2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4L AWD – Mar 22, 2018 – Tokyo, Japan (Techreleased) – In some ways, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport reminded us of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster of National Lampoon’s Vacation fame. With tacked-on fender vents and a creaky driver’s seat that rocked fore and aft with each prod of the throttle and stab of the brake pedal, it seemed a parody of a contemporary crossover vehicle.

The smallest SUV in Mitsubishi’s lineup, the Outlander Sport is also the brand’s oldest offering. Introduced as a 2011 model, the aging Outlander Sport has managed to maintain some relevance thanks to updates for 2013 and 2016, and now the model welcomes a handful of exterior and interior enhancements for 2018.

Bigger Is Much Better

Compared with a 2.0-liter, all-wheel-drive Outlander Sport LE we tested last year, the 2.4-liter engine in this all-wheel-drive Outlander Sport SEL was a revelation. Whereas the smaller four-cylinder needed 9.5 seconds to reach 60 mph and 17.5 seconds to get through the quarter-mile at 82 mph, this 2.4-liter Outlander Sport hit 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 16.2 at 87 mph. Those figures put the Mitsubishi near the top of the subcompact-crossover class.

Land of “Meh”

A thirst for 87 octane isn’t the only reason to avoid taking the Outlander Sport on long road trips; the interior, for example, suffers from middling build quality and iffy ergonomics. Although the Outlander Sport’s materials are soft to the touch and are of a generally high grade, they were offset by issues such as the aforementioned rocking driver’s seat and a shift lever that clomps through its detents with little to no refinement.

Money Matters

With a base price of $23,990, the 2.4-liter-equipped Outlander Sport SE wears a sticker price $2600 greater than the entry-level 2.0-liter ES. Along with the larger engine and a standard CVT (a $1200 option on the ES), the SE also includes niceties such as fog lights, LED daytime running lights, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. On top of this, the SE adds features not available on any 2.0-liter model, including a proximity key with push-button start, a second USB port, and illuminated vanity mirrors.

Along with the Touring package, this Outlander Sport SEL also was optioned with Diamond White Pearl paint for $200, a $190 cargo cover, and $135 worth of floor mats, bringing the as-tested total to $29,515, which is $2000 more than the priciest Honda HR-V and $1720 more than the most expensive Kia Soul.