Mitsubishi Outlander — A dramatic improvement

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(May 22, 2022) Some might say the designers and engineers at Mitsubishi had no place to go but up when configuring the all-new three-row 2022 Outlander crossover. And after driving the new model, we found they've reached all their goals, turning their flagship vehicle into a competitive entry in the crowded compact/mid-size segment.

The outgoing Outlander was too small to handle a third-row seat, not very enjoyable to drive, had uncomfortable seats, and limited cargo space. That left a lot of boxes to check off when building the fourth generation SUV. It seems the boxes have been checked.

Only 29,000 copies of the Outlander went out the door in 2020 and 36,000 in 2021. To gauge buyer acceptance of the new model, 13,784 left dealer showrooms from January through March. That's on pace for more than 55,000 sales in 2022 — and that spells initial success. for the newest Mitsubishi model.

The new Outlander is part of 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, and although small, it differentiates the Mitsubishi from most other competitors in its class. It's also just one of a few compact crossovers available with 20-inch wheels.

Exterior styling is boldly extroverted and certain to render a love-it or hate-it reaction — especially the radically designed front end.  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.

While the Outlander has a lot of good things going for it, one of its few negatives is the powertrain. It comes with just one engine, a 2.5-liter four cylinder making 181 horsepower and mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel is available as an option.   

While the 2.5-liter has decent power specs, it seems a bit lacking in real-world driving, especially with four people and cargo onboard. Automotive site Edmunds in track testing recorded acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds. That's pretty slow, and you'll notice it when trying to pass on a two-lane highway. Most crossovers in this segment fall into the mid-7 to mid-8-second range.

We found performance OK in normal driving, it's when you need that extra surge to pass or merge into fast-moving interstate traffic that the Outlander falls short. We wish Mitsubishi would add an optional stronger engine. It would put the frosting on an otherwise tasty cake.

On the plus side, it seems Mitsubishi has found the right equation for handling and agility. The steering is nicely weighted and body motions are well controlled. At the same time, it exhibited a comfortable ride.  

The best feature of the Outlander is its near-luxury interior with excellent fit and finish, premium materials including (on our test vehicle) 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, 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 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. At least it didn't come with loud, annoying sounds as in some cars, but via steering-wheel vibration.

There's only a meager 11.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, so long road trips are definitely out of the picture for a family of six. We figure most people will keep the third row folded increasing storage to a more generous at 33.5 cubic feet. It grows to 79.7 cubic feet with all seatbacks folded.  

The Outlander comes in five trim levels — ES, SE, SE Launch Edition, SEL and SEL Launch Edition — starting at $27,790 including the $1,195 destination charge. Our top trim test vehicle with all-wheel drive carried a bottom line of $34,940 including destination. There were $3,055 in options bringing the sales price up to $37,995.

Mitsubishi has added outstanding warranties to the 2022 model including a basic warranty of 5-year/60,000-miles, a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty and 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance.

Key rivals to the Outlander include the related Rogue, the Honda CR-V, Kia Sorento and Volkswagen Tiguan. When shopping for a crossover of this size we recommend — for the first time in recent memory — you put some time aside to test drive the new Outlander.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander


Base price: $27,790; as driven, $37,995
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 181 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 181 pound-feet @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission: continuously variable (CVT)
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/2/2
Wheelbase: 106.5 inches
Length: 185.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,803 pounds
Turning circle: 36.1 feet
Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds
Luggage capacity: 11.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity rear seatback folded: 33.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity all seatbacks folded: 79.9 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 24 city, 30 highway, 26 combined
0-60: 9 seconds (observed)
Also consider: VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4

The Good
• Modern crossover styling
• Pleasant interior
• Excellent warranties

The Bad
• Very tight third row

The Ugly
• Slow acceleration