by Roger Biermann
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a hybrid crossover SUV based on the normal Outlander, but instead of the 2.4-liter and V6 engines, it uses a 2.0-liter engine coupled to two electric motors. It comes in two trim options, the SEL and the GT, both of which use the same engine and motors. The 2.0 engine produces 117 horsepower while there are two 60-kW motors, one at each axle, with combined system outputs increased to 190 hp. Electric-only range is impressive, too, at 22-miles. While the Outlander has slow acceleration and can get noisy once the single speed transmission kicks in, it's the price to pay for superior off-road ability with the twin-motor 4WD S-AWC system. There are other vehicles in its class that are more modern and refined such as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the Kia Niro, and the Subaru Crosstek Hybrid, but the Outlander gives greater off-road capability that rivals can't quite match. Unlike the regular Outlander which seats up to seven, the PHEV variant cuts back to just five, minimizing seating, but maximizing on cargo volume, while the Outlander PHEV also boasts quick-charging capabilities.
The 2019 Outlander PHEV has new LED headlights, a larger grille, new wheel designs, and a front skid plate. Rear passengers now get USB ports and air vents, and Mitsubishi has also added a new warranty program to cover battery capacity deterioration. There have also been changes made to the European spec model, which include a new 2.4-liter engine and longer lasting battery, but those changes haven't made it to the US yet, and there's no confirmation as to when they will.
The 2019 Outlander PHEV has new LED headlights, a larger grill, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels in both trims. It also has a rear spoiler and shark fin antenna. The overall look of the Outlander PHEV is a bit dated compared to some of its newer competitors, and it has more of a utilitarian feel.
Both the SEL and GT models have the same dimensions. The Outlander PHEV sits on a wheelbase of 105.1 inches and has an overall length of 184.4 inches. The width is narrower than most SUV's in its class as just 70.9 inches, with the overall height at 67.3 inches. The curb weight is 4,178 lbs due to the addition of battery weight, while the ground clearance is 7.3 inches.
There are six colors available on the Outlander PHEV. Ruby Black Pearl and Pearl White are available at a cost of $295, while Rally Red, Quartz Brown, Mercury Grey, and Alloy Silver are metallic paints that have no extra cost associated with them.
The Outlander PHEV has a 2.0-liter gasoline engine which can be used to charge the battery of the two electric motors, or run in parallel mode and power the front wheels while the electric motor powers the rear. The transmission on this SUV is a single-speed, drive mode switchable transmission that blends direct drive capabilities with generator-like functions. The engine pushes 117 hp and 137 lb-ft of torque and the electric motors produce 80 hp, combining for a maximum output of 197hp. The towing capacity of 1,500 lbs is the same as the standard Outlander models powered by the 2.4-liter engine. From 0-42 mph, the Outlander PHEV starts off in serial hybrid mode, meaning that the engine is running and powering the generator which powers the electric motors. Above 42 mph, the Outlander PHEV goes into parallel mode, meaning that the engine powers the front wheels while the electric motor powers the rear wheels. Takeoff is very slow on the Outlander PHEV when compared to rival hybrid SUVs in its class. When the engine eventually takes over, it is very noisy and slow, maybe because of the single speed transmission that it's connected to. Performance is ample, but nothing exactly exciting. It is, however, technologically impressive.
Unfortunately, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV isn't a great driver's vehicle. The acceleration is poor and the engine is noisy. There's a lot of leaning into turns because of the body roll, which causes an unsettling ride, and the tall, but narrow dimensions amplify the feeling of tipping over around corners, even if things are fairly well glued to the surface. The steering also suffers from a dead zone, which makes it harder to predict what the car is doing.
