Automotive

Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is great ... to a point

Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlan...
There are good and bad points with the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, so shop carefully
There are good and bad points with the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, so shop carefully
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The 2020 Outlander PHEV has a generous list of standard features, including advanced safety tech
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The 2020 Outlander PHEV has a generous list of standard features, including advanced safety tech
Like every Mitsubishi we’ve driven, the Outlander PHEV uses one of the most advanced all-wheel drive systems we’ve seen
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Like every Mitsubishi we’ve driven, the Outlander PHEV uses one of the most advanced all-wheel drive systems we’ve seen
The low-rent qualities of the standard model seep through the veneer of the higher-cost PHEV model
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The low-rent qualities of the standard model seep through the veneer of the higher-cost PHEV model
There are good and bad points with the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, so shop carefully
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There are good and bad points with the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, so shop carefully
The Outlander PHEV is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two 60 kW electric motors for a total of 190 horsepower in all
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The Outlander PHEV is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two 60 kW electric motors for a total of 190 horsepower in all
Total all-electric range is about 22 miles per charge in the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
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Total all-electric range is about 22 miles per charge in the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The point of a plug-in is improved fuel economy. The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV certainly delivers pretty good returns on that front
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The point of a plug-in is improved fuel economy. The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV certainly delivers pretty good returns on that front
The 2020 Outlander PHEV has a sluggish drive feel, but has a smart controls layout and good visibility
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The 2020 Outlander PHEV has a sluggish drive feel, but has a smart controls layout and good visibility
Back seats in the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are spacious, with plenty of legroom and headroom
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Back seats in the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are spacious, with plenty of legroom and headroom
And 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the Outlander PHEV, as are several advanced safety tech items like forward collision warning and blind-spot management
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And 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the Outlander PHEV, as are several advanced safety tech items like forward collision warning and blind-spot management
There is no third row option for the Outlander PHEV, which limits its versatility for the standard Outlander’s primary audience
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There is no third row option for the Outlander PHEV, which limits its versatility for the standard Outlander’s primary audience
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The current-generation Mitsubishi Outlander was introduced in 2014 and a plug-in hybrid model (PHEV) arrived shortly thereafter. The PHEV combines the best of both worlds, offering the experience of all-electric driving with the assurance of longer range via a gasoline engine. We jumped behind the wheel to put it through its paces.

The Mitsubishi Outlander, in its standard gasoline format, is one of the often overlooked gems of the automotive market. It’s cheap, it’s got a huge warranty, and it has all of the basics needed for a growing family to, well, grow. It also misses a lot of marks, but that has always been compensated for with its lowball price tag.

With the plug-in hybrid model, however, the Outlander PHEV fattens up its price point. The rest of the vehicle should follow suit if it is to compete. Mitsubishi seems to understand this concept and made moves to bolster the salability of the PHEV model. It has a better interior, more modern-looking controls, and a more sophisticated paint palette. The 2020 Outlander PHEV has a generous list of standard features, including advanced safety tech, and every Mitsubishi we’ve driven uses one of the most advanced all-wheel drive systems we’ve seen. We touted the gasoline model Outlander’s excellent AWD capabilities and mirror that praise with this plug-in model.

That’s about where it ends, though. The low-rent qualities of the standard model, which are forgiven there because of its segment-bottom price point, seep through the veneer of the higher-cost PHEV model. Rattles, road noise, odd creaks, and occasional mirror whistles are the norm in this rig. This is further enhanced by a vague, disconnected drive feel. Finally, there is no third row option for the Outlander PHEV, which limits its versatility for the standard Outlander’s primary audience.

And 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the Outlander PHEV, as are several advanced safety tech items like forward collision warning and blind-spot management
And 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the Outlander PHEV, as are several advanced safety tech items like forward collision warning and blind-spot management

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes in two trim levels: the SEL and the GT. We drove the latter, which adds some interior flair and a little bit of sportiness to the Outlander’s appearance via some extra body kit. Whatever the trim level, though, the powerplant is the same in the Outlander PHEV.

That starts with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine tuned specifically for efficiency (think Atkinson cycle). This provides 117 horsepower (87.2 kW). This is further augmented by two 80.4 horsepower (60 kW) electric motors; one to each axle. Total system output, after losses and such, is 190 horses (141.6 kW). A continuously variable transmission (CVT) manages the powertrain and a 12 kWh battery pack offers power to the motors. Total all-electric range is about 22 miles (35.4 km) per charge, depending on driving conditions, and EV mode allows driving at up to highway speeds without switching on the engine.

