Mitsubishi Oulander Sport 2021 Insight

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Despite its recently redesigned facade, the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is outdated and outmatched versus its classmates.
The Mitsubishi subcompact crossover has several driver assists and some infotainment features that give the illusion of modernity, but its aging engines and moldering platform lack refinement. Driving the Outlander Sport isn't satisfying in the slightest and sitting inside its dreary confines does nothing to improve the experience. 

After the previous model year underwent a transformative facelift, the 2021 Outlander Sport receives a handful of new features. All models now have automatic high-beams, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning. The base model also now has LED fog lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The LE trim gains black 18-inch wheels, a black grille and door mirrors, and a Limited Edition badge. Inside, the upholstery now has red contrast stitchin

The Outlander Sport's powertrain options present a choice between the lesser of two evils. The standard 148-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder is almost unbearably slow. The more powerful 168-hp 2.4-liter engine is quicker, but it gets worse fuel economy and is reserved for the priciest top-of-the-line GT model. Both engines pair with an unrefined continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The last Outlander Sport we tested with the 2.4-liter managed an 8.0-second trip to 60 mph, which actually betters several top rivals. While hardly sporty, the Outlander Sport will get you from point A to point B without drama. There's a fair amount of body roll in corners but not so much that it feels unstable or tippy. The Outlander Sport's braking distances are average for its class.

Whether you choose the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder or the optional 2.4-liter version, the Outlander Sport's EPA ratings fall short of its more modern rivals. The 2.0-liter is rated up to 24 mpg city and 30 highway. The all-wheel-drive version earns 1 mpg less in both categories. The 2.4-liter has estimates up to 23 mpg city and 29 highway; all-wheel drive means 1 mpg less on the highway.

Despite being marginally improved in some trims, vast expanses of black plastic combine with an uninspired dashboard design to create a decidedly bargain-basement atmosphere inside the Outlander Sport. Leather seats are not available. Certain trims feature red stitching on the seats to spice up things. But no matter how much you pay, there is no escaping the Mitsubishi's lackluster cabin environment. Despite its exterior footprint, the Outlander Sport can't match the rear-seat room of competitors such as the Honda HR-V and the Kia Soul. There's enough room for two to fit comfortably back there, but legroom isn't generous. The Outlander Sport's 60/40 split-folding back seats easily fold to create a flat cargo floor, but the Mitsubishi can't hold as many carry-on suitcases as can many of its rivals. A relatively deep center console is a plus, but otherwise the Outlander Sport doesn't offer many places to stash your stuff. There are no door pockets for rear-seat passengers, and the spare tire takes up the entirety of the underfloor storage in the cargo area.

The 2021 Outlander Sport earned a four-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The last version that was evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was not named a Top Safety Pick. The Outlander Sport does have some standard driver-assistance technology, but blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are options.
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