What better way to gain some attention than to tie up with internet retail giant Amazon, something Mitsubishi did Tuesday as it pulled the wraps off the completely updated Outlander SUV.
The crossover is expected to be the most critical offering in the line-up for the long-struggling brand. It’s positioned as a family hauler offering plenty of safety, go-anywhere versatility and an emotional design. It picks up on key design cues first seen in last year’s Outlander Prototype, as well as the concept Mitsubishi previewed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in the form of the Engelberg Tourer.
“Based on the product concept ‘I-Fu-Do-Do,’ which means authentic and majestic in Japanese, the all-new Outlander has been crafted into a reliable SUV with significantly upgraded styling, road performance, and a high-quality feel to satisfy the needs of customers who want to expand their horizons and take on challenges of every kind,” said Takao Kato, chief executive officer of MMC. “With the launch of the all-new Outlander, we will first expand our sales in the North American market and then aim for global growth.”
A fixture in a rapidly changing line-up
First introduced in 2002, the Outlander has been one of the fixtures of a Mitsubishi brand in transition. Once known for sporty products like the Eclipse, it was among the country’s fastest growing brands in the 1980s and 1990s. But it made a series of critical mistakes that threw the company into financial chaos, staving off bankruptcy only through a hefty investment by the larger Japanese automaker Nissan.
The new Outlander is arguably the most important new product launch since the company became part of the global Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Going into the project, “the challenge was how to turn this wonderful design into a mass production vehicle,” said chief engineer Kentaro Honda. It required his team and Mitsubishi stylists to work more closely than any previous project.
The new Mitsubishi Outlander adopts a new styling language the automaker dubs “Dynamic Shield.” Up front, it features a more upright nose with a pinched, dual-level grille and stacked headlamps. From the side, the SUV features a more deeply sculpted silhouette with a bit of a floating roof element.
Designed to give family buyers confidence
The automaker clearly wanted to give the new Outlander a more solid and robust look, with touches like 20-inch wheels and tires and what it calls the Hexagon Guard rear end.
“This hexagon motif of the tailgate evokes the image of the spare tire mounted on the back of SUVs in the past and expresses the stability and robustness of an SUV, while the horizontal-themed T-shaped signature taillights emphasize the wide image and reinforce the look of stability,” Mitsubishi explained in a news release ahead of the Tuesday unveiling.
The new SUV is larger in virtually all dimensions, the width growing by 2 inches. That means the cabin of the 2022 Outlander is both wider and more spacious than the outgoing model, Mitsubishi adopting more upscale materials and features like tri-zone climate controls, real aluminum panels, a 12.3-inch gauge cluster — a first for Mitsubishi — and a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Also available: a 10.8-inch head-up display, or HUD, system.
New powertrain delivers more power, burns less fuel
Where two powertrains were offered on the outgoing model, the 2022 Outlander is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 that bumps up power by 8.9%. At the same time, it reduces fuel consumption by 2.6%, according to the automaker.
The engine is paired with a new eight-speed automatic that, for the first time for Mitsubishi, adopts a shift-by-wire system, rather than conventional, mechanical linkage.
In turn, the available Super All-Wheel Control 4WD system gives the Outlander reasonable capabilities for handling snowy highways and moderate off-road conditions.
“We took everything we know about on and off-road driving,” with plenty borrowed from Mitsubishi’s motorsports program, “and put it into this Outlander,” said chief engineer Honda.
Drivers can adjust a broad range of vehicle settings with a single turn of the SUV’s mode selector with settings that include Mud, Snow, Gravel and Tarmac.
Three rows, seven seats and a Multiview camera system
The seven-seat, three-row Outlander adds a variety of new Advanced Driver Assistance features, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Keeping Assist and MI-Pilot Assist, the latter system helping drivers cope with a variety of different roadway conditions. In heavy traffic it can stop and then pause for up to 30 seconds before starting up again.
The redesigned Outlander also features 11 airbags.
For those who tow or travel off-road, there’s also Hill Descent Control and Trailer Stability Assist. A Multiview camera system helps drivers see what’s around the vehicle, whether on-road or off.
Other features for the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander include a power-operated panoramic roof and an electrically operated tailgate that can be opened with a kick of the foot under the rear bumper. There are numerous USB ports and Qi wireless charging.
More features – but a higher base price
Built at the automaker’s plant In Okazaki, Japan, the fourth-generation Outlander goes on sale in April. It will carry a starting price of $25,795 – up from $24,895 for the outgoing model. (Add another $1,195 in delivery fees.)
The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander made its debut online, the first new vehicle ever to be launched via the Amazon Live service.
If you missed the debut you can check it out at: Amazon.com/MitsubishiOutlander. And you can also go there for a vehicle configurator to spec out the new Outlander.