Mitsubishi’s 2016 Outlander Sport gets plastic surgery, with questionable results

Mitsubishi hasn’t been doing so well over the past few years, but the Japanese firm hopes that a renewed focus on crossovers can help it gain back lost ground. Earlier this year, it introduced the refreshed 2016 Outlander, and at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, followed that up with a facelifted 2016 Outlander Sport.

Facelift is the most literal way to describe the exterior changes. The Outlander Sport features the same “Dynamic Shield” front fascia design that debuted on the larger Outlander, although it’s somewhat more awkwardly grafted on here. Other than that, and some detail changes like wheel-lip moldings and a new 18-inch wheel design, the 2016 Outlander Sport looks pretty similar to the outgoing model.

Powertrains remain the same, too. Base models still get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a 2.4-liter four, with 168 hp and 167 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. A CVT automatic transmission is standard on most models, although a five-speed manual comes standard on front-wheel drive models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine.

Mitsubishi made some small changes to the interior, including a new steering wheel, new seat fabrics, and the addition of an updated Display Audio system with a 6.1-inch central screen (navigation is optional). Changing lots of small things was the approach Mitsubishi took on the larger Outlander to avoid resorting to a full redesign, but it’s unclear whether detail changes will produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts here.

Facelifts seem to be the name of the game at Mitsubishi right now. Alongside the Outlander Sport, the carmaker unveiled an updated 2017 Mirage minicar in L.A., and there’s a facelifted version of the aged Lancer on the way too. These updates are necessary for what’s mostly an aging lineup, but Mitsubishi will need to introduce some genuinely new products soon to truly regain momentum.

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