We’ve already had the opportunity to talk about the context of the new Outlander and what it means for Mitsubishi in our First Drive. Now we’ve spent a week with the car for additional impressions and to run it on our test track, all to answer the question: Is it a smarter purchase than the Rogue with which it shares so much?
The Mitsubishi holds no advantage in performance. Candidly, the Outlander’s 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I-4 is barely up to the task of motivating this 3,845-pound SUV. At the test track, the Outlander needed 8.6 seconds to complete its 0-60 sprint. That puts the new Mitsubishi at the slower end of the segment, which translates to uninspired driving on the road. (A Nissan Rogue with an identical 181 hp and 181 lb-ft from the same engine and transmission hits 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, largely because it’s 200 pounds lighter.)
Scooting up to speed around town, acceleration is unimpressive but adequate as the CVT automatic holds the engine spinning around 2,500 rpm. The moan of the four-pot at constant revs is less than pleasant but usually not unduly loud. At higher speeds, though, accelerating up an on-ramp or matting the throttle to pass on the highway, we found ourselves yearning for more power and less noise.
Looking at the Outlander’s braking performance, its 60-0 mph stopping distance of 115 feet is impressive compared to compact SUVs that typically need another 10-15 feet. (The Rogue does the same stop in 114 feet.) That said, our test driver noticed a soft pedal and some nose dive in panic stop scenarios.
Living with the Outlander paints a nicer picture. Rarely did we find ourselves in situations that demanded full throttle or rapid acceleration, and the meager engine and drone-inducing CVT often faded into the background. At idle, noise and vibration from the powertrain is nearly imperceptible.
The steering is heavier than we’d expect for the segment—test editor Chris Walton called it “excessive”—but it is precise, and the Outlander holds a line well. When you’re not braking or cornering at the limit, body movements are kept to a minimum, and the vehicle rides comfortably over most impacts.
Once you get up to speed on the highway, the Outlander’s driver-assist features are mostly reliable and easy to use. The lane-centering function confidently positions the vehicle and can follow gentle curves. We appreciated steering wheel vibration as a lane departure alert in addition to the traditional auditory cue. Using the adaptive cruise control, the Outlander brakes with a human-like touch, although it can be sluggish to accelerate back up to speed. Active-safety functionality was displayed clearly on our test vehicle’s optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.8-inch head-up display.
Mitsubishi also provides a 360-degree camera system in addition to the industry-standard backup cam. That makes the Outlander much easier to park, and a dedicated camera button means you can instantly access it without searching through menus.
Interior layout and design are real strengths. Instead of capacitive touch buttons that lack feedback or overreliance on complicated touchscreen controls that take your eyes off the road, the Outlander has tactile, physical buttons for frequently used features, plus textured metallic knobs for volume, tuning, and HVAC controls.
The air vents are cleverly integrated in a continuous strip across the front cabin, and the available 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display is mounted high on the dash near the drivers’ line of sight. Interacting with the system is nearly seamless, with quick-enough responses and a logical layout.
Outlander SEL models feature real aluminum trim around the shifter, alongside a wide strip of glossy black plastic. In the wrong light, however, the black trim can reflect the sun directly into the driver’s eyes, and on multiple occasions we had to cover it with something less reflective to drive safely. On a happier note, we should mention the niceties of the SEL Touring package. This $2,700 option adds a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof, rear window shades, a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, and an impressive interior.
The Touring model gets quilted, semi-aniline leather upholstery in the first and second rows that feels thick and luxurious beyond what we’d expect from a compact SUV from a mainstream brand. The front seats are plush and supportive, and both the center and door-mounted armrests are soft and generously padded. (Armrest padding may seem like small praise, but it makes a noteworthy difference in long-haul comfort.) Quilted leatherette trim on the first- and second-row door panels classes things up, too.
Third-Class Third Row
Let’s talk about the rear seats. The second-row bench is comfortable enough and as nicely appointed as the front buckets, and our SEL test vehicle included automatic rear climate control. Seated behind a 6-foot-1 driver, we found enough legroom for a similarly sized passenger as long as the sliding second-row seats were positioned as far back as possible. One caveat, though: You lose 1.7 inches of headroom to the panoramic sunroof, and as a result, that 6-foot-1 head was up against the ceiling.
And now on to the third row. This is not a true seven-seat competitor to cars like the Honda Pilot or Kia Telluride, but rather a compact 5+2-seater more like a Volkswagen Tiguan. With the second-row bench slid fully rearward, there is zero space between the second-row seatback and the third-row seat cushion. For a full-size adult, achieving any modicum of comfort in the way-back row requires pushing the middle seats up against the front seatbacks.
Third-row headroom measures just 34.5 inches—4.6 inches less than the already cramped second row—which means theoretical 6-foot passengers have to crane their necks at a right angle or slouch to a point at which their legs no longer fit. Add to that claustrophobic tiny rear windows. We understand the third row is intended more for children than adults, but it’s hard to imagine any kid who has outgrown a child seat being able to comfortably spend time back there.
The new 2022 Outlander is an obvious improvement over its predecessor, and the co-engineering with Nissan clearly benefits the driving experience and interior quality. This is a smooth-riding, generously appointed, modern Mitsubishi. But why choose an Outlander instead of the mechanically similar Nissan Rogue? Unless you’ve fallen in love with the Mitsubishi’s flashy styling or its third row outweighs the slight disadvantage in usable cargo room, the main reason would be the longer warranty.
Whereas the Rogue offers a three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, the Outlander has a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and powertrain coverage for 10 years/100,000 miles. Mitsubishi’s basic warranty also adds two more years of roadside assistance to Nissan’s. Considering that the Outlander is similar in almost every other measure, Rogue buyers would be foolish not to consider it.
|2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Specifications|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$37,995|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.5L/181-hp/181-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,845 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||185.4 x 74.7 x 68.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.5 sec @ 84.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.87 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.4 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||24/30/26 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||140/112 kWh/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.74 lb/mile|