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What’s the significance in an automobile name? In many cases – nothing! In the case of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the relevance of the name quickly arises. That’s because the Outlander is simply not sporty.

And that’s one of several issues with the 2013 Outlander Sport. Besides lacking that “sporty” feel that many car buyers desire with a compact crossover sport utility vehicle, the Outlander has an annoyingly loud engine that labors on any surface with even a modest grade.

The lack of performance is a bit perplexing, given the Outlander’s lightweight (3,781 pounds) size even among competitors. The Outlander features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque.

2013 Outlander Sport

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 148 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 24-31 mpg
  • Price: $19,170 to $23,495
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance 7 years/100,000; corrosion 5 years/unlimited

While the five-passenger Outlander Sport provides acceptable freeway acceleration, the automatic, continuously variable transmission (CVT) test driven here was pretty pokey from a standstill, clocked going 0-60 mph in 10.3 seconds. The manual transmission, which comes with the base model Outlander, is much better at 8.8 seconds going 0-60 mph.

When compared to a long list of compact SUV competitors, the Outlander offers some definite value. Offered in three trims (base, ES, SE), the Outlander Sport starts at an affordable $19,170, while the high-end Sport is priced at $22,495. Both prices have actually diminished a bit from 2011.

What critics of the Sport will say is the Outlander falls short of the two industry standards for the class – the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. The Kia Sportage is also highly regarded, along with other small SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, and several other models.

The Sport’s strong points – affordable pricing, a lot of content, and excellent fuel economy (24-31 mpg) – mostly involve the pocketbook.

There’s nothing too flashy regarding the Outlander’s interior. Yet it has all the basic controls, offering them in a well conceived cockpit that’s easy to master and reach.

Both leg and head room is plentiful for 6-footers in the front cabin, which also features supportive seating. It’s fairly roomy in a backseat that will accommodate three adults. The cargo area is also spacious, allowing for a fair amount of baggage for a road trip or some weekend chores.

There are many good to great compact SUVs available these days. Unfortunately for Mitsubishi, it doesn’t manufacture one of them. Some more work needs to be done before the Outlander Sport can be considered one of the better buys in this category.