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2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

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$6,351 — $12,603 USED
6
Photos
Sport Utility
5 Seats
25-28 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
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Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Compact, athletic stance
  • Fuse system for cellphone connectivity and audio streaming
  • Availability of premium features

The Bad

  • Limited cargo space
  • Name could cause confusion for shoppers
2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Recalibrated CVT
  • 148-hp four-cylinder
  • Seven airbags
  • FWD or AWD

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

By David Thomas

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was introduced for the 2011 model year, and despite a harsh review here on Cars.com, it's sold well. Though it shares the Outlander name, the Sport is smaller than the regular Outlander, which has been around since 2003.

Last year, I warned shoppers to avoid the Outlander Sport because of its maddeningly loud yet underpowered engine and a troublesome continuously variable automatic transmission.

For 2012, Mitsubishi said it addressed these two issues specifically and delivered me a test unit to evaluate against its predecessor. Unfortunately, the test car came with a manual transmission, not the CVT that Mitsubishi updated. I could focus only on the engine, so that's what this review addresses.

Thanks to its revisions, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is slightly improved, but it's still not at the level of many competitors.

Performance
For a compact crossover, 148 horsepower isn't a lot. Competitors like the Hyundai Tucson, at 165 hp, and the Nissan Rogue, at 170 hp, offer more confident passing power and better acceleration from a dead stop. The Outlander Sport feels more like a compact car in its slow response. It's adequate, just not exemplary. (See the Sport compared with three competitors here.)

The Outlander Sport weighs 107 pounds less than the Tucson and 244 pounds less than the Rogue. The lighter weight and miserly engine certainly help with fuel economy. The Outlander Sport is rated 24/31 mpg city/highway ...

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was introduced for the 2011 model year, and despite a harsh review here on Cars.com, it's sold well. Though it shares the Outlander name, the Sport is smaller than the regular Outlander, which has been around since 2003.

Last year, I warned shoppers to avoid the Outlander Sport because of its maddeningly loud yet underpowered engine and a troublesome continuously variable automatic transmission.

For 2012, Mitsubishi said it addressed these two issues specifically and delivered me a test unit to evaluate against its predecessor. Unfortunately, the test car came with a manual transmission, not the CVT that Mitsubishi updated. I could focus only on the engine, so that's what this review addresses.

Thanks to its revisions, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is slightly improved, but it's still not at the level of many competitors.

Performance
For a compact crossover, 148 horsepower isn't a lot. Competitors like the Hyundai Tucson, at 165 hp, and the Nissan Rogue, at 170 hp, offer more confident passing power and better acceleration from a dead stop. The Outlander Sport feels more like a compact car in its slow response. It's adequate, just not exemplary. (See the Sport compared with three competitors here.)

The Outlander Sport weighs 107 pounds less than the Tucson and 244 pounds less than the Rogue. The lighter weight and miserly engine certainly help with fuel economy. The Outlander Sport is rated 24/31 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 25/31 mpg with the optional CVT automatic and front-wheel drive. A selectable all-wheel-drive system is optional if you get the CVT; it's rated 23/28 mpg.

The Tucson is rated a similar 23/31 mpg, but that's with the optional six-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission is rated a miserable 20/27 mpg. The Rogue comes only with a CVT and is estimated to get 23/28 mpg, also far below the Outlander Sport.

It's unusual for crossovers to even offer manual transmissions, as the base Outlander Sport and Tucson do. Both models feel more economy car than sporty. In the Outlander, I found shifting to be relatively effortless, if a bit boring. Unlike the CVT I tested last year, though, I could control the acceleration smoothly. An example of man being mightier than machine, I guess.

The Sport handles nimbly and its ride remains somewhat firm, though it's much softer than the Tucson.

And the engine noise? It isn't gone, but Mitsubishi definitely invested a few dollars to address the issue. Noise still fills the cabin when pushing the engine hard, but it isn't a constant drone during regular driving, as it was last year. And one editor's spouse — with no prior knowledge of the previous model — was annoyed by the 2012's still noticeable engine noise.

I still caution shoppers about the Outlander Sport's engine noise and performance, but it isn't the deal-breaker it was last year. Unfortunately, I'm still unable to offer a recommendation on the updated CVT. Perhaps a buyer-beware note is appropriate here.

Interior & Cargo
Despite being 4 inches shorter overall than the Tucson and a surprising 14 inches shorter than the Rogue, the Outlander Sport's passenger volume is plentiful: 98 cubic feet versus 102 and 98 cubic feet, respectively.

The cabin materials are acceptable for the car's sub-$20,000 starting price, and while the front and rear seats are a bit stiff, they're comfortable on short trips. Over a long commute, my back definitely felt sore.

Shoppers often select a crossover for cargo utility, and that's where the Outlander Sport's size hurts it most. At 21.7 cubic feet behind the backseat, it falls far behind the Tucson and Rogue, at 25.7 and 28.9 cubic feet, respectively. These two also beat the Sport's maximum cargo volume of 49.5 cubic feet with the backseat folded, providing 55.8 and 57.9 cubic feet, respectively.

Safety
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned top scores of Good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's front- and side-impact crash tests. It hasn't been tested for rear impact or roof strength at this time, so it's not yet eligible for Top Safety Pick status.

Neither the 2011 or 2012 model has been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at this time.

You can find a list of standard safety features here.

Outlander Sport in the Market
At first, the Outlander Sport appears like the most affordable compact crossover on the market, which could influence shoppers who are worried about its performance and small cargo area. However, the competition is only a few hundred dollars more while offering a more substantial driving experience and better overall package.

The Outlander Sport may have addressed a few issues that prevented us from recommending it, but I'm not yet ready to endorse it over most other players in this field.

Send David an email  


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.3
22 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.0)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Read reviews that mention:

(2.0)

Worst car I have ever owned.

by CatBat from Boston, MA on June 4, 2018

This car is without a doubt the worst car I have ever owned. It has a great exterior style, which is what drew me to it. However, within 4 years of owning the car (and having bought it brand new), ... Read full review

(4.0)

A Good Fish Car...

by Beadhead from Rural Pennsylvania on May 22, 2018

My SE AWD Outlander Sport (purchased used at 55K) is a good, reliable vehicle that I primarily drive on back roads between trout streams. I've put about 20K on it and have no complaints so far and ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport currently has 5 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Mitsubishi

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Less than 5 years/less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    Remainder of original 5 years/60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    Remainder of original 10-year/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    123-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2012 Outlander Sport Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Outlander Sport received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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