MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On the leafy tree-lined North Parkway Boulevard we're cruising through midtown Memphis in the sleekly sculpted 2016 Outlander Sport GT, the remodeled and power-boosted small crossover utility vehicle from Mitsubishi that comes together at Mitsubishi's USA assembly plant in Illinois.
Enhancements to Outlander Sport 2016 models concern fresh styling of the exterior package, a load of comfort-oriented equipment added to the 5-door and 5-seat passenger compartment, plus a more powerful engine available across the board.
As a Mitsubishi best-seller, Outlander Sport offers front-wheel-drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction for all trims -- the price-leader ES, upgraded SE, luxurious SEL and line-topping GT.
Mitsubishi's design engineers set the compact-size wagon on a rigid unibody platform with FWD orientation, then applied lively independent suspension elements to fashion a ride quality that's smooth and comfortable for riders yet also responsive. Suspension components include front MacPherson struts with stabilizer bar and a rear multi-link arrangement also with stabilizer bar to hold back wheels in line while also damping vertical movement prompted by pavement bumps.
The platform supports the 105.1-inch wheelbase and a wide wheel track of 60.6 inches front/rear. Pushing wheels to edges of the chassis brings stability to the stance and improves the CUV's agility when cornering, while the long wheelbase fosters the smooth ride quality.
The rack-mounted steering system adds electric power assistance to boost fuel efficiency.
Brakes consist of discs tied to an anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), active stability control (ACS) with traction control logic (TCL), hill start assist (HSA) and a brake override system that slows the CUV to a complete stop if both the accelerator and brake pedal are depressed at the same time.
For power the base trim ES edition stocks a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder aluminum-block engine with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and the Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control (MIVEC) equipment. The plant delivers 148 hp at 6000 rpm plus 145 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm and regulates the output through a 5-speed manual transmission that's standard for FWD, or an advanced continuously variable transaxle (CVT) with Sportronic sequential control via paddle shifters.
All other 2016 Outlander Sport issues carry a more powerful engine -- Mitsubishi's DOHC 2.4-liter 4-in-line with MIVAC controls coupled to the Sportronic CVT with paddle shifters. Output rises to 168 hp at 6000 rpm and 167 lb-ft of torque at 4100 rpm, with EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 23/28 mpg city/highway with FWD or 22/27 mpg city/highway for AWD.
Boxy parameters of a wagon have been disguised by the fluid sculptural treatment of body panels on Outback Sport plus a raked face and forward-tilting tail, elements which collectively diffuse all rectangular hard corners.
Mitsubishi's new "Dynamic Shield" front-end design concept centers on a dominating wide-mouth grille filled with matte-black slats and flanking narrow composite headlamp clusters. Side panels feature black wheel lip moldings, power folding side door mirrors with integrated turn-indicator lamps and 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels capped by 225/55R18 Nexen tires.
The cabin design for Outlander Sport shows two buckets up front, a back bench split 60/40 with room for three, and the aft cargo area accessed via a tail-side liftgate.
Outlander Sport's dash is clean and uncluttered with the instrument panel tucked below a cowl and binnacles housing high contrast meters plus a new color LCD multi-information display.
New standard features for all trims include a leather-bound tilting/telescoping steering wheel, soft-touch material on the instrument panel, a remote keyless entry device, power windows with driver's 1-touch up/down feature, 60/40 split folding/reclining high-back rear seats with folding armrest/cupholder, rear privacy glass and a 140-watt 4-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/MP3 and audio controls mounted on the steering wheel.
The value-loaded price points for Mitsubishi's 2016 Outlander Sport series begin at $19,595 for the ES FWD model with a manual transmission. The MSRP for top-model Outlander Sport GT AWD tallies to $29,195.