There is a scene in the "brilliant" "Children of the Corn" where Malachai, the bloodthirsty henchman of a Nebraska chapter of a "Lord of the Flies"-type society, menaces a pair of lost travelers and howls "OUTLANDER!" The message is clear: The strangers -- outlanders -- are a threat. There was no such passionate reaction from our staff when this Outlander arrived. This fella looks mean, but lacks the bite needed to be a real threat.

In terms of style, the Outlander Sport is a near carbon copy of its presumably less-active brother, but more than a foot shorter and a few hundred pounds lighter. That leaves room for two fewer passengers, dropping from seven to five. The Sport still sits at roughly the same height and is the same width, so it drives with eerily similarity to its bigger brother.

Our Labrador Black Outlander Sport has All-Wheel Control with 2WD/4WD/LOCK modes for when you want to save gas (2WD), when you want to let the vehicle sort out the traction (4WD), and LOCK for when the road gets ugly or disappears under snow. Sportronic paddle shifters are there for when you feel like shifting for yourself -- we're guessing not very often.

On the geek side, the Outlander Sport uses a smart charging system to charge the battery when coasting or braking. This waste not, want not ethos pays off with an EPA-estimated 26-mpg combined fuel economy.

The interior is loaded with power everything. It has heated front seats, a Rockford-Fosgate sound system with aux and iPod inputs and 710 watts of output, navigation, a rearview camera, and a striking Panoramic Glass Roof that stretches from the front to back seating areas and is ringed by LED lights. Aside from providing ambient light, we expect the roof to come in handy when stargazing in snake- and honey badger-infested areas. We do expect to answer "no, it doesn't open" quite a bit. Say, why doesn't it open?

Mitsubishi hopes this Outlander makes up for its lack of speed with its off-road ability, the comfort of sitting higher than in a car, and the enjoyment of having room for groceries and a bike without having to feed an insatiable gas-guzzler.

"Sport" in this instance may be what a condescending bigger brother calls his sibling. As for the much-maligned center console controls, which remain virtually the same as in the larger Outlander, we'll see how much we are willing to forgive.

Our Vehicle
Base price $23,775
Price as tested $28,825
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.0L/148-hp/145-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission Cont variable auto
Curb weight (f/r dist) 3364 lb (58/42%)
Wheelbase 105.1 in
Length x width x height 169.1 x 69.7 x 64.2 in
0-60 mph 9.7 sec
Quarter mile 17.4 sec @ 80.7 mph
Braking, 60-0 120 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT figure eight 29.0 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 24/29 mpg
Energy cons, city/hwy 140/116 kW-hrs/100 mi
CO2 emissions 0.75 lb/mi
Total mileage 3754 mi
Average fuel econ 23.8 mpg