This week’s tester is a statement about resiliency. The Mitsubishi brand has proven to be quite resilient. After some hard economic times it was looking like this brand was going to disappear from the U.S. market. But the brand has persevered and dwindled its fleet down significantly. They’re targeting buyers and consumers, which is a smart business plan. Case in point, my tester this week is the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport which replaces the even more outdated Outlander (sans Sport).

This subcompact SUV is important for Mitsubishi. This segment is full of youthful buyers and is one of the most important segments in the automotive industry of late. So Mitsubishi is wise to re-align and focus on it. However, the Outlander Sport misses the mark at times.

EXTERIOR

The looks are acceptable, but also forgettable. The styling and overall fit and finish are adequate, but there’s nothing distinctive about the Outlander Sport. While the grille lacks pizzazz, the subtle nuances add some appeal, but overall the front end lacks a personality with too many different angles and features. Styling from the front extends to the side panels, adding some amount of excitement. Likewise, the back end is the Outlander Sport’s most attractive side. The C-pillar slopes down from the roofline toward the rear giving it a sporty appearance.

PERFORMANCE

Thank goodness my tester came with a sportier, punchier engine as the Outlander Sport’s base engine seems lifeless with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine only making 148 horsepower. That number seems outlandishly (get the play on words?) small. As such, my tester, the GT trim, gets the more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine for a respectable 168 horsepower. That’s still a small number, but is reasonable. The continuously variable transmission holds back the power and really detracts from this engine, which I think might do better with a more modern eight or nine speed transmission.

INTERIOR

I always try to review a vehicle based upon what it is, and who the targeted consumer is. With that being said, the interior of the Outlander Sport is adequate. The five-passenger SUV has some surprisingly nice features like heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and chrome accents. Even the cloth interior is nice, as I feel that more consumers prefer cloth interiors to leather anyway (especially when considering the cost difference). The back seat space offers plenty of legroom, but more limited headroom. For passengers over six feet, that sloping roofline that I liked aesthetically comes into play in a limiting fashion for rear passengers.

Behind the second row, there’s 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the seats flat and the cargo area totals 49.5 cubic feet. This is above industry averages and one of the positive features of this small SUV.

PRICE/TRIMS

There are five trim options for the Outlander Sport with the base trim ES starting under $22,000. My tester was the top trim GT, which has the better/faster engine along with other more standard features. My tester had an MSRP of $28,720. Getting an all-wheel drive SUV for under $30,000 is a rarity today, so Mitsubishi hits the mark here.

FUEL ECONOMY

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with all-wheel drive has an EPA rating of 23 mpg/city and 28 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged just over 25 mpg.

I’ve been a critic in the past of the Mitsubishi product line, as it seemed dated and out of touch with consumer needs. Having spent some time with the Outlander Sport I’ve come off that opinion somewhat to realize that this is a small SUV that has merit.

SPECS

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT

Price/As tested price……………………. $28,720/$28,720

Mileage…………………………………… 23 mpg/city; 28 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.4-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower…………………………… 168 hp/167 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… CVT

Drive Wheels…………………… All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point………………….. Kurashiki, Japan

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - jimmydinsmore@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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