The Guardian (Charlottetown)
Updates in and out for Outlander
Here’s the first thing you gotta know about Mitsubishi’s new Outlander: it’s built on the same platform as Nissan’s latest Rogue.
Now here’s the second thing you need to know about the new Outlander: point one doesn’t matter, because this is the best Outlander ever and just may be the best Mitsubishi of all time, save, of course, the all-conquering EVO. If this be the parts-bin sharing that so many like to deride, we need more of it.
Indeed, it’s hard to decide what’s most improved on the 2022 Outlander. My pick would be the interior, which is positively modern with a fairly easily-deciphered infotainment system working through an (optional) 12.3-inch screen; plush interior surfaces; and, frankly, a stylishness that I didn’t think Mitsubishi was capable of. Truly unique is the speedometer and tachometer gauges that, instead of turning in a circle, rotates like a drum rolling away from you. It looks totally cool and yet is still extremely useful.
My tester, a fully-optioned GT Premium S-AWC model ($42,178), was also clothed in a Mitsu’s top-of-the-line — and truly attractive — semianiline black and tan leather, imbuing a class which, again, I wasn’t sure Mitsubishi was capable of. Throw in some excellent quilting and nice, supportive cushioning and the — at least the first two rows — are quite comfortable.
Yes, if you were paying attention to the semantics of that last sentence, there are three rows of seats. To be perfectly frank, I do not understand why. Despite being fairly long for this segment — at 4,710 millimetres, the new Outlander is 15 mm longer than the outgoing version — you know that there’s no legroom in the third row to speak of. In fact, there’s a whopping 240 mm less legroom in the 2022 than in the outgoing 2020 model. Seriously, if there are adults in the second-row seats, your nickname will need to be “Stumpy” if you’re sitting in the last row. Now, that can be ameliorated by moving the second-row seats forward, but then there’s just two rows of seating with poor legroom.
That said, pretty much every interior dimension for the first and second row of seats is improved, especially in the all-important headand legroom departments. Ditto for the cargo-carrying capacity, which is greater in all configurations, especially when you have the secondand third-row seats folded flat. Then the new model has a whopping 79.7 cubic feet of cargo volume, versus just 61.0 for the outgoing model.
As comely as the new interior is, if someone wanted to make the argument that the exterior styling was the new Outlander’s best foot forward, they wouldn’t get much argument from me. Oh, it still looks like a Mitsubishi, but, from the distinctive headlight to the tasteful application of chrome trim, it looks a lot more, well, cohesive.
Whether it’s the taller hood, those dramatic headlights I mentioned, or the muscular new 20-inch wheels (18-inchers are standard), the new Outlander seems more serious than many of its seemingly softer competitors. The best way I can put it is that the new Mitsu looks more truck-ish than most of its competitors, an important differentiator, I think, in a segment too often derided as “cute.”
It also drives more like a truck. I don’t mean to say that it’s heavy and ponderous, but there is a sturdiness to the steering and a firmness to the suspension that is distinctly not car-like. Compared with something like, say, a Subaru Outback, it feels decidedly less flighty and a little more dense. If effortless steering at parking lot speeds is what you’re looking for, there are better offerings in this segment; if you like a little weightiness to your steering, though, the new Outlander fits the bill.
Match that to a hoodline that raises your natural sightlines a little higher than most small CUVs and you have a compact crossover that feels more like a true sport-utility vehicle. As well, the new version’s braking is much improved. The 2022’s front discs are, at 350 mm, some 56 mm larger than before, and the rear 330 mm jobbies 28 mm greater in diameter than previously. Of course, ABS is standard, but the new model also gets an electronic Brake Assist system.
It also has enough power. Not an excessive amount by any means, but 181 horsepower
is certainly adequate, if not quite overwhelming, for this class. Unlike the current trend to smaller, turbocharged engines, the Outlander isn’t turbocharged, making its power the oldfashioned way, with displacement. In this case, it’s a 2.5-litre four, which just happens to also produce an identical 181 pound-feet of torque.
In theory, that should place the Outlander at a disadvantage when it comes to fuel efficiency, but I averaged about 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres in my test — compared with 8.9 L/100 km as rated by Natural Resources Canada — which is more than adequate for this segment. It’s also about a litre less per 100 clicks than we averaged in a new Subaru Outback. Throw in Mitsu’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system — which we unfortunately didn’t get to test in either sand or snow — and you have a confidence-inspiring powertrain.
The only flaw — and it’s not terminal by any means — is that it retains Nissan’s continuously variable transmission. That means there’s a little of the “rubber band” effect common to CVT transmissions. Mitsubishi has programmed in some “gears” to make the tranny feel more natural, but if you punch it at low speeds, it makes the engine sound a little thrashy. At higher speeds or when passing, the effect is much reduced and the fact that it’s only annoying at low speeds is proof that CVTs are getting so much better these days.
One sacrifice to sharing its platform with the Nissan is that the 3.0L V6, which was optional in the current-generation Outlander, is no longer available. Gone with its 224 hp is the previous Outlander’s 1,588-kilogram (3,500pound) towing capacity; the new model is rated for only 907 kilos or 2,000 pounds. And for you legion Outlander PHEV fans — you are many — know that the plug-in hybrid version of the sport-ute is getting an upgraded gas engine, larger battery pack, and electric motors courtesy of the European version, but it will ride on the older platform for at least another year. Yes, both old and current generation of Outlanders will be sold simultaneously.
As for pricing, there will be a not-insignificant bump. Although there’s not an easy model-to-model comparison to be made — the model trims have been rejigged — the base ES S-AWC, at $31,998, is $2,000 more than the outgoing version, and my top-of-the-line GT Premium S-AWC test unit (again, $42,198) is $3,600 more expensive than the GT S-AWC that used to occupy the top rung on the Outlander ladder. Some of that is explained by 11 airbags, not to mention a whole raft of new electronic safety nannies and, in the case of my tester, the premium leather. But the Outlander, like so many mid-priced cars, is moving more upscale.
Price bump or no, the new Outlander really is a major step forward for Mitsubishi, with superior dynamics, better equipment and, most especially, a truly outstanding interior. If this really is the product of its association with Renault and Nissan, then maybe this sharing of parts with the Alliance is a good thing.