As hybrid technology has progressed from cars to SUVs, Mitsubishi was not to be left out. Their top selling Outlander has entered the plug-in field with their PHEV SUV that has a lot of competition.
Mitsubishi’s five-passenger Outlander SUV plug-in hybrid is offered in SEL and tested GT trim levels. The latter comes with a host of amenities including a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, heated seats/steering wheel, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and the outside mirrors fold in when locking the doors - to name a few. It also offers the latest safety technology with forward collision warning w/pedestrian detection, automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
Outlander PHEV gets its grunt from a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder with a 60-kilowatt electric motor powering the front wheels and another 60-kilowatt motor for the rear wheels. The gas only engine is rated at 117-hp and 137 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 25 combined city/highway mpg. Combined with a single-speed drive mode switchable reduction gear box with paddle shifters, the combination garners EPA fuel economy ratings of 74 MPGe for combined city/highway (for 100 miles). Outlander can run on electric power alone for up to 22 miles and it takes about eight hours to charge the battery via a 120-volt outlet. Using 240-volts, 3.5 hours and a fast charger in 25 minutes. The hybrid SUV also comes with a battery heater for cold weather.
The systems charging cable resides in the vehicles’ cargo underfloor (as does the starter battery). So powered, Outlander PHEV has a tow rating of up to 1,500 pounds.
Outlander is one of the better off-road capable compact hybrid SUVs in that it can mimic a locked differential with its twin-motor lock mode that splits power 50/50 between the front and rear wheels. And it has an appreciable 7.3-inch undercarriage clearance.
Acceleration from a standing stop is relatively quick. But after that, it’s a linear application of power. It has been independently timed at 9.8 seconds for 0-60 mph, not a head-snapper considering its hefty 4,178-pound curb weight.
The PHEV has a battery saver switch that when engaged can save remaining battery power. Mitsubishi says it can then be used while driving in residential areas or to reduce electric power consumption. There’s also an EV switch that allows driving the vehicle without starting the engine to maintain full electric power. One feature that took some getting used to, was the “P” (Park) button that must be pushed next to the trans shifter, instead of just shifting into park gear.
Step-in into the roomy cabin is a mere 18 inches and then over an 8-inch threshold. Once in, you’re treated to glossy plastic trim that looks like carbon fiber. A nice touch that gives an upscale look to the interiors’ overall décor.
Sporting a 7-inch touchscreen, apps and navigation are controlled by a smartphone connected through either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. In reverse gearing, a surround split screen view is offered.
HVAC controls are easy to use without having to study the owners’ manual. The gauge cluster has a driver’s information display that shows not only the fuel gauge, but a battery gauge showing how much battery power remains. Across from the speedometer and in place of a tachometer, an Eco gauge displays Charge, Eco and Power settings. It’s an aid in driving if maintaining economical driving habits.
Leather, heated front seats are Euro firm, but nicely supportive. The back seats are similar with ample leg room but marginal headroom for tall adults. Ingress/egress could be a bit better if the rear doors would open wider.
With the 60/40 rear seatbacks upright, Outlander’s cargo area is rated at 30.4 cubic feet that measures 38.5 inches deep, 38.5 wide and 28 high. Flip the seatbacks and capacity increases to 78 cubic feet for 72 inches of cargo loading depth. One point here, the rear seat bottoms must be pulled forward against the front seatbacks before flipping down the seatbacks. Most competitive SUV rear seats, flip flat in a single step.
Beneath the cargo floor is a bin for small item storage plus it holds the charging cable, tire inflator kit and starter battery.
Driving wise, the hybrid system transitions from electric to gas seamlessly. The ride on 18-inch Bridgestone tires is smooth on good roads but a bit bumpy over pock-marked roads and tar strips. Steering effort is light and a tad mushy with marginal road feel. Parking is easy with a relatively tight turning radius of 35.6 feet, and the ride is quiet.
With an extremely long list of most wanted standard features and an array of safety items, the only extra costs were for Pearl White paint ($295), carpeted floor mats ($135) and delivery ($995). These took the base price of $41,495 to $42,920. Now this is somewhat pricey in comparison to some of the competition, but it’s offset by generous warranties of fully transferable 5-year/60K new vehicle coverage (many competitors don’t offer a transferable nicety; 10/100K powertrain; 10/100K PHEV components and main drive battery; 7/100K corrosion and 5/Unlimited roadside assistance, all important considerations because of its hybrid technology.
With all the competition in its class, Outlander PHEV deserves consideration as it’s a viable family vehicle that’s economical for city driving, is an able off-roader and offers spacious interior and cargo area dimensions.