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2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Test Drive Review

It’s been a long time since Mitsubishi sold a competitive vehicle, but with the arrival of the redesigned 2022 Outlander, you officially have a good reason to visit a dealership with red-diamond signage out in front.

7.7 /10
Overall Score

Globalization is as transformative a trend within the automotive industry as electrification. To keep cars, trucks, and SUVs competitive and affordable, automakers partner up to share platforms, powertrains, and parts while distinguishing between brands through design, packaging, and dynamic tuning. Thanks to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is an undisputed beneficiary of this trend.

Look and Feel

9/ 10

To ensure a unique identity for the new Outlander, designers employed what some people might think is outlandish front styling. Featuring the automaker’s “Dynamic Shield” grille and lighting concept, the Outlander puts a bold face forward, but everything from the front wheels to the rear bumper displays a tasteful, balanced, and appealing design.

Mitsubishi sells the 2022 Outlander in ES, SE, SE Launch Edition, SEL, and SEL Launch Edition trim levels, and they all have handsome 20-inch wheels as standard or optional equipment. Prices range from $25,795 to $35,345. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, with all-wheel drive (AWD) running an extra $1,800. The destination charge is $1,195, which pays for shipment from the Japanese factory building the Outlander.

The test vehicle had SEL trim, AWD, appealing White Diamond extra-cost paint, and the Touring option package. Additionally, Mitsubishi equipped our Outlander with several accessory upgrades, bringing the total price to $39,475, including the destination charge.

With the Touring Package, Mitsubishi luxuriously outfits the Outlander SEL with premium semi-aniline leather in black and Saddle Tan with quilting and contrast stitching. Matching simulated leather door panel inserts complete the upscale look, and this version of the crossover also boasts a heated steering wheel, a head-up display (HUD), a premium sound system, and rear-window sunshades. A power panoramic glass sunroof adds to the interior ambiance.

The interior design adheres to the tenets of minimalism, executed in black with authentic aluminum accents and gloss black trim. As you might expect in the compact crossover SUV segment, some interior plastics remind you of where the Outlander resides in the overall SUV pecking order. Still, Mitsubishi avoids the use of obviously inexpensive bits and pieces.

Performance

4/ 10

Mitsubishi equips the 2022 Outlander with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 181 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 181 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) powers the front wheels unless you choose Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) AWD system.

We’re not sure what makes S-AWC “super,” since the Outlander uses a brake-induced, rather than a mechanical, torque-vectoring system. Paddle shifters offer manual control over the CVT’s eight stepped ratios, but they similarly promise more driving satisfaction than they ultimately deliver.

Drivers can choose from Eco, Normal, Tarmac, Gravel, Snow, and Mud driving modes. As you might expect, Eco makes the Outlander feel sluggish, while Tarmac seems to simply hold engine revs higher without making the Outlander more rewarding to drive.

With peak torque available at relatively low rpm (for a non-turbocharged engine), and a CVT that makes the best use of the available power, the Outlander feels most responsive in lower-speed urban and suburban environments. Sharper bumps, cracks, and holes in the pavement crash through the taut suspension into the cabin, though.

Accelerate down an on-ramp onto a freeway, and you’re likely to wish for a turbocharger—especially if the ramp is a short one or climbs a hill. The Outlander simply isn’t strong enough to give a driver confidence. This is also true when contemplating a pass on a two-lane road or considering taking advantage of holes in traffic. Sure, you can do these things, but there isn’t much motive force in reserve when you need it.

As speeds rise, other dissatisfying dynamic traits become evident. For example, even without the steering assistance or lane-departure prevention systems active, the Outlander’s steering feels vague and disconnected on-center and imprecise and sticky off-center. With the steering-assistance technology turned on, the situation is even worse unless you engage the Outlander’s Mi-Pilot Assist advanced driving-assistance system.

Meanwhile, the suspension continues to feel too firm and unyielding over the more minor pavement anomalies that scar almost every road in the nation. This SUV demonstrates remarkable composure over school-zone speed humps and the undulating pavement of a lumpy rural road. But otherwise, on anything except perfectly smooth pavement, it behaves in a brittle, almost fragile manner.

Generally, the Outlander’s ride and handling qualities are the opposite of expectations. Aside from the Outlander’s power deficit, the quirky ride-and-handling traits require a good de-quirking.

The Outlander returned 24.9 mpg on our testing route, coming up short against the EPA’s official fuel-economy rating of 26 mpg for AWD models.

