By on February 17, 2021

Mitsubishi revealed the all-new 2022 Outlander utility vehicle over the internet last night. In fact, the automaker almost made as big of a fuss about this being the first car showcased via Amazon Live as it did its new SUV. It’s the kind of thing that really makes you wonder where an automaker’s priorities are located, though tech monopolies giants are so deeply ingrained in modern businesses that one hardly notices anymore. But we’re digressing before we’ve even started discussing the new Mitsubishi Outlander.

While the manufacturer can certainly be faulted for letting go of the most interesting aspects of the brand, its core values have remained mostly intact. The 2022 Outlander remains the only vehicle in its segment to offer standard third-row seating, though past experiences with the model presumes that it will only be useful for children and exceptionally small adults. But we’re not sure if that makes up Mitsubishi keeping its MSRP dangerously close to its highly competent rivals when the outgoing model under impressed with its budget-built interior. Honda’s CR-V and even Nissan’s Rogue have felt like substantially nicer products from inside the cabin. Fortunately, that’s one of the big issues the 2022 model-year Outlander was hoping to address.

Sadly, this had to be done by borrowing the Rogue’s platform and powertrain. That presumably means 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque (Mitsubishi was careful to downplay the Nissan connection) in a segment littered with slow, dull to drive, but incredibly well-rounded utility vehicles. We’re dubious that the incoming Outlander’s driving experience will stray too far from the adequate Rogue once tested. Though it’s likely to stand out when parked beside one until the novelty wears off, meaning the three-diamond brand had to do more to set itself apart. If the new Outlander is just another badge-engineered product, it’s likely to be one of the best examples of showing how far that concept can take you.

“Based on the product concept ‘I-Fu-Do-Do,’ which means authentic and majestic in Japanese, the all-new Outlander has been crafted into a reliable SUV with significantly upgraded styling, road performance, and a high-quality feel to satisfy the needs of customers who want to expand their horizons and take on challenges of every kind,” Takao Kato, chief executive officer of MMC, stated. “With the launch of the all-new Outlander, we will first expand our sales in the North American market and then aim for global growth.”

Japanese phrases that sound like a toddler asking to be taken to the bathroom aside, Mitsubishi has indeed made the Outlander more elegant. While bordering on ostentatious from certain angles, it’s a much more interesting design compared to the outgoing model and has an upscale vibe that doesn’t seem to match its value pricing. Though we’re also wondering how the plasti-chrome will hold up after a few seasons of being parked in direct sunlight. Still, the floating roof, fat D-pillar, 20-inch wheels (18 inches is standard), and thin tail/headlamps (even if the latter are just for aesthetics) modernize the vehicle.

The Rogue connections become more obvious when looking at the interior, though not wholly derivative. The Outlander preferers 90-degree angles to the Nissan’s penchant for 45-degree bends. While this perhaps makes Mitsubishi somewhat unique vs the competition, it doesn’t appear to be the more ergonomic choice. We’ll know if that hunch turned out to be correct after some wheel time. The rest is about what you’d expect. A high-mounted tablet takes care of most of the vehicle’s non-essential functions while an HVAC control system sits just above the squared-off shift knob.

It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s lightyears better than the interiors found in existing Outlanders and Mitsubishi is ready to sweeten the pot further with an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Want wireless smartphone charging capability with more USB ports, Android Auto, and wireless Apple CarPlay? The first item can be added and the rest is standard.

The brand’s MI-PILOT Assist driver assistance suite with adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, semi-aniline leather seating, integrated navigation, a 10.8-inch color head-up display, Mitsubishi Connect smart-car system, and 10-speaker Bose audio system are likewise available if you’re prepared to climb the trim ladder.

While this may just help in shaping the SUV into a more adequate machine on paper, Mitsubishi believes it can take things over the top by having tuned the all-wheel-drive system to perfection. Front-drive is standard but the company wants to push its own rally-derived Super All-Wheel Control system, which adds some additional drive modes not found on the base model.

Mitsubishi wanted to make it clear that the 2022 Outlander will drive substantially better than the current model, but this is another item we’ll have to reserve judgment on until it has been tested. We’re also going to have to wait to see what happens with the PHEV. As of now, the company plans on selling a hybrid option on the older platform unchanged — with the likelihood of a new version being unveiled in a year or two. The 2022 model-year Outlander will go on sale this April, with Mitsubishi promising to fill in the gaps left by the incredibly dull Amazon Live presentation prior to launch.

