What Is It?
One of the most popular vehicle types in America is the three-row midsize crossover. These vehicles have effectively replaced the minivan, offering seating for seven or eight occupants while providing at least the perceived ability to head off the beaten path or handle inclement weather. With strong offerings from the likes of Ford, Honda, Toyota and more, it’s a tough market in which to make headway. Not to be deterred, the Japan-based automaker forges ahead with a 3-row offering, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander. Completely redesigned for the 2022 model year, the Outlander offers standout styling, an attractive interior and an available plug-in hybrid variant.
Mitsubishi provided us with a 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC painted in Mercury Gray Metallic. The SEL is the top trim in the Outlander lineup, and it packs a long list of standard equipment. The test vehicle also arrived with an SEL Touring Package and a Welcome Package for a total MSRP of $37,995. The 3-row SUV market segment in which Outlander resides is ultra-competitive, including vehicles such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Subaru Ascent and Chevrolet Traverse.
The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander has a unique look that makes it easy to identify in a crowded market segment. The company describes the design concept as “Bold Stride,” featuring a large, vertical grille that flows out at the upper corners into the daytime running lights and side marker lights. A “Dynamic Shield” wraps from the front fenders inward to the front fascia below the daytime running lights and surrounds the large headlights, which are stacked in three rows with the fog lights positioned directly below.
Proper SUV Proportions
The Outlander also features prominent wheel arches, a flat roofline and sharp accent lines sculpting the fenders and doors. Twenty-inch alloy wheels complete the look.
Horizontal T-shaped taillights extend into the tailgate, combining with the fenders to give the Outlander a wide look. Imitation exhaust outlets can be seen in the lower fascia — this automotive sleight of hand has become common practice; the actual exhaust outlet is hidden below and out of sight.
The new Outlander SEL has an upscale interior with semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats with attractive stitching found on the seats, dashboard and doors. Normally we would not consider orange an appealing interior choice, yet it works well in the Outlander by providing contrast to the dashboard, door armrests and center console. The contrasting leather along with slim vents gives the cabin (and the vehicle) another suggestion of a wide appearance.
The top-level trim of the Outlander features a 9-inch center display as well as a full-color 12.3-inch digital driver display. Infotainment controls are a combination of physical and digital buttons. With these volume / tuning knobs and separate climate controls, feature access is easily accomplished without the need to dig through several menu layers. Ahead of the gear selector are two USB ports (both A and C) as well as a wireless phone charger.
The second-row seats of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander get the same diamond stitching in contrasting orange as up front. With decent legroom and headroom, the second row offers plenty of space for two adults — a third would be a bit cramped. Seats can be moved forward or backward to provide additional room for anyone relegated to the third row.
The third row in many three-row SUVs can be a bit of an afterthought, and this happens to be the case with this particular Mitsubishi. The seats are wide enough for two, but the legroom is almost nonexistent, even if the second-row passengers slide forward. The third-row head restraints are stowed under the cargo floor in back. They need to be installed to use the seats, then removed to fold the seats flat — not exactly convenient if these seats will be used intermittently.
With the third row folded flat, the Outlander offers plenty of cargo space, easily handling several pieces of luggage or other gear. Although the space is considerably encroached upon with the third row in use, there remains enough room for groceries and other small bags or items.
Under the Hood
Powering the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is a 2.5-liter MIVEC 4-cylinder engine delivering 181 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a continuously variable transmission. Power gets sent to all four wheels via Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control all-wheel-drive system. Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city / 30 mpg hwy / 26 mpg combined. During some extensive highway driving, we easily exceeded the 30 mpg mark — impressive for an all-wheel-drive crossover.
On the Road
With supportive seats and a high-end audio system, the Outlander is a great conveyance when heading out on a long road trip. We spent several hours behind the wheel and discovered the Outlander to be quite comfortable with little road noise. At a steady 70 mph, the vehicle’s readout displayed more than 30 mpg, adding to its road-trip appeal.
A Bit Underpowered
Although barely noticeable when cruising the open road, the Outlander feels underpowered while driving around town. The engine produces decent power, but unfortunately the CVT takes away much of the car’s responsiveness. A heavy throttle results in high engine revs, which produces some noise but without any accompanying acceleration. We realize the CVT is partially responsible for the great fuel economy, but it would be nice if engineers could find a happy medium for a more enjoyable driving experience.
In the early 2000s, Mitsubishi sales began dropping to new lows, but with new models in the lineup — including this new Outlander — the sales outlook is much stronger. With its standout styling and attractive interior, Outlander is certainly doing its part for the brand. Although we wish the powertrain was a bit more satisfying, it does get the job done and delivers impressive fuel economy in the process, so no harm no foul? In this competitive market segment, Outlander should continue to chip away at the competition — even with an orange-trimmed interior.