A Fresh Philosophy

By Derek Price
“I-Fu-Do-Do” is not preschool profanity. It’s the design philosophy behind the all-new Outlander, a critical vehicle for the future of Mitsubishi cars in America.
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.

Mitsubishi completely redesigned the Outlander for 2022, giving it a more aggressive look, roomy cabin and up-to-date tech features.

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.

The Outlander’s cabin looks much more upscale and contemporary after the redesign. It also comes standard with a third-row seat.

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

What was tested? 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC ($33,745). Options: SEL Touring package ($2,700), tonneau cover ($195), welcome package ($160).  Price as tested (including $1,195 destination charge): $37,995
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

Style: 7
Performance: 7
Price: 9
Handling: 6
Ride: 7
Comfort: 8
Quality: 6
Overall: 7

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.

Posted in Mitsubishi

‘Right-Sized’ Truck Debuts

By Derek Price

It’s been uncomfortably close to two decades since the Nissan Frontier got a complete redesign, but the wait is over.
For the first time since 2005, Nissan’s midsize truck can legitimately be called “all new” with a totally fresh look and feel for 2022.
It’s more mature than the outgoing truck, with a refined driving feel, easily accessible technology and the kind of rugged, upright, aggressive look that today’s truck buyers crave.
It seems to be suffering from some growing pains, though, if my test truck is representational. More on that later.
From a design standpoint, everything about the fresh Frontier is exactly what I think a midsize truck needs to be: capable, efficient, handsome and — most importantly of all — a comfortable size.
A lot of supposedly “midsize” trucks are pretty darn close to what used to be called full-size. They’re also priced close to the big trucks, leaving room at the bottom of the pickup food chain for new entries like the small, brilliant, affordable Ford Maverick.
The Frontier seems to split the difference. It’s bigger and a lot more powerful than the tiny Maverick, but it’s noticeably smaller and more nimble than the typical half-ton truck.

The Nissan Frontier gets an all-new design for 2022, including a more rugged look for the body.

Nissan calls it “right sized,” and I agree after driving it for a week. It’s big enough to feel comfortable and brawny, yet it still easily whips around corners and into urban parking garages.
It also has the capability of a legit truck, starting with a stout powertrain.
A 3.8-liter V6 engine makes 310 horsepower, enough to topple the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado. It’s also capable of towing a respectable 6,720 pounds and carrying 1,610 pounds of payload.
The driving feel is not just a night-and-day difference compared to the old truck, but also quieter and smoother than most competitors. I was pleasantly surprised that my tester, equipped with the beefy PRO-4X off-road suspension, felt plush on a long road trip.
Technology on the Frontier is exactly what buyers are looking for. Even the base model includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can upgrade to a 9-inch touchscreen, WiFi hotspot and wireless phone charging for reasonable prices.
Now, about those growing pains.

A redesigned cabin, including an optional 9-inch touchscreen, makes the new Frontier feel fresh and modern.

When I was driving my Frontier tester on the highway, it suddenly jabbed the brakes without any warning and flashed “System Fault: See Owner’s Manual” on the dashboard. Other warnings lit up, including the traction control and antilock brake lights, until I restarted the truck and everything returned to normal.
On the return trip, the same thing happened again. It wasn’t a fluke, and a quick Google search shows a few other 2022 Frontier drivers have experienced the same thing. It seems to be easily fixable by Nissan technicians, but it’s still jarring to see in a brand-new truck.
Fortunately, other than that issue, the weeklong drive was flawless. It makes me think this new Frontier is exactly what Nissan needs to bring to the truck market to keep things interesting.
Pricing starts at $28,340 for the King Cab S grade with rear-wheel drive. A 4×4 version is available for $3,200 extra.
With a bigger Crew Cab layout, the Frontier starts at $29,990 and tops out at $38,120 for the 4×4 PRO-4X.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab 4×4 ($37,240). Options: Off-road style step rails ($750), bed access package ($540), pro convenience package ($1,990), pro premium package ($2,790), sport bar ($1,095), technology package ($990).  Price as tested (including $1,175 destination charge): $46,570
Wheelbase: 139.8 in.
Length: 224.1 in.
Width: 74.7 in.
Height: 72.9 in.
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 (310 hp, 281 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 17 city, 22 highway