For the most part, driving the Outlander PHEV is similar to driving the standard gas model. The interior, however, is much more space age in design by comparison. The use of whites and blue-colored lighting and the like add a futuristic element to the PHEV model’s interior design, reminding one that this is a non-standard vehicle. Controls and instrument readouts are also plug-in specific, with highlights to battery power availability, usage, range estimations, and so forth.

More detailed information is available through the 8-inch touchscreen (standard). The infotainment also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Bluetooth. Three USB ports are also standard, but the six-speaker audio system trends towards tinny rather than robust. Voice controls in the Outlander PHEV are hit-and-miss most of the time and menus are tedious. Using one of the phone-controlled apps is preferred.

There is no third row option for the Outlander PHEV, which limits its versatility for the standard Outlander’s primary audience
There is no third row option for the Outlander PHEV, which limits its versatility for the standard Outlander’s primary audience

The point of a plug-in is improved fuel economy. The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV certainly delivers pretty good returns on that front. If it’s being regularly plugged in, that is. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Outlander PHEV at 74 MPGe combined (about 3.18 l/100km). With no good way to measure that in the real-world, however, we stuck with standard MPG returns over a week’s worth of daily driving and nightly plugins. Our returns were about 38 mpg (6.19 l/100km) overall. Better than the gas-only MPG rating of 25 (highway), but nowhere near the EPA’s estimate. The likely reasons are in the test methods: we drove normally and put on more than half the mileage at highway speeds. We routinely ran the battery to near-zero every day as well. Suffice it to say: your results may vary.

At a price tag of nearly US$44,000 for our GT Premium model Outlander PHEV, it’s difficult to find justification for the money being spent. The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV does have upsides and good points. All of which may match someone’s particular needs. The Outlander PHEV has a starting price of $36,295 plus shipping.

Product Page: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

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9 comments
NewThings
For some reason the Toyota and Mitsubishi just don't get it. I own a Prius Prime plug-in and the only thing that frustrates me is the paltry miles it will go on only electric. My Prius Prime is rated for 25 miles on electric. I sure would rather it go a good 100 miles on electric only. Nothing worse, and this happens all the time, where we run out of electric juice less than a mile from home and the engine kicks on but doesn't get warmed before being shut off. Bad of the ICE. Electric only for me from now on.
DaveWesely
This car would have been nice ... about 15 years ago. Now we know PHEVs and HEVs have all the downsides of ICEs and upfront expense of BEVs, not to mention the additional complexity. Why even bother reviewing it?
usugo
It was great in 2012 when it came out with pretty much the same specs. Now, it is just outdated. It should have a 20-25kWh battery, two 100kW motors (with real AWD lock) and a small compact engine acting just as a motorgenerator.
Jeff7
It sells well in NZ because Mitsubishi slashed the price when new BEV and plug on hybrids arrived. These days it’s only average but at the right price (US$35K) they are a good buy for a decent sized wagon.
foxpup
Only 12KWh of battery. This is no PHEV. It's just a hybrid. They need to at least double that and bring it up to 10-year-old EV standardards like the 2011 Nissan LEAF that had about 24KWh. It's not an electric unless it has at least that much battery. I like the simple interior and the AWD though and the ICE engine really can ba useful for those who live in rural areas where you cannot always get to a fast charger. They nead to up their battery capacity and then they will have something nice here. I'd love to buy one of these used for $8K right now but that won't be possible for years. Mitsubishi is a few years behind the market but at least they are in the market and I hope they can catch up quickly.
foxpup
It's funny how urbanites think that PHEV's are stupid. They apparently haven't spent much time in wonderfully remote places like Western Nebraska, where you can breath freely without a mask or being scowled at for no wearing one. There are places that are hundreds of miles from any fast charger so ICE's are necessary, but it's still nice to be driving an EV so why not combine them? What makes sense in downtown Chicago, if anything, doesn't necessarily make sense out in the beautiful big-sky open plains.
ljaques
I doubt the sales of the Outlandish will be anything like brisk. Agreed, NewThings, Toyota and Mitsu completely lost the concept. The Prius should be 90% battery/10% gas backup by now, but they haven't changed to the proper paradigm yet. That ICE engine should power a genset.
Dan Hyman
You're missing the point. We live in London with no off street parking and can't charge every night if we can't park close enough to run the cable protector across the pavement so we need the petrol engine. However we almost always do charge it, drive entirely on the battery and hardly ever buy petrol. Above 50mph you hit the "save" button and the engine takes over where it can run in its most efficient rev range and also keep the battery topped up until you return to urban stop/start driving where you would be burning through petrol but the electric motor excells.
MandarinMart
Mitsubishi have just announced their withdrawal from the European market...