2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

The Outlander PHEV brings affordable plug-in charging to a segment dominated by luxury models.
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers a reason to take another look at this family SUV. While the regular Outlander lacks the comfort and refinement of its many competitors, the new PHEV model is one of the first vehicles to bring plug-in recharging capability to the SUV class.

Mitsubishi has sold the Outlander PHEV in other global markets for two years. Now it makes its debut in the United States. Starting at about $35,000 before applicable tax credits, the Outlander PHEV looks pretty much the same as its gas engine-only counterpart. But for the PHEV decals and badging, you wouldn't know the difference.

It's a different story under the hood, where a four-cylinder gas engine joins electric hybrid components. The engine and electric motor combination drives the front wheels, while a second electric motor drives the rear wheels. Sophisticated computer processing determines the best way to dole out power to all four wheels, although drivers can also manually engage a four-wheel-drive lock mode when desired.

Total system output is 197 horsepower, yet the Outlander PHEV's key appeal to most drivers will be its plug-in rechargeability. Mitsubishi says the Outlander plug-in can travel about 22 miles on a full charge, and you can charge from 120-volt, 240-volt or DC fast-charger sources. We'll wait to see what real-world driving actually yields, but 22 miles on all-electric power is similar to how far you can go in other plug-in hybrids.

Less impressive is the Outlander PHEV's fuel economy once the rechargeable battery is largely depleted. At just 25 mpg in combined city/highway driving, it actually does a little worse than a regular four-cylinder Outlander with all-wheel drive (26 mpg). A non-plug-in Toyota RAV4 Hybrid posts 32 mpg combined.

Plug-in utility requires some additional sacrifices. Unlike the standard Outlander, the PHEV doesn't offer three rows of seats due to placement of the battery pack and electrical components. Mitsubishi also had to use a smaller gas tank with the PHEV, and that limits overall gas-electric driving range.

But with 78 cubic feet of maximum cargo space and standard all-wheel drive, the PHEV still rates as a proper SUV. If you need the space and utility and you like the idea of maximizing miles through electricity, the Outlander PHEV warrants a close look.



what's new

Although based on an existing design, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is an all-new plug-in hybrid vehicle.

we recommend

We think it's worth springing for the GT trim once you figure in a standard federal tax rebate for plug-in hybrid vehicles. It costs a lot more than the base model, but the addition of key accident avoidance features (forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning) and other luxuries — such as a sunroof, heated steering wheel, multiview camera, upgraded sound system, and two rear household-style power outlets — justify the jump.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a five-passenger plug-in hybrid SUV offered in two trim levels: SEL and GT. Both are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (117 horsepower) joined by a 60-kilowatt electric motor; the combination drives the front wheels, and a second 60-kW motor powers the rear wheels. Total system output is rated at 197 hp. Electrical power is stored in a 12-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights with LED accents, foglights, heated side mirrors, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, keyless entry, push-button start, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, voice controls, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system, a 7-inch touchscreen display, dual USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Driver safety aids include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Stepping up to the GT adds LED headlights and foglights, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, a multiview camera, dual AC power outlets (rated up to 1,500 watts), and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. Enhanced driver aids include forward collision alert with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.

There are two main option packages. The Entertainment package includes a rear-seat DVD player with remote control and wireless headphones, while the Towing package includes a tow hitch and trailer-prepped wiring harness. There are also a handful of optional accessory and cosmetic trim packages that include items such as side mirror covers, lower air dams and cargo mats.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The observations in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2.0L inline-4 plug-in hybrid | automatic | AWD) and observations from our full test of the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL (2.4L inline-4 | CVT automatic | AWD).

driving

On-road handling feels uninspired, but the Outlander PHEV comports itself well on a dirt trail. Its twin-motor, all-wheel-drive system delivers admirable power and traction in slippery stuff, making it a good candidate for soft-road car camping excursions.

acceleration

The steering has a natural feel, with quick turn-in yet effort that's light enough for around-town driving. It's easy to keep the Outlander steering straight on the highway.

comfort

The Outlander isn't as refined as many of its competitors. The seats need more cushioning, and the steering wheel, while nicely weighted and chunky, still feels far away even at its closest position. The PHEV's cabin is nicer overall since it's offered only in the lineup's top two trims.

seat comfort

The front seats are far from plush and offer mediocre comfort. The door and center armrests offer almost no padding. The rear seats also are not overly comfy, and the middle seat is hard. The PHEV does not have a third-row seat.

ride comfort

The Outlander handles mild bumps pretty easily, but city potholes and bigger bumps at speed significantly upset its composure. It comes down to a lack of suspension design refinement.

noise & vibration

Wind noise is well-controlled, and the tires are exceptionally quiet. There's some suspension noise over big bumps.

interior

Plenty of headroom and legroom for adults in the front and second rows, and outward visibility is excellent. The build quality is disappointing, though.

utility

The Outlander PHEV walks the line between utility SUV and plug-in family shuttle. Battery pack placement cuts down on cargo space, but a capable all-wheel-drive system can take adventures farther afield. The optional 110-volt power outlet can handle 1,500 watts for serious tailgating/camping fun.

small-item storage

For an SUV of this size, the Outlander has good-size door pockets, but the front bin is far away and the center-console cupholders have no anti-tip design.

cargo space

You give up very little with the Outlander PHEV. Behind the rear seats, there is 30.4 cubic feet of space available. Folding the rear seats yields 78 cubic feet of space.

technology

In-car tech isn't a particular Mitsubishi strength, but the offerings with the PHEV are sufficient and include a 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an optional nine-speaker audio system. Most common driver safety aids are available on the top-trim GT model.

audio & navigation

The 7-inch touchscreen serves as an interface for audio, Bluetooth and connected apps. No embedded navigation offered. A six-speaker sound system with dual USB ports and satellite-HD radio is standard; an optional upgrade comes with eight speakers and a subwoofer.

smartphone integration

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, and that's a good thing for drivers who need navigation and own an iPhone or Android phone. Not such good news for drivers who've opted out of smartphones and still need navigation.

driver aids

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert come standard, but other desirable features — forward collision alert, automatic braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control among them — are reserved for the GT trim level.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.