The Outlander PHEV has a trick that most hybrid SUVs lack, however, which aids greatly in terms of off-road performance. It has the ability to simulate a locking differential by means of locking power outputs of both the front and rear powertrain systems, sending equal power to the front and rear wheels, simulating a 4x4. Combined with higher than average ground clearance, the Outlander PHEV is arguably the most capable hybrid off-road. It also has an interesting way of using regenerative braking to charge the battery. There are paddle shifts on either side of the steering which allows the driver to choose between six different settings when braking. It takes some getting used to and doesn't quite feel natural, but it gives a sense that Mitsubishi invested heavily into the tech employed here.
Since both trims of the Outlander PHEV use the same engine and motors, they both get the same mileage. On a full charge, there's 22-miles worth of all-electric range from the 12.0 kWh lithium-ion battery. The fuel economy of the combined electric and gasoline usage is a massive 74 MPGe. For the sake of convenience, the Outlander PHEV has numerous charging systems available. The battery can be charged using the Battery Charge mode in the center console, as well as with a standard level one 110-volt charger, level two 240-volt EV chargers, and commercial DC Quick Charger 480-volt chargers. The level one charger takes approximately eight hours to charge, the level two takes 3.5 hours to charge, while the quick charge takes 25 minutes for an 80% charge. With an 11.3-gallon fuel tank, the combined gas-only mileage is 25 mpg which gives a range of only 282 miles.
Unlike the standard seven-seater Outlander, the Outlander PHEV is a five-seater because it needs the space for the battery and electric equipment. The interior is available in black and grey leather while the dash has the same matt black plastic with faux brushed aluminum and gloss black accents, following the design trends set in other Mitsubishi vehicles. The front seats are eight-way power adjustable with 40.6 inches of headroom and 40.9 inches of legroom. The rear gets only 38.4 inches of headroom and 37.3 inches of legroom. The driver and front passenger seats are spacious and comfortable but take a while to adjust due to their unnaturally high position. The back seats can seat two adults comfortably, with a third having to squeeze in. While the rear legroom is decent, the headroom can be a bit tight for taller occupants, especially in the GT which has a sunroof.
The Outlander PHEV uses the rear cargo area to store the battery and rear-mounted electric motor so the loading area is very shallow and has below average space of only 30.4 cubic feet, but this is still greater than the default space in the regular Outlander due to the lack of third-row seats. The rear seats fold forward to open up greater storage volume of 66.6 cu ft in the SEL trim, and 62.8 cu-ft in the GT trim. Overall the Outlander PHEV has enough space for most things with the seats down, but can only fit smaller, flatter stuff with the seats up. Inside the cabin, the Outlander PHEV has a generously-sized glovebox and console box. It also has big pockets on all the doors with cupholders, and a storage tray on the center console.
Like most of the latest Mitsubishis, the Outlander PHEV has a lot of technology features. Both trims come with a rearview camera, FAST-key passive safety with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and USB ports are also standard features. Mitsubishi remote control is also available to monitor the car and control certain functions through a smartphone app that can also be used for charging routines as well as monitoring the battery power. The GT trim adds adaptive cruise control and a power glass sunroof.
Both trims of the Outlander PHEV come with a seven-inch touchscreen with six speakers, one front and one rear USB port, and Bluetooth connectivity. The infotainment unit can be controlled via the touchscreen, or the steering wheel and also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity. On the premium GT model, there's the option of adding a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system. The Rockford Fosgate package has a 710-watt amplifier that powers nine speakers including one-inch dome tweeters in the front, 6.6-inch speakers in the doors and a ten-inch DVC subwoofer in the cargo area.
The Outlander PHEV doesn't have many complaints to its name, and while there have been no recalls for the 2019 model, the 2018 model was recalled for prolonged braking by the collision avoidance system and faulty safety systems. As with all Mitsubishis, the Outlander PHEV comes with roadside assist, powertrain warranty of ten-years/100,000-miles, basic warranty of five-years/60,000-miles with the anti-corrosion warranty at seven-years/100,000-miles. In addition to these warranties the PHEV also has a warranty of ten years/100 000 miles on the PHEV components, as well as on the main drive lithium-ion battery.
