The Case For Refinement: The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT.
Regular TireKicker readers know us to be a place for unbiased reviews.  We are more tolerant of more pedestrian vehicles than many automotive journalism outlets, because we know those are the cars that the vast majority of Americans buy.  Each vehicle deserves to be judged on its own merit and not compared to something three times its price or built for a completely different purpose.

That's not to say we can't be tough.  There have been some bordering-on-brutal reviews in TireKicker's almost eight years online...and one of the harshest was our review, five years ago, of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  You're encouraged to click the link and read the whole thing, but the short version is we said that Mitsubishi brought a circa 2001 small SUV to market in 2011 and it was going to lose, even when its low price was figured in.

Five years on, it can only be worse, right?

Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT.
Wrong.  Only a stupid car company stands still.  Mitsubishi may be poor and unpopular on these shores, but they aren't stupid.  The five years since has resulted in some significant refinements.  And Mitsubishi has held the line on price to make the equation all the more attractive.

First, skip the lower-spec models with the 2.0-liter four and go straight for the GT.  That gets you the much smoother 2.4-liter four and an extra 20 horsepower (168).  With a curb weight of only 3,100 pounds, it makes a noticeable difference.  It's mated to a continuously variable transmission, but it's not a bad one. Fuel economy's good, too, with an EPA estimate of 23 city/28 highway.

Interior view of 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT interior.
Apart from the touchscreen in the dashboard, the interior of the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport looks just like the 2011 model...but materials have been improved...things are softer to the touch now...it doesn't feel as cheap.

And a big bonus...five years ago, we drove a mid-range SE with the 2.0 liter and it cost $25,575.  The 2016 GT, bigger engine, panoramic sunroof, rearview camera and 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio and Bluetooth...bottom-lined at just $26,845. For a much-improved car five years later, that's remarkably little price creep.  That's also $1,000 more than the base Volkswagen Tiguan S the Phoenix bureau reviewed recently...but you can justify that expense on the killer audio system or the sunroof alone.  The Tiguan has neither.  And the EPA says you can expect two more miles per gallon both in the city and on the highway in the Outlander Sport. The Vee-Dub has 32 more horsepower, but it also has 300 more pounds worth of curb weight to haul around.

Mitsu also has a strong warranty package:  10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain, 7 years/100,000 miles for corrosion, 5 years/60,000 miles for the rest of the car minus normal wear items and 5 years/unlimited mileage roadside assistance.  Government crash test ratings for the Outlander Sport are all four and five stars.

Bravo to Mitsubishi for putting effort into this small SUV over the past five years.  In 2011, I wouldn't have said this...but the Outlander Sport could be a good choice.