Mitsubishi fans everywhere, rejoice. All four of you have something to celebrate after dark years of a canceled Evo, the Eclipse devolving into a godforsaken crossover, a fuel economy scandal, and production defects that made their way past factory gates. This year, the Mitsubishi Outlander landed on Ward’s 10 Best Interiors list.
This is utterly baffling. Mitsubishi’s a company that has not placed well on industry best lists for a long time and while those lists are usually useless, they sometimes can point out some innovation in design or engineering. Not this time, though — it looks like the three-diamond brand just did a knock-off of every other popular luxe SUV interior and shipped it. And I guess… it worked?
Seriously, it’s a pure mishmash of every hot trend right now. While other automakers are tripping over themselves to ditch their physical shift levers for rotary knobs, Mitsubishi decided to have both, but badly. The gearbox is shifted through an electronic lever while driving modes live on a rotary knob reminiscent of a Ford or Jaguar-Land Rover product.
The dashboard and infotainment look like they could have been stolen from a brand-new Honda Civic, or a Mazda 6, or weirdly a new Lincoln Nautilus. It’s the same tacked on iPad stupidity of every other car on the road. The same long, unbroken dashboard trim bisected by air vents like every other car, all the while looking much cheaper and less resolved than any of the other offerings. There’s an awkward sort of forehead to the dash and flatness to the vents and trim that look excruciatingly boring and dated to me, with tacked-on electronics to make it look new.
Oh god, and the piano-black plastic. Why do automakers think this horrible material is the highway to a “premium” looking interior? At least, the Outlander exercises some restraint here, but still leaves it around the door handles and the HVAC controls, both high hand traffic areas. There is some interesting orange stitching and quilting that feels weirdly out of place and become the vogue with luxury cars like the Genesis G70. Speaking of the Genesis G70, the Outlander’s steering wheel scrolling knob looks lifted straight from the Korean luxury sedan.
Anyway, it’s just kind of funny, or maybe ironic, that Mitsubishi plods along getting sad head shakes from the motoring press then finally just rips off every other generic crossover and is suddenly award-worthy. Ward’s judge Drew Winters says “At $38,590, this interior stands out from the crowd because it looks so premium and luxurious, the rich colors and textures look like they belong in a much more expensive vehicle.” With all due respect, I would not pay anywhere near $38,590 for an interior that looks like that. I should go to a Mitsubishi dealership, if I could find one, and try this space out. I will report back from the ground floor and hopefully not got forcefully ejected from the showroom.
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