For some reason, hatchbacks and station wagons have a hard time selling here in the United States while small crossovers and SUVs continue to fly off dealership showrooms. To capitalize on the growing popularity of smaller utility vehicles, Mitsubishi is introducing its all-new 2011 Outlander Sport to compete against mainstream crossovers like the Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4 as well as outside-the-box competitors like the MINI Cooper Clubman, Ford Fiesta and the Nissan Juke.
With the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport becoming available in showrooms starting in early November, here are the top 10 things to know about the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. From its sporty styling to its competitive pricing, the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport offers new-car buyers another great model to add to the list when shopping for a new compact crossover. In addition to its aggressive exterior styling, Mitsubishi's newest crossover also manages to fill many other consumer needs as it offers a blend of sportiness, utility and fuel economy.
Photos courtesy of Mitsubishi
#10. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is No Cute Ute
Mitsubishi's vehicle line-up has grown rather stagnant over the years as cars like the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Mitsubishi Galant have begun to show their age, but the newest addition to Mitsubishi's showrooms could help spark a much-needed renaissance for the brand. Unlike some of the other vehicles in this compact crossover segment, the Outlander Sport stands out with an appearance that Mitsubishi likens to a jet fighter especially when it comes to the front-end styling that mimics the automaker's iconic sports sedan, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
With a styling based mostly on the 2007 Mitsubishi Concept-cX, the Outlander Sport actually looks sleeker than the concept vehicle with a design that is much less "cute" and more "ute" while keeping some of the signature elements including the roofline, side body creases and the beltline. As a testament to how sleek the new Outlander Sport's styling is, Mitsubishi says that it is the most aerodynamic vehicle in its class with a coefficient of drag that is just 0.32. One major change that is noticeable between the concept and production designs is the more prominent D-pillar, which will no doubt add to the passenger space and cargo volume.
#9. Brake energy regeneration system standard on Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Brake regeneration is a common term associated with modern hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV), but the new Outlander Sport will come standard with this technology in an attempt to maximize fuel economy. Unlike this type of system that captures kinetic energy to recharge the batteries in an HEV, the system in the Outlander Sport helps reduce the load on the alternator, which then helps to reduce the load on the engine. This system will be standard on all 2011 Outlander Sport models, and it should operate unnoticeable to the drive.
Other attempts to improve the Outlander Sport's fuel economy include electric power steering, a re-engineered engine with smoother internal components and an "Eco" light on the gauge cluster to encourage more responsible driving. In the end, the front-wheel drive version of the Outlander Sport gets an EPA estimated 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway while the four-wheel drive models get an estimated 24 mpg city and 29 mpg highway - numbers that are still better than some FWD competitors.
#8. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a perfect complement to the larger Outlander
The new Outlander Sport gives Mitsubishi its sixth nameplate and, more importantly, its third crossover to better compete against the growing number of crossovers on the market. While the Mitsubishi Outlander competes in the mid-size crossover segment, the Outlander Sport seems to be going after some of the younger, Generation Y urbanites who demand smaller cars for getting around in large cities easier without having to compromise styling, sportiness and interior technology.
Another key element of the new Outlander Sport in the crossover segment is its ability to be a top contender in its class in many areas including design and fuel economy, which hasn't been the case for many Mitsubishi models as of late. Even the overall driving enjoyment of the Outlander Sport should prove to be impressive in this class with a peppy engine that can be paired to a performance-oriented four-wheel drive system. With the ability to take on the competition on so many levels, the 2011 Outlander Sport looks to become a key model in this market.
#7. Just-right size makes the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport's interior practical and roomy
Even though the exterior is the perfect size to tackle dense, urban traffic, the interior of the Outlander Sport is almost as spacious the Mitsubishi Outlander. The five-passenger cabin provides adequate space for front and rear occupants offering almost as much headroom and legroom and its larger Outlander counterpart. Even the 21.7 cubic feet of cargo volume available in the Outlander Sport should be quite competitive against some of the more stylish crossover and hatchback options from which buyers have to choose.
The footprint of the new model is identical to the mid-sized Outlander as both ride on the same 105.1-inch wheelbase, but the Outlander Sport has an overall length that is 14.6 inches shorter, a height that is almost two inches shorter and a width that is 1.2 inches narrower. As consumers continue to downsize from big, bulky SUVs into smaller yet still capable crossovers, the addition of the Outlander Sport should help Mitsubishi attract some new dealership traffic.
