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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Road Test Review by Martha Hindes : RTM's 2013 CUV Buyer's Guide

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

CUV Buyer's Guide - RTM's Top 10 Picks for 2013

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Ford Escape

Bruce Springsteen's “Born in the USA” didn't exactly kick off the “Made in America” rebellion of the last few years, but it sure has gotten its share of “likes” in relation to it.  It also seems to have caught the attention of those wanting to make sure “homegrown” doesn't get lost on the new car playing field. A new conversion? How about the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport crossover utility vehicle that also took its initial bow as a Limited edition last month in the California country that often has dismissed American built vehicles for those from across the ocean.

This revised five-seater won't be taking a boat ride to reach American shores from now on since Mitsubishi has switched production from its home base in Japan to the US. Instead, it's being built in Illinois, at a plant the company has operated there for decades and will ship the American-built vehicles to other countries. How do “The Boss's” lyrics go?  “USA, USA, USA...”

It's not just domesticating the newest version of the Outlander that is catching attention. This compact brother of the seven-seat Outlander also scores in a couple of American mandates: price and mileage. Here's how.

Consider what's been happening with CUVs lately. They are attention getters, sporty, fun to drive with some hauler credentials and -- when you get inside -- appealing in just about every tactile category. All that can add up to serious dollars at the new vehicle supermarket. Finding one that can deliver the needed capability without breaking the bank can limit the selection. The Outlander Sport has managed to come in somewhat under the radar, compared with many more affluent models, by staying below $20,000 as a base.

What can one get for that price? How about design updates inside and out of Mitsubishi's most popular vehicle among American buyers?  Most notable among the exterior nips and tucks is a bit of a facelift that adds some bold definition, and interesting fog light treatment as it extends into the front fascia. Those features, as well as its smaller size, help differentiate the Outlander Sport from the mid-size, longer wheelbase Outlander that will get its revision as a 2014. Also updated on this year's Sport is the rear fascia styling, plus the addition of chrome door trim accents. All 2013 models get standard 18-inch alloy wheels.  Pearl White and Quick Silver join exterior color choices that retain Laguna Blue, Labrador Black, Mercury Gray and Rally Red hues.

Interior updates include a center console push button control switch for all wheel drive models, enhanced noise reduction and improved audio with USB connectivity that allows voice operation of audio or electronic devices. Interiors are made from greener materials.

The Outlander Sport comes in ES and upmodel SE versions. The ES enters the playing field with front drive, manual transmission mode serving the 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four cylinder engine found on all 2013 Sport models. For those not interested in shifting by hand -- AKA most American drivers -- the Sportronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) with steering wheel paddle shifters for sportier driving provides the requisite automatic transmission choice.  Undoubtedly the smaller engine, at the expense of heftier driving dynamics could be a tradeoff for top fuel economy and lower cost.
Best mileage is 31-MPG for highway driving. Mitsubishi credits the fuel efficient engine, along with electric power steering, a gear shift indicator for stick shift versions and ECO indicator for automatics, along with better aerodynamics as reasons for good fuel economy.

Among standard features are filtered air conditioning, tilt and telescoping steering wheel,  heated, power-operated outside mirrors, six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, advanced airbag systems in addition to a driver's knee airbag, active stability control and Hill Start Assist for the standard transmission crowd. For 2013, the entry level ES model also can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

Upmodel SE versions also get standard heated front seats, rain sensing wipers, push button start/stop, and premium audio with Sirius satellite radio including free three-month subscription, and high intensity headlamps with on-off control. Among options is a 40-gig hard drive navigation system, nine-speaker Rockford-Fosgate audio and panoramic glass roof with adjustable LED mood lighting.

The special, just introduced “Limited” edition adds sporty trim and badging, improved engine performance without a loss of fuel economy, power adjustable 6-way driver's seat, aluminum brake and accelerator pedals and available two-tone leather seating.

For $19,170 as the base 2013 ES starting price, we think this is a grabber. One's wallet can determine how far into the realm of amenities one is willing to go.

For more information on Mitsubishi cars, click here.