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Why the redesigned Mitsubishi Outlander AWD will have you rethinking the brand

This is how the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander measures up

My last memory of a Mitsubishi vehicle was in 2018: I was wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and had just felt all four wheels of the car I was driving leave the ground while traveling somewhere north of 100mph. The owner of the vehicle, a 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition, was sitting in the passenger seat, likely regretting having encouraged me to “Open it up man, see what she can do” just a few moments prior. After briefly taking flight, the car and my stomach both came back down with a surprising degree of composure, and just like that, I immediately understood why the brand had such an enthusiastic cult following.

As memorable as that experience was, truth be told I hadn’t so much as thought about Mitsubishi since that afternoon, and in a major way, that feeling probably sums up the vast majority of the North American mindset: Does Mitsubishi even make cars anymore?

The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander parked outside a shopping center.
The new Outlander leans into more “Range Rover-esque” styling to complement its new luxury focus. Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi had some absolute bangers in their heyday:  We’re all familiar with the Evo, but speedfreaks of a certain distinction will think back fondly on models like the 3000GT, Eclipse Turbo, and the ultimate sleeper that was the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. Mitsubishi even holds a special place in the hearts of the offroad community with their Dakar-crushing first- and second-generation Monteros, but to the overwhelming majority of American consumers, they’ve largely fallen off the radar.

Needless to say, I was a little surprised when I was offered an opportunity to spend a week with the completely redesigned 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander, and more than a little surprised by the direction Mitsubishi is headed with this plush reimagination of the compact crossover.

Design and interior

If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have a tough time remembering what the previous Outlander looked like in the first place. Whatever happens to come to mind, I can assure you that this Outlander ain’t that.

Mitsubishi took a gamble on the exterior styling of the 2022 Outlander: While the vehicle shares a platform with the Nissan Rogue, you’d never guess it standing beside the two. The Outlander’s high and slim LED running lights look more in line with the styling of a Range Rover Evoque or Velar (albeit one experiencing significant growing pains) than they do a Japanese import, which I suspect is exactly what Mitsubishi is going for here. The execution is polarizing, but love it or hate it, there’s no denying it carries a much more regal air than the other Japanese imports it competes with.

View of the rear end of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander.
From the rear, the Outlander looks much more subdued. Mitsubishi

From every other angle, the Outlander looks much more reserved and much less polarizing with clean horizontal lines and refined LED lighting. Glossy black pillars give the windows an uninterrupted, wrap-around appearance, which bodes well with the two-tone wheels and black trim of the SEL model I tested.

All exterior opinions aside, there’s no denying that the driver’s seat of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is a very nice place to sit. The SEL version sports leather-wrapped memory foam seats with two-tone stitching to match the brown leather details sprinkled throughout the cabin. It’s a similar story throughout the rest of the interior.

The front cabin of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander.
No, seriously: This is the interior of a Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi

Everywhere you look, the Outlander feels impressively refined. There’s a 12.3-inch full-color TFT gauge cluster, a handsome touchscreen infotainment system complete with Apple CarPlay, and even an available heads-up display with customizable readouts on the windshield. Tasteful buttons and knobs select and adjust everything from the volume on the 10-speaker Bose stereo system to the various traction control and safety assistance systems. You’ve got three-zone climate control, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and even a panoramic sunroof to dial in your preferred cruising method.

Truth be told, my only complaint with the Outlander’s interior is the third-row seat, which makes the legroom on a Spirit airplane look first class by comparison. Granted, it can be made functional for younger children with some creative positioning of the first two rows, but I can’t imagine asking anyone I respect to ride back there with a straight face.

Detail of the 2022 Outlander's third row seat.
The third row exists on technicality, but if you actually want to use it, you’ll have to do some creative adjustments in the front two rows. Kurt Spurlock

As such, I found myself leaving the third row folded down, which ups the Outlander’s cargo space to a respectable 33.5 cubic feet. I also appreciated the fact that with both the second and third rows folded down, I had access to just shy of 80 cubic feet of stowing capacity, which allowed me to get away with things like stuffing a full-size gravel bike in the back with room left over for gear and groceries.

Driving experience

All things considered, the driving experience was another unexpected highlight of my time with the Outlander. The overall ride quality is impressively smooth and composed, and even when taking the Outlander down some questionable dirt road detours, the suspension never felt jarring or overworked.

Engine bay of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander.
The 2.5-liter inline-four isn’t exactly thrilling, but it gets the job done with respectable fuel economy.

The Outlander also handles with unexpected sportiness, and while I’m sure Mitsubishi’s “Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC)” system had something to do with that, there’s a notable lack of body roll on twisty roads, and the steering wheel takes just the right amount of effort to change direction. The Nissan-supplied 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and CVT transmission deliver unremarkable-yet-adequate performance, but if you need a little extra juice from the Outlander, you can always use the wheel-mounted paddle-shifters to hang onto your gear of choice for as long as needed.

The all-wheel-drive variant of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is EPA rated for 26 mpg combined city/highway use, and although I’m notoriously heavy on the gas pedal, I averaged just shy of that number at roughly 24 mpg. The front-wheel-drive variant isn’t a particularly impressive improvement at 27 mpg combined, and both models share the same 348-mile estimated range around the city.

Should you get one?

It’s no secret that the compact crossover SUV arena is one of the most oversaturated and hotly contested in the North American market, and the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander has no shortage of stiff competition. With that being said, the Outlander brings its own set of strengths to the table that I think make it worth considering.

For me, the biggest appeal to the redesigned Outlander is its newly found refinement. The plush leather-adorned interior, premium infotainment, and modern styling found in the SEL and Special Edition models is a must in my opinion, and whether you opt for the $35,240 all-wheel-drive option or the more affordable $33,400 MSRP of the front-wheel-drive powertrain, this level of quality and detail makes for an attractive package. It’s clear that Mitsubishi is looking to update its image with an extra touch of class, and I think most buyers will be genuinely surprised by what the brand is bringing to the table in that regard.

While the engine’s performance is nothing to write home about, it is backed by one of the best warranties in the segment with 10 years/100,000 miles of coverage. It’s also worth mentioning that while the third row has severely limited applications, this is the only SUV in the segment to offer one aside from the Volkswagen Tiguan, which carries a significantly reduced 4-year/50,000-mile factory warranty. The deciding factor for most will likely hinge on how they feel about the Outlander’s new looks, and if the updated lines and 20-inch wheels fit your style, it may be time you gave Mitsubishi a second thought.

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