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2017 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL AWC vs. Toyota RAV4 LE AWD – Which Works Better For You?

We compare two high-value compact crossovers to see which might be best for you.

Our comparisons at Torque News are not intended to pick a winner. We don’t write about vehicles that are “losers.” Rather, our intent is to line up two vehicles side by side and give readers a chance to consider which might work best for them.

Our latest test vehicle is the impressive Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC. It is hard to call this vehicle anything but a screaming bargain. At just $26,290 including destination, it is one of the least expensive, well-equipped compact crossovers available. Our comparison vehicle will be the Toyota RAV4 LE AWD, which rings in at $26,690 including destination. Let’s check them out and see which might be better for you.

RAV4 LW AWD vs. Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC – Size and Configuration
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is an odd duck. It is larger than the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3, but smaller than the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5. In actual use, it is much closer to the RAV4 though. The rear seat room is much greater than the smaller sub-compact crossovers. Where the reduced room is felt is in the cargo area. That said, the Outlander Sport is not small in that regard. About nine inches shorter than the RAV4 and just one-inch narrower, it is sort of a RAV4 with a bit of the cargo area missing. The official numbers are 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats for the RAV4 and 34.2 for the Outlander Sport.

RAV4 LW AWD vs. Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC – Drivetrains and Fuel Economy
The 168 hp, 2.4-liter engine Mitsubishi supplies in the Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC comes matched to a constantly variable transmission (CVT). The power feels similar to the RAV4’s 176 hp from its 2.5-liter engine and 6-speed transmission. At 24 MPG combined, the Mitsubishi is down just one MPG Combined compared to the Toyota’s 25 MPG Combined.

The Toyota all-wheel-drive system is automatic. The Mitsubishi allows the driver to select from 2WD, 4WD lock, or automatic 4WD. In practice, they both work well and make these all-weather vehicles capable of soft-roading.

RAV4 LE AWD vs. Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC – Safety
The Toyota RAV4 earns a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute or Highway Safety (IIHS). The RAV4 scored “Good” on all the crash tests that are aggregated for IIHS official rankings. However, in a test of its passenger side in a small frontal overlap test the RAV4 scored “Poor.” All RAV4s for 2017 come with standard forward collision prevention with emergency auto-braking, a requirement to earn the top score from IIHS. The Outlander Sport scored “Acceptable” on one frontal crash test and does not offer FCP.

RAV4 LW AWD vs. Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC – Interior Amenities and Extras
The Outlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC tops the RAV4 inside. The SEL trim includes leather seats, which Toyota does not offer on the RAV4. Also, the 8-way power driver’s seat is not available on the Toyota LE. Rather, it has manual adjustment only. Both vehicles have similar infotainment setups, with the Outlander Sport’s touch screen being a big larger. Both have back-up cameras.

Outside, the Outlander Sport SEL has 18” alloy wheels as opposed to the 17-inch steel wheels, the RAV4 LE comes with. Toyota’s RAV4 price includes two years or 25K miles of maintenance at no added cost.

The 2017 Mitsubishi POutlander Sport 2.4 SEL AWC and Toyota RAV4 LE have very similar price points, but the RAV4 has the edge in size and safety. Countering that, the Outlander Sport SEL package offers a more upscale interior with leather heated leather seats and a larger infotainment touch-screen. This comparison comes down a shopper's priorities as both vehicles have a lot to offer.