2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review and Prices

Last Updated: Mar 8, 2011

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2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Buying Advice

The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the best compact SUV for you if you’re tuning in to the newest niche in the crossover class.

The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is an all-new four-door wagon and among the first of a breed that might be called the subcompact crossover. In overall length, the Outlander Sport is about 8.5 inches shorter than such compact-SUV stalwarts as the Honda CR-V and previews similarly sized crossovers expected soon from Ford, Honda, Nissan, and others.

Should you wait for the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Yes – or you ought to at least hold off deciding on something else until you’ve had a chance to test drive it. Think of the Outlander Sport as an economical way to get the image of an SUV, the all-wheel-drive capability of a crossover, the utility of a wagon, and the maneuverability of a small car.

2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Changes back to top

Styling: As its name suggests, the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport plays Mini Me to the Mitsubishi Outlander compact SUV. The “big” Outlander is about the size of a Toyota RAV4. The Outlander Sport is more than a foot shorter than the Outlander in overall length and is essentially a wagon-on-stilts version of the Mitsubishi Lancer compact car. But Mitsubishi marketers would rather you think of it as an SUV and not a car – hence the name-association with the Outlander. In its home Japanese market the Outlander Sport is called the Mitsubishi RVR and in Europe it’ll be sold as the Mitsubishi ASX. By any name, it’s defined stylistically by the gaping-mouth grille that’s becoming the Mitsubishi’s signature look. The outsized inverted trapezoid design already distinguishes the Outlander as well as the sporty Lancer Ralliart and high-performance Evo models. The Outlander Sport will borrow body-side character lines from the Lancer, and its tailgate contours will be softer and less upright than those of the “big” Outlander. The Outlander Sport will have seating positions for five, with fold-down rear seats. It’ll likely weigh about 3,000 pounds, a significant 400 pounds or so less than the lightest Outlander SUV. Similarly sized new crossovers are reportedly in the works as spin-offs of a number of small cars. These include the Nissan-Versa-based Juke and as-yet-unnamed iterations of the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, 2012 Ford Focus, 2012 Honda Civic, and current Volkswagen Golf. 

Mechanical: The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport will likely debut with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that powers the base version of the Lancer. In the car it’s rated at a healthy 152 horsepower and 143 pound-feet of torque and it links to a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A CVT performs the duties of an automatic but uses a belt-and-pulley system that furnishes a rheostat-like delivery of power rather than the stepped gear ratios of a traditional automatic transmission. Like the Lancer, the 2011 Outlander Sport will come with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD). Front-wheel drive sets the weight of the engine over the tires that propel the car for enhanced traction in snow. Outlander Sport’s available AWD system won’t be intended for off-road use but will be an adjunct to on-road grip. Mitsubishi’s sportiest Lancer and Outlander models offer AWD systems that give the driver a cabin knob that fine-tunes the front/rear power distribution for aggressive handling. Outlander Sport is more apt to use a crossover-conventional AWD system that normally operates in front-wheel drive and automatically reapportions power between the front and rear wheels only when sensors detect tire slip. It’s quite possible the CVT will be the only transmission offered on AWD Outlander Sports.

Features: Expect the 2011 Outlander Sport to come in several levels of trim starting with a very basic entry-level model that could relegate such items as air conditioning, power locks, and remote keyless entry to the options list. Upper-line versions will have those features standard while adding goodies like more powerful audio systems with steering wheel controls, Bluetooth cell-phone connectivity, and cruise control. Top-line versions are apt to come with larger wheels and tires, fog lamps, and fancier cabin trim. A power sunroof, leather upholstery, and navigation system with digital music hard drive and USB iPod interface are probable options. A sport suspension and aero-body addenda could also be offered. On the safety-feature front, expect the Outlander Sport to follow Lancer’s lead with rear drum brakes standard on lower-line models. Four-wheel discs with antilock control will probably be optional or reserved for the costlier trim levels. All models will almost certainly come standard with antiskid stability control designed to prevent sideways slides. Every Outlander Sport will also have torso-protecting front side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows.

2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Prices back to top

Prices for the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport had not been released in time for this review but they’ll certainly start well below the larger Outlander. The “big” 2010 Outlander started around $21,600 for its entry-level front-drive model, which uses a 168-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.

Figure the entry-level 2011 Outlander Sport at around $16,000. That version may not be available with AWD. Picture a midline model priced from around $17,000 with front drive and about $18,000 with AWD. A top-line version could start around $19,500 or so. (Estimated prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Mitsubishi’s fee for the 2010 Lancer was $745).

2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Fuel Economy back to top

EPA mileage estimates for 2011 models had not been released in time for this review but fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport should reflect those of 2.0-liter Lancers.

That suggests a fuel-economy rating for the front-wheel-drive 2011 Outlander Sport of about 21/29 mpg with manual transmission and 22/28 with the CVT. Estimate AWD versions at about 21/27 mpg.

2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Release Date back to top

The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport should be in showrooms by autumn 2010.

What's next for the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport back to top

The overseas-market RVR and ASX iterations of the 2011 Outlander Sport will use Mitsubishi’s new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which is less powerful but also more fuel-efficient than the U.S.-market 2.0-liter four. Those Asian- and European-market models also may be in line for a small diesel four-cylinder engine.

America’s Outlander Sport is not apt to get diesel power, but a sport version is a good bet. It could take its cue from the Ralliart versions of the Lancer sedan and Lancer Sportback four-door hatchback.

That would give a Ralliart-type version of the Outlander Sport racier trim inside and out, a sport suspension, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine. In the Lancer Ralliart models, the turbo 2.0 is rated at 237 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. Ralliarts come with AWD and use a six-speed direct-shift-gearbox, which is essentially a manual transmission without a clutch pedal. It can be set to change gears on its own like an automatic or be shifted manually via steering wheel paddles or the floor lever. Figure $25,000 or so for a Ralliart-type version of the Outlander Sport.

2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Competition back to top

Ford Focus-based SUV: It’s called the Kuga in overseas markets, and a version is headed for the U.S. as a member of Ford’s newest global small-car family. We’ll see this platform first as the all-new 2012 Ford Focus sedan and hatchback, then as various small van, wagon, and crossover vehicles. The SUV may not be called the Kuga in the U.S. (some sources say it’ll replace today’s outdated Ford Escape crossover), but it’ll have four-cylinder power – maybe a sporty turbo, too – and front- or all-wheel drive. Rough target date: model-year 2013 or 2014.

Nissan Juke: Due in showrooms in autumn 2010 as a 2011 model, this new crossover is more compact than the Rogue, currently Nissan’s smallest SUV. The Juke will be based on one of the company’s best car platforms, one with Euro roots in parent-company Renault and appearing in the U.S. as the Versa sedan and hatchback. Four-cylinder power, front- and all-wheel drive follow convention, but reports say Juke’s styling will follow themes set out in the wild-looking Nissan Qazana concept, which looks like a mix of sport coupe/compact SUV/and high-speed desert racer.

Suzuki SX4 Crossover: Returning to the here and now, check out this affordable little overachiever that’s not quite a crossover but more than an ordinary subcompact wagon. The SX4 Crossover is a four-door hatchback styled it Italy and solidly built in Japan. A tall roof gives it surprisingly good passenger room for a vehicle whose overall length is about six inches briefer than the coming Outlander Sport’s. And at just over $17,000, the SX4 Crossover is one of the least expensive AWD vehicles you can buy.