The Outlander PHEV has many standard safety features as expected in a new SUV. Both trims have ABS brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, blind-spot warning, seven airbags (two front-seat mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, and two advanced dual-stage front airbags), and LATCH child restraints as standard features. The GT model also gets adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision mitigation.
The 2019 Outlander PHEV hasn't yet been rated by the NTSA, but the 2019 gasoline-powered Outlander got an overall best possible safety rating of five stars. The IIHS has also given the 2019 Outlander a best possible rating of good in crashworthiness, with a superior rating in front crash prevention
The Mitsubishi PHEV is a plug-in hybrid SUV at a decent price that offers many standard features. It is reasonably spacious and can go almost anywhere due to enhanced ground clearance and the electrically enhanced S-AWC system with its simulation of a traditional diff lock. The interior is spacious, with enough cargo space for most people. However, the driving experience is poor due to the slow acceleration, rough handling, and vague steering. Both the interior and exterior are showing their age and can't compete with some of the newer SUVs on the market. With a base MSRP price of $35,795 for the SEL trim, it's still far more expensive than the $33,195 base price of the regular Outlander GT, which has better performance and more features. The only reason to buy the Outlander PHEV over the Outlander GT is because of better fuel economy, and even then, rivals like the Crosstrek are comparable, while offering better driving dynamics.
There are only two trims available in the Outlander PHEV, the SEL and GT. The SEL starts at an MSRP of $35,795, while the GT starts at $41,495. There is also a destination fee of $1,095 on both models, and the prices above are subject to additional tax, registration, and licensing fees. Because the Outlander PHEV is a plug-in hybrid, it is also eligible for a federal tax rebate in some states.
Since both the SEL and GT trims have the same powertrains and physical capabilities, the only difference between them is the technological and comfort features. The SEL has an impressive list of standard equipment, such as a seven-inch touchscreen with a rearview camera, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The SEL also has dual zone climate control, blind spot warning, FAST-key entry with push-button start and Mitsubishi Remote Control. The GT only adds LED headlights, forward collision mitigation, power glass sunroof, Rockford Fosgate premium audio system, and two AC outlets. With only these features added and a whopping $6,000 price difference, the SEL is the better option out of the two from a value for money perspective, covering all the basics needed and pairing them with an innovative drivetrain without breaking the bank.
The new Toyota RAV4 has just launched with a striking exterior design and a more modern, comfortable interior than what's offered by the older Outlander shape.The RAV4 beats the Outlander PHEV in almost every department, with better acceleration, as well as better handling and ride. The cargo space is also bigger than the Outlander PHEV. Unfortunately, the RAV4 doesn't have Android Auto, which is something that's standard on the Outlander PHEV, as is a pure-EV mode lacking on the non-plug-in RAV4 Hybrid. Considering that the base price of the RAV4 is $27,700 compared to the base price of $35,795 for the base Outlander PHEV, and the fact that the Outlander's mileage estimates aren't hugely impressive, in the long run, the Toyota is the better option - better to drive, and cheaper to run.
Another rival to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the Kia Niro hybrid crossover. The Kia is known for its quick acceleration and nimble driving dynamics, both things the Outlander lacks. The Kia is also well put together and has a controlled and stable ride while also having responsive steering. While the exterior looks more modern than the Outlander PHEV, it's not to everyone's tastes and the interior doesn't have the same solid feel as the Mitsubishi. It's also just a crossover, only available with front-wheel drive and lacking ground clearance for off-road excursions, unlike the Outlander PHEV with all-wheel drive and proper off-road abilities. The entry-level Niro starts at $28,500 compared to the $35,795 of the Outlander PHEV, but the Outlander comes with more features. It comes down to your needs - do you need city-comforts, or are you likely to need rugged off-road ability? - if it's the latter, then the Mitsubishi is our pick.