The odyssey of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been a fascinating one, culminating in its forthcoming debut in Japan later this year. Germany eagerly awaits its own turn to bask in the glory of this technologically advanced marvel, set to arrive on its shores in 2022. With this announcement, the Outlander will have enjoyed no fewer than four premieres in 2021 alone: the original model, a revamped previous-generation hybrid variant, and the highly anticipated next-generation design revealed a mere few weeks ago.
Mitsubishi has triumphantly unveiled further information regarding the highly anticipated Outlander PHEV, although minor details regarding power and torque remain elusive. Impressively, this SUV, fashioned on the platform of the Nissan Rogue, is capable of traversing 87 kilometers on electric power alone, a feat accomplished through the utilization of a cutting-edge PHEV system boasting dual electric motors and a potent 20 kWh battery. While performance data remains undisclosed, Mitsubishi assures enthusiasts that the e-motors have been elevated by an astounding 40 percent, thus facilitating the vehicle’s remarkable range.
The advanced all-wheel-drive system of the Outlander PHEV boasts a revolutionary Active Yaw Control (AYC) that allows seamless transfer of power to the front and rear axles. Additionally, the AYC system can brake specific left or right wheels to distribute torque, ensuring maximum control and stability. The vehicle is further equipped with a booster function that can effectively direct additional power to the front motor, while deceleration is maximized by lifting the accelerator pedal, providing a seamless one-pedal driving experience. The vehicle comes with seven different driving modes, catering to varying driving requirements.
It is intriguing to note that the manufacturer has not highlighted the internal combustion engine specifications. However, it is likely to be the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine as the previous model, generating a moderate 128 hp output. Nevertheless, with the electric motors, the Outlander PHEV provides a notable output of 224 hp. With the much-awaited fifth Outlander premiere approaching, perhaps additional details will be forthcoming.
As for the exterior, the Outlander PHEV resembles the standard model. The interior layout is also familiar and intuitive. Nevertheless, the digital displays present varying readouts, ensuring that drivers receive crucial information at a glance. As for the pricing, the manufacturer has not yet released any information, but it is hoped that the Outlander PHEV’s attractive base price of 39,990 euros will remain the same.
Everyone harbors an ardent passion for an underdog story, but scarcely anyone hankers to play the role of the underdog. Mitsubishi, with the inception of the new 2023 Outlander plug-in hybrid (PHEV), finds itself in the anomalous predicament of being a perceived underdog. The automotive industry has been unable to forget the automaker’s existence, and the PHEVs, once ballyhooed as the epitome of eco-cars, are no longer the cynosure of all eyes, owing to the advent of electric cars.
In spite of the adversities and impediments, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a glowing testimony of automotive excellence. The vehicle’s prospects for success are rife, and it is the most promising vehicle in the automaker’s fleet. Although the realm of plug-in SUVs is waning, Outlander ranks amongst the superlative automobiles in its class and offers exceptional value for those keen on transitioning to electrification, but remain disinclined or impotent to take the BEV plunge.
Chassis and design
It ought not to astonish that, externally, the freshly-minted Outlander PHEV bears striking resemblance to its conventional sibling that premiered last year, replete with identical Dynamic Shield front fascia and more pronounced dimensions, amounting to a width of approximately 2.4 inches beyond the former-generation plug-in.
If one inspects it minutely, one might catch a glimpse of the dual flap for the charging port, imitating the gas flap on the driver’s side, but one salient means of recognizing the PHEV from afar is the conspicuous “Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle” insignia adorning the front doors of the SUV.
The 2023 PHEV presently rests on larger, normative 20-inch wheels adorned with Nexen Roadian GTX 225/45-profile all-season tires. The augmented diameter of the wheeled equipment and a more condensed battery pack account for the greater part of the SUV’s amplified 8.3-inch ground clearance — up from around 7.3 inches last year.
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Is an Underdog Worth Rooting For
Beneath the veneer of its external visage, the Outlander PHEV boasts a myriad of distinct differences from its unenlightened counterpart. A new suspension system has been meticulously crafted to adequately offset the extra weight and disparate distribution of the battery pack and hybrid apparatus.
