2022 Mitsubishi Outlander: Beyond Badge Engineering

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2022 mitsubishi outlander beyond badge engineering

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]

Join the conversation
2 of 18 comments
  • Racerviii Racerviii on Feb 18, 2021

    "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.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Feb 19, 2021

    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.

  • Kcflyer on one hand it at least wont have dirty intake valves like Honda's entire lineup of direct injection ice vehicles. on the other hand a CRV offers more room, more range, faster fueling and lower price, hmm
  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.