An affordable medium SUV with seven seats? Although it sounds almost too good to be true, the upgraded 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is here to prove it can be done. But at what cost?
- Front seat feels like it belongs to a more expensive car
- Powertrain and steering are well-matched and willing
- LS grade is a sweet spot for safety, tech and driver assistance equipment
- Rear visibility is limited
- Third row is hard to access and only a temporary solution
- Interior room and boot space lag behind some competitors
Boy, what a difference 10 years makes. The first all-new Mitsubishi Outlander in a decade landed in Australian showrooms in late 2021, undisputedly bigger, better looking, and more tech-laden than its predecessor.
The impact on the Outlander’s sales was instantaneous, with the model recording a more than 40 per cent rise in sales in the first six months of 2022 compared to the year prior.
For a medium SUV, it’s on the larger side – with an intimidating, boxy stance and eye-catching light signature that’s becoming a regular fixture on Australian roads.
Under that bulky bonnet, all Outlander variants get the same engine and transmission – a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine paired to an eight-stepped continuously variable transmission – but buyers can choose between front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The model I’m testing here is the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander LS FWD, the second most affordable offering in the range, which is front-wheel drive, has seven seats, and is priced from $39,490 before on-road costs or $42,990 drive-away.
If you crave all-wheel-drive capabilities, they can be had on the LS grade for an extra $2500 or thereabouts.
|Key details||2022 Mitsubishi Outlander LS FWD|
|Price||$39,490 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Sterling Silver|
|Options||Metallic paint – $740|
|Price as tested||$40,230 plus on-road costs
$43,730 drive-away (Melbourne)
|Rivals||Kia Sportage | Haval H6 | Hyundai Tucson|
The new Outlander is the first Mitsubishi I’ve sat in for a while. My last voyage into Mitsi world was in the old Pajero Sport – which felt like a different car from a different manufacturer altogether.
While my previous experience of Mitsubishi cars was that they possessed a certain world-weary, battle-ready, hardy charm, the new Outlander has brought the brand in line with its more sophisticated rivals like Kia, Hyundai and Mazda.
First impressions in the cabin are that it feels clean, spacious and minimalist. While the LS is one of the more affordable options, Mitsubishi hasn’t skimped on the good stuff.
There’s a substantial leather-wrapped steering wheel, plenty of leather-look touch points on the dash and surrounds, dual-zone climate control, and a polish to the overall execution that’s rather impressive.
Storage could certainly be better – a massive centre console looks sleek, but fails to provide the kind of cavernous bins and nooks I’m used to finding in cars from Honda or Skoda (both brands are regarded as storage aficionados).
That lack of storage wouldn’t normally bother me in a medium SUV, but the Outlander feels large. Its exterior dimensions are some of the largest in the class, so getting inside to find slim door bins and a teeny central compartment is somewhat counterintuitive.
Headroom in the front and middle row is the real highlight here, with tall drivers well catered for.
I don’t take issue with fabric seats, especially if they look attractive and offer good support like the ones in the Outlander, but I did struggle to find my ideal position with the manual seat adjustment – although there’s electric lumbar support.
Moving to the middle row, things become a bit more basic but spacious nonetheless.
Keep in mind that while leg and knee room are ample, you might have to sacrifice some of that to accommodate third-row occupants.
The middle bench offers a slide function and can recline slightly, and the seat backs can split 40/20/40, so every segment is able to fold down individually and provide access to the boot – handy if a child seat prevents you from folding the seat in one section.
Speaking of child seats – the middle row can theoretically accommodate one in every spot thanks to two ISOFIX points and three top tethers, but to successfully get three in there at the same time would warrant a ticker tape parade.
For those who draw the short straw, the extra two seats in the back are an acquired taste. You’d want to be on good terms with middle-row occupants in order to get them to give you a little more legroom, otherwise amputation is possibly a better option.
Getting into the third row is a task best reserved for fit and flexible kids, given the elevated height and smaller door opening doesn’t leave much clearance. I’m 178cm tall and I had to hunch because the sloped roof in the back made me feel like the BFG.
The third row can be raised from the boot, where there’s a latch to remotely lower the middle row, plus pull tabs to raise the sixth and seventh seats. Mercifully, they’re nice and light and don’t require a gym membership to lift up like in other seven-seaters I’ve driven.
