By Derek Price
Translated as “authentic and majestic,” according to Mitsubishi, “I-Fu-Do-Do” is exactly what the Outlander needs to achieve if it wants to make a dent in the hyper-competitive market for family crossovers.
Let’s break it down into the two parts.
On the authentic side, the Outlander needs to come with some real capability, not just a purposeful looking body. A completely new platform gives it a stiffer, more robust chassis and a decent 8.4 inches of ground clearance, something useful when putting its sophisticated new all-wheel-drive system to the test.
Mitsubishi dipped into its deep well of experience in rally racing to create this latest version of its four-wheel traction system, called Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC). Available as an $1,800 option, it comes with six different options for various driving conditions.
The six modes can optimize it for gravel, snow and mud, all common settings on off-road vehicles, plus three modes for pavement: Normal, Tarmac and Eco.
Tarmac makes the Outlander respond faster for a sportier feel, and Eco helps save gas.
I found myself perfectly happy in Normal mode during most of my week behind the wheel. Despite making a ho-hum 181 horsepower from its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, it never felt like a slouch when accelerating, no doubt because of the new frame design that feels both light and solid from the driver’s seat.
Unfortunately, it no longer is available with a V6 engine. If you want an Outlander, you get it with four cylinders and a continuously variable transmission, period.
On the bright side, that combo results in good gas mileage for a vehicle this size. My all-whee-drive tester was rated for 24 mpg in city driving and 30 on the highway.
It can tow up to 2,000 pounds, not a truck-like number but enough to be useful for pulling weekend toys.
On the majestic side, the 2022 Outlander has a much bigger, nicer cabin than before with optional touches such as quilted leather seats and a full-featured digital interface. While it doesn’t convey majesty in the same manner as, say, a Rolls-Royce, it’s a fitting word when compared to the aging outgoing model it replaces.
This fresh Outlander also has something unusual to find in a small crossover: a third-row seat.
While I wouldn’t recommend it for owners who need to fill all three rows with passengers on every trip, Mitsubishi managed to squeeze in a usable third row. It comes standard on every Outlander, a nice feature for people who want to haul extra people — ideally, small ones — in a pinch.
Also standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Outlander shares its bones with a corporate cousin, the Nissan Rogue, but the Mitsubishi’s boxy, rugged look does a good job masking that fact. It looks more like a traditional SUV than a car.
It also offers peace of mind through solid warranty coverage, including 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain.
Pricing starts at $25,795 for the base ES trim and ranges up to $34,645 for the SEL with the Touring package, including a fantastic Bose sound system and head-up display that projects on the windshield.
At A Glance
Wheelbase: 106.5 in.
Length: 185.4 in.
Width: 84.4 in.
Height: 68.7 in.
Engine: 2.5-liter four cylinder (181 hp, 181 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 24 city, 30 highway
Why buy it?
A complete redesign improves the Outlander in almost every way. Better driving dynamics, a bigger cabin and more upscale cabin keep it competitive in a hot market.