The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Green Car Journal’s 2019 Green SUV of the Year™, has been sold quite successfully in other parts of the world since 2013 but has just finally made it to our shores. During its absence here in the U.S. the Outlander PHEV has not inconsequentially become the best-selling plug-in hybrid SUV in the world. There are reasons for this, including this spacious plug-in SUV’s ability to accommodate five with plenty of room for gear, its quiet cabin finished in premium leather, and its array of desired features prominent on today’s buyer wish lists.
This model’s most high-profile feature, of course, is its plug-in powertrain. The Outlander plug-in hybrid features a 2.0-liter gas engine and generator along with a pair of high-performance electric motors, one up front and one at the rear. The combustion engine provides 117 horsepower with the front and rear electric motors each contributing an additional 80 horsepower, for a total system rating of 197 horsepower at the ready. Power is delivered to the road through a continuously variable transmission. Adding to the model’s already-functional nature is Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control system and a 1500 pound tow rating.
All-electric driving is a big plus delivered by plug-in hybrids, and the Outlander PHEV is no exception. It can drive 22 miles on battery power alone and has an overall driving range of 310 miles. Its battery can be charged in about 10 hours by plugging into a standard 120-volt household plug, in four hours with a home or public 240-volt Level 2 charger, and up to 80 percent battery capacity in just 25 minutes at a public DC Fast Charger.
The Outlander’s parallel-series hybrid drivetrain operates in three distinct ways that are automatically chosen by the vehicle’s control system to optimize efficiency and performance. In Series Hybrid mode the electric motors power the vehicle. When lithium-ion battery power is low or quick acceleration is required, the two electric motors are powered by both the gasoline-powered engine-generator and the battery pack, with the generator also charging the battery. Parallel Hybrid mode uses the gas engine to drive the front wheels with the two electric motors kicking in when additional power is needed. The engine also charges the battery pack in Parallel Hybrid mode under certain driving conditions.
Of particular interest to ‘green’ drivers is the Outlander’s EV Drive mode, which powers the Outlander exclusively via battery electric power. This mode is also driver-selectable with an EV Mode button. There are six levels of regenerative braking—B1 to B5 plus a coast-for-blocks B0 mode— selected by a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel.
There’s plenty of desirable tech that comes with the Outlander beyond its advanced drivetrain. Safety technologies include blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams. A multi-view camera system provides a birds-eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings. Adaptive cruise control uses radar to maintain a selected distance from the car ahead. And lower-tech yet decidedly handy are a pair of available 120-volt outlets in the cargo and rear seat areas.