One quirky feature is that the third-row headrests don’t stow away at the top of the seat like in other seven-seaters, but rather are removable and must be stored under the floor of the boot when not in use.
Unfortunately, the retractable cargo blind can also be stored under the boot floor and must sit atop the headrests, meaning it’s a complicated process getting everything to fit.
As for the boot, it’s a respectable 163L with the third row in play (enough for a modest supermarket shop), increasing to 478L with the third row flat. That latter figure isn’t terrible, but it’s down on competitors like the Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4, which offer marginally more room.
|2022 Mitsubishi Outlander LS FWD|
|Boot volume||163L to third row
478L to second row
1473L to first row
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Outlander’s infotainment system isn’t a game-changer, but it’s attractive and eminently functional.
Drivers are welcomed by a clever and impactful start-up animation that lights up both the 9.0-inch central touchscreen and a smaller 7.0-inch digital driver display. Both screens work in tandem to display all the relevant information you’d possibly need while on the move.
Steering wheel controls for phone calls and audio volume and track changes are straightforward in their execution, and everything else is easy to reach and well laid out.
A wireless phone-charging pad sits below the dash and can fit most phones, and wireless Apple CarPlay is standard, although Android Auto requires a cable.
Satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity with voice control round out the infotainment offering, while the configurability of the home screen means you can personalise it to access your favourite functions first up.
Safety and Technology
The Outlander receives a five-star safety rating from ANCAP and was tested in 2022.
That second part is a big win for the safety-conscious, as ANCAP testing criteria get stricter every year, so choosing a car with a current safety rating means you’re more likely to have more coverage.
It scored particularly highly in the child occupant protection category, receiving 92 per cent, and received 83 per cent for both the safety assist and adult occupant protection categories, and 81 per cent for vulnerable road user protection.
The autonomous emergency braking system is a real highlight. It can function in reverse, at intersections, and can detect pedestrians and cyclists – about as comprehensive as AEB gets.
I was able to gently test the reverse AEB system when getting the Outlander into a tight spot. When the car’s parking sensors decided I was getting too close to the car behind (a colleague was guiding me in, so I was ignoring the sensors), the system gently vibrated the brakes to slow my roll.
While most cars these days receive rear parking sensors and a reverse camera from the base grade, the Outlander adds front sensors to this package, which is appreciated given its sheer size can prove challenging in tight parking spots.
On top of the base ES grade, the LS also adds a rear cross-traffic alert, but it misses out on a tyre pressure monitoring system altogether, so you’ll have to check your tyres the old-fashioned way.
The Outlander also features a few extra airbags on top of the regular offerings – a driver’s knee airbag and a centre airbag – but unfortunately, the curtain airbags in the car don’t extend all the way back to the third row. Good to know for those who plan to put their little kiddos back there.
Seatbelt reminders, however, do extend all the way to the third row and they are vigilant.
A word to the wise – if you’ve got a child seat in the back seat and you put a child in it, the car will detect that the seat is full and incessantly beep at you – and you can’t make it stop.
It’s better to buckle the seatbelt before you install your child seat via the ISOFIX points to avoid eventually screaming “OH JUST SHUT UP WILL YOU” in front of your child like I did.
|2022 Mitsubishi Outlander LS FWD|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2022)|
|Safety report||Link to ANCAP report|
Value for Money
The most affordable Mitsubishi Outlander is the entry-level, five-seater Outlander ES FWD, which starts at $34,990 before on-road costs.
In the context of the Outlander range, the LS is only $3500 more than the entry-level and adds a handful of perks to justify that spend, like keyless entry, a wireless phone charger, automatic headlights and, of course, third-row seating.
But in the broader context of its segment, the Outlander LS’s $38,490 starting price (before on-roads) is on the upper end of the pricing spectrum, with the Haval H6, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Subaru Forester all offering similar grades for a few thousand dollars less.
Of course, none of those cars offer the flexibility of seven seats. Additionally, they don’t boast Mitsubishi’s 10-year warranty – but that comes with some pretty important fine print.
The 10-year, 200,000km warranty offer is conditional on you servicing your vehicle within the Mitsubishi dealer network, and according to the prescribed servicing schedule, which stipulates a service every 12 months or 15,000km.
If you don’t abide by those terms, the warranty reverts back to the standard offering, which is five years or 100,000km.
