Born in the U.S.A.
Don’t confuse the Outlander with the Outlander Sport. Although the two share names, their personalities are markedly different. While the Outlander is a large family hauler, the svelte Sport aims squarely at younger buyers seeking an affordable crossover. Only two years have passed since its introduction here, but the cute-ute is being modified for the 2013 model year. For starters, assembly has shifted to Mitsubishi’s plant in Illinois. A mild face-lift blesses the car with tweaked front and rear fascias, standard eighteen-inch aluminum wheels across the range, and improved interior materials. All Outlander Sports crib the 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine from the Lancer. A five-speed manual transmission is available on ES models; a continuously variable transmission is available and is standard on the higher-grade SE trim. Not only does the CVT improve fuel economy (25/31 mpg city/highway), but it’s also available with an optional all-wheel-drive system. The Outlander Sport’s Lancer roots ensure great steering and decent handling, but the Sport doesn’t exactly live up to its suffix. In prior CVT models, acceleration has felt sluggish, but a retuned transmission — new for 2013 — should help quicken the pace. If a Lancer Sportback isn’t quite tall enough for you and you can forgo the power offered by several competitors, the Outlander Sport might be a perfect fit.
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
new for 2013
A mild update brings new front and rear fascias, a restyled interior with improved materials and insulation, revised rear suspension geometry, and an amended CVT. Aluminum wheels are standard on all trims, and all-wheel drive is now available on the lower-cost Outlander Sport ES.
Standard features include front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; hill-start assist; and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Impressive fuel economy
Attractive sticker price
Acceleration adequate at best
Not as sporty as competitors
Base price range: $19,995–$24,510
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: ES, SE
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
ENGINE: 2.0L I-4, 148 hp, 145 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: 95.6–97.5 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 20.1–21.7/48.8–49.5 cu ft