LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi is taking aim at the growing compact crossover segment with the Outlander Sport, which goes on sale in November. The Outlander Sport is smaller than the Outlander and will take on such entry-level crossovers as the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Juke.
The basics: The 2011 Outlander Sport is a five-passenger derivative of the Outlander seven-seater. Mitsubishi uses the same GS platform for both vehicles but lopped about 14 inches from the Sport's front and rear ends.
The Outlander Sport is priced at $19,260, including shipping, compared with $22,775 for the Outlander.
The Sport is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 148 hp, and Mitsubishi estimates fuel economy as 24 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Compared to the Outlander, that's 1 mpg better in city driving and 3 mpg better on the highway.
Tacking on the optional continuously variable transmission and four-wheel-drive system on the highline Outlander Sport SE adds 163 pounds of weight and cuts the highway fuel economy by 2 mpg.
Notable features: The Outlander Sport's optional panoramic glass roof covers more than half of the roof. The roof doesn't open, but there is a motorized, retractable sunshade. The option is different from other panoramic sunroofs on the market because it's a single piece of glass.
Mitsubishi is continuing its partnership with audio equipment maker Rockford Fosgate by offering an optional premium audio system that pumps 710 watts through nine speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer.
What Mitsubishi says: The Outlander Sport is part of a plan to build brand equity through a variety of models derived from two nameplates, the Lancer and the Outlander.
"In the Lancer family, we offer a car from $14,000 or $15,000 all the way up to $42,000 for the super high-performance Evolution," said Bryan Arnett, manager of product strategy for Mitsubishi. "We are now looking to do the same thing with the Outlander family of vehicles."
Compromises and shortcomings: At 148 hp, the Outlander Sport's 2.0-liter engine delivers about 30 fewer horses than base engines offered by competing models such as the Sportage, Tucson and Juke.
The 2.0-liter is the Outlander Sport's only powerplant, while some competitors offer an optional powertrain -- for example, the turbo four-cylinder to be offered on the 2011 Sportage early next year.
The market: Mitsubishi hopes to sell about 17,000 Outlander Sports annually as it competes in a growing segment of entry-level compact crossovers. Executives expect entries in the segment to grow from six nameplates today -- the Outlander Sport, Juke, Tucson, Sportage, Jeep Compass and Volkswagen Tiguan -- to 12 by 2013.