The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is basically a tall Lancer hatchback, and if you can score one cheap enough, it might be worth a look. What do you need to know before you buy a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

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The Outlander Sport—not to be confused with the bigger, meatier Outlander—is a Lancer on stilts for so-called responsible adults who need something tall, safe and kid-proof for hauling volcanoes to the Science Fair.

Why do we call it a Lancer on stilts? The Outlander Sport is a platform-mate with Mitsubishi’s compact sedan, coming with the same 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines and even with the same brakes as the Lancer GTS. It’s also surprisingly close to the same weight as the Lancer, which means that the 2.0 will feel a tad sluggish, while the 2.4 has enough pep to move confidently around That Slow Parent with the Prius V.

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While the Outlander Sport is long in the tooth and feels cheaper than many other crossovers in its class, its relative unpopularity also makes it easier to pick up for a smoking good deal. Mitsubishi’s ten-year, 100,000-mile warranty is particularly enticing, given that the target market usually spends more time gluing together dioramas for history class than worrying with car maintenance.

What’s New About The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport made its U.S. debut at the 2010 New York Auto Show. Mitsubishi’s new small crossover shared the headlights and grille from the Lancer, a style that would later be adopted by its bigger brother, the Outlander.

At its launch, the Outlander Sport came with a 148 horsepower 2.0-liter inline four mated to either a five-speed manual or a CVT automatic. Automatic models sent power to either the front or all wheels, while the stick only came with front-wheel drive.

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In 2013, the little Lancer crossover got a mild fascia refresh, tweaks to exterior trim, and all-wheel drive became available on the base SE trim.

The following year, the Outlander Sport got a revised steering wheel, and the base SE model got a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen and an updated audio system.

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In 2015, the ES and SE models were joined by 2.4 ES and 2.4 GT trims, both of which got a bigger 168 horsepower engine. In addition, the ‘15 Outlander Sport got a next generation CVT, next-gen electric power steering and additional sound deadening.

Finally, for the 2016 model year, the Outlander Sport gets a significant refresh, now looking less like a tall version of the Lancer. The interior also got a revamp with a new steering wheel and new seat fabric, and an SEL trim became available between SE and GT. In addition, the 18-inch wheels are new and the 6.1-inch display audio system has been reworked.

Which One We’d Buy

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The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes in four main trims: ES, SE, SEL and GT. The top trim GT comes standard with a 2.4-liter mated to a CVT and All-Wheel Control (all-wheel drive), while the bottom trim ES gets only a 2.0-liter and either a CVT or a five-speed manual and either front or all-wheel drive. The SE and SEL are both mated to a 2.4-liter I4, a CVT auto and either front or all-wheel drive

If we needed a really cheap small SUV, we’d see what kind of deal we could score on an SEL. At an MSRP of $23,995, it gets us nice standard features like leather seats, power folding outside mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, chrome exhaust tips, aluminum pedals, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, paddle shifters, fog lights, push-button start, 6.1-inch display for six-speaker audio system, rearview camera, heated front seats, automatic climate control, front and side airbags, Hill Start Assist, 18-inch alloy wheels and air conditioning.

There are similarly sized, newer competitors like the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V that offer the same standard content for similar coin, but the Mitsubishi could wind up being noticeably cheaper after incentives or on the used market.

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[Build Your Own Mitsubishi Outlander Sport]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $19,595-$29,195 [ES 2.0 5MT-GT 2.4 AWC]

Top Speed: 110 MPH (estimated)

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Acceleration: ~8-9s to 60 [2.4L-2.0L (estimated)]

MPG: 22-24 city / 27-31 hwy / 24-27 combined [2.4L AWD-2.0L 2WD]

Engines: 2.0-liter I4, 2.4-liter I4

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Max Horsepower: 148-168 hp [2.0L-2.4L]

Torque: 145-167 lb-ft [2.0L-2.4L]

Curb Weight: 3,032-3,252 [2.0L manual 2WD-2.4L auto AWD]

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IIHS Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick +

Transmissions: five-speed manual, CVT automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, FWD/AWD

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Photo credit: Mitsubishi