RSS icon Home icon
  • 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV-AWC

    Posted on September 20th, 2018 ninarussin

    Gasoline-electric plug-in crossover with all-wheel drive

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    Although Mitsubishi is a relatively small player in the automotive market, its Montero produced during the 1980s and 90s, and more recent i-MiEV both had a significant impact globally: the Montero for racing, and the i-MiEV electric vehicle technology. For 2018, the company brings those specialties together in the Outlander PHEV: a gasoline-electric all-wheel drive version of its compact crossover.

    The new plug-in electric hybrid can operate in three modes: fully electric, series hybrid (utilizing an on-board gasoline-powered generator, and parallel hybrid combining power from two electric motors with a two-liter gasoline engine. The idea is to limit time in the gasoline-electric mode to longer trips out of range in pure-electric mode.

    Recharging time on 240-volt power is about 3-1/2 hours. Owners who have access to a commercial Fastcharge unit can reclaim about 80 percent of power in 25 minutes.

    A phone app enables owners to set their charging schedule to coincide with off-peak electricity usage hours and save a little money. The same app can remotely change climate control settings, check for open and closed doors, headlamps on or off and customize vehicle settings.

    The Outlander’s all-wheel control system has roots in the off-road Montero that won the grueling Paris-Dakar rally over a dozen times.

    Base price for the upscale GT version is $40,295 excluding the $940 destination charge. Standard convenience features include LED headlamps, daytime running lamps and tail lamps, folding side mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, underfloor cargo storage area, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, dual USB ports and more.

    Options on the test car include white diamond pearlescent exterior, a tonneau cover, body graphics and carpeted floormats. Final MSRP is $42,130.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    Over the past week I drove the Outlander PHEV around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area including the east valley cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert. For the right buyer, the Outlander PHEV could be an appealing find.

    The big caveat is the buyer’s willingness to plug-in every night: in parallel hybrid mode, fuel economy is not particularly good. Part of the reason is that the car is relatively heavy, weighing over 4,000 pounds. In addition, gasoline powers the on-board generator for the electric motors, and of course, there’s the fact that all-wheel drive tends to decrease fuel economy.

    Because the Outlander PHEV’s electric motors drive each axle separately, the car doesn’t have a traditional transmission. Instead, there is a single speed switchable reduction gear up front and fixed reduction gearbox on the back axle.

    In all three drive modes: each of the components seems to work well in concert with the others. Pure electric mode is seamless and quiet, while the series hybrid mode combines instant torque available from the two electric motors with the high-speed power of the gasoline engine. The Outlander PHEV has equally good power in parallel hybrid mode; just not very good gas mileage.

    Battery power for the electric motors comes from a lithium-ion unit positioned under the rear seats and cargo floor.

    The electric power steering system delivers good response at all speeds: plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuverability and solid on-center response on the highway.

    A multi-link suspension consisting of MacPherson struts up front and multi-link setup in back does a good job of smoothing out bumps in the road. Ventilated front rotors and solid discs in back stop the Outlander PHEV in firm, linear fashion.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior from the engine, road and wind so occupants can enjoy music from the premium audio system or converse on the highway.

    Versatile Interior

    The Outlander PHEV interior is designed with versatility in mind: something that’s a must-have for buyers with active lifestyles. The under-floor cargo storage comes in handy for valuables at the trailhead, keeping them out-of-sight of potential thieves. With second-row seats folded flat, the Outlander easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards.

    Keyless entry and start makes it easier to get into the vehicle and start the car. It took me a few minutes to figure out the electronic shifter, simply because the Park button is in front of the shift lever where it can be hard to see. But that shouldn’t be a problem for owners after a couple of days. An electronic parking brake takes up less space than a mechanical lever.

    Heated front seats and dual-zone climate control keeps occupants comfortable in temperature extremes. The mobile phone app enables owners to pre-heat or pre-cool the vehicle as well. Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. The center stack screen is on the small side compared to competitive products, but the rearview camera image is large enough to be useful.

    Sound quality from the Rockford Fosgate system is very good: I was pleasantly surprised when listening to classical music and the clarity and depth of sound.

    Although Mitsubishi has significantly raised the bar in terms of interior fit and finish, it still lags-behind some competitors in the market. That might not be a big deal for a price costing $25,000 or so, but it is for a vehicle priced within entry luxury range. The most noticeable difference is material choice: not as stylish as other options, and for some potential buyers, that could be a deal-breaker.

    Standard safety

    The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, blind spot monitoring, stability control, hill start assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, automatic high beams and tire pressure monitoring.

    Mitsubishi builds the Outlander PHEV at its Okazaki, Japan assembly plant.

    Like: An all-wheel drive crossover vehicle with pure electric and hybrid capability.

    Dislike: Poor fuel economy in parallel hybrid mode.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Mitsubishi
    Model: Outlander PHEV GT-S AWC
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $40,295
    As tested: $42,130
    Horsepower: 117 HP @ 4500 rpm (gasoline engine only)
    Torque: 137 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 (gasoline engine only)
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 74 MPGe, 25 mpg (gasoline engine only)

    Comments are closed.