It was like a stuck record. Sidewalk passers-by, Trader Joe shopping cart pushers, parking lot observers. Each the same question. “Wow, that’s a Mitsubishi?”
I have to admit to having had the same reaction seeing this 2022 Outlander for the first time. It was like watching Halle Berry sashay out the waves in that James Bond “Die Another Day” flick. Just wow.
OK, there’s a lot going on here design-wise. Especially at the front end. Huge swaths of chrome, slivers of LEDs, triple-stacked headlights, and a clamshell hood obviously inspired by Range Rover.
It’s the same when you spy the Outlander in profile. The cool way the hood dips down by the door mirror. Waistline body creases sharp enough to slice a finger. And big, muscley arches covering racy 20-inch rims.
Subtle, it’s not. But when you’re underdog Mitsubishi and you want to stand out from the crowd in one of the most-crowded sections of the market, you go bold, or go home.
And the boldness continues when you open a door. Prepare to feel your jaw descend as you cast your peepers over this shockingly luxurious cabin.
Our Outlander SEL Touring tester came awash with diamond-quilted black semi-aniline leather with funky swaths of orange pleather panels and orange contrast stitching. In the center console, lovely textured aluminum-look plastic.
And that $2,700 Touring package includes a 10-speaker Bose sound system, power panoramic sunroof, and head-up display.
Oh, and did I mention that this fancy-pants Outlander SEL, with standard all-wheel drive, and a standard equipment list as long as War & Peace, stickers for $33,745? Add that Touring package and a few other do-dads, and the out-the-door you’re looking at just $37,995.
For this you get a mid-size sport-ute with, wait for it, three rows of seats plus a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage. These guys really want your business.
A lot of the Outlander’s greasy bits are shared with Nissan’s top-selling Rogue SUV – Nissan and Mitsubishi are dance partners. That includes the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously-variable CVT transmission.
And here is the only, less-than-stellar quality of the Outlander. With a middling 181-horsepower and no turbocharger to spice things up, its performance is lackluster at best.
Pedal to the metal on that freeway on-ramp, or looking for some giddy-up to pass that 18-wheeler, it feels the engine desperately needs a shot of Red Bull. A standstill-to-60mph time of 8.2 seconds reflects this lethargy.
That said, the four-banger is smooth and nicely refined. Engine, wind and road noise is nicely quelled, courtesy of the double-pane front windows and windshield – a stand-out in this class.
What surprises however, is just how nimble and zippy the Outlander is through the twisties. The steering is precise and nicely-weighted, body roll is well controlled and the ride is taut, though not overly firm.
From behind the wheel, all-round visibility is terrific, and you sit in super-comfy front seats with no shortage or support or adjustment. Step into the back and legroom is surprisingly generous, with seats that slide back and forward and recline.
Yes, there’s a third row, but don’t get too excited; the seats were never intended to accommodate anyone with legs. Keep the pews folded and enjoy the generous 33 cubic feet of luggage space.
Naturally, there’s a ton of competition in this section of the market. Heavy-hitters, like Toyota’s RAV4, Honda’s CR-V, Mazda’s CX-5 and Hyundai’s Tucson are tough to beat.
But this new disrupter Outlander has a huge amount to offer. And if you don’t mind the constant “Wow, that’s a Mitsubishi?” comments, it’s worth trying one for size.