With the vehicle electrification picking up momentum, plug-in-hybrids are getting some additional attention — and gaining some additional respect.
The latest PHEV models can operate on electric power for errands, or short to medium-length commutes or short sprints on the highway. But the internal combustion engine is available for long trips or cross-country drives where EV charging is hard — or impossible — to find.
Believe it or not, Mitsubishi has been a plug-in pioneer. With the appearance of the 2023 Outlander PHEV, the Japanese automaker is introducing its second-generation plug-in system, which can operate steadily on its lithium-ion battery with the help of its regenerative braking system feeding more additional juice to the battery.
The 2023 Outlander PHEV is built into the new Mitsubishi Outlander platform, which during the past year has elevated the brand’s profile with its stylish exterior and polished interior to make it a serious competitor to vehicles from Asian, American and European rivals.
Designers of utility vehicles can go square or attempt a sportier look or settle in between. With the Outlander, Mitsubishi has opted for sportier look, which means a bold grille, trim roofline which is slanted toward the rear hatch.
With the laid-back windshield, the Outlander PHEV’s silhouette is poised, yet sleek and nicely set off by the 18-inch wheels at the corners. At the same time, the front fascia is framed by stylish lighting fixtures, including squared-off headlights.
The interior of 2023 Outlander PHEV is simple, straightforward and furnished with first-rate materials and styling features, giving it a smart, contemporary feel. The soft material used throughout on the inner door and the wood trim on the instrument panel are impressive touches.
In addition, the Outlander PHEV has all the technology and comfort features motorists have come to expect in contemporary vehicles nicely integrated through the cabin. The instrument cluster is easy to read and the view from the driver’s seat is excellent.
The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is equipped with 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts. It also is equipped with an 80-kilowatt electric motor and lithium-ion motor, allowing to operate on electric power. The single-speed transmission has a switchable gear box and a standard Super All-Wheel Control all-wheel drive system. The powertrain produces 126 horsepower and 147 foot-pounds of torque.
Safety and Technology
The Outlander is equipped with dual-stage airbags for protection in frontal collisions as well as side-curtain airbags and forward collisions mitigation. It also is equipped with driver assistance features such as blind-spot monitoring.
It also has an entertainment and navigation screen in the center stack of the cockpit. The Mitsubishi Connect telematics services is standard on the Outland PHEV, which also equipped with cruise control and remote start.
The 2023 Outlander PHEV I drove was a pre-production model. But vehicles with internal combustion engines and electric powertrains typically have very distinct feel when you take them out for a spin. One of the unique features of the Outlander PHEV is the way it blends the electric and gas powertrains.
For much of the drive, including a stretch on I-94, the Outlander felt like an electric vehicle rather than an ICE vehicle. One of the special features built into the Outlander with Mitsubishi’s latest iteration of its PHEV system is the one-pedal system, which basically means the braking starts immediately when you lift your foot off the accelerator.
It gives the Outlander PHEV a special dimension, making it feel like an EV rather than ICE vehicle. Overall, the performance was quite adequate despite the extra weight the vehicle carries with the lithium-ion battery.
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 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 w/80 kWh electric motors; single-speed switchable gearbox|
|Performance Specs||126 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque|
|On-Sale Date||Q4 2022|
Once you get beyond their complicated powertrains, plug-in hybrids have a lot to offer. It’s the best option for anyone who wants the advantage of an EV but suffers from some form of acute range anxiety because they are not quite sure about plugging in for a recharge once they travel more than a few miles from the home base.
Mitsubishi executives are saying the Outlander PHEV is designed specifically to serve as a bridge between a vehicle with a gasoline engine and a pure battery-electric vehicle. For anyone not quite sure they are ready for an EV, it is a nice steppingstone.
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV— Frequently Asked Questions
What is the electric-only range of the Outlander PHEV?
It will travel 28 miles in electric only mode.
Does the Outlander have a third row?
Yes. The new powertrain allowed for additional interior space, including the introduction of a third row of seats.
How does the new Outlander PHEV differ from other Outlanders?
The new Outlander PHEV has a special two-tone exterior with a contrasting roof and a ‘PLUG-IN HYBRID EV’ badge on the front fenders. Sure, there’s the customary lid on the left shoulder hiding the charging port, but visual differences end there.