While the new model was driving a sales resurgence at Mitsubishi, the question came up as to when a plug-in hybrid will join the lineup.
We’ve been waiting for this one…
While the new model was driving a sales resurgence at Mitsubishi, the question came up as to when a plug-in hybrid will join the lineup. After all, the previous model housed this driveline towards it becoming the best-selling plug-in hybrid SUV in the world.
Our answer arrived this year. And, not a moment too soon…
Mitsubishi addressed a host of issues they had with the previous generation model. The gasoline engine’s power was not there. The all-electric range might not be enough for some motorists. And, where was that third row of seats when you needed it? Oh, and how come the PHEV looked better – and had better interior quality – than the other Outlander models?
So here it is. The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has joined its award-winning sibling.
What do I think of it? Rather, is this an appropriate sequel to the #VOTY2021 story?
To find out, I must get into what lies underneath its bold body. It starts with a two electric motors – one for each axle, and Mitsubishi’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. Each electric motor gets its own single-gear transmission, and the gasoline engine is fed from then electric drive system. Plus, the two electric motors also drive the Super All-Wheel Control system.
In effect, this is more of an EV than a hybrid. And, it drives like an EV when you have juice in the battery. The drive system prioritizes the electric motors before it even considers bringing in the gasoline engine. You can press the EV button on the center console to change from pure EV driving to any mix of hybrid operation through four modes. There is also an Intelligent Pedal button that gives you a one-pedal style of driving that acts more to preserve the 20-kilowatt-hour battery and improves energy regeneration.
Like the previous generation model, the Outlander PHEV can be charged up by a J1772 port for up to a Level 2 recharge. However, it remains the only PHEV among mainstream automakers with a CHAdeMO DC Fast Charging port. The latter delivered quick turnarounds, even at a 50-kilowatt charging speed.
The battery pack is now placed underneath the cabin. Mitsubishi did this to bring in a third row of seats – unique among PHEV SUVs in its class. The third row is tucked away underneath the cargo floor and can be deployed when needed. However, it also serves as a very comfortable two-row SUV with a 30.4 cubic feet cargo hold. Granted, this is a smaller space than the “regular” Outlander.
In terms of energy efficiency, if the electric motors are in play, I would average 60.6 MPG. However, once I drain the battery and the gasoline engine takes over, that would drop to 29.1 MPG. These numbers are aligned with the Environmental Protection Agency’s own published average figures. Yet, I will throw in that it was pretty damn cold during testing of this vehicle. I know, “excuses, excuses…”
The driving experience is absolutely wonderful. It does drive like an EV when you have juice I the battery. Plus, the battery never drained as quickly as in other PHEVs I’ve worked with. Acceleration is fantastic. It just cruises very well and manages traffic like a champ.
The S-AWC system has seven modes of traction. Considering the time of year I’ve worked with this Outlander PHEV, Snow mode was on – and it did a great job keeping this vehicle on the road without any sliding around. During the summer, go ahead and play with the Power mode. You might have a bit of fun in an Outlander PHEV when you do.
In case you're wondering, the Outlander PHEV passed the parking pad/breakover test with flying colors.
What I really love about the Outlander PHEV is there are no aesthetic differences between it and the “regular” models. No distinctive grille or steering wheel, as in the last generation model. Just a few PHEV badges and some additional readouts on the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
In all, it looks like an Outlander. Because, it is one.
With that said. All of the good things that made the Mitsubishi Outlander #VOTY2021 are perfectly retained. The quality is lovely. The SEL Touring’s leather seats offer comfort and support for extended drives. Ergonomically, it is superb with good controls and switches.
The driving experience was just as I remembered from the two “regular” Outlanders I drove back in 2021. The PHEV drive system enhanced it to the point where the ride quality, solid handling, steering and brakes made it a complete package. To sum it up all up, the Outlander PHEV is a very pleasant vehicle.
The price of this very pleasant vehicle came as a bit of a surprise. This 2023 Outlander PHEV SEL Touring tester came with a sticker price of $51,525. However, that really isn’t a shock, when you consider the Outlander PHEV itself starts from $39,845. You now have six trims – including upgrade packages to choose from.
Think about this for the moment. Pricewise, it is comparable to the plug-in hybrid versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, and Toyota RAV4. In contrast to these three competitors, Mitsubishi offers more choice in trims and packages – each one offering more value than its comparable rivals.
Not to mention, the Outlander PHEV won’t let you drain your battery as fast as those three models. Plus, it simply drives better.
The point of the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is to create a better plug-in hybrid. One that emphasizes the electric drive side than the gasoline one. One that is honest in its approach and delivers accordingly.
Simply put, this is a proper sequel to #VOTY2021.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by White Bear Mitsubishi, White Bear Lake, MN
All photos by Randy Stern