Released in Canada in 2017 as a 2018 model, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) quickly became Canada’s best-selling plug-in hybrid. That shouldn’t be too surprising because there wasn’t a mainstream mid-size SUV plug-in hybrid on the market until Mitsubishi released the Outlander PHEV.
And guess what? Canadians love their compact and mid-size SUVs, especially fuel-efficient ones! Additionally, Mitsubishi supplies an industry-leading 10 year/160,000 kilometer powertrain and battery warranty along with its five-year comprehensive warranty.
However, we’re actually late to the Outlander PHEV. It’s been available in other markets for several years and the company has sold 200,000 of them worldwide. Look at it this way: they have some experience with the model, which is good for the consumer.
Trim levels and price
Four trim levels are offered, ranging in price from $43,498 for the base SE S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control), to $44,998 for the Limited Edition and $46,998 for the Touring. The the top-of-the-line GT S-AWC is $51,498, all prices plus freight of $1,825.
I know… a bit pricey for the mainstream midsize SUV segment, but while hybrids have somewhat moderated in price, electric and plug-in electric vehicles are still premium, limited run products. As government incentives are reduced, and popularity of electric vehicles increases, expect manufacturers to lower the MSRP. In the meantime, at the time of this writing, buyers are eligible for at least a federal government PHEV purchasing incentive of $2,500.
And maybe a snappy green licence plate, too!
Outlander PHEV: What’s new for 2019
For 2019, you have a detail evolution of the 2018 model that includes an updated front and rear fascia, a rear spoiler, new 18-inch alloy wheel design, new design LED headlamps including LED high beams for SE Touring and GT models and new fog lamp design.
Interior Outlander PHEV enhancements for 2019 include new seat design, better sound insulation, suspension and steering focusing on steering responsiveness and ride comfort, and rear air outlets for better air circulation for rear-seat passengers.
Basically, though, the 2019 Outlander PHEV remains as it was, a handsome (if traditionally designed ) roomy five-passenger SUV with twin-motor four-wheel drive and a useful 1,500-pound towing capacity. With its enhanced S-AWC stability and traction control technology, fast charging capacity, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, 12.0 kWh lithium-ion main drive battery and dual electric motors fuel consumption is estimated as 9.4/9.0 L/100km city/highway.
The midrange $46,998 Touring model tested by GoneDriving.ca came equipped with a range of useful and desirable features including power liftgate, sunroof, leather upholstery and heated steering wheel.
Additional features across the range include blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, along with heated folding side-view mirrors, backup camera, rain sensing windshield wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, roof rails, power driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, and Apple Carplay/Android Auto.
The more expensive GT model adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, multiview camera, premium Rockford-Fosgate audio system and LED lighting accents.
What’s not available, should you be interested in such features, are a wi-fi hotspot, panorama sunroof, ventilated seats, self-parking, low-range 4WD, hill descent control and head-up display.
Outlander PHEV on the road
On the road – city and highway — I was impressed with Outlander’s quiet and steady ride. Its drivetrain, including the one-speed “continuously variable” transmission, was typically almost silent in operation, and power was always sufficient in my experience (there is up to 277 horsepower available from the combined engine and motors). The brake pedal often seemed too sensitive to me, however, often resulting in a more abrupt response than expected.
A “Brake” gear can be selected to increase battery recharging through engine braking and I can tell you that many PHEV and EV drivers use this gear in their vehicles exclusively. That said, in the Outlander PHEV this gear didn’t seem to offer the aggressive regeneration I’ve experienced in other PHEVs.
The paddle shifters I found unnecessary, but I never use these unless they’re in a PDK Porsche! There is also a “charge” mode that can recharge the battery on the road (which is an interesting innovation, but will arguably increase fuel consumption), and a “save” mode that permits saving your battery power for later. More on these features below.
I also drove on rugged forest trails featuring steep, inclines and rocky, uneven surfaces while staying at a cottage in rural Quebec. First of all, I can attest that an Outlander will easily swallow a large amount of cargo and secondly, Outlander PHEV’s 185 millimeter ground clearance and confident traction were noted (although a Subaru Outback will give you 220 mm ground clearance if that’s important to you!).
Interior headroom and legroom for front and rear occupants is generous, and the rear seats cleverly fold flat to maximize cargo capacity when required. Really, it can be cavernous back there. Outward visibility is good to the front and also, surprisingly, to the rear. Outlander’s big rear window and large outside rear-view mirrors were appreciated.
