After making the 2014 Chicago Auto Show an early stop as a part of my ongoing “Rock Father Tour” this year, I’d been hoping to test drive some new rides here at HQ, and the first company to answer the call was Mitsubishi, who had a 2014 Outlander Sport delivered for review. Arriving in the midst of a snowstorm (the last big one, in theory), the 4-door AWD crossover was about to get the rigorous testing that comes with daily life as a work-at-home Dad with two little sidekicks and a whole lot of running to do.
When evaluating new cars and trucks, function, style and performance are all important to me on varying levels. Being a parent with a couple of car seats in the back shouldn’t mean “boring” (and it often does, as I’ve seen what a lot of people drive), but style shouldn’t mean sacrificing function or performance. So how did the 2014 Outlander Sport hold up?
Despite having “sport” as a part of it’s name, the Outlander Sport is not necessarily “sporty” enough for me. Now, if your definition of “sporty” is fairly vanilla ride that will nicely blend into a crowd, then maybe it is – and for me, maybe the first strike was that it arrived… white. You see, white is the most popular color for cars these days, and just days prior, I’d been telling my wife that it’s a reflection of “boring” – like a blank piece of paper. When the Outlander Sport arrived, she said “See, this is what you get for knocking white cars.” Color aside (generally, I only purchase black cars), it still just doesn’t scream “sport!” to me, though my wife liked it. So did the girls. It would need customization to suit me, and customization is available. In fact, they did a special “Summer Build” last year that was pretty sweet.
The cockpit is comfortable, though not particularly intuitive or flashy. The 6.1 touchscreen display is nice, and the Rockford Fosgate 710-Watt 9-Speaker Sound System is acceptable, though as an audiophile – I’ve heard better (but the built-in sub was a nice touch). The SiriusXM stations got a workout, with Liquid Metal and Kids Place Live getting regular play, alongside the soundtrack to Disney’s FROZEN on CD. Additionally, PRODUCT OF HATE, KILLING JOKE, REVEREND HORTON HEAT and CLUTCH all got some play via the Bluetooth Connectivity between the car and my Windows Phone.
Particularly to my liking is the rear camera, which makes backing up an interesting experience. It’s a neat safety feature (more on that further down).
The back seat is my number one pet peeve when it comes to vehicles, and this is something that is exceptionally important with a family. Sadly, the Outlander Sport fails my personal test here, as the back seat is tight, and while the car is said to seat five – it does, though not comfortably. A normal-sized grownup will definitely feel the squeeze, and a bigger one (like myself) would really not enjoy it. Even with my two girls (they’ll be 2 and 5 this year) and their car seats, it was a pinch, and one that required adjusting the front seats to make room.
The cargo space in the trunk is ample, especially for the frequent runs to the store.
With an estimated fuel economy of 26 MPG combined (24 City/29 Highway), the Outlander Sport is decent. Having only driven it in-town (didn’t hit the Highway due to weather), my expectations were met. Handling on the ice and snow was exceptional, and kind of cool to get this California-plated ride some snowtime back “home” (it’s final assembly point was actually in Normal, IL). Having done a lot of night driving… in fresh snow… the Outlander Sport delivers.
The NHTSA and IIHS Safety Ratings for the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport are exceptional. The NHTSA (Government) bestowed the car with an overall 4-star rating on a 5-star scale, and the IIHS deemed it a “Top Safety Pick,” so families should feel quite comfortable with crash protection, should one occur.
The Bottom Line:
The Outlander Sport is a solid ride with decent performance and function, though the styling doesn’t rock right off the bat. Being a “compact” crossover, it’s a little smaller than my liking in this category, though suitable for many. In fact, I believe the Outlander Sport is actually Mitsubishi’s best-selling model. With high marks in safety, it’s a worthy option for those considering a middle-of-the-road family-friendly vehicle.
MSRP on the Model Driven at Rock Father HQ: $25,820.00
THE ROCK FATHER RATING: 3/5 Stars
Further Disclosure: Obviously (as noted in the opening of this article), Mitsubishi provided The Rock Father with a 2014 Outlander Sport for this review. All opinions are that of James Zahn, with influence from his children. Yep, he gets to drive around in new cars and share his thoughts on them for you. Pretty sweet, right? James doesn’t accept cash for reviews – not how he rolls – but makes things very simple for all involved: Great Product = Great Review. Terrible Product = Terrible Review. Horns Up! \m/ \m/