Outlander gets a high-end makeover
Newest version of company's beefy and top-selling offering has serious style
In a move that speaks to the benefits of automaker alliances, Mitsubishi's amalgamation with Nissan and Renault looks like the ultimate pairing of the lesser partner's swashbuckling styling with the buying power — not to mention R&D dollars — of a large conglomerate.
The Outlander, the company's largest — and, as a result of the smash hit that is the PHEV version of it, most important — model, looks to be seriously revitalized for the 2022 model year.
The Outlander's traditional strong points remain. The exterior styling is, for instance, immediately recognizable as what Mitsubishi calls “Bold Stride.” It has sharply creased skirt lines, squarish shapes and, most noticeably, a front end that is aggressive without succumbing to the garishness of some of its Japanese competitors. The trademark square headlights remain as a
focal point as before and the grille as undaunted, but there's an air of sophistication
about the chrome trim and its blending with the daytime running lights.
Throw in 20-inch wheels and you have one good-looking utility vehicle.
The best compliment I can lend — which probably won't win me any friends with Mitsubishi — is that the new Outlander looks more German than Japanese.
On the other hand, the interior, as lovely as it is, is anything but a Mitsubishi archetype.
In fact, thank God, it's a bunch better than Mitsubishis past, and miles ahead of the previous Outlander.
A nine-inch touchscreen takes centre stage on the dash and the entire dashboard has a modern horizontal look to it, almost as if Mitsubishi finally discovered the 20th century and decided it liked it.
Meanwhile, the rotary mode controller is reminiscent of Genesis' recent effort and looks surprisingly luxurious. The centre console-mounted gearshift is short and stubby as modern styling dictates, and Mitsubishi's designers wisely chose to keep the air conditioning controls off the touchscreen.
Well done, Mitsubishi.
The rest of the interior borders on the luxurious as well.
The leather version of the seats are well quilted (again, they wouldn't look out of place on Genesis' new GV80) and the colours extravagant.
Oh, at least one of the colour selections looks kind of beige-y, but there's a blackand-tan version that would do Audi proud.
And while the third-row seats remain positively vestigial, the second row is as well-accoutred as the fronts and, if Mitsubishi's press materials are to be believed, roomier than before, the 36-millimetre stretch in wheelbase benefiting passenger accommodations.
The company also claims the seat positioning is more versatile, offering more passenger/cargo configurations than before.
The rear tailgate, by the way, is electrically operated and can be opened or closed by holding your foot under the bumper.
Back on traditional Mitsubishi strengths, the company's S-AWC all-wheel-drive system gets improved with a computer-controlled hydraulic clutch maintaining the front-to-rear torque split, and Active Yaw Control has been added to the rear brakes. Sensors detect the steering angle, yaw rate, driving torque, brake pressure, wheel speed, and other factors, and the Brake AYC system then determines if it needs to apply a little brake force to keep all the wheels in line, while simultaneously maximizing traction.
The 2022 even adds a new “mode” to its repertoire.
Besides the traditional Normal, Tarmac, Gravel and Snow, there's a new Mud setting, Mitsubishi obviously thinking Outlander owners like to get dirtier than most.
What is definitively not traditional Mitsubishi is the new Outlander's powertrain. Oh, it's still a four-banger and there's nary a turbocharger in sight, but all that Mitsubishi will say about the 2.5-litre four-cylinder is that it is an “alliance” motor.
In other words, it's coming from either Renault of Nissan's boudoir.
No less an authority than Car and Driver predicts it will be the 2.5-litre unit from the current Rogue, a speculation bolstered by the fact the new engine is backed up by a continuously
variable CVT transmission with eight artificial “gears” computer-coded into its operation. If the magazine's supposition is correct, we're looking at somewhere in the neighbourhood of 181 horsepower and a similar number of pound-feet of torque.
We do know that, whatever the source, the engine will have variable valve control
and a variable capacity oil pump to fire up the oil pressure quickly (to prevent internal damage as a result of the Stop/Start function) while also not creating so many psi as to be a drag on the motor in fuel-sipping cruise mode.
On the safety side, the new Outlander is literally chock-ablock full of gizmos and gadgets, not the least of which
is 11 airbags. Besides the traditional eight, there's a front centre airbag that has been added to keep the driver and passenger from banging noggins in a side collision; and there's also some new side airbags for the second-row seats as well.
On the accident-avoidance front, the Outlander boasts a new M-Pilot system consisting
of adaptive cruise control and Lane-Keep Assist. Also included is Traffic Sign Recognition, automatic high-beam and Hill Descent Control.
The electronic driver's assistants continue with Trailer Stability Assist, Forward Collision Mitigation, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Active Blind-Spot Assist, Blind-Spot Warning,
Lane-Departure Warning, Lane-Departure Prevention, Driver Attention Alert and a Rear Automatic Emergency Brake system that will prevent you from running over the toddler's trike.
Look for the 2022 Outlander in Mitsubishi dealerships in April of this year.
Pricing will be disclosed closer to launch.