#6. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport stands out in the details
While styling and performance are definitely important aspects to any new car, Mitsubishi went to great lengths to improve the overall quality of the new Outlander Sport ranging from better cabin materials to a smoother, quieter ride. Despite a starting price that is much lower than some competitors, the cabin still features its fair share of upscale touches such as the soft-touch instrument panel, magnesium paddle shifters on models equipped with the CVT and a sporty layout that Mitsubishi has become known for. To reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), the Outlander Sport comes standard with sound deadening and sound absorbing material throughout the cabin in addition to tires that are specifically designed to create less road noise. Moving up to the SE trim level, the Outlander Sport will add even more features such as rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry with push button start and high-intensity discharge headlights.
#5. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport features an optional four-wheel drive system
Available only on the sporty SE trim level, the Outlander Sport can also be optioned up with Mitsubishi's all-wheel control (AWC) four-wheel drive (4WD) system. As a $1,300 option, the Outlander Sport 4WD has the ability to send up to 70 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels despite being a front-biased system in normal driving. The system is easily controlled with a dial located close to the shift lever for choose between the three available modes: 2WD, 4WD and LOCK. Selecting the "LOCK" mode keeps the torque split at 60:40 front to rear for optimal grip in poor road conditions.
#4. Sporty Drivetrain and Suspension found only on the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The heart of the 2011 Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi's proven 2.0-liter MIVEC inline-four that is tuned to produce 148 horsepower and a wide torque curve that peaks at 145 lb-ft from 2,200 rpm up to 6,500 rpm. This engine is also used in the Mitsubishi Lancer (including the turbocharged Ralliart and Evolution models) and Outlander, but it has received a handful of upgrades for 2011 such as resin-coated pistons and smoother camshafts to improve overall fuel economy and reduce emissions. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the ES trim level, but the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available for $1,000 and is standard on the SE trim level.
Many chassis components are shared between the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the Outlander, but the compact crossover gets some minor suspension tweaks to account for its sportier purpose. These changes include updated suspension tuning to better match the smaller crossover's purpose and give it nimbler handling. In addition to the retuned suspension, the Outlander Sport should exhibit improved handling capabilities than the larger Outlander thanks to a curb weight that has been reduced by as much as 400 pounds in the case of the base ES
#3. Navigation system and other options available on the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Mitsubishi knows that buyers in this segment are looking for plenty of interior options, and the Outlander Sport definitely delivers with premium features such as a navigation system and a high-output audio system. The two main option packages available on select trim levels of the Outlander Sport include the $1,800 Premium Package and the $2,000 Navigation with Rearview Camera Package. Both of these packages add plenty of upscale equipment such as a panoramic roof with LED lighting and 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system on the Premium Package and the 40-gigabyte hard-disc drive and real-time traffic on the Navigation with Rearview Camera Package.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport will also be available with various port-installed options such as the $2,150 Navigation Package, $995 Exterior Sport Package, $405 Protection Package, $340 LED Illumination Package and the $185 Cargo Package. Two Interior Packages are packages are available dependant on the trim level, and there are also a number of accessories available that include a $595 remote starter and $325 fog lights.
#2. Impressive safety comes standard on the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
One thing that isn't optional on the new Outlander Sport is safety with Mitsubishi making sure to equip its newest model with as much standard safety equipment as possible. Aside from its seven airbags and active front headrests which are almost common on cars these days, the Outlander Sport also gets Hill Start Assist, stability control and traction control. Although the new Outlander Sport has yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Mitsubishi expects the new Outlander Sport to achieve a five-star rating from the NHTSA in both frontal- and side-impact protection.
Still a growing trend, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is also designed to be safer for pedestrians. To help reduce injuries to pedestrian injuries in the event of a collision, the front bumper has been designed be more energy absorbent to minimize leg injuries while the hood has been designed to minimize head injuries. The front fenders are made of plastic that flexes with light contact to further minimize injuries.
#1. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has a great starting price
The all-new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport will have a starting MSRP of $18,495 which is considerably less than other crossovers in this segment. Stepping up to the sporty SE trim level, prices start at $21,695 for added equipment such as keyless entry and push button start and high intensity discharge (HID) headlights with auto leveling. The top-of-the-line Outlander Sport SE AWC starts at $22,995. Even this practically fully loaded version of the Outlander Sport costs about the same as some compact crossovers in base model. In terms of price, the Outlander Sport actually competes against much smaller cars while providing a handful of features and options not common in this price range.
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