Most buyers may have forgotten about Mitsubishi lately due to its lack of new models, but the arrival of the new Outlander proves that Mitsubishi is still here and ready to go head to head with its rivals. When we tested the new Outlander we came away mostly impressed with the improvements, which can also be partly attributed to Mitsubishi’s partnership with Nissan. The Outlander and Nissan Rogue are closely related. But Mitsubishi is taking its version of the compact crossover to new heights with the introduction of a new plug-in hybrid version. The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is an impressive plug-in hybrid crossover that is perfect for families that want some EV driving capability without braking the bank.
The last generation Outlander PHEV was one of the first non-luxury plug-in hybrid crossovers. Now there’s a lot more competition, like the Ford Escape PHEV and Toyota RAV4 Prime. Where the Outlander PHEV stands out is that it has three rows of seats. All of its closest competitors only offer two rows of seats, which makes the Outlander PHEV more attractive for families that need three rows. Although space in the third row is not plentiful.
In addition to adding a third row, Mitsubishi also made some powertrain updates. It’s lithium ion battery pack is now 20 kWh compared to 13.8 in the previous version. The front electric motor generates 114 horsepower, while the rear generates 134 hp. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder also gets a bit more power with 131 hp compared to 126 hp. In total, the plug-in hybrid powertrain generates 249 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque. That’s a bit less power than the RAV4 Prime with its 302 hp on tap. The Outlander PHEV has a 38 mile EV range compared to the RAV4 Prime’s 42 mile range. Thanks to its gas engine, the Outlander PHEV has a total driving range of 420 miles.
On the road the Outlander PHEV is quite good. The powertrain packs more than enough power to get the family moving down the road. As you’d expect from just looking at the specs, the RAV4 is punchier off the line, but the Outlander PHEV is no slouch. The electric motors are always powered up as well, which gives it full time all-wheel drive. Around town the powertrain is a stand out with its smooth acceleration, but at higher speeds it runs out of power.
There are also different EV modes. The normal mode focuses on finding the perfect balance between the electric motors and gas engine. EV priority mode uses the electric motors as much as it can, although the gas engine will power up when extra power is needed. There’s also the useful Save mode, which lets you maintain the battery’s state of charge. This mode is ideal for highway driving where electric motors aren’t as efficient, then when you get off the highway you can then use the saved battery to power the electric motors. Lastly there’s the Charge mode, which uses the engine to charge the battery, but it’s best to just plug it in.
Using a DC fast charger, the Outlander PHEV’s battery can be charged from 0-80 percent in only 38 minutes, while it will take 6.5 hours to fully charge it using a 240-volt charger. It’s worth noting that the RAV4 Prime and Escape PHEV don’t support DC fast charging, like the Outlander. With 38 miles of EV range and the ability to fully charge it in the evening, you’ll barely need to use the gas engine during your daily commute. There are different regenerative braking modes that can slow the Outlander PHEV when you remove your foot from the pedal, but the system will not bring you to a complete stop, so there’s no one-pedal mode here. It can also tow up to 1,500 pounds.
There are also seven different drive modes that can be selected via the rotary dial on the center console.
Moving past the electrified powertrain, the Outlander PHEV is nearly identical to the gas version. On the outside the only way you can really tell that it’s the PHEV are the Plug-in Hybrid EV badges. That’s the same for the interior, which is a good thing with its 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 9-inch touchscreen. The Outlander PHEV’s cabin feels more upscale than the previous version and its comfortable and quiet. The massaging front seats are also a plus.
On the safety front, the Outlander PHEV comes standard with lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
The pricing for the 2023 Outlander PHEV starts at $41,190, including destination.
At the end of the day, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the perfect plug-in hybrid for families that aren’t quite ready to make the switch to a full EV. With room for seven passengers, it makes more sense for slightly larger families, although that third row is best left for kids. With its refined powertrain, comfortable interior and decent EV range, the Outlander PHEV is the one to get compared to the gas powered version.