Mitsubishi’s flagship SUV gets new design details and sets a direction for future vehicles

Mitsubishi continues to shore up its small but focused portfolio with the 2022 Outlander, the three-row SUV that rides on an all-new platform and has been redesigned from the ground up. “This is the most important new car that Mitsubishi motors has developed in many years,” says chief executive Takao Kato. The goal for the new Outlander, he adds, was to take a car that was previously seen as conventional and casual and make it more robust, dynamic, and advanced.

To reinvent its flagship, the Mitsubishi design team adopted a design language called “bold stride,” representing an attitude of adventure and confidence. “I aimed to create a look that expresses a generous, confident attitude that comes from a strong powerful design,” says Mitsubishi global head of design Seiji Watanabe. “Our cars must be designed to appeal to the senses and they must be approachable and dependable.” 

In an exterior walkaround, Watanabe points out the “dynamic shield” front end that draws inspiration from both the Lancer Evolution and the Montero/Pajero. A higher horizontal line on the tip of the hood volume makes the Outlander’s centre of gravity look higher. Notably, designers reversed the location of the DRLs and the headlamps. “The daytime running lights are up there because that’s where the driver’s eye naturally goes when you’re [approaching] an oncoming car. But we chose to put the headlamps – the high and low beams – down below, so they minimise glare and dazzle to other cars and pedestrians.”

Watanabe also emphasises the muscular body side created by strong upper and lower character lines, the wraparound window on the cabin, and jet-tail-fin pillar. In the rear, the hexagonal-shaped tailgate draws inspiration from the Pajaro, while the T-shaped taillights emphasise width.

“The interior was almost more important to the design team,” Watanabi says. “We wanted to create a sanctuary where you can be alone or with your whole family – but always comfortable.” They coined the term “Mitsubishi touch,” where everything works together to make the operation of the car easier and more reliable – from the angle of the touch screen to the type of paint used on the knobs.

The layout is clean and unfussy, with a 9-inch touch screen that sits up high for easy visibility. In front of the driver is a new, contoured steering wheel with simplified controls and a configurable 12.3-inch digital driver display. Quilted leather on seats and doors look to be a considerable upgrade from the previous model.

When the 2022 Outlander goes on sale in April, it will launch with with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine mated to a CVT. During the press presentation, a Mitsubishi representative wrote in the chat that a PHEV would be coming “down the road.” The Outlander will also set the tone for future designs to come. “You will see us continue to build new design signatures on future Mitsubishi cars following the Outlander,” Watanabe promises.

Mitsubishi also recently made some considerable changes to its Eclipse Cross.