Also, the PHEV includes a novel third-row design, replete with slender seats that can be flattened and neatly tucked away within the cargo floor, creating more storage space than in previous models. With the third row stowed away, the PHEV can boast a commodious 33.5 cubic feet of cargo room, and an impressive 78.5 cubic feet with all seats folded, a statistic that’s nearly identical to the internal combustion engine variant. Regrettably, the rear seating section remains rather compact, proving to be a cumbersome fit for adult passengers.
Interior and Tech
Foremost, the cabin of the PHEV is congruous with the customary standard and boasts the same tactually pleasing dashboard configuration and constituents as its non-hybrid counterpart. My exemplification was endowed with a resplendent quilted veneer on the seats and door panels, which exhibited a rather fetching appearance.
Moreover, the front bucket seats are augmented by a luxurious massage function, that amplifies the vehicle’s premium aspect; it may not be the most invigorating massage I have experienced whilst traveling, but it certainly is not substandard for a Mitsubishi.
Nestled within the dashboard, is a conspicuous 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which is furnished as a standard attribute for the PHEV, and is accompanied by a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, in my illustration. Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are embedded as standard fixtures and are universally applicable.
The hardware for the infotainment, along with its corresponding software, are among several common components, that the Outlander shares with its platform-similitude counterpart, the Nissan Rogue. It is noteworthy, that the available Mi-Pilot Assist driver aid and safety technology package, is also a clone of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, however, the former is instigated by a green button rather than Nissan’s blue one. That being said, ProPilot is a rather exceptional feature and is thus another valuable acquisition for Outlander.
Plug-in hybrid powertrain
The subsequent iteration of the Outlander PHEV employs a reinvigorated rendition of the first-generation’s progression hybrid system. The electrifying motors that are in charge of spinning the wheels have been augmented to enhance production and alacrity.
The forward traction motor currently generates 85 kilowatts (comprising approximately 114 horsepower) and 166 pound-feet of torque; the back motor grows to 100 kW (translating to 134 hp) and 144 pound-feet. The engine bay is also reciprocally utilized by a 126-hp, 2.4-liter Atkinson cycle petrol engine, but its main responsibility is to power an electric starter-generator to convey electricity to the electric motors and battery pack.
The battery in query is a 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion unit situated beneath the cabin floor. It is both bigger and more svelte than the preceding 13.8-kWh package. When fully charged, the Outlander will journey for up to 38 miles prior to the combustion engine requiring to start and stretch the hybrid operation range to approximately 420 miles. (Splendid.) Fuel economy calculations have yet to be determined, but I maintained an average of 30.3 mpg over roughly 73 miles of highway driving.
Utilizing full-throttle acceleration may elicit an early activation of the gasoline engine to provide additional power. With all three motors whirring at their peak capacity, the Outlander emanates an impressive 248 horsepower and 332 pound-feet.
The internal combustion engine possesses the capability to operate the front wheels directly via a single-speed transmission when the velocity surpasses 45 mph or so. Nevertheless, this scenario typically transpires during steady and gentle cruising, where the combustion engine can function more proficiently than the electric motors. For the most part, electric motors are responsible for generating all of the driving force.
I was already a fervent admirer of the Outlander PHEV’s silky and EV-like acceleration, as well as its prompt reaction from the moment it takes off. As a result, I derived even more gratification from the heightened power of this variant.
However, despite its nimble attributes around the town, the hybrid system loses steam when it comes to higher speeds. While it is not entirely feeble, overtaking requires a lengthier duration. Adapting to the absence of the gasoline engine’s audible presence in correspondence with the SUV’s pace is a bit of a challenge. However, the sound is benign enough that it never provoked any aggravation.
The process of recharging up to 80% at a DC station takes nearly 38 minutes, which is not particularly impressive, considering the range and the less prevalent ChaDeMo connection compared to CCS plugs in the US.
Nonetheless, the Outlander belongs to a small pool of PHEVs present in the US market that enables DC fast charging, the other members of this pool being the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport P440e models. Hence, I shall refrain from criticizing excessively.
