First Drive – 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

by Tony West
2013 Outlander Sport
2013 Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi pulled out a lot of stops for the 2013 Outlander with an ES-FWD model, a SE-FWD model, a SE-S AWC, and a GT-S AWC model. For a sporty edge the family crossover SUV was given horsepower and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Its robust efficient attributes are what make the $27,000 Outlander Sport SE –AWD a good buy.

The 2013 Outlander SE is good wholesome fun. A stouter frame helps the Outlander cut through the wind. And the Laguna Blue color was easy on the eyes. The 2013 Outlander is a very attractive vehicle inside and out. The legroom is very plentiful with 40-inches in the front and 37-inches in the backseat. The 2013 Outlander also has 60/40 folding rear seats. The interior itself has a lot of storage space in the front and back, and the large trunk has a self-close function. The 2013 Outlander has a cool exotic looking exterior but the spacious interior was underwhelming. I expected a little more luxury and a more adventurous media system. The Premium Package is available for $2,000 and adds the panoramic roof, leather seating, sound system, and a rear camera.

 

Powertrain Easy on the Wallet

The 2013 Outlander has a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine with 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The 4-cylinder is coupled to a continuously-variable transmission for more seamless shifting. The Outlander has a 6-speed automatic transmission and gets up nicely. I enjoyed the all-wheel-drive system and opening up with the paddle shifters on the highway. Though the SUV seemed to have a short lag when I switched to manual mode, and when I accelerated hard, it was still a spirited ride.

Trunk of 2013 Outlander Sport
Trunk of 2013 Outlander Sport

I enjoyed the great gas mileage most. With a 24 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway EPA, the 2013 Outlander is economical for a family. In Eco mode, engine power is slightly reduced on initial acceleration. Eco mode in Super Wheel Control (S-WC) allows the SUV to operate in 2-wheel-drive mode for lower fuel consumption. Because of its Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and 4-wheel independent suspension the Outlander handled very well on and off-road, and eased rollover fears.

 

Superior Safety Mediocre Luxury

As a family vehicle the Outlander hits it out of the park. There’s room in the backseat for 3 6’ adults or two adults and child seats. There’s plenty of trunk space. The Outlander is very safe, with a 5-star crash rating, 9 airbags, and the latest safety technology, like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Hill Start Assist, Active Stability Control, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. And with an available 10-year 10,000 mile warranty out-of-pocket maintenance costs would be minimal.

Interior of Trunk of 2013 Outlander Sport
Interior of Trunk of 2013 Outlander Sport

The 2013 Outlander has a few standard luxury features like heated seats and heated rearview mirrors. Yet there weren’t power seats. The driver’s dash is also not configurable, which is okay, but it could’ve displayed more useful information on its main page. The 6-inch media unit is somewhat digital. Sirius Satellite Radio is a worthwhile option, but the navigation system, which costs an additional $2,000 was lagging. Infotainment includes media choices, Bluetooth, and auxiliary plug-in. There are no apps, no-real time traffic, and no fuel price updates. Yet the Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker sound system is a great option with a subwoofer in the trunk and speakers in the A-pillar.

 

Nice Family CUV Despite Tech Shyness

The 2013 Outlander Sport SE is a nice CUV with or without the sports and luxury add-ons. But with a Sport SUV, thanks to the Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, and Hyundai Santa Fe, the expectation is that a cool athletic exterior would be iterated in a luxury sporty interior. The 2013 Outlander Sport has youthful traits like 18-inch alloy wheels, HID lights, and paddle shifters, but falls short when styling a sporty cockpit.

The Outlander Sport just needs a better functioning infotainment system and instrument cluster, and standard leather (or even faux leather) interior to match its powertrain. Even without it the fuel efficient spacious Outlander is a nice family SUV.