Take the most popular type of vehicle right now; an SUV. Combine it with the most popular trend in the auto industry right now; electrification. And sell it for under $45,000 CAD. You end up with the only plug-in hybrid SUV that majority of consumers can afford. The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the only kind in its class for this price and the competition is playing catch-up.
Engine – The Outlander PHEV is powered by a 2.0L gasoline engine and two 60 kW electric motors. One at the front wheels and the other at the back wheels. The 2.0L engine produces 117 hp and 137 lb-ft of torque. The front electric motor produces 80 hp and 101 lb-ft of torque while the rear motor produces the same horsepower but 144 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately due to the unique way that hybrid powertrains operate, total power output for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is not 277 hp and 382 lb-ft of torque. It’s actually more so around the 190 hp mark. But this was never meant to be a sporty SUV so around town, the power is adequate. Where it struggles though is on a highway, in particular when going for an overtake. While the electric motors provide instant torque, they feel underpowered for an SUV that tips the scales at nearly 1,900 kg.
On the plus side though, you can drive on a highway without using a drop of fuel. The EV range for the Outlander PHEV is 35 km which is a tad better than what the Volvo XC90 T8 can achieve at 32 km. But if you do have to use the gasoline engine, you should be getting around 9.2 L/100km combined in fuel efficiency. That is gasoline engine on its own without the aid of the electric motors. Depending on how long your commute is and how you use your vehicle, combined gasoline and electric fuel economy can drastically vary. For example, during my time with the Outlander PHEV, I averaged 2.1 L/100km in total.
Battery & Charging – A 12-kWh lithium-ion battery provides the electricity to the motors. Unlike any other plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has the option to be charged via a level 3 DC fast charger. Charging it from 0 to 80% via the level 3 option will take just 25 minutes and just under an hour to reach 100%. But if a level 3 charger is not available in your area, filling up the Outlander with electricity from a level 2 charger will take about 3.5 hours. It can also be charged via a 120V wall outlet which can take anywhere from 8 to 13 hours depending on the amperage.
Braking – Some of the electricity to power the Outlander can be recovered through regenerative braking. This SUV has 5 different levels of regenerative braking strength however none of them are strong enough to provide “one pedal” driving like the Nissan Leaf. You have to use the normal brake pedal. Thankfully the brake pedal feels like a normal brake pedal, as in, you don’t notice a dramatic difference between regenerative braking and using the disc brakes. Emergency automatic braking is standard on this GT trim.
Handling – As mentioned earlier, this was not meant to be a sporty SUV. The steering is very light and lacking in feel but it makes for very easy maneuvering around tight city parking lots at slow speeds. When the roads get tricky, the Outlander PHEV has an electronic 4WD system. There is no driveshaft from the engine to the back wheels but it uses the electric motors at both axles to work together as though it is a 4WD vehicle. And best of all, this will always work regardless of the battery state.
Ride Comfort – The ride is Ok for the Outlander PHEV. It’s relatively soft over most city streets but it can become jarry over rougher roads. Maybe it’s the added weight of the batteries and electric motors but the ride on this PHEV doesn’t feel as supple as the one in the V6 powered Outlander GT.
Interior Space – Because of the batteries and electric motor in the back, there is no third row in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. That said, front and rear occupants have broadly the same amount of room as the gasoline only Outlander and trunk space is still generous at 860L (30.4 cu-ft).
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – When driving in EV mode, the SUV is quiet both on city streets and on a highway. All that you really hear is a faint hum from the electric motors. When the gas engine kicks in, it’s surprisingly quiet so long as it’s not working too hard. Under hard acceleration it will be very loud but when using it on a highway, you can barely hear it. The rest of the interior, of this demo vehicle at least, is quiet and did not have any odd squeaks or rattles.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – If you opt for the base SE trim of the Outlander PHEV, you’ll be getting most features that one would need in a family SUV. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated seats, backup camera, blind spot sensors, automatic climate control, and push button start among others. A good list of features for a plug-in hybrid SUV with a starting price of $43,500 CAD before government incentives. Opt for this GT trim and you get lane departure warning, emergency automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, power liftgate, leather seats, heated steering wheel, surround view cameras, and a 710-watt audio system with a large subwoofer that takes up some of the rear trunk space.
Exterior Design – Unlike its little brother, the Eclipse Cross, the Outlander has a conservative design. But regardless of what trim you opt for, the exterior looks will be the same. The base SE trim has the same wheels and exterior trim pieces as the GT.
Interior Design – The interior look of the Outlander GT is a bit bland by today’s standards. Some of the switches are the same ones used in the Lancer from back in 2008. They work just fine but Hyundai, Honda, Mazda have all updated the look and feel of their SUV interiors drastically in the last decade.
The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is in a class of its own at the moment. There is the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid but that’s a much smaller crossover. There is also the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid but that is not a plug-in. The closest SUV to the Outlander is the Volvo XC60 T8 but that’s almost twice the price. So for the time being if you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid SUV, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is your only choice. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice because it is a good SUV. You probably don’t need to opt for the top GT trim as the less expensive SE trim comes with just about everything you need.
Thank you to Mitsubishi Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mitsubishi-Motors.ca