2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL Test Drive

Amy Plemons | October 25, 2017
2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL Test Drive

SUVs are keeping the Mitsubishi brand alive in the U.S. these days and this week I'm behind one of its top-sellers, the 2017 Outlander Sport.

It's a model that, despite being long overdue for a complete overhaul, still attracts buyers looking for a roomy, compact, and most of all affordable crossover SUV.

The two-row five-seater is available in four trims: ES, SE, SEL, and GT. My tester is the SEL and did not come with any optional equipment.

Sporty Exterior

The Outlander Sport's exterior, while not being ultra-modern, isn't bad on the eyes. A dose of sportiness gives it just enough personality.

A shark fin antenna, that now comes standards on all 2017 models, helps spice things up. As, too, does my SEL trim's black roof rails, single chrome tip exhaust, chrome beltline molding and 18-inch two-tone Alloy wheels. 

The power-folding side mirrors may be the largest I've ever seen, so talk about some great visibility. Headlights are old school halogen but the rear gets LED combo tail lights.  The Outlander Sport also offers 8-inch ground clearance and easy step-in height if riding high is important to you.

Interior Needs an Update

It's when you open the door of the Outlander SEL, expectations fall short. It's in a word, outdated. Especially when you compare it to modern interior and technology offered by competitors like the 2017 Honda Fit.

The Outlander Sport's all-black leather interior is okay, but not exciting. The 8-way power adjustable seat was comfortable enough but not cushy. The SEL trim does give you a soft-touch dash and some chrome trim along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear knob, armrest and old school parking brake. Piano black trim on the steering wheel adds some style as well. The aluminum Sportronic steering wheel paddle shifters and pedals were admittedly a nice surprise. 

The front console offers single zone climate control. The SEL also comes with push-button start, heated front seats, and tilted and telescopic steering wheel. You don't get a moonroof on this trim, but you do get rain-sensing wipers.

It's fairly roomy inside both in front and back. Legroom is generous for an SUV its size. But that's about the only amenity offered in the back seats. You don't get air vents or power hookups. It comes with a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat.

Technology Is Behind the Times

The Outlander's hardest-selling point is the outdated technology and lack of safety offerings. The infotainment system lags behind the competition and the 6.1-inch touchscreen is very small by today's standards (it increases to a standard 7-inches, the same as the 2017 Honda Fit EX-L with Nav, for 2018.) Graphics and rearview camera quality also need an update, but I will say the touchscreen is easy to operate.

I won't go far as to say they remind me of Atari, but the LED driver's information display graphics are a hair behind flashier competitors. No Android or Apple Carplay, either, the 2018 model adds those.

The bigger point to be made is the surprising lack of available safety technology. Mitsubishi isn't offering any advanced driver's assistance technology on this model, like lane change assist, rear-cross traffic alert or blind spot monitoring.

Performance and Handling

Ride quality is better than I expected. It's actually a pleasant car to drive and Mitsubishi's smallest SUV handles nicely with its electric power steering. My tester's 2.4-liter four-cylinder is delivering 168-horses. Quite a bit more than the base ES models 2.0-liter's 148-horses.

While there's not a lot a road noise, the engine isn't what you'd call refined and roars when you floor it thanks to a Continuously Variable Transmission. While it's responsive, it's also loud.

My tester features two-wheel drive but an AWD system is optional on all trims. Fuel economy isn't horrible, but it's not great either. You're getting a combined 25 for highway/city driving.

2018 vs 2017 Models

If you're trying to decide between a 2017 or new 2018 Outlander Sport, here's a recap as you consider the differences.

