Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT AWC - Is Mitsubishi Still Around?

There was a time when Mitsubishi was a player. Maybe not a juggernaut like Toyota but they were big. Now not so much; at least not so much here in the USA. They are still big(ish) elsewhere. Mitsubishi sold 1,281,897 units worldwide in 2018 and only 118,074 in the US. 

Mitsubishi was first known in North American as Chrysler's small car partner. Chrysler did fairly well with their Mitsubishi products. But I think maybe it was the wrong step for Mitsubishi in the long run as they were better known for the vehicles Chrysler sold than for their own name. Then when Chrysler went their own way Mitsubishi had to build their own reputation. (

They partially succeeded. Their performance cars were well known and feared. The Montero/Pajero killed in the Paris-Dakar Rally. There was the Starion, 3000GT, and Evolution. The performance vehicles built excitement and a cult following. But the bread and butter vehicles? Not so much.

I think, and this is just my opinion, that Mitsubishi vehicles sold well in countries where they had been well known for decades.

So what has happened to Mitsubishi? They've gone from offering a full line-up of vehicles to selling mostly crossovers and two basic transportation cars. There are three Outlanders, one Eclipse Cross, and two Mirages. 

I often compare one make to another, at least size-wise. The Outlander Sport is similar in size to the Honda CR-V. The wheelbase is almost identical but the Mitsubishi is a bit shorter overall.

Styling is in the eye of the beholder - and here I am the beholder. Let's face it all SUVs and crossovers look similar. They are all essentially two boxes. I like the styling of the Outlander Sport except for the fake vents behind the front wheel openings. They serve absolutely no purpose and look like cheap stick-on vents from J.C. Whitney. Otherwise the Sport is distinctive enough to set it apart without it being weird.

Inside is fairly conservative - comfortable and well laid out. No big surprises, and no disappointments. Well one thing that I would have liked different. The front seat heaters were either on or off. The plus to this was they heated up quickly. The downside was that they also quickly became too warm. I like a heated seat that quickly takes the chill off and they you can turn down the temperature to a nice warmth. Oh well.

The instrument cluster and center stack were both easy to read. The climate control system though ... My feet are always cold, they've always been this way. Back when cars had two modes - heater (which was aimed at your feet) or defrost - I could keep my feet nice and toasty. Now it seems like nothing out there does the trick for me. The Outlander was no different. But what drove me crazy was that even on a chilly morning (under fifty degrees F) I had a heck of a time getting the system to blow warmth. 

We took a couple of trips, nothing too long, in the Outlander Sport and found it a comfortable, competent ride. The 2.4-liter, 168 hp 4-cylinder had enough pep. It's 0-60 mph is not spectacular (I did not put it to the test) but it gets the job done. The Outlander Sport has two 4-cylinder engines available; a 2.0-liter and the 2.4 that is available only in the GT. The transmission is a CVT only. 

The acceleration is not linear from a stop and this put a bit of a fright into my wife. I was trying to make a right turn and traffic was heavy. There was a break in the traffic - not a huge one but enough - so I stepped on the gas a little harder than I normally would. You would have thought I was in a drag race! My wife thought I had greatly misjudged the gap, I had to get off the throttle (turning and accelerating hard is kind of a no-no). In the whole week I had the Outlander Sport I never completely mastered accelerating from a stop - either too lazy or to quick.

Although the Outlander Sport was AWC (All-Wheel-Control) I never pushed the button. Why would I? I don't live in snow country. I didn't go to snow country. And even if I'd gone to Tahoe chains would have been required. 

I didn't check the fuel economy so I'll have to go with the reported EPA ratings - 23 mpg for the city, and 29 mpg on the highway.

The Outlander Sport 2.4 GT AWC, the top-of-the-line Outlander Sport, lists at $26,995. That is way under the top Honda CR-V. The least expensive Outlander Sport (FWD w/2.0-liter four) starts at $22,595. 

There are so many choices in this range. I wouldn't rule Mitsubishi out but it isn't a stand out either. And that's a shame.


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