NEW OFFICE DIGS DIFFERENTIAL: Mitsubishi Motors North America recently announced their planned move from the current suburban L.A. Cypress California headquarters to new offices in suburban Nashville Cool Springs, Tennessee later in 2020. The new digs will occupy 40,000 square feet in a new 200,000 square foot state-of-the-art office building. Not coincidentally Nissan Motors North America, subsidiary of Mitsubishi’s new parent as of 2016, runs out of 450,000 solely occupied square feet, but just a stone’s throw away. Chalk that headquarters’ office space differential up to Nissan’s seven and a half fold stateside sales lead over the Diamond Star brand.
IN A HOLDING PATTERN: Awaiting genuine platform sharing with its cross town parent, the increasingly light crossover utility leaning Diamond Star brand is mostly making do with refreshes of models sharing a Daimler Chrysler ancestry.
AN OLDIE, ON REFRESH #2 : Sporting a slew of new cosmetic cues is the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
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2020 Mistubishi Outlander Sport GT AWC highlights:
– Starting price, including destination = $23,590 front-wheel drive, 16V DOHC 2.0L inline-4 cylinder + 10-step Continuously Variable transmission. As tested 2.4 GT all-wheel control = $28,920 suggested retail price.
– 3-mode all-wheel control [drive] = $1600 option on all trim levels.
– 168 hp, 2.4L direct injected DOHC inline-4 cylinder, 20 hp > 2.0L I-4, exclusive to Outlander Sport GT.
– Mitsubishi touts a redesign bearing assertiveness. In all candor, Outlander Sport sheds some Lancer sedan duds for a more familial 3-Row Outlander look. Take a gander at swept back light assemblies descending, to form an overarching boomerang bezel for each side of the fascia, while cinching at the middle to form a jutting bi- horizontal chrome bar grille.
Sharper eyes would be remiss to miss the fender portholes. That since past symbiosis with Volvo rationalizes the Thors Hammer styler lateral T-bar rear tail-lights. Poof, vanished is any tail wording “Mitsubishi,” with “Outlander Sport” moved from the old lower right liftgate area to the left side. The mid front fascia directional LED assembly says dragstrip christmas tree lights. But not even lower fascia re-chiseling and honeycombed aft darkened lower corner diffusers can instill fear in even the faintest of heart.
– Cabin changes are not as numerous, with a carryover twin analog instrument cluster, split by a color TFT multifunction display. Instrument display controls are dash mounted rather inconveniently behind the steering wheel.
Many surfaces, though evenly grained, remain hard. With the exception of the ribbed metallic climate control knobs secondary switchgear casts an agricultural feel. Accents are sparse with some piano black and a simulated turned metal transmission selector bezel. Standard automatic climate control is nice, but the dials are set inconveniently low in the center stack.
An embedded 8.0″ touch LCD media screen hearkens to heirloom swing out DVD unit days. Retention of twin twist control knobs further respects tradition. Android Auto and Apple Car Play smart phone projection is present. At times voice command comprehension throws fits. Setting menus are straightforward, if shallow.
+1 GT’s earn sporty red contrast stitching on ribbed insert simulated suede and leatherette seats, whose front buckets deliver uesful and oft needed support and grip.
Closing the manual operating hatch without extraordinary reaching divulges a low roof height for the segment reducing capacity. 60/40% split 2nd Row seatbacks fold pretty darn close to flat, though the wheel wells intrude into the cargo bay. Look not for sub-floor cargo management. Above load floor its chrome metal folding anchors. A cord suspended parcel shelf adds content privacy.
Cabin storage = commendable with glove box, center console nooks, a deep sub arm-rest bin, though door pockets are strictly for bottles. +1 Concealed lower center stack deep wireless device storage; √ 6 cup, bottle holders, √ overhead retracting sunglass bin.
- Kudos for the oversized power folding wing mirrors, matching those on many much larger SUVs.
– A GT trim exclusive DOHC 2.4L gas inline-4 poweplant = a healthy 21 hp boost over the base 2.0L for less taxed highway driving. The belt connected, though non-stepped, CV Transaxle, with broad ratio spread, diminishes engine speed hang.
+1 Positive Grip: Rare in this price segment is viscous multi-clutch locking torque split all-wheel drive with selectable snow and gravel modes.
-1 Negative Spin: Natural aspiration can’t compete with forced induction for getting out of the hole torque.
+1 Pump Plus: observed 28 MPG EPA combined fuel economy is good but highway economy falls with higher engine revs.
For such a short wheelbase, the independent suspension impresses with mostly fuss free bump absorption. Doled out body roll doesn’t much impede nimble turn in. Steering packs some good wind-up, but forgets the feel. Robust disc brakes diameters fail to register anchor dragging bite but are of a progressive pedal. Cabin acoustic muting has improved too.
– SAFETY = √ 7 Airbags; √ Rear camera with predictive grid;
INCLUDED on SE trim and above = √ Pedestrian detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking; √ Lane departure & Rear cross traffic warning; √ Automatic High beam LED headlamps; √ Rain sensing windshield wipers.
– INCLUDED (in GT) = √ Power windows, driver’s full express; √ Row 2 privacy tint glass; √ Keyless entry & ignition; √ Heated power folding side mirrors; √ Cruise control; √ Automatic climate control; √ Heated front bucket seats w/ simulated suede inserts; √ Leather tilt/ telescope steering; √ Bluetooth handsfree communications; √ 8.0″ embedded touch LCD infotainment screen; √ 6 speaker HD radio streaming audio; √ Sirius XM (90 days trial), √ Android Auto, Apple CarPlay projection; √ USB x 2, 12V x 1.
– MAJOR OPTIONS = None
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT AWC PROS:
- Locking all-wheel drive w/ selectable modes
- 2.4L improves passing times
- More linear CVT than most
- Exterior better matches bigger Outlander
- Driver assistance suite
- Near flat fold 60/40 split 2nd Row seatbacks
- Grippy front sport bucket seats
- Straightforward infotainment
- Jar-free ride and road composure
- O.K. fuel economy
- LED head and taillights
- 8.0″ touch LCD media display available even on base ES
- Android Auto & Apple CarPlay projection
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT AWC CONS:
- Happy 10th Birthday Diamondstar GA
- Fender vents = schmaltz
- Can’t match turbo-4 competition’s torque
- Driver assistance suite ≠ autonomous
- Body roll in hard corners
- Climate controls too placed too low
- Secondary switchgear rudimentary
- 8.0″ media display graphics plain
- Limited cargo bay height
- No more illuminated moonroof, cargo pass through, or Rockford Fosgate audio
- Impinges newer Eclipse Cross’ price
2020 Mistubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 GT = Gills, frills & holding the line merely pause time for this elderly compact ute.
ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Equinox: +1 available turbo engine power, ride, cabin IT; Ford Escape: +1 turbo engines, steering, infotainment; Kia Sportage: +1 Sports coupe styling, optional turbo engine, DCT, cockpit layout; Mazda CX-5: +1 responsiveness, esoteric build, finish materials; Nissan Rogue: +1 compliant ride, fuel economy; Subaru Forester: +1 Symmetrical AWD standard, wagon feel, Toyota RAV4: +1 Cargo space, structure, available electric hybrid.
(Contributing Editor: G. Straton)