Surprising Refinement in the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5

Mitsubishi has been making automobiles far longer than you realize. Over 100 years, actually, starting with (and I’m not making this up) the Mitsubishi Model A in 1917. It wasn’t until 60 years ago that Mitsubishi first sold a car in the United States, and that was rebadged as the Dodge Colt. It took another eleven years for a Mitsubishi vehicle to be sold in the USA under its own name, the Tredia, Cordia and Starion models. Remember any of those?

Mitsubishi has slowly built up its reputation in the market and when I had the chance to drive the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC, a mid-size SUV, I was eager to experience the company’s push into the budget luxury category. The Outlander was first introduced back in 2005, so this is the 17th-generation model. There are dozens of mid-size SUVs in the $60K+ category, but how many options are there under $40K for that proverbial family of five plus an occasional friend, load of groceries, or stack of lacrosse gear?

Wondering what “S-AWC” is? It’s “Super All Wheel Control”, an advanced full-time four-wheel drive system developed by Mitsubishi Motors and introduced back in 2007. Just think “AWD” and you’ll know what I mean.

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel 2.5 - exterior front

This is the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 in Alloy Silver Metallic with a Black interior. It’s a very nice vehicle with lots of luxury and safety additions that make it a solid choice in the category, from a company that’s had over a century to get everything perfect, from mechanical to safety to comfort.

THE 2022 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER DRIVER COCKPIT

Let’s start with the dashboard layout, as that’s the most common thing a driver looks at when they’re not keeping their eye on the road:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - dashboard layout

The infotainment system screen is what jumps out: It’s a big, bright 9″ display that makes accessing most everything in the vehicle a breeze. Below it is the climate controls, then, tucked behind the shifter, are USB ports and a Qi wireless charging pad. A pretty standard setup for the latest generation of vehicles, actually, including one USB-A and one USB-C port. This model also had Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, including wireless CarPlay. Very helpful!

The shifter itself is a bit odd, seeming a bit bigger than it needs to be. The dark grey panel below it slides around as you change gears too, which ends up looking a bit weird. Below it is the drive mode dial that features Normal and Eco modes, along with lots of off-road and AWD options for more difficult driving conditions and terrain. Also note the attractive stitching on the “leather appointed” seating surfaces. It’s not quite premium leather so I imagine it will age differently, but this is also a sub-$40K SUV, not an $85K SUV too.

The main gauge display is busy with information, but it’s easy to read:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - main gauges

The 2022 Outlander has surprisingly good fuel efficiency for a vehicle of its class, with an EPA rating or 24/30. You can see I was averaging 26.5 mpg, not too bad for its size. Mitsubishi also makes a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander that would get better mileage (at least for the first few dozen miles), but this was an old-school internal combustion engine. Also note the current speed limit on the current road tucked into the middle of the speedometer on the right. An unusual location for this information, but entirely logical if you think about it.

The Outlander SEL 2.5 denotes that this is powered by a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder direct-injection engine featuring an 8-speed continuously variable transmission. The drive experience was good, with a typical sluggishness from a stop in ECO mode that went (mostly) away in NORMAL driving mode. As with so many of these vehicles, my best recommendation is to switch to normal at a stop, then go to ECO once you’re up to speed.

It’s good that Mitsubishi supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too, because its built-in GPS navigation system looks like it’s past due for a facelift and redesign:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - mitsubishi navigation map

This reminds me of the old standalone GPS screens that were on the market as the technology became available but wasn’t able to be retrofit in older vehicles. I had at least one or two of those, with their tiny 5″ screens.

THE OUTLANDER PASSENGER EXPERIENCE

Where the Outlander really shines is with all the amenities included. So many thoughtful design touches and user experience additions. For example, the back windows have built-in sunshades:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - back window shade

If you’ve got little people in the back seat, this is a game changer (as long as they don’t start tugging on it!). The center climate controls for the rear passengers offers all the desired options, including USB charging. Leg room? Well, if the front seat occupants are tall, it might get a bit more like a budget airline seat than desired:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - rear legroom

Again, notice the cross-diamond stitching on both the seat and the door panel, along with the orange accents. Very attractive. Also note the speakers on the rear doors too; rear passengers won’t have to complain that they can’t hear the music with this setup.

LOOKING INTO THE OUTLANDER

Moving around to the back of the vehicle, there’s plenty of storage and cargo room if you have the third-row seats folded down:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - rear cargo space

You can also see here the cupholder in the rear seat divider. Folded up it’s space for a third person, folded down it’s a DMZ between kids on a long drive and doubles as a cup holder. Definitely handy.

Lean in and you can get a good sense of the interior layout:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - view from rear

Again, note the orange accents throughout, along with the handles above each door to help people with ingress and egress. Useful for some folk, no question.

Oh! There was one feature that made me laugh too. So many cars now project the company logo on the ground below the driver’s door, and Mitsubishi has the biggest, brightest image I’ve ever seen:

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - projected on ground driver's door

I have to admit I don’t quite understand this feature. Why would you want it? Enlighten me in the comments, please.

THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSIONS

There were a few quirks – the seat material didn’t breath well and I found my back getting sweaty, even with the AC blasting, for example – but overall I really liked the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5. It drove really well, handled mountain roads with ease, and was jam packed with safety and comfort features. It looks a little bit boxy from the outside…

2022 mitsubishi outlander sel - exterior rear

But overall there’s lots ot like about this, most especially its surprisingly low pricetag for a vehicle in this class with this lineup of features and options. The base price is $33K with most of the additional cost from the SEL Touring Package. If you are in the market for a mid-size SUV, this is definitely one to add to your list. You might just be surprised.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC 4-Door SUV with 2.5L DOHC 6-Cylinder engine and 8-speed continuously variable transmission. BASE PRICE: $33,745.00. Add Ons: SEL Touring Package, Accy Tonneau Cover. AS DRIVEN: $37,995.00.

Disclosure: Mitsubishi loaned me the Outlander for a week in return for this review. This is also a “for testing purposes only” vehicle, so there might be small differences when compared to the final shipping vehicle. Thanks, Mitsubishi!

dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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