It’s becoming increasingly uncommon to put a cap on the number of kilometres for a warranty, with most brands offering an unlimited term, so in that sense Mitsubishi is lagging behind – even with the 10-year/200,000km offering.
Plus, you’d have to weigh up the convenience of sticking to Mitsubishi dealers, especially if you’re someone who moves a lot or lives in a regional area.
Capped-price servicing is also available for 10 years at a total cost of $3190, which works out to an average of $319 per year – that’s pretty good. For comparison, Kia’s seven-year, capped-price servicing on the Sportage works out to an average of $497 per year.
|At a glance||2022 Mitsubishi Outlander LS FWD|
|Warranty||Five years / 100,000km
Up to 10 years / 200,000km if service conditions are met
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$3190 (10 years)|
Finally, Mitsubishi quotes a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 7.7L/100km, but my week of driving returned an average of 9.7L/100km. It’s a big car, so that’s not particularly surprising, but other medium SUVs are capable of closer to a sub 8L/100km result.
It’s an argument to hold out and wait for the plug-in hybrid Outlander, which offers added power and the potential for minimal fuel consumption (although at a higher price point).
Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||7.7L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||9.7L/100km|
|Fuel type||91-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||55L|
Don’t be fooled – although the Outlander features a dial near the gearstick with different drive modes like ‘snow mode’ and ‘gravel mode’, this is a front-wheel-drive car. Most owners won’t notice the difference – but on a few occasions when turning right off a wet street with tram tracks, I detected some tyre slippage.
Otherwise, the Outlander feels sure-footed and substantial on the road, with a powertrain that’s perfectly matched to its size.
The engine sounds thrashy when you really put your foot down, but the response is ready and willing – with outputs of 135kW and 245Nm at hand.
The continuously variable transmission is a perfectly capable companion, and what it lacks in punch it makes up for with smooth efficiency. Power delivery is linear and immediate from a standstill.
Personally, I didn’t love the driving position – it feels low given the Outlander’s bonnet sits quite high, and I would have loved more elevation for city driving. It gives the illusion of driving a much larger car and can be off-putting when navigating tighter spaces.
Additionally, the rear visibility in the Outlander could be a lot better – the rear windshield is narrow and the thick D-pillars give it a closed-in, dark feeling that can have you feel as though you’re flying blind.
While a vigilant blind-spot monitor will take care of the gaps for you, I will always prefer using my own eyes where possible.
Its steering is light but direct and ideal for manoeuvring in smaller spaces, and a 10.6m turning circle means the car certainly feels smaller to handle than it looks.
The ride is, for the most part, comfortable – although it can feel unsettled over sustained harshness and is overly reactive on the harder edges. Still, it successfully takes the edge out of most imperfections without leaning too wobbly or overly cosseting.
Finally, while I’m sure I’d get used to it, the small gear selector, which is a push-and-slide set-up, with a separate button for park, is overly fiddly to use and lacks the clean utility of the rest of the cabin.
|Key details||2022 Mitsubishi Outlander LS FWD|
|Engine||2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||135kW @ 6000rpm|
|Torque||245Nm @ 3600rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Continuously variable automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||82kW/t|
|Tow rating||1600kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
This Outlander is a huge improvement on the model it replaces and represents a big step forward for the Mitsubishi brand in general.
It looks bold and modern, and the well-matched powertrain and helpful driver assistance systems make it an excellent companion for around-town driving.
A solid level of safety equipment, premium equipment perks and a clean, well-laid-out front seat mean the LS is a bit of a sweet spot in the range, although buyers might want to consider spending a bit extra to secure all-wheel-drive capabilities.
Mitsubishi’s 10-year warranty and servicing packs certainly can provide extra peace of mind, but that’s provided you’re willing to follow the fairly stringent rules. Otherwise, the basic offering is a little less enticing.
I found one of the major advantages the Outlander has over its competition could also prove to be one of its shortfalls – the third row.
While headroom is ample, some of the cabin’s versatility and space is compromised to squeeze those extra two seats in, and they’re really only good for short runs.
Those who want better fuel economy and more power might also consider a test drive in the plug-in hybrid Outlander.
And if those extra two seats aren’t a must-have, it’s worth weighing up whether the compromised cabin space is worth the added carpool capacity.