Unlike the regular-strength Mitsubishi Outlander, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has just been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Since the automaker reinforced the Outlander Sport's roof structure for the 2012 model year, the small SUV was again eligible for Top Safety Pick consideration.

Merely "Acceptable" performance in the roof strength test is what keeps the larger Mitsubishi Outlander from becoming a Top Safety Pick, too. The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport joins the Lancer -- with the exception of the Ralliart and Evolution models -- in earning the IIHS' award. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has only tested the 2012 Outlander Sport in a rollover test, in which it received four stars out of a possible five.

A driver knee airbag is standard on the Outlander Sport, as well as front airbags that have passenger weight and driver's seat-position sensors, plus front side airbags and air curtains. Like all 2012 model year vehicles, stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard, too. Other small crossovers already Top Safety Picks include the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Jeep Patriot (when equipped with optional side torso airbags), Subaru Forester, Chevrolet Equinox, and Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual and CVT are offered, though the latter is the only option for the available all-wheel drive. With the 2013 model year likely bringing an all-new Mitsubishi Outlander, it should be long before we find out whether the new crossover joins the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport on the list of IIHS Top Safety Picks.

Source: IIHS