The knobs, buttons and switches
The Outlander HMI (Human Machine Interface) is somewhat old-school, featuring a smallish touch-screen display that I found fussy (annoying, actually) to work with. Too touch sensitive by far. Some dash-mounted controls are obscured by the steering wheel and hard to find by touch. Centre console storage capacity (for phones, small items) is nonexistent, although you could press the drink holders into service if they’re not being used. The instruments are large and easy to read, although I didn’t find a digital speedometer to complement the analogue gauge.
The redesigned seats are comfortable and multi-adjustable although lacking lumbar adjustment. They worked well enough for me and my passenger, though.
So… Outlander PHEV is a fine-looking conveyance (if a little overdone with the front-end chrome). It’s well equipped and competitively fuel efficient for a vehicle its size, and it offers, I would suggest, all the available features that most people would want in a mainstream mid-size SUV.
Why buy a PHEV?
But why buy a PHEV in the first place? There’s a question! I guess it depends on the buyer, but my reason (and yours may be quite different!) would be to drive exclusively on battery in the city (or as close as possible to that), while using a conventional hybrid gasoline/electric mode on longer highway trips. The best of both worlds, in other words.
Here the Outlander PHEV is wanting. Electric vehicle range is, I think, generously estimated at 35 km, although I only managed 26 km (a capacity percentage to accompany the instrument panel’s battery graphic would be helpful). And you should know that you can expect about 40% fewer kilometers in EV mode in the winter.
What can you realistically do with 21-35 km electric range? Well, I guess it depends on your circumstances. The average Canadian commute times are getting longer, and when driving locally, an EV range of 35 km – even if you can achieve this — comes goes pretty quickly. It’s not enough for a typical day’s local driving in my experience (air conditioning, heating also takes a big bite).
The Outlander PHEV is fitted with a 12.0 kWh battery that takes up to 13 hours to charge on a household 120v outlet, 3.5 hours to charge on a Level 2 charger, and 25 minutes to 80% capacity via its CHAdeMO fast-charge port (I don’t know why you’d ever bother). But as I say, however you charge it, the battery range is not sufficient for driving a useful distance on EV only, in my opinion.
Furthermore, Outlander PHEV’s combined fuel consumption (9.2 L/100km) is about the same as the four-cylinder Mitsubishi Outlander that you can buy for many thousands less (9.1 L/100km from the $31,698 ES AWC Touring), and with its smallish 43L tank, the Outlander PHEV’s overall range of 499 km is, shall we say, modest.
The “charge” and “save” modes referred to above are also somewhat problematic. Go to the Outlander PHEV forum (myoutlanderphev.com) for a long debate on this subject. The general assessment of their actual effectiveness is unresolved.
However, looking at it another way – and this is perfectly reasonable, I think — if you regard the Outlander PHEV as a hybrid vehicle with occasional EV mobility, it gives you competitive overall fuel economy for a midsize SUV, a killer warranty and a rebate of $6,500 should you live in Quebec and $5,000 in British Columbia (everybody else gets $2,500).
Combined city/highway fuel consumption of 9.2 L/100 km is nothing sneeze at in this class of vehicle, and I reckon I could better these numbers using eco-conscious driving techniques. Put a little trailer behind it and I reckon you’d still be happy.
Additionally, you get the functionality of a midsize SUV that’s been on the market for a few years with running improvements year over year.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a fine introduction to greener automotive technology. But there’s more that can be done and Mitsubishi would do well to seriously invest in this vehicle as competition in this segment is surely on the way.
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SE S-AWC $43,498
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SE Limited Edition S-AWC $44,998
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SE Touring S-AWC $46,998
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT S-AWC $51,498
For current offers and pricing, go to Mitsubishi Canada
What is a Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle?
Motive power for a PHEV consists of gasoline engine and an electric motor (or motors) that typically work together to drive the vehicle. Power for the engine is derived from gasoline; power for the motor(s) is derived from electricity stored in a a rechargeable battery.
The key difference between a PHEV an a “conventional” hybrid vehicle is that its battery is large enough to exclusively power the vehicle for a useful distance. The battery in my Chevrolet Volt, for instance, can exclusively power the car for 105 km in certain conditions. The PHEV’s battery can be partially or fully recharged by the vehicle’s engine/generator, or by plugging into a suitable outlet at home or at a commercial charging station. On the road, PHEV emissions will be lower than an exclusively fossil-fueled vehicle. In EV mode, it will be a zero-emissions vehicle.