Driving Zone Showdown: Kia Sorento vs Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Welcome to Driving Zone Showdown where we pit two competing vehicles head-to-head to see what each is made of.

For our first vehicular cage match, we’re putting up two well-known but perhaps “lower tier” (in terms of popularity and marketing visibility) sport utility vehicles: The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the 2016 Kia Sorento.

Two are old rivals, both matching up in the same weight class and coming from Asian manufacturers as well as hitting the market around the same time, and both have continued to evolve since their introduction. So which one becomes king of this mid-sized SUV mountain? Let’s look in their respective corners first.

2016 Kia Sorento

It’s hard not to root for the Sorento and, by extension, Kia itself. The company has come quite a ways since its early days when aesthetics, engineering and overall design was sacrificed in order to make things as small and affordable as consumers would allow. But now that the company has decided it wants to truly compete on an international level and has designers of a notable pedigree working for it (Cadillac and Audi, to be precise), its cars are now being taken seriously in a way they never could have previously.

Take the Sorento, for example. Would the Kia of old have ever dreamed of putting out an SUV with an available turbocharged engine, navigation system or even just leather seats? Would they have wanted to? But build it they have and the result is an SUV that offers a level of comfort, luxury and overall performance that is among the top tier of anything one could find in a vehicle with a significantly higher price tag. This is a vehicle that is eager to define itself as something a driver can be proud of when behind the wheel, one that is every bit as stylish and comfortable as it is road-worthy.

Dimensions & specifications 
Wheelbase: 109.4; overall length: 187.4; width: 74.4; height: 66.5
All vehicle measurements are in inches.

Engine: 2.4L four-cylinder – 185 hp at 6,000 rpm and 178 lbs-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm; 2.0L turbo-charged four-cylinder – 240 hp at 6,000 rpm and 260 lbs-ft of torque at 1,450-3,500 rpm; 3.3L V6 – 290 hp at 6,400 rpm and 252 lbs-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm.

Transmission: six-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 2.4L four-cylinder – 21 city/29 hwy. (FWD), 21 city/26 hwy. (AWD); 2.0L four-cylinder turbo – 20 city/27 hwy. (FWD), 19 city/25 hwy. (AWD); 3.3L V6 – 18 city/26 hwy. (FWD), 17 city/23 hwy. (AWD).

Cargo capacity: 73.5 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 2,000 lbs (2.4L); 3,500 lbs (2.0L turbo); 5,000 lbs. (3.3L AWD)

Safety features
Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, dual head curtain side-impact airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution, traction control, electronic vehicle stability control, hill start assist, rollover sensor, side-impact sensor, and Bluetooth hands free phone system. AWD adds locking center differential and Torque Vectoring Cornering Control. EX adds fog lights and backup warning system. SX-Limited adds LED positioning lights, navigation system, push button start with Smart key, HomeLink universal garage door opener, blind spot detection system, and rear cross traffic alert.

Optional safety equipment includes Xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, advanced smart cruise control, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, and around view monitor.

Base MSRP: $24,900

L FWD model: $43,100 for the SX-Limited V6 AWD.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Like its competitor, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport arrived on the scene in 2003 and, somewhat similarly to its above competitor, it had something to prove. Mitsubishi was already a notable (though notably waning) competitor in the market of Asian imported vehicles thanks to the company’s decades-long history both as an automaker and presence within the United States market. Yet despite its line of affordable compact and mid-size cars, Mitsubishi has never been one to truly stand out in the market when it comes to sport utility vehicles despite a few efforts.

Enter the Mitsubishi Outalnder. It’s a vehicle that’s helped to define the ailing manufacturer in a market that’s become increasingly crowded. But thanks to the solid engineering and quality improvements and refinements imbued in this SUV, it’s a vehicle that has helped to bolster the company and show that Mitsubishi still has the mindset and eye for quality to help keep it a viable competitor. Take for instance the fact that it’s the only SUV in its class that offers standard third-row seating, roomy interior, loads of options and a continuously variable transmission that provides better response, performance and improved fuel economy.

Dimensions & specifications
Wheelbase: 105.1; overall length: 171.5; width: 71.3; height: 64.2
All vehicle measurements are in inches.

Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder – 148 hp at 6,000 rpm and 145 lbs-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm; 2.4L four-cylinder – 168 hp at 6,000 rpm and 167 lbs-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm
Transmission: five-speed manual, CVT automatic.

EPA Fuel Economy: 2.0L four-cylinder -23 city/29 hwy. (FWD/manual), 24 city/31 hwy. (FWD/automatic), 23 city/29 hwy. (AWD); 2.4L four-cylinder – 23 city/28 hwy. (FWD), 22 city/27 hwy. (AWD).
Cargo capacity: 49.5 cubic feet

Safety features
Dual front airbags, front seat mounted side-impact airbags, dual head curtain side-impact airbags, driver’s knee airbag, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, hill start assist, active stability control, traction control logic, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, alarm system, engine immobilizer, side-impact door beams, and tire pressure monitoring system. SE adds fog lights, rearview camera, FAST-key passive entry system, and push-button engine start. SEL adds automatic headlamps, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. GT adds super-wide high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps.

Optional safety features include navigation system, remote engine start, and front/rear part assist sensors.

Base MSRP: $19,595

GT AWD model: $29,195

FINAL VERDICT: It all comes down to price. At $29.195, the premium version of the Outlander Sport is just $5,000 more than the base model of the Sorento. But if price isn’t an issue, then the amenities and more robust offerings and better engine of the Sorento may be more your speed.


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