Do you remember your first Mitsubishi Outlander?
It was in the early 2000s when I rented one out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I drove that gray rented Outlander through Madison to the Twin Cities. The first generation Outlander was a compact crossover/SUV – the first of its kind for the three-diamond brand – that held its own for this long trip. It was comfortable, but not exactly perfect.
That rented Outlander was the beginning of a story for a vehicle that had the right idea, yet they fell short of the expectations of consumers. In particular, those whose dollars are married to Toyota, Honda, and other high-volume brands.
With some help from partner Nissan, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander has arrived. The result is perhaps the best Mitsubishi vehicle in a very long time. Perhaps since the 3000GT or one of the Eclipses. Maybe a Diamante?
Why did I jump to this conclusion?
Just look at it. Granted, my tester was the SEL Launch Edition – the top-of-the-line 2022 Outlander. There is definitely an upmarket vibe to it. Perhaps it’s the black paint job or the chrome trimmings of this tester?
The front clip is the next generation of Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield design language. The huge grille is flanked by a combination of huge chrome strips with embedded LED lighting signatures. You have a set of three-bulb LED headlamps to the side, with another pair of LED driving lights/turn signals up top and a set of fog lamps below. This is the definition of bold styling.
The silhouette continues in an upright manner. What gives it that look is the C-pillar glass panel that goes up a 90-degree angle (or close to it), lending to a floating roof trim piece. You might say there’s a lot going on, but that’s a good thing. We need vehicles with plenty of swagger these days. The 2022 Outlander certainly got that swag.
The rear end treatment bucks a lot of Mitsubishi’s trends. The horizontal taillamps is just the finishing touch for the 2022 Outlander. Let’s not forget that my SEL Launch Edition tester wore a set of 20-inch alloy wheels. In all, this is one looker. Even if you’re hating it, you’re looking at it. That’s what Mitsubishi wants – your attention.
The same swagger on the outside carries inside the cabin. The black quilted leather with orange stitching and trim just seemed right for this tester. It was luxurious and bold as the exterior. I liked it – a lot.
The instrument panel broke many benchmarks for Mitsubishi in design and functionality. Starting with the fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster screen that is fully customizable and very easy to read. I opted for the traditional two large dials with a wide information panel when I was behind the wheel. You do get the information you need in that middle screen, including graphical information on drive modes. This is augmented by a wide head-up display on the SEL Launch Edition tester. Well done, indeed!
Everything else was nothing less than well executed. The shift-by-wire transmission controller, the climate control system, the steering wheel along with its associated controls, and the knob for the drive modes I found were superb to the touch and logic. Functionality was the key to making the operation of the 2022 Outlander arrive at another level.
On top of the center stack is a rectangular-octagonal-shaped tablet housing the 8.0-inch infotainment screen. This screen is augmented by two sizeable knobs and a series of buttons below it. You get the latest in connectivity, such as wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto available via a cord, and a 10-speaker Bose Premium audio system. In all, this system is exceptional in every way possible.
Back to that black-and-orange leather interior, the front seats were comfortable and supportive. I found no fatigue behind the wheel on longer stints. Second-row seating is flexible, as you get adjustments for rake and recline. The latter would be suggested for taller passengers, as the panoramic sunroof does cut into head room. I would suggest reclining the rear seatback and fit your head behind the end of that glass panel for better space.
As the 2022 Outlander is the only vehicle in its class with a standard third-row, expect that it would be better suited for children to sit back there. Access is through a sliding the second-row seats forward, while the rear doors open to just about 80 degrees.
As for cargo space, there is plenty of it after you fold down the second and third rows. In all, you have 78.3 cubic feet of it to carry plenty of things. The best configuration I found was to have the third row folded down for a flat space of up to 33.5 cubic feet. It struck the right balance as to available space and utilization of cargo. Not to mention, you will be able to use the cargo cover, as it is installed ahead of the third row of seats.
If you have all three rows up, you have just 11.7 cubic feet of space to play with.
Underneath the 2022 Outlander’s hood is a larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder that now sports 181 horsepower. This engine is a massive improvement upon the previous generation’s 2.4-liter engine. A continuously variable transmission is standard, however our tester had the Super All-Wheel-Control drive system that Mitsubishi has enhanced with six drive mode settings for specific traction and terrain conditions.
You will notice the response is improved with this new driveline. It does very well on the highway, while sporting good response in passing and on-ramp maneuvers. In turn, fuel economy is pretty decent. I averaged 27.0 MPG in my care.
The driving experience is a very nice one overall. Ride quality was superb on smoother surfaces. Rougher roads challenged the tires, but none of those cracks and potholes were transmitted into the cabin. Road holding was also very good. Evasive maneuvers were quickly managed, and corners were met with precision. I found minimal lean and roll when in the turns. In fact, the Outlander is a lot more composed as an SUV than one would think.
That leads to the steering system, which already offered a tight turning radius and solid control. On-center feel is good, and you are reminded of being astray by the Outlander’s vibrating Lane Departure Warning. Braking was good, exhibiting superb stops in normal and panic situations. Pedal feel was also good, giving me the power to stop with confidence.
In terms of pricing, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL Launch Edition came with a sticker price of $37,890. There are currently five trim levels to choose from, with each of them are available with the Super All-Wheel-Control system. Pricing for the 2022 Outlander starts from $25,795.
Before I give you my summation on the 2022 Outlander, I need to address something here. There had been chatter about how much Nissan helped Mitsubishi with this vehicle to the point where you have called it a reskinned Rogue. You see, I wanted to not dwell on the corporate arrangement Nissan has with Mitsubishi. I wanted to explore the 2022 Outlander on its own merits as a Mitsubishi vehicle alone.
Using that measurement, I can confidently confirm that this is the best vehicle Mitsubishi has produced in over a decade. The level of quality on this Outlander is fantastic, leveling up on some Nissans and other vehicles in its class. It also brings some benchmarks in terms of design, capacity, capability, and overall execution.
The arrival of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander could have a larger impact on the most competitive segment in the American automotive market. It has the goods to run with the pack, with distinctive styling, great execution, and plenty of swagger. I have a feeling there will be a lot of these on the road in the next few years. Maybe you’ll be one of the proud owners of one I will see out there.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by White Bear Mitsubishi, White Bear Lake, MN
All photos by Randy Stern