This week, we’re driving Mitsubishi’s 2013 Outlander Sport SUV, available in ES, SE or LE trim with either front or all wheel drive. Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi’s shorter five-passenger SUV/Crossover, with heavier, more powerful and longer seven-passenger Outlander available in ES, SE and GT models starting at $22,695 in front drive form. All Outlanders ride on a 105.1 inch wheelbase.
Last year’s full size Endeavor is eliminated for 2013 in anticipation of the all-new 2014 Outlanders, including a hybrid, scheduled for early summer release.
Thus, with Mitsubishi already promoting its 2014 Outlanders, consumers who don’t demand “the latest and the greatest” can take advantage of some excellent dealer incentives aimed at saving money for 2013 Outlander buyers. With thousands in savings on the table for Outlander customers, and a 100,000-mile, 10-year warranty, it may make sense to choose a brand new 2013 “leftover” versus the new design 2014.
Our Outlander SE AWC (All wheel control) came with a base price of $23,695 and features a 148-horse, 145-torque 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that mates to a CVT Sportronic automatic. There are steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for those seeking more control of the CVT’s six distinct ratios, and it all works to deliver 24 city and 29 highway EPA estimates.
As for the four wheel drive system, Outlanders utilize Mitsubishi’s AWC system that integrates an electronically controlled active front differential and a “flip of the switch” choice 2WD, 4WD or Lock modes for the rear wheels. Thanks to a fully independent suspension, Outlander AWC is a pretty good handler that is easy to drive and park in any situation.
Built in Normal, Illinois, Outlander’s exterior is still dominated by the massive front grille that debuted in 2010. It features a chrome surround and blackout bar and enhanced aerodynamics that make it standout in a crowd. Sport also features a nice rear fascia with LED tail lamps, spoiler and exhaust tips. As for the huge grille, it gets replaced with a more serene design in 2014. (You can view the 2014 Outlander right now on Mitsubishi’s website.)
The cabin is well done, with leather wrapped steering wheel, 60/40 split rear seats, two 12-volt outlets and nicely illuminated instrumentation. Our tester came with a $2,000 Navigation Package with a 40-gig hard drive, music server and real time traffic. A premium package for $2,050 features a highly recommended safety rear camera system, panoramic sunroof, Rockford Fosgate 710-watt nine speaker and 10-inch subwoofer, six-CD MP3 premium sound system, rear camera monitor and black roof rails.
Overall, Outlander in four cylinder form runs fairly well and delivers very good MPG highway numbers. Outlander’s interior is quite noisy, but with the Rockford Fosgate stereo on, you’ll never notice.
On the road, the ride is comfortable and as with other Outlanders we’ve driven, the view is excellent. Crash worthiness is very good, with four and five star safety ratings throughout all tests.
Outlander’s Sport SE comes standard with seven airbags (which includes the knee airbag), air, stability control, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, traction control, heated seats, keyless start, hill start assist, daytime running lamps and 18-inch tires with nice alloy wheels. Other notable standard features include steering wheel audio and cruise controls, heated mirrors, super wide Xenon headlights, fog lamps and telescopic steering.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1 inches, from 20.1 to 48.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 3,263 lb. curb weight, 8.5-inches of ground clearance, and a 15.8 gallon fuel tank.
Overall, Outlander delivers reliability, nimble handling, multi-purpose convenience and is priced right. Additionally, it’s recommended by Consumer Reports magazine and carries an excellent reliability rating, too.
Entry Price: $19,170 | Price as Tested: $28,570
Likes: Nice design, economy, suspension, firm seats.
Dislikes: Road and engine noise, expensive options.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated automotive columnist).