Mitsubishi Motors is adding an all-new model derived from its top of the line crossover, the Outlander: The all-new Outlander Sport, a slightly smaller version of the popular 7-passenger CUV that features a completely redesigned body, a more fuel-efficient engine paired to either a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and comfortable accommodations for five.
The all-new 2011 model year Outlander Sport models will be offered in two trims for the U.S. market: the 2WD ES that features a plentiful standard equipment package as well as a choice of either the manual or CVT transmissions and the more upscale, technology equipped SE edition that is available with either 2WD or 4WD and includes the continuously variable gearbox.
"The all-new 2011 Outlander Sport is a reflection of what happens when Mitsubishi Motors focuses its engineering and design resources on the mission of developing a fun, expressive, affordable, yet eco-friendlier vehicle," said Shinichi Kurihara, President and CEO of MMNA.
With its taut, muscular sheetmetal, the Outlander Sport is visually a breed apart from the rest of its compact crossover competition.
With a front fascia inspired by jet fighter air intakes that adorns the company's legendary high-performance sports sedan – the Lancer Evolution – the Outlander Sport adds a dash of spice to an otherwise very humdrum segment. But the chiseled bodywork is not merely an aesthetic exercise – its smooth, flowing lines, tall beltline and rear spoiler all combine to give this stylish new model one of the lowest coefficients of drag of any car in its class.
Reengineered 2.0-Liter Engine
For this crossover application, the company's tried and true 4B11 engine with its aluminum block and cylinder head, innovative MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control) continuously variable valve timing system and normally-aspirated configuration are accompanied by new features including resin coated pistons and smoother surface camshafts for reduced friction and improved fuel economy. A higher efficiency alternator and electric power steering greatly aid in this cause as well.
In the Outlander Sport, this improved version of the 4B11 produces a full 148 hp @ 6000 rpm and 143 lb.-ft. of torque at a lower 4200 rpm from its 2.0-liter inline-4 configuration. What's more, the majority of the engine's torque is produced across a wide powerband of around 2200 rpm all the way up to just below its redline at 6500 rpm.
Fuel Efficient Sportronic ® CVT Transmission or 5-speed manual
Available on the Outlander Sport ES and standard equipment on the SE model, the Sportronic ® Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) features design updates that not only help to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions over previous iterations of this innovative Mitsubishi transmission technology but also improve driver feel when manually shifting via the magnesium paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.
In normal driving on flat roads, the CVT's shift schedule has been set to provide a good balance between fuel economy and dynamic performance. But should a driver encounter a windy road that just begs to be driven with greater zeal, the CVT switches to a more aggressive manual sports mode that mimics a 6-speed gearbox and improves the responsiveness of the unit's pulley hydraulics.
The standard transmission on the Outlander Sport ES, Mitsubishi's smooth-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox has been updated for this all-new compact crossover. Shift feel has been improved with the addition of triple synchros for both 1st and 2nd gears while 1st and final gear ratios have been changed for better performance and fuel economy.
Electronically controlled 4WD for optimal handling and grip
Borrowed from the mid-size Outlander, the lightweight, electronically controlled 4WD system is an available option on the Outlander Sport SE and has seen further design improvements for its fitment to its smaller crossover cousin. The system's power transfer unit (PTU) makes use of a lower viscosity oil to lessen parasitic drag and contribute to fuel economy improvement, while torque distribution calibration has been improved for all road surface conditions (snow, sand, ice), leading to enhanced stability.
Chassis: A Downsizing for the Better
With an overall length of 169.1 in. versus the Outlander's 183.7 in., the all-new Outlander Sport is more than a foot shorter than its larger brethren while much closer in width (69.7 in. vs. 70.9 in.) and height (64.2 in. vs. 66.1 in.), respectively, while sharing an identical wheelbase of 105.1 in. A 2WD Outlander Sport ES with CVT tips the scales with a curb weight of 3098 lb. – little more than 100 lb. heavier than the CVT-equipped Lancer GTS sedan.
Both the Outlander and Outlander Sport share the same suspension setup – a MacPherson strut layout in front with a trailing multi-link at the rear – but the new Outlander Sport has received some revisions to its design that provide a more optimal degree of ride comfort and stability that better suit the Sport's more compact dimensions.
The body of the Outlander Sport is completely unique from the Outlander save for the side mirrors – the only parts carried over to the new crossover.
Major revisions to the Outlander Sport's chassis include cross members to support the new electric power steering and a redesigned rear half of the platform (floor pan) to accommodate a new, more aerodynamically shaped muffler and high-strength steel for increased structural rigidity while reducing weight.
Safety: Technology Providing Piece of Mind
Benefitting from the enormous amount of research and development work performed in the name of safety for the original Outlander, the Outlander Sport makes use of a plethora of thoughtful engineering to not only minimize harm to all of the car's occupants (Mitsubishi expects the Outlander Sport to receive 5-Star frontal and side impact scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) but also to pedestrians as well.
An advanced in-cabin safety system consisting of a front air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) for both driver and front passenger also includes front side-impact air bags and air curtains, a driver knee air bag, driver's seat position and passenger weight sensors, active front seat headrests and 3-point seat belts for all 5 seating positions (with front seat belt pretensioners) are included at no cost.
A dynamic safety feature when driving is a brake override system that, should both the accelerator and brake pedal be engaged simultaneously, the vehicle will slow to a stop.
The Outlander Sport also includes Mitsubishi's next-generation Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) technology in its body design. The RISE system dissipates energy in the event of a side or rear impact, helping to protect occupants by minimizing body distortion and the fuel system in a rear end collision.
Pedestrian protection technologies include a newly designed energy-absorbing front bumper to mitigate lower leg injury, plastic front fenders that flex with light contact and a redesigned hood.
Ride, Comfort and Convenience
Be it a quick drive to the grocery store or a long interstate trip, driver and passengers of the Outlander Sport are treated to a refined ride in comfortable surroundings and with a host of welcome features – all of which are made more impressive when considering this handsome and capable crossover's low MSRP.
On the open road, the suspension offers a satisfyingly solid ride character that feels like that of a high-dollar luxury sedan while the electric power steering communicates excellent feedback from the road. The fabric-clad seats are comfortable for all – especially the front seats as they feature good torso and thigh support – while there is ample headroom for even the taller (6 ft.) set.
Occupants within the Outlander Sport are also treated to a quiet ride, thanks to spray-on sound deadening material on the floor and atop the cowl, sound absorbing material in the headliner and the addition of low-noise tires.
Air conditioning with pollen filter, cruise control with steering wheel mounted controls, tilt & telescopic steering wheel, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry and a 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with steering wheel controls and 4 speakers, digital signal processor, equalization control and speed compensated volume and FUSE HandsFree Link System with USB input jack are but a few of the standard convenience offerings. Among the available luxury upgrades are remote engine start, Super High-Intensity Discharge (S-HID) that cast their bright light over a wider path than the Lexus LS, in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 compatible changer, panoramic glass roof with adjustable LED mood lighting, exterior sport trim package, piano black center console and shift panel overlay, a 40GB HDD navigation system with music server and real-time traffic and a booming 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate® 9 speaker audio system including a 10-inch dual-voice coil subwoofer with Punch® control.