In a fashion-driven industry like the automobile business, no one ever wants to be left behind. But smaller companies, like Mitsubishi, face some daunting challenges as they try to keep paced with the better resourced competitors.
The challenge is even more daunting in the current environment where the industry is undergoing what some are calling a once in a century transformation — but Mitsubishi has stepped up to the challenge with its Outlander plug-in hybrid.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle combines the popular packaging of a compact utility vehicle with a sophisticated powertrain capable of running both on gasoline and electricity from its on-board battery.
The Outlander also comes with all the creature comforts buyers expect from utilities in this segment where competitors such as Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Ford Escape have raised the bar steadily in recent years. The plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander also comes with an array of driver assistance features to help motorists cope with the increases in traffic.
There is no escaping the two-box silhouette of the utility vehicle, but Mitsubishi has done a nice job of dressing it up with an impressive grille, neatly angled windshield that blends into the roof line and carries through to the spoiler at the rear of the vehicle.
The halogen headlamps also add to the character of the front end and the vehicle comes with side sill garnishes and chrome accents setting off the window openings body colored side mirrors, PHEV and SEL badging and 18-inch wheels. The rear LED and LED daytime running lights complete the presentation. I also could not help but be impressed by the Ruby Black Pearl Paint applied to Outlander I drove. It costs extra but it gave the car luminous look.
The interior of the Outlander PHEV is very appealing. The design is simple and clean, and the materials enhance the design with polished surfaces and bright work, which is used to set off the center console as well as the instrument panel and gauges.
The cabin of the Outlander PHEV also is nicely furnished with leather. Lots of automakers use leather but I found Mitsubishi’s use in the Outlander very well done and not overdone. The steering wheel is leather wrapped, and leather is used on the inner side of the doors to good effect. The interior lighting scheme also is quite effective at night without being a distraction. Both the front and rear seats are easy to get in and out of, and the driver seat offers excellent visibility of the road. The interior also is quiet on longer drives.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is equipped with a 2.4-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine. With an automatic transmission and paddle shifters. But it also has two electric motors with a 13.8-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery and a 120-volt charging cable, 240-volt charging capability, which can reach full-charge in four hours.
The Outlander has fast-charging capability and regenerative braking. It also comes with All Wheel Control, which modulates the brake control of the front wheel to emphasize use of all four wheels. The battery gives the Outlander 24 miles of range on electric power alone and a range of 74 MPGe in combined city and highway driving or 26 mpg on gasoline alone, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also comes with hill-start assist and controls for sport and eco modes.
Safety and Technology
The Outlander is equipped with airbags for protection in frontal- and side-impact collisions and rollover accidents. It is also equipped with forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
It is also equipped with HD Radio, Satellite radio connection as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, voice recognition, USB ports in both the front and rear seats and a rearview camera. Controls for both the audio system and the phone on the steering wheel and heated seats as well as dual-zone climate controls.
Despite its rather intricate powertrain layout, the Outlander performed and drove like any other utility vehicles in the same class except it seemed to have a bit better suspension and more stability because the vehicle’s center of gravity is lower to the ground due to the weight of the lithium-ion battery.
The regenerative braking system added braking power, I thought, and the Outlander had adequate power during a trip on the freeway. The Outlander gets up to speed quickly. The ride and handling also were good with minimal lean going around curves. All and all, I found it to be a pleasant vehicle to use for everyday driving and the connections needed to recharge the vehicle seem easy to make.
2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL specifications:
|Dimension||L: 184.8 inches/W: 70.9 inches/H: 67.3 inches/Wheelbase: 105.1 inches|
|Powertrain||2.4-liter DOHC 4-cylinder with twin AC synchronous permanent magnetic motor|
|Fuel Economy||74 MPGe/26 mpg combined (gasoline only)|
|Performance Specs||126 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $36,295; As tested: $38,175, including $1,195 destination and delivery charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Mitsubishi has been something of an also ran in the competition for buyers in the United States but as the interest in battery-electric and plug-in electric vehicles continues to grow, I suspect more buyers will find their way to Mitsubishi showrooms and they will be pleasantly surprised.
The Outlander PHEV is quite capable of driving on battery power alone, and the version I drove was quite up-to-date technology wise. One word of caution, however. The Outlander comes in at $38,175 — a price elevating it to what used to be considered luxury vehicle territory not so long ago, is not an inexpensive vehicle, which could result in sticker shock.
2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL — Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of engine does the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV have?
The new 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder naturally aspirated unit that will produce 126 horsepower. This engine is mated to a pair of electric motors and a battery pack.
What’s the range of the new Mitsubishi Outlander?
The battery output has increased by 10% to a capacity is 13.8 kWh. These changes allow the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a gas-free range up from 22 mile to about 28 miles.
What kind of climate control does Mitsubishi Outlander have?
The driver and front passenger in all Outlander models can each set their own ideal temperature using the automatic dual zone climate control.