IN a way it’s hard to ignore the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed, with its big meaty jawline and newfound staunch. To look the way it does, however, demands a worthy driving experience. Rest assured you will find that experience, with some searching.
Odd at times but capable at others, the new Outlander is intensely likeable. We have to be honest though, the biggest ever Outlander Exceed has some peculiarities. So let’s get them out of the way.
Rolling on 20-inch alloys, there is sometimes an empty sensation between your feet and the road contact, as if you were dangling your legs over the edge of a wharf. On the average imperfect road, the ride also feels plasticky.
The interior styling lacks vision, and the back window lacks visibility. An unfortunate legroom trade-off will be the catalyst for arguments between any second and third row occupants, unless they all skip leg day.
Strange for a car that is designed to carry people more than it is stuff. With any luck you’ve continued reading. Because from there things do get much better, beginning from where you sit.
After the comfort entry seat welcomes you in, you have the freedom to adjust your seating position every which way, as well as lumbar support. Diamond stitched leather adorns all seats, and it’s the nice type, not the sticky type.
Examining your view from the windscreen you’ll notice the head-up display, but more than that you’ll see the masculine squareness of the bonnet, which accentuates the same shape in the dash.
This feels very 4X4, not AWD SUV, and induces in you a fondness for ploughing everyone out of the way. Well, not quite, but it does stimulate assertiveness, albeit with not much consistency across different facets of the interior styling.
As far as features go though, there’s a prudent blend of no-nonsense comforts and jazzy, techy ones. For instance, the Bose sound system has no regard for the safety of your eardrums, and only for sound quality.
It’s the sternum rattling sound we all hoped for from our box subs as teenagers. There are numerous drink holders – four cup and six bottle – which is the basis for any good car. There’s also a good size console, and a sunglasses compartment.
There’s even pull-up sunshades for the back windows. In contrast, a generous spread of geeky connectivity and electronic driver assistance features are at your disposal, and it has all the multimedia hallmarks of a top-trim SUV.
You’ll find things like a 9.0-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity with voice control, and a wireless phone charging pad. The atmosphere is enhanced by heated front seats and three-zone climate control.
There’s a big, bright 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and of course the gaping panoramic roof, which very much suits a car like the Outlander. Mitsubishi have then saturated the Exceed with just about every driver aid known to the auto industry.
The list provided outlines a wearisome 17 different electronic tools to ward off death or injury, from predictive forward collision mitigation to driver attention alert, a brake override system, and surprises like rear automatic emergency braking and trailer stability assist.
These advanced features are in addition to the more convenience focussed adaptive cruise control, 360-degree monitor, adaptive beam LED headlights, automatic wipers, and of course, the terrain control activated by the central dial.
As we hinted, in the 7-seater Outlander Exceed, someone in the back isn’t getting a spot for their largest limbs – more than likely the third rowers who will be sacrificed out of sheer utilitarianism.
It’s not all bad though, because with third row split folding seats you can have a normal 5-seater with excellent storage, or with second row split folding you can kick everyone out and take your whole living room on holiday.
Now, the driving. We’ve mentioned the plasticky ride, so there’s no point harping on it. Particularly when there’s some good handling on offer. Much like the Eclipse Cross Exceed we reviewed back in October, the Outlander Exceed has the same light and lovely steering.
That makes it a stupidly easy thing to manoeuvre, even in multi-storey carparks and tight side streets, despite being 4,710mm long and 1,862mm wide.
The car holds firm while cornering, aside from the occasional jiggle on the exit, indeed nothing for an SUV to be ashamed of. Again, this behaviour is reminiscent of the Eclipse Cross.
On a perfect surface like the NorthConnex tunnel, the Outlander coasts along with the fluidity of a skateboarder on polished concrete. This is also the best time to select Tarmac mode, rendering a noticeable stiffening of the whole car and a readiness about the throttle.
At any time, the Outlander possesses excellent braking capacity as well, notably from the front ventilated disc brakes. Mild off-roading is fine too, apparently encouraged given the Mud, Gravel and Snow terrain modes.
On a decent unsealed track, the Outlander did a fair job. Though Mud and Gravel modes were better at catching slip, it still felt sufficiently capable in Normal. Be ready to be shaken like a microwaved corn kernel on any washboard gravel however.
Under the bonnet of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed is a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 135kW and 245Nm of torque. Power arrives at the wheels via an 8-speed CVT, courtesy of JATCO transmissions.
On paper 245Nm sounds like a workable amount but isn’t always expressed when the car is under load. It’s not that you’ll start rolling backwards when climbing a hill, but sometimes the engine works awfully hard to pull the 1760kg kerb weight of the Outlander.
This might be something to weigh up if you plan on topping the 1600kg braked towing capacity or 595kg internal payload. On the flat, the on-paper disappointing 135kW actually provides satisfactory sprightliness from 0 to roughly 70km/h.
Early in our test we were defiant in the face of exorbitant Sydney fuel prices and skulled 9.0-litres/100km, but as we toned it down, we sat consistently on 8.2-litres/100km for the last two days of our road test, close to Mitsubishi’s stated figure of 8.1-litres/100km.
To cap things off – the looks. You try and figure it out. Is it completely unique or did they spend too long looking at a Kluger with occasional glances at a Range Rover and a Grand Cherokee? It’s hard to say.
Whatever it is, we think from certain angles it conveys the message that it doesn’t care what anyone thinks. And that’s a good image. While beefing up the appearance has been an obvious focus, practicality hasn’t been side lined.
As well as LED headlights, the Exceed is equipped with front and rear LED fog lights, electronic door mirrors with memory function and heating, roof rails, a handsfree power tailgate and keyless entry.
For $51,490 drive away you can experience for yourself the charming imperfection of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed, a car with evident flaws and yet large appeal.
It’s a car that’s like a friend whose many irritations you overlook because when it boils down to it, they’re a good companion.
Similarly, if you can laugh off the problems the Outlander has and focus on what is excellent about it, you’ll have yourself a great SUV and some fun road trips ahead.
Our test vehicle was provided by Mitsubishi Motors Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed AWD, contact your local Mitsubishi dealer.