Road Test: 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Plug-in hybrid vehicles are becoming more prevalent with each new model year, and within the next five years, we expect the greatest onslaught of powertrains with dual power sources ever in the history of the automobile. Automakers have pushed many smaller vehicles with gas and plug-in battery technology, but almost none have done it with the largely popular crossover segment. Looking past luxury automakers for moment, the new 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, aka PHEV, is the only AWD crossover on the market.

Why a PHEV? They offer the best of both worlds; those who have a short commute to work can do so on electrons and almost never visit a gas station as part of their weekly routine. Yet when it comes to taking a road trip somewhere or visiting places beyond the daily routine, the gas engine under the hood can propel and/or charge the battery and operate just like any other combustion engine vehicle on the road.

We’re huge fans of this kind of propulsion because they just work for the majority of the population. 

For the 2019 model year, Outlander PHEV received several updates even though it arrived on the automotive scene just a year earlier. 

The suspension was updated to improve the ride smoothness and absorption of bumps and ruts. It does a great job yet still retains the feel of an SUV more than a car.  The NVH of the Outlander was also tweaked given the quietness of the electric drive mode, and it shows. We could still slightly hear the whir of the electric motors at both axles though, something that we found pretty cool.

The grille is all new for 2019, with updated LED headlights, which worked incredibly well at night. We especially like the automatic high-beams but wish they’d remain enabled everytime the car is started rather than having to be switched on each night. 

The spectacular Pearl White paint on our loaded GT tester just glistened day or night and looks incredibly luxurious. 

Under the hood is Mitsubishi’s 2.0L MIVEC 4-cylinder mated to twin-electric high output motors, one in the front and one in the rear. It allows Mitsubishi’s famed Super-All Wheel Control system as well as regenerative braking. The transmission is a single-speed reduction gear that feels simple, almost go-kart like.

Power is stored in a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted in the rear of the Outlander but that doesn’t take up any valuable cargo space.

Charging comes in the form of 120 or 240V charging, switchable from 8 amps to 12 amps when on 120V. The charging door is mounted on the rear right side of the Outlander and includes a light and locking lid. 

All aspects of the driving experience were what we expect for a crossover, with a bit of a kick thanks to the electric motors. We love the ability to turn the gas engine into a generator to charge up the battery pack, or reserve the power for a later time.

An electric parking brake with auto hold are appreciated and make city driving easier, especially when paired with the power folding mirrors.

Our tester also came with adaptive cruise control that worked perfectly, and lane departure alert that isn’t overly obtrusive.

Inside, Mitsubishi made some changes for 2019. Rear vents and USB ports were added, the infotainment system got a significant rework, and there’s now a heated steering wheel. We were impressed by the amount of heat it generated on a cold night.

The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, but the menus take a bit of getting used to. The detailed explanations throughout the menu options was helpful and intuitive.

Mitsubishi has been putting Rockford Fosgate premium sound systems in their cars for decades, and it’s strong as ever in the Outlander PHEV.

Seating is comfortable all around and visibility is fantastic thanks to large windows.

Mitsubishi has stuck out some pretty tough times in the auto industry, and we see them having a resurgence with the most affordable plug-in hybrid AWD crossover on the market today. We feel confident that their 5 year/60k mile full coverage and 10 year/100k mile PHEV component warranty will add peace of mind for anyone that makes the choice to put a Outlander PHEV in their driveway.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 7
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 8
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 8
Seating 9
Visibility 9
Gauges and Controls 8
Infotainment 7
Crash-Avoidance 9
Total Score 86


Make: Mitsubishi
Model: Outlander
Trim Level: PHEV GT S-AWC
Engine: 2.0L Four Cylinder, Twin Electric Motors
Transmission: Single-Speed Reduction Gear
Options: Pear White Paint, Floor Mats

Base Price: $41,495
As-Tested Price: $42,920

 

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