Style: 7
Performance: 7
Price: 6
Handling: 8
Ride: 8
Comfort: 7
Quality: 7
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
A refined driving feel, even on the PRO-4X version, and right-sized capability make the all-new Frontier stand out in the truck market.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ruggedly Balanced

By Derek Price

If a Jeep isn’t quite posh enough for you, the Land Rover Discovery offers go-anywhere capability in a more upscale package.
This current-generation Disco is a driving contradiction in the best possible way. It’s designed for serious off-road adventures — including a Wade Mode to help when fording water — but also carries the look and feel of a polished, poised, luxurious SUV.
Its lustrous side is especially nice on long road trips, where it seems to waft over bumps in near silence while coddling up to seven people in its leather- and feature-filled cabin. The fact that it can wade through muck and climb steep, rocky trails seems hard to believe given its comfy road manners.
Land Rover buyers have a new choice, though, now that the more brash and rugged Defender is available at roughly the same price point. Personally, after driving both, I prefer the boxy, throwback styling of the Defender and the smoother, quieter ride of the Discovery. They both have their place.
During my week behind the wheel of a Discovery, I was surprised at the number of compliments it got. This doesn’t strike me as an ostentatious SUV, especially with my tester’s beige paint color, but it still seemed to turn lots of heads.

The latest Land Rover Discovery looks and feels like a scaled-down Range Rover. It mixes luxury-car smoothness with the off-road chops of a truck.

Land Rover gave the Discovery a minor facelift for 2021 with fresh LED headlights and taillights along with revised bumpers in front and back. Overall, it was a minor visual update that keeps the Disco looking contemporary, including its quirky, asymmetrical license plate location on the rear tailgate.
My tester was outfitted in the new R-Dynamic trim level, a mid-range package that seems to give this SUV a more sporty, assertive look. Black accents outside and two-tone leather in the cabin give the R-Dynamic trim a custom look without costing as much as the top-line HSE.
Two turbocharged engines are available, neither of which is a slouch.
The base engine displaces 2.0 liters yet, thanks to forced induction, makes a meaty 296 horsepower.
If you want even more prodigious power, a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is available as an upgrade for $5,500. Its 355-horsepower made my tester feel sprightly in city driving, despite its mammoth size and heft.
Still, there’s no mistaking this is an off-road SUV from the driver’s seat. A high, upright seating position provides good visibility, but not all drivers will like it. Fortunately, the thick padding, supple leather and nearly limitless adjustability of 18-way power front seats — another optional upgrade on my tester — make it easy to get comfortable in the Discovery.

Good sound insulation and sumptuous materials make the Discovery’s cabin a great place to spend time on road trips.

Technology was a major focus for this SUV’s 2021 refresh, and most of it is centered in one beautiful place: the high-resolution, 11.4-inch touchscreen at the center of a redesigned console. It features a new interface, called Pivi Pro, that is as simple and intuitive as any on the market.
As new features become available, software is automatically installed via over-the-air updates.
Overall, I loved driving the Discovery because of the balance it delivers. It’s got serious off-road chops for the times you need it, yet it doesn’t punish you for that capability like many off-roaders do.
It’s as capable and rugged as it is sumptuous, a mixture Land Rover has perfected over many decades.
Pricing starts at $53,900 for the S trim, while the R-Dynamic grade starts at $56,400. With the more powerful engine, the pricing is $61,900 for R-Dynamic or $68,900 for the HSE.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2021 Land Rover Discovery R-Dynamic S ($61,900). Options: Cold climate pack ($600), 21-inch wheels ($2,000), 18-way heated front seats ($1,850), Meridian sound system ($1,250), black contrast roof ($1,000), head-up display ($970), premium paint ($710), tow hitch receiver ($675), signature LED headlights ($400), electric third-row seats ($300), auto high-beam assist ($250).  Price as tested (including $1,350 destination charge): $73,255
Wheelbase: 115.1 in.
Length: 195.1 in.
Width: 87.4 in.
Height: 74.3 in.
Engine: 3.0-liter six cylinder (355 hp, 369 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 18 city, 24 highway

Style: 9
Performance: 9
Price: 6
Handling: 8
Ride: 9
Comfort: 8
Quality: 8
Overall: 9

Why buy it?
The latest Discovery perfectly blends off-road capability and on-road refinement. Upgraded technology and a new R-Dynamic trim package keep it sharp and contemporary.

Posted in Land Rover