Bridging The Present And Future
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was a long time coming. The electrified crossover SUV was first previewed at the 2016 Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) along with a couple of promises that it was indeed arriving soon. Since then, a number of hybrids (HEV) and even purely electric vehicles (EV) have already beaten the Outlander PHEV to the market. Fast forward to 2021, is this plug-in hybrid (PHEV) crossover SUV still significant? Let’s find out.
From a styling standpoint, the Outlander PHEV looks just like any other compact crossover SUV out there. Unlike let’s say the Toyota Prius or the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell crossover SUV, the Mitsubishi prefers not to show off its electrified credentials. Upfront, you get Mitsubishi’s signature Dynamic Shield grille, which is flanked by a pair of LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. The side profile looks quite conventional though. As a matter of fact, it looks a bit too plain even when compared to the Montero Sport. Things don’t bode as well either when it comes to its rear fascia as it also looks too generic. Your only clues as to what lies underneath its hood are the PHEV badges and the presence of a fuel lid on both sides of the vehicle.
Unfortunately, things don’t improve that much when you step inside when it comes to design. Like most of the exterior, the interior design is also a bit generic. At least the material choices are good, with soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of large expanses of piano black plastic, but the one used on the Outlander’s interior seems to be the more durable (less scratch-prone) variety. While the Outlander’s interior quality is quite good, it isn’t on par with the Mazda CX-5, especially the Signature Diesel variant with its Nappa Leather and real wood trims. And with a price tag of just under P3 million, comparisons against the flagship Mazda CX-9 or even premium compact SUVs such as the BMW X1 or Lexus NX are pretty much expected.
Space is generally good inside on all two rows. Because the Outlander PHEV was first and foremost conceived to be a three-row seven-seater crossover SUV, the removal of the folding third-row seats in favor of a battery pack has not dramatically affected its trunk space. At 463 liters, it’s still on par with the rest of its competition. In addition, the plug-in hybrid powertrain isn’t just for the sake of fuel economy. The system can provide up to 1500W of power, which you can use to power outdoor appliances during camping or you know, just your laptop if that’s your thing.
Now, as for infotainment, the Outlander PHEV uses the same system found in the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. It’s a generally good system to use, with legible menus and large icons. Of course, the major difference would be the hybrid-specific displays for this SUV’s electrified powertrain. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, which is a good thing. What’s not so good is that the screen easily washes out during daylight and the 360-degree camera doesn’t provide the highest of resolutions.
There are other advanced driver assist systems available as well. Apart from the aforementioned 360-degree camera, the Outlander PHEV also has radar-guided full-speed adaptive cruise control, though it requires you to step on the brake once it comes to a full stop. And then there’s also blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and automatic emergency braking.
Under the hood of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a 2.4-liter inline-4 MIVEC gasoline engine that produces 128 hp and 199 Nm of torque. There are also two electric motors at each axle: 80 hp and 137 Nm at the front, and then 94 hp and 195 Nm at the rear. Mitsubishi has not provided a total system output, and please do not add all these figures together since that’s not how it works. All of these components are controlled by the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system, sending the power to the ground via a “Multimode eTransmission.” With a 13.8 kWh battery pack, the Outlander PHEV can travel in pure electric mode for up to 55 kilometers up to a speed of 135 kph.
Out on the open road, the Outlander PHEV feels surprisingly normal to drive, of course except for the part that it can travel in pure silence for much longer distances compared to normal hybrids. At low speeds and even during overtakes, the Outlander PHEV is very responsive. This is thanks to those electric motors providing assistance to the gasoline engine. Zero to 100 kph with this powertrain happens in 10.5 seconds according to Mitsubishi, but out in the real world, it definitely feels subjectively faster than that.
Though the throttle response is responsive, you’ll still never mistake it for a Mazda CX-5. That e-Transmission whatchamacallit may not be a CVT, but it does act like one. Put your foot down, and you’ll hear the engine droning. The electric power steering is feather-light and completely devoid of any feedback from the road, though it at least feels precise. Push it through corners, and the body rolls considerably. There’s definitely a good amount of grip thanks to the electric motors helping the Outlander go through corners, but this car never feels agile when driven enthusiastically.
What the Outlander PHEV is excellent at is being a cruiser. The suspension is soft and offers a good ride, though some of the tiny road imperfections enter the cabin almost unfiltered. Along with its excellent noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression, this car is great for eating up the miles. Don’t forget the fact that this is a plug-in hybrid, which means that at highway speeds, the lack of engine noise can easily make passengers fall asleep.
Of course, being a plug-in hybrid, one easily expects it to be highly fuel-efficient, right? Well, the best I achieved according to the trip computer was 7.3 l/100 km (13.69 km/l). Sure, that’s a fuel-efficient figure, but the more affordable diesel-powered Honda CR-V fared better at 14.4 km/l. The true magic of the Outlander PHEV lies when you charge it on a daily basis. Consider us impressed when we were able to nearly achieve Mitsubishi’s claimed 55-kilometer pure electric range. Oh, and before you charge the vehicle, do check your house first if it is compatible with the Outlander’s charging cable and if there’s a three-pin plug in your garage.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the brand’s most high-tech and innovative vehicle yet. Unfortunately, all that innovation comes at a steep price of P2,998,000. Nope, you definitely won’t save money with this electrified SUV due to the high upfront cost, especially when you consider the fact that its average fuel economy in normal hybrid mode is easily achievable in an equivalent diesel crossover SUV. As mentioned, the true magic lies when you charge this vehicle on a daily basis as you get to enjoy its 55-kilometer electric range. Just don’t expect your savings (if any) from charging the vehicle will be enough to recuperate the high upfront cost.
All these factors make the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, at least in Philippine setting, more of a technological flex of what Mitsubishi is capable of doing. It’s an SUV for those who want an electric car but without the anxiety of running out of battery in the middle of nowhere. If you’re looking for a crossover SUV that bridges today’s technologies and tomorrow’s advancements, then you won’t be disappointed with the Outlander PHEV.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★☆☆
Overall: 4.2 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.