Car brands always have their good days and bad days. The automaker has models that do well and ones that lead a very short life. However, for the Japanese car brand Mitsubishi, the days of being a car brand worth driving are probably over. The company certainly faired better in the ’90s and early ’00s, but it’s had trouble with reliability and overall satisfaction since the new millennium. Even with newer Mitsubishi models that have undergone flashy redesigns, it hasn’t been enough to draw consumer interest or critical praise. This is especially true of the Mitsubishi Outlander‘s reliability and other problems with the automaker’s largest SUV.
Positive reviews for the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander
The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is the fourth-generation debut of the model and comes with a brand-new redesign, inside and out. While previous model years were critically reviled and shunned, the 2022 model year redesign seems to have caused some reviewers to change their minds on the Outlander SUV.
Car and Driver gave the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander an 8/10, up from a 5/10 for its 2021 model year, noting a vast improvement in exterior style, standard features, and driving manners. The reviewer states, “the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is totally reimagined and now actually competitive in the highly saturated compact-crossover class.” As an added bonus, an Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) option is also available.
U.S. News also had second thoughts on the new Outlander. While it is still being tested and hasn’t been awarded a final score, its Critic’s Rating is at 7.8, up from 5.8 for the 2021 model year. While reviewers weren’t jazzed about its slow acceleration or cramped third-row, they felt the 2022 Outlander had an otherwise roomy cabin with high-quality materials, plenty of standard technology features on its base trim, and excellent handling, especially when compared to its previous model years. So, are Mitsubishi Outlanders good cars now?
Consumer Reports thinks you should skip the Mitsubishi Outlander
Still, not everyone was convinced. Despite a redesign for the current model year, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander hasn’t done enough to win over skeptics. Consumer Reports thought it performed adequately regarding its road test but had low-reliability ratings, and its overall score of 57/100 was far from earning a recommendation from the company. While it didn’t make the bottom of the list, it was also nowhere near the top.
What if you’re looking for a used Mitsubishi Outlander? That’s a far worse option to consider. For its 2019 model year, Mitsubishi was 30/33 on their list of brands on their overall ranking list, making it the 3rd worst brand available, a spot it’s been near since at least 2016. In fact, Consumer Reports hasn’t been able to recommend a model for the last several years, even with the improved 2022 Outlander.
For its 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander review, Consumer Reports said, “skip the low-scoring Outlander altogether.” The reviewers had more bad things to say about it than good. Specifically, the road test yielded subpar results. Scores for acceleration, transmission, fuel economy, cargo area, interior, and most comfort and convenience features all scored 3/5. High scores included 4/5 for rear-seat comfort, braking, front and rear access, usability, and a single 5/5 for the climate system. The lowest scores were for routine and emergency handling, with a 2/5 and a 1/5 for third-row access.
The best thing going for new and old Outlander models is its nod as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is especially true of its redesigned 2022 model year, which received top scores in nearly every IIHS category, with its improved headlights being a notable and preferred upgrade.
Mitsubishi’s mediocre brand reliability and reputation
According to Kelley Blue Book, consumers generally seem to like Mitsubishi (or at least the Outlander), but experts don’t favor the brand as highly. Mitsubishi hasn’t won any J.D. Power awards going back to 2000. However, in 2022, J.D. Power‘s Dependability Study rated them in 14th place with 183 problems per 100 vehicles, above the industry average of 192, which is a vast improvement from the brand’s 2017 ranking of 7th from the bottom.
Still, despite recent attempts at course correction, it’s no secret that Mitsubishi doesn’t have a stellar reputation. Not too long ago, the company was named Japan’s worst automaker of 2016 by AutoGuide. So, what happened to this once-reliable brand? Are Mitsubishis good cars, or were Mitsubishis good cars?
Mitsubishi seems to have peaked in the 1990s, according to Indie Auto. Despite being a late entry to the automotive market in the 1980s, the automaker had great success with its lineup against other Japanese automaker rivals like Subaru, Mazda, and Honda. However, while Mazda found its niche of drivers for its style and quality, Subaru focused on a lineup of all-AWD models, and Honda expanded its catalog to include popular models like the CR-V SUV and Odyssey minivan, Mitsubishi floundered with too many subpar models, all of which had plenty of problems. This soon tanked its sales and reliability as consumers tried out its competitors and never looked back.
Unfortunately, those problems still plague modern Mitsubishi models. According to OSV, issues with the Outlander seem to stem from engine trouble and braking issues, with WarrantyDirect accounting for 43.55% of problems being engine-related and 20.97% being braking-related. Other Mitsubishi models scored low, too, proving that it’s not just the Outlander that has issues. In fact, the overall average reliability rating from WarrantyDirect probably only stems from the Lancer, which carries the brand with a 4.4/5 rating. Still, one model can’t buoy a brand, especially since the Mitsubishi Lancer was discontinued in most markets after 2017.
Common problems with the Mitsubishi seem to be the clutch and automatic transmission prematurely failing and issues with the clear coat peeling. That said, if you’re set on this brand, the most reliable models seem to be the Colt or Lancer, which you can only seem to get secondhand.
What about the least reliable Mitsubishi models? Those would be the Outlander and Shogun, with the Outlander still in production and the Shogun (or Pajero or Montero) discontinued in 2021. At the very least, it seems that the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is a significant improvement over its predecessor, but will that be enough to save the once-proud brand?