• (4.4) 20 reviews
  • Available Prices: $7,775–$15,255
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG: 25-28
  • Engine: 148-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Seats: 5
2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Our Take on the Latest Model 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

What We Don't Like

  • Limited cargo space
  • Name could cause confusion for shoppers

Notable Features

  • Recalibrated CVT
  • 148-hp four-cylinder
  • Seven airbags
  • FWD or AWD

2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

Editor's note: This review was written in December 2010 about the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2012, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

It's very hard these days to find a flaw in a newly released car so significant it would prevent one of our editors from recommending the car to buyers. While a suspension may be too stiff for some of us, it won't turn off everyone. The ergonomics may be convoluted and confusing, but that won't stop a lot of shoppers, either.

The horrendous engine that bellows from behind the dashboard of the all-new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, on the other hand, is bad enough to strike this crossover off of any recommendation list.

If not for the drivetrain's poor performance, the Outlander Sport would be a terrific vehicle with good handling, a surprising amount of interior room and sharp looks. I just wouldn't want to drive it anywhere.

Performance
The Outlander Sport — a smaller, completely different crossover than the automaker's Outlander — finds its biggest problems in its 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and optional continuously variable automatic transmission. The Outlander Sport boasts impressive gas mileage figures of up to 25/31 mpg city/highway, but the pursuit of high mileage results in an engine that's a mighty loud miser.

Accelerate hard from a stop, and the Outlander Sport lurches briefly before the engine burbles up to speed. With a CVT, there aren't any natural shift points, so that burbling just gets louder. At certain points in this buildup, the tone sets off a rattle in the dashboard. It wasn't a pleasant symphony of automotive sounds, to be sure.

I don't mind that the engine — even when coaxed with the CVT's shift paddles — moved the crossover slowly. You can be slow in this segment, you just can't sound like a World War II Jeep crossing Normandy.

The braking response, ride quality and handling of the little crossover are all pretty terrific. While the ride is a little firm, it bests the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage in terms of comfort, and it handles nimbly.

I hit parking lot after parking lot during holiday shopping trips while testing the Outlander Sport, and if there's a better vehicle for such a task I don't know what it is. The crossover's nimble feeling and commanding ride height are the things a lot of shoppers in this segment really want.

Road and wind noise are fairly muted — at least as far as I could tell when the engine wasn't roaring at me. I was not able to test the manual transmission, which is only available on the base model.

Exterior
The Outlander Sport is the second Mitsubishi designed with the automaker's new corporate grille in mind. The rest of the lineup, including the larger Outlander, got a version of the grille slapped on after the Lancer compact car's redesign made a splash with customers.

On the Outlander Sport, the grille looks natural and properly sized, and it complements the crossover's masculine design — and masculinity isn't typically seen in a segment often referred to as "cute-utes."

Our SE tester had stylish 18-inch alloy wheels, and even the rocker panels had a curve to them.

It's clear Mitsubishi spent a lot of time on this little crossover's design, and it's striking enough to bring folks into the dealership.

Interior
Mitsubishi has also made strides inside. Both the Lancer and Outlander had some low-grade finishes here and there, but I couldn't find any in the Outlander Sport that weren't commensurate with its $18,495 base price.

The cloth seats weren't overly firm, and I appreciated the simple air-conditioning and radio controls — save the iPod integration, which I'll get into later.

The gauges are sporty, like Mitsubishi aims for in other cars, and the nice, crisp digital readout between the two analog gauges for speed and RPM is a nice touch. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to track my average gas mileage for more than one trip, though.

Backseat space was surprising, too. In a vehicle this short — it's 169.1 inches long, compared with 179.3 for the Honda CR-V and 174.8 for the 2011 Kia Sportage — I still had plenty of legroom behind the driver's seat, and my son's convertible child-safety seat fit remarkably well behind the front passenger seat. I could sit in front of him with a little legroom to spare without his feet being able to kick the back of my seat. This is an accomplishment in a vehicle of any size, let alone in a relatively small one.

Cargo space, at 21.7 cubic feet, isn't plentiful for this class; the CR-V has 35.7 cubic feet and the Sportage offers 26.1 cubic feet. Still, I was able to easily fit golf clubs, a stroller and lots of holiday shopping bags in the back, although not all at one time. Though I have a feeling they could have fit all at once with some wrangling.

If it weren't for its engine, the Outlander Sport would be a practical pick for a family looking to downsize their vehicle.

Features & Pricing
The Outlander Sport is offered in two trims: the base ES and the higher SE. The ES starts at $18,495 with a manual transmission, making it one of the most affordable compact SUVs on the market. The 2011 Kia Sportage starts at $18,295 and comes similarly equipped at that price.

The Outlander Sport comes with standard Bluetooth and USB inputs, 16-inch steel wheels, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a trip computer.

Adding a CVT to the ES raises the price to $19,995.

The SE comes standard with a CVT and starts at $21,695. It adds 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and push-button start.

All-wheel-drive SE models cost $22,995.

The iPod integration was awful in my test car. Every time you tried to browse through artists or songs there would be a delay on the display screen, which didn't show many characters, either.

Option packages include Navigation ($2,150) for all trim levels and a Premium Package for the all-wheel-drive SE. That $1,800 option includes a panoramic sunroof, black roof rails, and a Rockford Fosgate stereo with a subwoofer. Perhaps the upgraded stereo has a better display for the iPod.

Safety
All Outlander Sports come with standard antilock brakes, stability control and seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. As of publication, the Outlander Sport had not been crash-tested by the federal government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Outlander Sport in the Market
In its current form, the Outlander Sport is tragically flawed, and that's a shame. In a crowded segment with worthy choices from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Ford and Chevy, it will be impossible to recommend the Outlander Sport until Mitsubishi addresses its powertrain.

Send David an email  


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Consumer Reviews

(4.4)

Average based on 20 reviews

Write a Review

Not enough power

by zimb from Ennis TX on August 8, 2017

slow to respond in low gears. When it reaches travel speed it's a smooth ride. Motor is loud shifting up.

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3 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport trim comparison will help you decide.

2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES

Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Roof Strength
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

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

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
G
Left Leg/Foot
G
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
A
Structure/safety cage
G

Other

Roof Strength
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
G
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
A
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Front Seat
Rear Seat
Side Barrier
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Recalls

There are currently 4 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

60mo/60,000mi

Powertrain

120mo/100,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

60mo/unlimited

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

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.

Powertrain

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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

Other Years