Form and Function

8/ 10

For the most part, the Outlander excels at form and function. For starters, the front seats are roomy and comfortable, and deeply padded armrests add extra comfort. The Outlander SEL’s driver’s seat features an eight-way power adjustment, and both the front chairs and the thick-rimmed steering wheel are heated.

Controls are intuitive, and the displays impress, especially the digital instrumentation and the HUD. Clean, uncluttered design is the rule, and Mitsubishi’s electronic transmission shifter is both stylish and easy to use.

However, there is plenty of wasted real estate on and underneath the Outlander’s center console. Mitsubishi hasn’t leveraged one of the benefits of using a shift-by-wire transmission design, leaving the SUV with less storage than many competitors.

The rear seat room is generous, giving even taller adults plenty of room. The seat is comfortable, too, with the bottom cushion providing good thigh support, the backrest ensuring a proper seating position, and seat heaters ready to ward off a winter chill. It is mounted on tracks and can slide forward and back to make more or less room behind it as you deem necessary.

Mitsubishi crams a third-row seat into the cargo hold as well. Adults cannot sit here because there isn’t enough head and leg space. Kids will fit, but because the third row is so close to the tailgate, this isn’t the safest place for children to ride.

Besides, the Outlander can hold no more than 11.7 cubic feet of cargo with the third-row seat in use. Fold it down, and the SUV accommodates 33.5 cubic feet of luggage behind the second-row seat. Maximum cargo capacity measures 79.7 cubic feet unless you get the panoramic sunroof. With that feature, the Outlander offers 78.3 cubic feet of cargo room.

Tech Level

9/ 10

Three pieces of technology stand out within the Outlander SEL with the Touring Package.

The first is the 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display. Though these are increasingly common and are no longer strictly limited to luxury models, it’s nevertheless surprising and delightful that a Mitsubishi supplies this type of technology.

The second is the HUD. Not only is this a large size among HUDs, but it shows a significant amount of detail all at the same time. Better yet, it remains perfectly visible when the driver is wearing polarized sunglasses, making it superior to HUDs found in some SUVs costing twice the price or more.

The third is the available 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It includes stereo volume and tuning knobs, equips the Outlander with wireless Apple CarPlay (Android Auto requires a wire), and supplies a free two-year subscription to Mitsubishi Connect Safeguard and Remote service plans.

Wireless smartphone charging is also standard in Outlanders with the 9-inch Smartphone-link infotainment system. And the test vehicle had a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, which delivered uncharacteristically good sound for the brand.

If there is room for improvement here, it’s related to the voice-recognition technology. When driving, it had a harder time understanding me than when using it while the SUV was parked. Road noise and tire slap are almost constant companions at speed, so perhaps that was the issue.

Safety

8/ 10

One of my favorite things about driving the 2022 Outlander was its Mi-Pilot Assist driver-assist system. Mi-Pilot Assist is essentially the same thing as Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, and the technology works with commendable refinement, smoothness, and accuracy. It is a hands-on Level 2 system, though, so you must keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.

With Mi-Pilot Assist active, the Outlander’s intrusive steering assistance and lane-departure prevention systems are not problematic because you expect them to control the steering. In other situations, they add a layer of aggravation to the Outlander’s already unnatural steering feel. To turn them off, you must use the touchscreen's driving assistance menu, as Mitsubishi does not provide a button on the steering wheel or dashboard to make this task easier.

In addition to Mi-Pilot Assist, the new 2022 Outlander includes the increasingly common driver-assist tech, relating to forward collision avoidance, safe reversing, lane-keeping assistance, and blind-spot warning. Aside from the steering aggravation, they work as expected.

Crash-test results for the Outlander were unavailable as this review was published.

Cost-Effectiveness

8/ 10

Mitsubishi’s dealer network isn’t as robust as it once was, but if there is one near you, the Outlander is worthy of consideration. There are few flaws here, but since most of them pertain to driving dynamics, you’ll need to test-drive one for yourself to decide if you like the way this SUV accelerates, rides, and handles.

If you like what you see and feel during the test drive, Mitsubishi sweetens the deal with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile standard warranty, and five years of free roadside assistance. The two-year free subscription to Mitsubishi Connect is also more generous than what most automakers offer. That alone can save you hundreds of dollars compared to a Buick Envision, Chevrolet Equinox, or GMC Terrain.

Beyond the deal, the design, the premium interior fittings, the impressive technology, the accommodating cabin, and the roomy cargo area, the best thing about the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is that it’s the best vehicle the company has produced in what seems like forever.

Updated by Christian Wardlaw

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