because Outlander Sports have a profile that stands out above the rest of the small SUV crowd.
Standing out is what make one spot an Outlander Sport easily. The profile is tall, as is the ground clearance and stance. And, yes, that is an honest 8.5 inches of ground clearance.
The Outlander Sport’s tall stance lends to a spacious interior. Headroom is superior to all others in its class – both front and rear. Rear leg room is great for adults. Up front, I can adjust the driver’s seat for height, rake, and recline manually. The seats fit very well and offer some bolstering and support, while providing comfort with its combination of leatherette and suede-like cloth. It helps that the black interior is broken up with red stitching for a sporting look. This interior motif in my GT tester is new for 2020.
Also new for 2020 is the larger 8-inch touchscreen that is integrated onto the center stack. The connectivity is excellent for smartphone integration and the sound quality is pretty good. Everything else is equally good, from the manual climate control system to its analog instrumentation and color information screen. It is an environment that adds to the fun factor the Outlander Sport embodies.
Speaking of fun, there is plenty of room for activities in the Outlander Sport. It starts with 21.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up, expanding to 49.5 cubic feet with them down. The advantage the Outlander Sport has on the rest of its competitors is the taller space for larger items, which will be helpful when loading up a flat screen television or a potted plant.
While the 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder MIVEC engine is standard in the Outlander Sport, my pick would be the GT’s 168-horsepower 2.4-liter engine. Twenty horsepower – plus an additional 22 pound-feet of torque over the smaller engine – makes a huge difference in terms of passing and highway cruising.
Perhaps a more noticeable change is in the behavior of the continuously variable transmission. There is a serious improvement on overall throttle response with this transmission. My tester had the All-Wheel Control system – labelled as 4WD – that provides serious traction in three modes, including a 4WD Lock setting.
For the record, Mitsubishi states that the Outlander Sport GT with the AWC system would achieve 23 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The drivetrain invites you to have fun. It is reflected on the driving experience with its solid ride quality and handling package. Maneuverability is made easy with a good turning radius and steering wheel feel. Braking is also solid with good pedal feel and feedback at the wheels. In all, it is a fun-to-drive small SUV that does any job you ask it to do.
The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport lineup starts at $22,595 for a well-equipped ES model with front-wheel-drive, the 2.0-liter engine, and CVT. My GT AWC tester came with a sticker price of $28,790.
Throughout this review, I made a point to compare the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with other small SUVs. There is a reason behind this. Every time I work with another vehicle in its class, I must do some measurements of what matters when shopping for a vehicle in its class. These measurements include ground clearance, rear seat room, cargo capacity, and all-wheel-drive capability. These measurements are the difference between an urban accessory and an all-round vehicle that lives anywhere it wants to.
If you think about it, these measurements point to one thing: The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is better suited for anywhere you live, work, and drive. This is not just for urban enclaves, but even out in rural communities and everywhere else in-between. Add in the fun factor, and you have the right small SUV for your lifestyle – any lifestyle.
These are the reasons why the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is one of the most popular vehicles in the Twin Cities and in the Upper Midwest. That is why you see a lot of them around V&R’s own home territory. Next time you’re in the Twin Cities, you might just come across one – even a new one like the one you see here.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by White Bear Mitsubishi, White Bear Lake, MN
All photos by Randy Stern