The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a bright spot in an otherwise fading lineup. Here’s what we’ve found out so far after spending a couple of weeks behind the wheel.
The last few years haven’t been kind to Mitsubishi. The brand was basically forgotten by consumers, dealers weren’t happy, and it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where the once proud automaker was heading. Then came the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. As the most affordable plug-in hybrid SUV you can buy, the Outlander PHEV caught the attention of the public.
Space, fuel economy, electric motor, SUV… these are some potent ingredients to mix together and the market noticed. Sales of the Outlander PHEV were fantastic in its first few months of existence and are still going strong. The Outlander PHEV outsells the regular Outlander which hasn’t really changed much in the last half-decade, and it isn’t far off the sales numbers posted by the sales-leading RVR. In other words, Mitsubishi hit a commercial home run with the Outlander PHEV.
There’s no other compact SUV in its segment or this price range that comes close to offering the efficiency of the plug-in Outlander. The RAV4 Hybrid? Forget it. The CX-5 Diesel? Nope. Such efficiency does have a price, however, with the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV starting at $43,498. That’s quite a bit for a compact SUV, but on the other hand the recent iZEV program can reduce the price by up to $2,500. In Quebec and British Columbia, you get an extra $4,000 and $1,500 respectively.
Powering the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric powertrain and a 12.0-kWh battery. The important specs go as follows: 200 combined horsepower, 3.5 hours to charge the battery fully, 35 kilometres of total all-electric range, a combined fuel consumption rating of 3.2 litres per 100 kilometers, 1,500 pounds of towing capacity, and 860 litres of cargo space with all seats in place.
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Driving Notes and First Impressions
We will be spending quite a bit of time with the Outlander PHEV and this first text isn’t meant as a review. It is more of an overview of driving notes and first impressions. Stay tuned for a comprehensive review next month as well as other features.
1. The interior needs a refresh
The first thing you notice when climbing inside the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the aging design. The steering wheel looks old, the infotainment system does its best to hide its age with a large touchscreen but the graphics look old, the entire design just looks dated compared with newer compact SUVs. The only bright spot really is the PHEV’s futuristic shift lever. It’s not a bad interior and the quality of the materials is fine, but it needs to be freshened up. If you think you are getting an interior worthy of a $45,000 vehicle, you are wrong.
2. Driving position can be hard to find
I’m just over six feet and it took me a bit of time to find the right driving position. You sit very high up in the Outlander PHEV which many buyers will like, but I found it impossible to use the sun visor and still have good visibility. This will vary from buyer to buyer, but you will want to check it out during a test drive before making a final decision.
3. Visibility is great
Heading out into the Montreal traffic on my first day with the Outlander PHEV, the visibility around the vehicle was good enough to notice. The large windows, big mirrors, blind spot monitoring system that isn’t too nervous, and tall dimensions of the Outlander PHEV immediately give the driver confidence.
4. Bluetooth needs some work
Two people told me they had a lot of trouble hearing me when I was speaking on Bluetooth in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. No it wasn’t my phone, no it wasn’t where I was driving. I tend to be a creature of routine. I make the same calls to the same people at the same time. The only thing that changes in the car and this was the first time somebody noticed that they had trouble hearing me. I moved closer to the microphone located above my head and they could hear me a little better, but it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience.
5. Keep an eye on your keys
The Outlander PHEV locked up on me with the keys inside. I’ve never had this happen before. Usually, if the keys are inside the vehicle and you press the lock button on the handle, the car won’t lock. In this case, the keys were in the door panel and I was locked out. Figuring that the sensor had detected the keys as being outside because they were so close to the door, I tried unlocking a few times and all was good. I was also on the line with roadside assistance and waited about 20 minutes as I was fiddling with the handle. I managed to unlock before someone picked up on the other end.
6. Power isn’t bad
The Outlander PHEV isn’t a bad vehicle to drive if you like your SUV on the sportier side. It feels a lot faster than a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and any other traditional four-cylinder compact SUV. It passes with confidence and accelerates without hesitation.
7. Fuel economy is as advertised
The best place to live with an Outlander PHEV is in the city or the suburbs. If your commute is less than 35 kilometres, you won’t use a single drop of fuel on your way to work all week. I’ve observed that the actual range of the Outlander PHEV is roughly 25 kilometres, but this will vary depending on how you drive and where you drive. We took the Outlander PHEV out for a few hours on the highway on two occasions and the fuel consumption of the four-cylinder engine reached 9.2 litres per 100 kilometers which in and of itself isn’t bad.
The Outlander PHEV is in its sweet spot when owned by buyers who commute less than 50 kilometers each day. The more you drive in the city or in the suburbs, the better. In such a setting the PHEV makes more sense than any hybrid or traditional SUV and is worth the extra money. We will give you a more in-depth overview at the end of our long-term review.
8. There’s a lot of space in here
Traditionally hybrid vehicles have been less spacious than their gas-powered counterparts. The Outlander PHEV doesn’t have that problem. The rear trunk isn’t as spacious as a RAV4, CR-V, Rogue or Tiguan, but it still has a lot of usable space and accommodated our stroller, baby mat, baby bag and everything else that comes with having a four-months-old.
After a few weeks, it’s easy to see why the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is doing well on the market. It has its quirks and little annoyances and the interior is far from top-quality, but it delivers in terms of versatility, fuel economy, and value. Stay tuned for more coverage in the following weeks.