First Drive: The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Is Ready to Be Relevant

Three-row compact SUV has user-friendly interior tech, a well-made cabin, and an improved driving experience

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander front driving

If you’re in the market for a small SUV that can fit seven people in a pinch, the all-new 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander could be an appealing option. Though none of Mitsubishi’s recent models have impressed us, this new three-row family hauler checks the boxes in terms of its decent handling agility, a pleasingly pretty and well-built cabin, and interior flexibility in a compact package.

The new Outlander’s turnaround appears to be due to the recent Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, in which all three automakers share resources. As such, the new Outlander has a lot in common with the redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue, an SUV that’s more refined than any other current product from Mitsubishi.

The Outlander gives buyers a unique choice: It’s just slightly larger than most two-row compact SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4, yet it’s considerably smaller than most midsized three-row models like the Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota Highlander.

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Outlander pricing ranges from $25,795 for the 2.5 ES up to $35,345 for the SEL Launch Edition S-AWC, not including a $1,195 destination charge on all models. We purchased an SE Launch Edition 2.5 S-AWC (S-AWC, or Super All-Wheel Control, is Mitsubishi’s term for all-wheel drive) for our test program and also rented an SEL 2.5 S-AWC from Mitsubishi for this First Drive evaluation. 

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial expert assessment of the Outlander is available to you below. After we log more than 2,000 break-in miles on the Outlander we purchased, we’ll put it through more than 50 tests at the CR Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. CR members will get access to the full road-test results as soon as they’re available.

If you haven’t signed up yet, click below and become a member to access this full article and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

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What we bought: 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SE Launch Edition 2.5 S-AWC
Powertrain: 181-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine; continuously variable transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $31,795
Total options: $1,350
Destination fee: $1,195
Total cost: $34,340

What we rented: 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC
Powertrain: 181-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine; continuously variable transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $33,745
Total options: $3,650
Destination fee: $1,195
Total cost: $38,590

CR's Take

The previous Outlander was hampered by ponderous handling, an unsettled ride, and tepid acceleration accompanied by lots of racket from the engine. It came across as so unrefined and outdated that we said it “feels old enough to have been cast in a ‘Friends’ episode,” a crack potentially more hurtful to the cast of the famous 1990’s sitcom than it was to Mitsubishi.   

The new Outlander, on the other hand, is upgraded nearly across the board. In addition to the benefit of a standard (though quite small) third-row seat that can be used in a pinch, the Outlander should now be much more competitive with other small SUVs. It has user-friendly controls, comfortable front seats, and a well-tuned transmission. Not all is perfect, though; the Outlander still feels pretty slow, the steering is short on driver feedback, and the third-row seat brings some compromises with it.

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