[Images: Mitsubishi]

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18 Comments on “2022 Mitsubishi Outlander: Beyond Badge Engineering...”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The Outlander isn’t the only compact crossover with a third row. The Tiguan also has one. What we technically get in the USA is known as the Tiguan Allspace elsewhere; it’s a version of the Tiguan with a longer wheelbase (and longer rear doors), plus a slightly enlarged cargo area and a third row.

    Thanks to some weird EPA loophole, FWD Tiguans have the third row standard, in order to be classified as light trucks. For AWD ones, it’s a $500 option.

    Having briefly had a 2019 Tiguan SEL Premium 4MOTION with it, I can attest to the fact that it’s utterly useless. That said, my cousin has a 2018 Tiguan SE with the third row, and she somehow managed to stuff five adults and two kids (with car seats) into hers when she visited us.

    Meanwhile, back to the Outlander. I would love to see how it differs from the Rogue. And whether Mitsubishi is truly adding its own spice to the Outlander with an actual version of S-AWC, or just using that nameplate on Nissan’s slip-and-grip-style AWD system.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I’d say that significant difference here is that the Rogue is actually a pretty nice looking piece, and this is pretty freakin’ awful. The front end looks like someone designed it while having a particularly nasty fever dream, and it doesn’t get much better from there.

      However, if I could create a clone of myself that had a 500 FICO, he’d probably find this car to be absolutely compelling.

      • 0 avatar

        > F MIKE
        Right on spot.

        With your car knowledge and smooth writing, you should be a contributor here.
        PS- Werent you a moderator on TTAC?

        • 0 avatar

          I agree, and I think Kyree may have done some articles for the site at some point.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            Kyree did and is always on he ball, which makes for consistently solid comments. Having spent precious little time with the Tiguan (and far too much time with its Asian and American rivals) I plum forgot that FWD models now default the third-row seating.

            Since Mitsubishi is offering it across the board, it can probably get away with its original proclamation without incurring a lawsuit. However, that still leaves it holding onto a pretty big but.

      • 0 avatar

        “Rogue is actually a pretty nice looking piece, and this is pretty freakin’ awful. ”

        pretty freakin’ awful but elegant.

  • avatar

    So what’s the point? It’s a moderately reskinned Rouge. Less so when powertrain and interior are brought into the equation. Maybe it means I’ll be walking past fewer Nissans and more Mitsubishis on the Emerald Aisle? Nevertheless, I’ll be walking past, looking for something better. I just really don’t understand the business model Nissan/Renault has for Mitsubishi.

  • avatar

    SAW-C because SH-AWD is so yesterday.

  • avatar

    I find it fairly attractive from the front wheels to the rear, but that front end….ugh. awful. I’m ok with platform sharing but it’s unfortunate they also share that dull, agricultural feeling 2.5L/CVT combo from Nissan.

  • avatar

    Well, as I recall people were asking whether Nissan was crazy to do Rogue platform-sharing with Mitsubishi for this vehicle, and I can answer with confidence that they weren’t. Why? Because this thing is Gawdawful ugly inside and out, and the Rogue isn’t. Score one for Nissan.

    The hardcore 570-FICO crowd won’t care.

  • avatar

    Simply put, it’s just fugly and a Mitsubishi. Enough said.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like the interior, and all of the exterior except for the nose.

    My bigger concern is if the Alliance’s plan is to badge engineer Nissans to produce Mitsubishis, then Mitsubishi will just fade away.

  • avatar

    I really do not care, just wanted you to know. Like not a bit.

  • avatar

    “Japanese phrases that sound like a toddler asking to be taken to the bathroom aside,”

    Was that comment really necessary? Maybe a little respect for other people’s language is in order? Pretty unprofessional.

  • avatar

    How a charging station would be added to the parking lot of my apartment is a total mystery to me. Who will pay for them? Me? Well, I don’t expect to be around in 10 years, so it will probably not apply to me, but how electric cars are going to work for apartment dwellers who have outdoor parking will be interesting.

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