The majority of the time, proprietors will probably utilize a 15-amp AC home connection for charging, which requires roughly 7.5 hours to replenish the battery. The Charge hybrid setting enables filling the battery to 80% via the combustion engine during stationary idling for a duration of 94 minutes. However, this sort of practice defeats the purpose of hybrid technology.
Innovative Pedal regenerative braking
Five tiers of regenerative braking are at the driver’s disposal, allowing for meticulous calibration of the Outlander’s execution and maximization of the battery’s capacity.
The 2023 model is blessed with an ingenious Pedal mode that endeavors to emulate the one-pedal functionality of a full-fledged EV, delivering maximal regeneration upon release of the accelerator and rendering extraneous contact with the brake pedal almost entirely unnecessary.
Permit me to clarify, however, that this configuration retains the propensity to move with the gentle torpor characteristic of a torque converter automatic at speeds inferior to approximately 3 mph — a decision on the part of Mitsubishi purportedly designed to facilitate natural, low-velocity navigation such as that required for parking maneuvers.
It is of interest to note that Innovative Pedal mode boasts a more robust deceleration capacity than even the level 5 regenerative brake setting, as it employs a smidgen of frictional braking to consummate the one-pedal deception. (Curiously, the pedal may even move perceptibly upon lifting — although I advise against diverting your gaze downward to verify this fact while driving.) Strangely enough, this mode proved remarkably congenial in practice, and I eventually employed it throughout the course of my day’s travels, both on and off the track.
Wet and wild ride
Throughout the duration of my test drive on the softly curving back roads near the headquarters of Mitsubishi situated in Franklin, Tennessee, the inclement weather persisted in its incessant downpour. This provided ample opportunity to scrutinize the Outlander PHEV’s Super All-Wheel Control system that confers both traction and stability.
Navigating bends in the rain and traversing standing water measuring several inches in depth, the Outlander displayed exceptional stability as it traced my designated path. The brake-based yaw control, in tandem with the electric motors’ torque modulation, functioned seamlessly and transparently. Despite the abysmal weather conditions, the ride remained perfectly pleasant when maintaining reasonable speeds.
In their presentation slides, Mitsubishi never fails to exhibit pictures of the Evo X when lauding the S-AWC system. Nevertheless, the Outlander PHEV is not a vehicle that one would equate with track racing. Regardless, the closed course at the Polecat Training Center’s handling track furnished an environment that was safe and somewhat secure, and where the limits of the traction and handling systems could be explored. To my amazement, the downpour did not cause the cancellation of the track portion of the day; Mitsubishi’s confidence in the system was just that high.
Racing around the drenched course enabled me to drive the SUV harder than would have been feasible on public roads and really test the legs of the S-AWC system. The Sand/Rain mode ensured that the cornering remained impressively neutral on the slippery surface. In the Tarmac mode designed for sport, I was able to make the tail wiggle just a bit, thanks to the power delivery’s slight rear bias. The drifting wasn’t exactly full-blown, but the active yaw control enabled the catching of the SUV’s rotation and it danced controllably on the edge of oversteer. Driving the hefty hybrid around the course was surprisingly effortless and highly enjoyable.
Pricing and availability
The Outlander PHEV, while not universally suitable, caters to a specific and discerning demographic, boasting an electric range amply sufficient for the average daily commute, complemented by a hybrid mechanism ensuring commendable fuel efficiency for protracted weekend excursions. The 2023 model exudes enhanced potency, offers elevated luxuries, and impressively surmounts inclement weather conditions via the S-AWC. These features render the vehicle an irresistible and unequivocal recommendation.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV of 2023 is anticipated to enter the marketplace imminently, priced at $41,190, inclusive of the $1,345 destination charge – exhibiting a PHEV premium amounting to approximately $10,000 when juxtaposed with the conventional AWD model. The White Diamond SEL Premium model, my specific vehicular choice, arrived at the exorbitant cost of $51,275, which appears astronomical; a reasonably equipped SE model, on the other hand, represents the most judicious and advantageous purchase at a price hovering around $45,000.