THE BLOG
05/14/2012 03:21 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2012

2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Test Drive and Review

There are plenty of good choices in the compact crossover category. But if you're a gal who prefers to "go your own way"...instead of sticking to the mainstream brands, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport might be right up your alley. The new Outlander looks distinctively different from its Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen and other classmates. Plus, it's priced less most while still giving you everything you need in tough little CUV. The base two-wheel-drive Outlander Sport ES starts at about $19,275.

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And it comes pretty well equipped. Standard features on the Outlander Sport ES include seven-airbags, vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, heated mirrors, body-colored door handles, LED tail lamps, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitor. The upgraded SE package adds chrome tailpipe finisher, Xenon headlights, illuminated vanity mirrors, heated front seats, automatic climate control and passive entry. An optional all-weather package includes remote engine start, all-weather floor mats (picture muddy kid shoes) and front and rear mudguards.

Redesigned in 2011 to replace its larger Outlander predecessor, the new, more compact body style has more muscular look and forward-leaning stance. In fact, it's nearly 15 inches shorter in than the previous Outlander. That's great for those of us who are parallel parking challenged. The 2012 version looks like something you'd see romping its way long-distance road rally course kicking up mud and dust -- without being the least bit worried about getting dirty.

The 2012 Outlander's 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine dishes out 148 horsepower, which achieves a good balance of fuel economy and performance. You can choose either a 5-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable gearbox. Either way, you'll enjoy decent fuel economy -- rated at 24 mpg in the city and up to 31 mpg on the highway. Not bad for a five-seater crossover.

If you and your man enjoy taking ski trips or other adventures that involve rugged or muddy off-road terrain, the all-wheel drive version (offered in the SE trim level) is the way to go. Even though it's a compact CUV, the new Outlander Sport can comfortably carry your snowboards or skis, beach gear, or most anything else you need to haul. Simply fold the rear seats flat and you'll gain access to nearly 50 cubic feet of cargo space.

For sporty good looks, plenty of optional features and accessories, and respectable fuel economy, the 2012 Outlander Sport represents a solid value in my opinion. Click here to see all your color choices, optional equipment, and local dealer availability.

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