Avoid the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at All Costs

It’s possible that the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the worst compact SUV in its class. Most reviewers and many consumers who’ve tried one found it underwhelming in design and power, not well built, and not at all fun to drive. And if that weren’t disappointing enough for Mitsubishi fans, there are model years of the Outlander Sport that you should especially avoid because of the numerous problems they have.

What model year of the Outlander Sport should you avoid? What problems have consumers had with the SUV?

Common problems with the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

You don’t have to dig very deep at all when researching this SUV to find all the things owners and reviewers alike find wrong with it. Add to that the fact that you can get other SUVs for less that are all around better vehicles. 

The powertrain options are noisy and weak. There’s a 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine that’s underpowered and slow. A 2.4-liter engine is also available, but it costs more and only adds 20 hp. It doesn’t get the same gas mileage as the slow base engine so there’s little point in getting it. 

Either engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). When Car and Driver tested a model with the 2.4-liter engine, they were able to get to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, which does beat out some of the competition. Yet, while it can get you from one place to another, the ride isn’t solid and reviewers felt a good deal of body roll. 

The braking is soft at first but gets the job done when you hit the brakes hard. Braking distances for the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport are average for its class.

The worst year for the Outlander Sport

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is on display at the 109th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has been around since 2011, but by far, the model year with the most problems is 2015. The 2015 Outlander Sport was mostly plagued by electrical problems.

Stalling was the top problem reported, and on average it was occurring before the vehicles reached 1,500 miles. One owner from Missouri explained that they purchased the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport new and experienced troubles within two weeks. The vehicle became unresponsive going through an intersection but rebounded after a few seconds. The incident repeated twice more within a three month period and each time while accelerating.

The owner took the SUV into the dealer who couldn’t find the issue. After more incidents and another trip to the dealer, again, nothing was found. Finally, when Mitsubishi was contacted in California, they suggested the issue was an inhibitor switch. Similar complaints came from Ohio and Texas describing situations with the vehicle dying in traffic and posing potentially dangerous situations.

Another problem was the acceleration. One owner from Arizona reported problems within the first 4,000 miles with being at a traffic light and pressing the accelerator to put the vehicle into motion. Nothing happened. Again, the dealer seemed at a loss as to what the cause was. The complaint mentioned that they were also told it was possibly an inhibitor switch. 

Other complaints were made about widespread transmission problems. Everything from rough shifting, jerky stops, and total transmission failure was reported. Interestingly, there was little data available on repairs used to resolve situations or the potential cost. The lack would suggest that perhaps the situations weren’t resolved.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

The new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport models are using the same platform from 2011. No significant updates were made for the 2020 models. 

There are styling touch-ups to make it more defined, particularly around the nose and headlamps. The LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights are new as are the 18-inch wheels. There are new climate control knobs added to the infotainment screen for some but not all the trim levels.

There were some trim level changes for the 2020 models; the LE trim is gone. There’s a suite of driver assistance tools including lane-departure alert and forward-collision warning for the SE trim. The ES trim is losing its five-speed manual transmission, so now the only transmission choice is the CVT.

And to top it all off, for what minor upgrades there were for 2020, there’s a jump in the base price of $1,550.

If you’re looking for a quality compact SUV, for many reasons, you may want to give the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – particularly the 2015 model – a hard pass.