Behind the Wheel
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Review: Like some first dates, it's just not memorable
I'm a car journalist and a single guy. This might seem like a weird way to start my review of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, but hear me out.
Our swipe-right Tinder-Bumble-Hinge-Whatever dating culture has transformed how folks meet. See, there's always something else around the corner, so if you don't like the first date you're on, there's an endless supply of other potential partners. That also means that no matter how much you might like someone on the first date, there might be someone else you like better just a swipe away.
And while some of those first dates are truly memorable, others are forgettable. You end up with random people in your contacts with cryptic clues in their last name fields: Jessica Tinder or Erica Doctor or Samantha Doesn't Like Dogs DO NOT ANSWER.
My weekly car loans are the same way. Some are really special, like the time I had a Ferrari 488 GTB in Los Angeles and cruised down the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset before parking on the Santa Monica Pier and having dinner.
Or the 600+ horsepower Cadillac CTS-V that I road-tripped across Europe. One night I was forced to sleep in the back seat at a French rest area because the Chunnel train had been shut down because migrants snuck into the tunnel.
And then there are cars that are totally forgettable. There's nothing wrong with them — those cars I remember. They just don't make an impact. Kind of like how I remember all my really bad and really good first dates, but all the ones in the middle just don't register. Cars like the Buick Envision, the Chrysler 300, and the Fiat 124 Spider. They were all fine cars I guess, but nothing about them stands out.
The only thing I can remember about the Chrysler 300 is that Snoop Dogg called Chrysler when it came out in 2004 and left a voice mail that said, in part, "What I gotta do to get that brand new 300 up outta you?"
That is a true story.
So, cars are like first dates. But what about the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Well, it falls in that forgettable middle category because it's not horrible and it wasn't great. It's also going up against some serious competition including the Mazda CX-30, the new Kia Seltos, the Hyundai Kona, the Nissan Kicks. Those are some A-grade, Super Like-level cars.
The interior of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is not a stunner, but it is sufficient.Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors
But, just like there's a partner for everyone, there's also a car for everyone, and there are definitely folks that will love the Outlander Sport. I actually really like the exterior design. There's lots of LED lights front and rear, and it's been nipped and tucked and looks kind of aggressive and fun, especially in the Sunshine Orange Metallic color that my test car was in.
This was the especially loaded version, with my test car weighing in at a whopping $28,920. That's a lot of cheese and you can (and likely would, if you're looking at this car) get out for a lot less money. It starts just shy of $24,000. It wasn't luxurious by any stretch, but it had all the features that a young 20-something Mitsubishi-buyer might want.
In the top trim I had, there was automatic high beams and automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning and a radio. It also had the hottest seat warmers I've felt in a car. If you or your significant other likes having toasted buns, they will absolutely love the Outlander Sport.
But it also had middling fuel economy (25-27 mpg combined depending on the trim level you get), an uninspiring 168-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and a continuously variable transmission that… transmits.
The warranty is terrific, which is good for folks who are especially budget-conscious. The model come with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain plus a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, with five years of roadside assistance added in.
The Outlander Sport isn't huge, but it's roomy enough for the occasional Costco or beer run (though it's worth noting that the competition has a bit more room). The tester came with all-wheel drive and a spare tire. There are knobs to adjust the single-zone climate control. It's a car, and it turns on when you press the start button and you can drive it places.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gets the job done. And sometimes, like with a first date, that's all you really need.