  • The 2018 refresh gives you a larger 7-inch touchscreen, plus new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
  • There is also more optional safety tech in 2018, but new advanced safety features still aren't available across the lineup. Only the SEL trim offers a new optional Touring package that gets you Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Automatic High Beam.
  • Looks don't change drastically for 2018, but you do get new front and rear bumpers, LED running lights and a new gear shifter.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you expect more technology and safety features from a $25,000, higher level trim. For that reason, I can't justify the Outlander Sport SEL over competitors like the Honda Fit EX-L which comes with Honda's LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system for several thousand dollars less.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

  • What I liked most:  The exterior, interior trim accents, and rain-sensing wipers.
  • What I would change: Take it out of the dark ages by modernizing the infotainment system and offering more advanced safety features.
  • MSRP:  $24,195; As equipped, $25,090.
  • Fuel economy: 23 city, 28 highway, 25 combined.
  • Official color:  Quartz Brown.
  • Odometer reading when tested:  5,540 miles.
  • Weight:  3,142.
  • Length-width-height: 171.5  inches long; 71.3 inches wide; 64.8 inches tall.
  • Fuel-tank capacity:  16.6 gallons with filler on the driver's side.
  • Towing capacity: Not available.
  • Spare tire: Temporary compact.
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport in a few words: A compact crossover for the budget-minded buyer who isn't a techie and doesn't care about advanced safety features.
  • Warranty:  5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty; 7-year/100,000 mile anti-corrosion perforation limited warranty; 10-year/100,000 powertrain limited warranty; 5-year unlimited roadside assistance.
  • Final assembly location: Okazaki, Japan.
  • Manufacturer’s website: Mitsubishi
Tags: mitsubishi, outlander, sport reviews, test drives
George K.
I find this article interesting. BUT here is my experience/Fact on this Brand Mitsubishi.

We purchased an Outlander 2010 in 2012 From a Ford dealer in Plainwell MI. Car Fax check was made. and dealer was well known. We drove it for 3 years and was totally satisfied with it. (wife's car) We sold it to one of our sons in 2015. He needed a car. A good deal for him. Nothing down, no interest, pay us when you can. Of course we owned it. Not sure of mileage when sold but around 80,000 but he took it up a 141,000 category. (his wife drove it most of time) I and he always had it serviced on a schedule at a Mitsubishi Dealer in Holland MI. It was well taken care of by a reputable dealer who only sold Mitsubishi. Transmission went out on it then. Dealer said they could replace it and ordered it (rebuilt) When it arrived it was the wrong transmission. Then we were told that nothing was available, it could not be repaired, and a new one totally installed was around $6,000. We turned down that offer due to rebuilt price was more then car was worth. I then personally started to explore the entire USA for a transmission. It was a 2.4L CVT transmission. Everyone I talked to (All over the USA and Canada) said that this transmission was a loser. Teeth tend to break due to spacing rendering it no-repairable. Finding any of this model (2.4L) was non existent. All indicated that this set up engine/transmission was a nightmare for any one who owned one. Dealer wrote us off and left us stranded with no car. I wrote the dealer a letter (owner) and to date no reply. This has been about 4 months ago. I appreciate your report as wife & I about year ago considered buying a new one, but we were satisfied with 1 car (a new venture for us) with a low mileage Lincoln, low, low mileage Town Car. (2010) We are at 71,000 as of this date. This is second one we owned and Love them/it. Mitsubishi we wrote off (Son and I) , and will not even venture to ever consider one today. They did make a 3.0L engine, different transmission and seemed to be plentiful, at least from the rebuilt/used point of view. I still get e mails from factory, who still think I own one. Next one I get I will respond with a letter on this escapade. FYI. George Knarr
Wayne A.
I totally disagree...I am a traveling salesman. I cover 10 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico). I had a set budget from my boss when looking at SUV's almost two years ago (I have a 2016 Outlander SEL). I have 85,000+ miles on mine. It will be two years old December 26, 2017. I drive my Outlander everywhere! It's quiet, comfortable and I average 25 to 30 mpg. I've had dealer recommended maintenance done but otherwise, I've had no issues. I will buy another Mitsubishi when my company gives me the go ahead to buy another company car! With Mitsubishi, you really get what you pay for. If you want a darn good car with yes, not all the same bells and whistles as the competitors, then the Outlander is for you!