2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

PHOENIX — For 2022, Mitsubishi has an all-new Outlander, its fourth generation which thankfully has almost nothing in common with the outgoing Outlander. For the first time in memory, Outlander finally has some attractive styling and elements of substance, along with an extremely good looking interior and intuitive tech features to finally attract attention in the highly competitive compact crossover segment.



The new Outlander came into being via a joint venture with Nissan, who has a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi. It’s based on Nissan’s popular Rogue compact crossover, sharing the same powertrain and chassis. Every 2022 Outlander comes standard with a third-row seat. Although tiny, it differentiates Outlander from most other competitors in its class. It’s also just one of two compact crossovers available with 20-inch wheels.

Exterior styling is boldly extroverted and certain to render a love-it or hate-it opinion. Mitsubishi calls the design inspiration I-Fu-Do-Do, which means “authentic and majestic” in Japanese. There’s no shortage of chrome treatment up front along with ample lighting.

The new Outlander is offered in seven trim levels with the base ES starting at $26,095. For a weeklong testing and this review, Mitsubishi sent us the upmarket SEL with all-wheel drive. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that emulates eight regular gears is standard on all Outlander trims (except for the Outlander plug-in hybrid model). That gets you 181 horsepower and a matching 181 lb.-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard; Mitsubishi’s “Super All-Wheel Control” all-wheel drive is optional.

We found the 181-horsepower four-cylinder engine to be generally adequate in urban driving. It can keep pace on highways but lacks desired acceleration power for getting up to highway speeds and passing on two lane highways, rendering a less-than-enthusiastic and helpless bleating from the engine. Our unofficial zero to 60 mph testing clocked an underwhelming 10 seconds. The Outlander could easily use an additional 50-horsepower to help move its portly 3,800-pound curb weight.

We found the Outlander generally easy to drive with good visibility, but steering was annoying with an unnatural twitching thanks to a quick turn-in response. On the highway, even small steering inputs and corrections resulted in large, jerking moves, making for a less than pleasurable travel experience for cabin occupants. Harsh bumps delivered suspension crashing, most likely because of the large 20-inch wheels.

The best feature of the Outlander was its near-luxury interior with excellent fit and finish, premium materials including semi-aniline quilted leather appointed seating surfaces and door trim inserts, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, machined aluminum shift panel, rear door pull-up sunshades, a 10-speaker Bose Premium sound system and front and rear heated seats. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, remote keyless entry, push-button starting, a panoramic sunroof and tri-zone climate control.

We found most operating controls intuitive and easy to use, except for the joystick-like electronic gear shift selector. It has labeling that suggests you should pull the lever toward you to shift from Park to Reverse, but in reality, it needs to be pushed away.

Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, and lane departure warning all come standard. We found the lane departure warning system annoying in that it can only be turned on or off via the menu within the instrument cluster, rather than a physical steering wheel or instrument button that can easily be pressed while driving. A steering-wheel vibration is the only available warning, without a choice for an audible alert.

Other standard driver assistance features include rearview camera, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlamps driver drowsiness monitoring and rear seat alert.

It's also worth noting the Outlander is not designed for off-road duty when equipped with AWD (Mitsubishi refers to it as “S-AWC,” for Super All-Wheel Control). Mud mode selection is intended to improve traction in slippery conditions.

Overall, the newly redesigned Outlander definitely makes a statement with its distinctive, if polarizing, exterior design. We award high marks for a well styled, upscale interior with class-leading cargo capacity and intuitive tech features. But an unsettled ride experience along with its underwhelming engine and transmission pairing keep it from consideration as one of the leaders in the highly competitive compact crossover utility vehicle segment.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $33,745
Price as Tested: $38,590
Engine/Transmission: 2.5-liter, 181-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with a Continuously Variable automatic Transmission.
Seating: 7

Where Built: Okazaki, Japan

Crash Test Safety Ratings: Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and highest possible overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Competes With:
Ford Bronco Sport
Ford Escape
GMC Terrain
Honda CR-V
Hyundai Tucson
Jeep Cherokee
Jeep Compass
Mazda CX-5
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

Fab Features
Beautiful interior
Seating for seven
Exceptional crash test safety ratings

— Jim Prueter