2022 Mitsubishi Outlander First Drive Review | More than a redesign

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander First Drive Review | More than a redesign

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It only takes a minute behind the wheel of the 2022 Outlander to understand how Mitsubishi’s alliance with Nissan and Renault has allowed it to reap dramatic rewards. The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t just redesigned, it’s a thorough rethink on how to attack the compact crossover marketplace. Not only that, it’s vaulted Mitsubishi from an also-ran to a solid contender for your hard-earned bucks.

The Mitsubishi Outlander is not a rebadged Nissan Rogue. The two crossovers share their platform and powertrain, and Mitsubishi says they were co-developed and Outlander was not simply a hand-me-down. They differ in many notable ways, not the least of which is a standard third row (sized for very limited use) in the Outlander that’s not offered in the Rogue, but also in tuning, design and materials.


The new Outlander certainly stands out with a front view that’s dominated by Mitsubishi’s "Dynamic Shield" fascia. Two curved chrome swoops work as outward-facing brackets to a grille with horizontal slats above a patterned opening. Lighting clusters are split into two parts, with LED driving lights and turn signals on top, and vertically stacked headlights below. Unlike some other “bold” faces currently seen in the industry, Mitsubishi’s design divides opinions but somehow looks better and more interesting in person than on screen.

Mitsubishi managed an iteration of the floating-roof trend that looks different than anything else. There’s an unusually flat roof in profile that ends in a brim-shaped rear spoiler atop a pillar at the very back of the car that’s shaped like a jet fin. Deep cutlines create a strong shoulder with a parallelogram indentation below the knee. All but base-model Outlanders are fitted with 20-inch wheels that are highlighted above with stamped-in brows. It all adds up to an imposing design that looks larger than it is.

In reality, the 2022 Outlander is indeed larger in every direction than the 2020 edition (there’s no 2021 model) but in most measurements, is right about the same size as its compact crossover competitors. Its 106.5-inch wheelbase matches the Rogue, but the three-row Outlander is 2.4 inches longer overall. Compared to the 2020, there’s more adjustment for the driver to find a comfortable position plus an inch more legroom up front, and 1.1 inches more in the middle row. It’s 2.0 inches wider than before, which adds as much as an inch and a half more shoulder and hip room, depending on the seat. Weight was kept in check with an aluminum hood and plastic front fenders; base models weigh 3,593 pounds and an Outlander SEL with S-AWC all-wheel drive weighs 3,803 lbs.

There’s a total of 79.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, up from 63.3 cu-ft in the old model. That’s more room overall than every compact crossover (Rogue, CR-V, RAV4, etc). There’s a similar improvement in the overall length of the cargo area, making long items easier to carry. With the second row in place, there’s 33.5 cu-ft of cargo space, which is midpack in the segment, and with the third row up capacity falls all the way to 11.7 cu-ft. That’s still better than the only other three-row compact crossover, the Volkswagen Tiguan, which offers only 10.3 cubes with its way back seat in place.

As you can see in our videos below, there is very little space for passengers in the third row. The second row does slide, and that can add some legroom in the way back at the expense of second-row sitters, but there’s still not enough headroom for even average-size people to feel comfortable.

The interior shares its basic layout with the Rogue, which is no bad thing — Nissan has one of the best interiors in the compact crossover class — and in fact, the Outlander’s is arguably more visually interesting. The materials in our top-shelf SEL model all felt like quality pieces. Many of the buttons and knobs have a nice knurled finish that effectively classes up the interior. There’s real aluminum trim, a metallic-hued composite and quilted leather in black or light gray. Opt for the Touring package and you’ll get semi-aniline leather with brown accents. Base ES models get basic black fabric with piano black plastic trim; the mid-level SE gains a suede material for the seating surfaces.

The Outlander’s seats are very comfortable — we wonder if they share the “Zero Gravity” design used by Nissan. We’re not big fans of the stubby gear shifter, which is similar to what’s found in the latest Rogue. It’s intuitive enough but doesn’t offer any actual improvement over simpler designs. Base models have an 8-inch screen while everything else has a nicer 9-inch display using a new touchscreen infotainment system that’s basically reskinned tech from Nissan. It’s easy to use and never bogged down during our testing. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the board (wireless for iPhone users), and a 10.8-inch head-up display is optional on upper trims. Wireless phone charging is also available. A large and attractive 12.3-inch digital display with two different gauge cluster designs is optional on the SE and standard on the SEL. You can see how that works in the video below.