On the outside, it may look like a regular Mitsubishi Outlander, but underneath the 2018 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is powered by Mitsubishi’s most advanced powertrain. The Outlander PHEV debuted about five years ago and even today its 22 mile EV driving range, Level 3 charging capability and all-wheel drive system puts it at the top of the non-luxury plug-in hybrid segment.
Even though the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid went on sale in Europe a half-decade ago, Mitsubishi has only now brought the PHEV to the US. Part of the reason for the delay is because the Outlander PHEV sells so well in Europe and given the fact that Mitsubishi is still struggling here. The few models that the brand does offer in the US usually have big discounts slapped on the hood to entice buyers. But, in Europe the Outlander PHEV is one of the top selling plug-in hybrids, which also means that Mitsubishi can get away without having to provide any large discounts.
Either way, we’re happy that Mitsubishi has finally brought the Outlander PHEV to the US. The powertrain consists of two 80 horsepower electric motors, one on each axle and a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with 117 horsepower and 137 lb-ft of torque. Instead of mainly sending its power to the wheels, the 2.0L acts more as a generator to charge the battery pack. At higher speeds the engine can be engaged though.
In Hybrid mode, the four-cylinder engine cycles on and off randomly based on how much power you need, but there are other driving modes that you can choose from. The EV mode completely turns off the four-cylinder engine so you can rely solely on the electric motors for up to 22 miles. Once you’ve depleted the battery you can select the Charge mode, which turns the four-cylinder engine on 100 percent to recharge the battery. If the battery is already charged and you’d rather reserve the battery for later, you can select the Save mode.
To help recharge the battery there are also six levels of regenerative braking that are selected via steering wheel paddle shifters. If single pedal driving is your thing, the top B5 level will get you close to it.
There are a few options too when it comes time to recharge the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid. Plugging it into a 110-volt outlet will recharge it in 8 hours. A 240-volt Level 2 charger will recharge the Outlander PHEV in about 3.5 hours. If you want to recharge it even faster, you can plug it into a Level 3 CHAdeMO charger that will charge the battery up to 80 percent in about 20 minutes. But then again, you don’t even have to plug it in to recharge it, since you can use the four-cylinder engine to fully recharge the battery in about 100 minutes, which is rare for most plug-in hybrids.
Driving around town the Outlander PHEV is a comfortable plug-in hybrid SUV. Your friends probably won’t even realize that they are driving around in a plug-in hybrid, since the powertrain is unobtrusive. When the gas engine does kick on it can be a bit louder than you might expect, but that’s also probably because you’ve also grown accustomed to not hearing it all the time.
Moving past the plug-in hybrid powertrain, the Outlander PHEV looks and feels just like the regular Outlander, which is probably the biggest hurdle that Mitsubishi needs to overcome. The current Outlander did received a significant facelift for the 2016 model year, but the current generation debuted back in 2012, which explains why the overall package feels a bit old. The overall design of the dashboard isn’t memorable and the interior is wrapped in a lot more hard plastic than we expected.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV does offer some of the latest tech features, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and a lane departure warning system.
Now that Mitsubishi has finally brought the Outlander Plug-in hybrid to the US, we’re eager to see what’s next. The plug-in hybrid powertrain is definitely a stand out, so once the Outlander gets a redesign the next-generation Outlander PHEV will shine even more. It would also be great if the plug-in hybrid powertrain eventually found its way under the hood of the new Eclipse Cross, but we’ll have to wait and see. The good news is that Mitsubishi now has a bit more access to cash now thanks to its new formed partnership with Renault and Nissan. The future for Mitsubishi looks promising.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid starts at $34,595.