Mitsubishi makes a lot more than just cars. This Japanese conglomerate manufactures everything from TVs and satellites to air conditioners and even nuclear reactors. The triple-diamond brand also claims to build the world's only spiral escalator. But despite the groundbreaking products in other sectors, it's been a long time since I've been able to recommend one of Mitsubishi's automobiles. The 2022 Outlander, however, is so dramatically improved you should absolutely add it to your SUV shopping list.
Mitsubishi has been allied with Nissan and Renault since 2016. Being a part of this international automotive coalition gives the company access to all kinds of cool stuff, like platforms and technology. This is why the new Outlander is fundamentally a Nissan Rogue underneath. The two vehicles feature the same powertrain and major dimensions, but they are not carbon copies. The 2022 Outlander's tuning is totally different and it features unique interior materials. One other major distinction is the country of origin; the Outlander is assembled in Japan while the Rogue is screwed together in Tennessee.
Styling is another thing that sets this Mitsu apart from its Nissan sibling. The Outlander is slightly larger and far more attractive than before. I've got to say, this is a vehicle that looks much better in person than it does in photos. The front end is a lot more three-dimensional than it appears on a computer monitor or phone screen.
Excluding the plug-in hybrid variant, which is still the previous-generation model (for now, at least), just one drivetrain is offered in the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a continuously variable transmission. If you're acquainted with the Rogue, this powertrain combination should be as familiar. The engine delivers 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, which isn't quite enough. Driven normally, this output is perfectly fine and has no trouble motivating the Outlander, but when you need to hustle or you're transporting a full load, some more zest would be appreciated. At times, this Mitsubishi feels a step or three behind its turbocharged competitors, which include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.
As for fuel economy, the top-shelf all-wheel-drive model seen here stickers at 24 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. In mixed use, however, I've been averaging better than 30, which is pretty remarkable.
Part of the reason this Mitsu is so economical is that it features a CVT. These transmissions are a big point of contention for a lot of enthusiasts these days, and while you may not love them, this one works reasonably well for what it is, responding quickly to throttle inputs and simulating gear changes under heavy acceleration for a somewhat more natural feel.
The redesigned Outlander may be more attractive on the outside, but that's only part of the story. Slide inside and about five seconds is all it takes to realize this is a whole new breed of Mitsubishi, and it's seriously nice. Seriously.
From the clean, elegant dashboard design to the comfortable first- and second-row seats to the high-quality materials liberally employed, this SUV's cabin is absolutely gorgeous. This SEL model with the Touring Package features real aluminum trim on the center console, beautiful contrast-color stitching and semianiline leather. I also adore the subtle diamond texture designers added to the window switches, a pattern that's echoed on the air vent sliders, audio dials and driving mode selector. Nothing in this SUV looks cheap or feels flimsy, though the comely piano-black accents incessantly attract dust and smudges, so be aware of that and remember to bring some wet wipes.
The Outlander's front bucket seats are super comfortable, supple enough to cosset your body yet still plenty supportive as to not cause undue fatigue on long trips. The second row is plenty cushy, too, though a skosh more legroom would be nice. Setting this SUV apart from the competition is its standard third-row seat. This is a great feature to have, on paper at least, but it's super small, something Mitsu folks acknowledge. Really, it's intended for children only, so don't expect to cram your 6-foot, 4-inch uncle back there 'cause it ain't going to end well.
Making life a little easier, there's technology aplenty in the Outlander. Apple CarPlay is standard across the board, and on SE models and up it even connects wirelessly. Naturally, Android Auto is supported, too, though you'll have to bring a cable. If you're wondering, USB type-A and type-C ports are offered. Lower-end Outlanders feature an 8-inch infotainment screen, but this example is fitted with the fancy 9-inch display, which also comes with embedded navigation and a wireless charging pad. The infotainment system is, for the most part, straightforward and speedy, which is all you can really ask for, so no complaints here. If you need more screens in your life, a 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster is available, as is a 10.8-inch color head-up display.
Other available tech includes features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beams, but the Outlander can be equipped with plenty of other amenities. And one must-have feature is Mi-Pilot Assist, basically Mitsubishi's version of Nissan's excellent ProPilot Assist adaptive cruise control system with lane centering. This feature works great, accurately tracking road lines and providing a very firm feel, much more so than competing systems. This practically makes the Outlander seem like a guided missile when you engage the system.
When you're not living life at redline, this SUV's interior is impressively hushed, with minimal wind and road noise. In fact, it's quiet enough to rival some luxury cars, which is pretty shocking for a mainstream SUV.
The Outlander's steering is smooth and free of kickback, plus I love the thick steering wheel rim which is dressed up with perforated leather in this example. My tester's 20-inch wheels (18s come standard on the Outlander) also look sharp, yet they don't degrade the ride quality too much. This machine is reasonably firm but never abusive.
Mitsubishi is keen to bill the Outlander as a sportier alternative to other SUVs, but it isn't. This vehicle is comfortable, refined and efficient, but it really doesn't feel any livelier than competing car-based utility vehicles (especially when you bury the accelerator), which is just fine. It drives well for what it is and there's generally little to complain about.
You can look for the 2022 Outlander at Mitsubishi dealerships very soon. The base price for a front-drive ES model is about 27 grand, but with the Touring Package, a couple options and $1,195 in delivery fees, this SEL example checks out for $37,995, which is a chunk of change to be sure. Justifying that price, however, the new Outlander is basically as nice as anything else in its class and when you throw in an excellent five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle guarantee as well as a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, this Mitsubishi becomes all the more appealing.
Sure, I wish the Outlander had a bit more powertrain gusto and I don't always love that CVT, but its refinement, beautiful interior and loads of user-friendly tech are hard to argue with. In fact, this SUV may be better than the Nissan Rogue it shares so much with, which is a major win for the Mitsubishi brand.