Unlike Isuzu and Suzuki who pulled out of the US market years ago, Mitsubishi has somehow been able to hang on as a small Japanese automaker with vacillating interest in selling cars here. But now that they are part of the Renault Nissan alliance we should expect to see more competitive products in Mitsu showrooms starting with this Nissan Rogue-based, all-new 2022 Outlander. The 10-year old compact-sized Outlander Sport is still far and away Mitsu’s best-seller but it’s this bigger Outlander – which has nothing in common with the Sport – that wears the flagship mantle, even available as plug-in hybrid way before that sort of thing was fashionable. It’s done very well for Mitsubishi and for its next act it leans on Alliance partner Nissan for its bones and just about everything else. For all intents and purposes, this is the Nissan Rogue with cooler styling and a minuscule 3rd row. This fully loaded SEL Touring trim with all-wheel drive is priced about $1,500 less than the Rogue Platinum I tested and comes with a better warranty. And while the Rogue did away with its Slid-N-Recline 2nd row seat, the Outlander does both of those things. There’s more people space in here than before as this Outlander is 2” wider than the previous model. Though the engine is slightly larger than the 2020 model’s standard 4-cylinder motor, gas mileage remains the same at 26mpg though with a smaller driving range of 377 miles. But this Outlander’s story is really about improved quality, greater breadth of features and its newfound appeal. The design is a grand slam for Mitsu, here in the upcharge Diamond White paint looking tough yet elegant, sporty yet functional.
Not long ago, before every manufacturer offered one, if your family drove an SUV it was likely either a Ford Explorer or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. And over the past 3 decades the Grand Cherokee has advanced to the position of the flagship Jeep, with some trim levels so powerful and opulent that their price tags can rise above $100,000. But never has there been a Grand Cherokee big enough for a 3rd row. Enter the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L with 7-passenger seating. This Overland model is slotted below the more bougie Summit and Summit Reserve trims. It’s very well-appointed with softer leather seating, massage programs, the upsized 10” infotainment screen, a 19-speaker audio system, night vision, head-up display, power-folding seats and quad-zone climate control. So this one won’t leave you wanting and comes in fully optioned at $63,915. About $40,000 gets you into the Grand Cherokee L with 6 trims available, all with optional 4-wheel drive except Summit Reserve where that is standard. Another option is a V8, but only on Overland and higher. A little more polish and a tweak here and there could make it great or perhaps that’s where the upcoming Grand Wagoner picks up the slack.
TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID PLATINUM AWD QUICK TAKES. Toyota made “hybrid” synonymous with high fuel efficiency more than 20 years ago. Later, Toyota introduced the first hybrid SUV in its class, the 2006 Highlander. Leave it to Toyota to again raise the bar for hybrid SUV functionality by making the 2020 model the most fuel-efficient Highlander Hybrid ever. The bottom line is an eye opener for the efficiency-minded: 243 total system horsepower and up to a manufacturer-estimated 36 combined MPG. The latter is a 24-percent improvement over the previous-generation Highlander Hybrid’s 29 combined MPG. Yet, Highlander Hybrid still delivers the everyday acceleration, power and responsiveness that family buyers expect. In another Highlander first, the hybrid is now available in either 2WD or AWD, further expanding hybrid technology to a new group of buyers.
LEXUS RX 350 L 2020 QUICK TAKES. The pioneer of the luxury crossover segment is receiving an update – inside and out – for the 2020 model year. The new 2020 Lexus RX and RXL three row enhance both their elegance and captivating appeal through improved driving dynamics, an updated Lexus Multimedia System, additional standard safety features and elevated styling that bring a new sophistication to the RX lineup.
All 2020 Lexus RX models feature updated exterior styling that includes revised front and rear fascias and a new standard 18” wheel design. Triple-beam LED headlamps have also been redesigned as an option. Inside, an available 12.3-inch touchscreen paired with the remote touch pad supports added dynamic voice and navigation functionality. The updated Lexus Multimedia System now includes advanced in-dash technology to simplify a guest’s life, such as Apple CarPlay® integration for your iPhone.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
Not long ago, before every manufacturer offered one if not more, if your family drove an SUV it was likely either a Ford Explorer or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. And over the past 3 decades, the Grand Cherokee has advanced to the position of the flagship Jeep, with some trim levels so powerful and opulent that their price tags can rise above $100,000. But never has there been a Grand Cherokee big enough for a 3rd row. Enter the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L with 7-passenger seating. Moving off of its German-derived platform for the first time in over a decade the unibody Grand Cherokee L now rides atop an Italian-born, rear- or all-wheel drive architecture preserving its iconic 4X4 capability while promising an even more premium experience on-road. Top of the line Overland and Summit models feature an updated air suspension with adaptive damping shocks that Jeep says delivers world-class driving dynamics. Combined with active engine mounts that stiffen at higher speeds and an enhanced noise cancellation system, this should be one very quiet and comfortable cruiser. The powertrains are familiar with the 290 horsepower Pentastar V6 serving as the standard engine and the don’t-call-me-a-HEMI 5.7-liter V8 an option on Overland and Summit. It’s rated at 357 horsepower and can tow 7,200 pounds. Both are paired to an 8-speed automatic with the choice of 3 available 4X4 systems ranging from a basic, single speed transfer case to one with a low range and a limited slip rear differential. Add the Off-Road Group to that system and you’ve also got steel skid plates, more aggressive tires, and up to 24” of water fording capability. With the Quadra-Lift air springs, there’s up to 4+” of additional height span, more impressive off-road geometry and nearly 11” of ground clearance. Selec-Terrain offers 5 different modes for set-it-and-forget-it driving.
But the Grand Cherokee’s biggest evolution likely lies in here where the objective was to create one of the most exquisite and technically advanced interiors in the industry. Using handcrafted materials with an attention to detail, available features include seat back massage, ventilated 2nd row seats, a mix of 12 USB ports, customizable ambient lighting, quad zone climate control, and something I’ve always dreamed of owning, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system – an automotive first.
The second row comes with standard “tip and slide” bucket seats and an available power-folding third row. Bench seating is optional. The third-row seat features a 50/50 split and both the second- and third-rows fold into a flat-load floor.
An all-new UConnect5 system features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there’s a rear seat monitoring camera first seen on the Chrysler Pacifica, a digital rear view mirror, a head-up display, night vision, and more…including late availability of advanced hands-free driving. Don’t need the 3rd row? The 5-passenger Grand Cherokee will also be redesigned later this year with plug-in hybrid variants also on the way and an even more luxurious Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer to follow.