Used 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL SUV Review


Edmunds Summary Review of the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL SUV

Pros & Cons

  • Delivers plug-in SUV utility without luxury SUV price
  • Offers a generous list of standard features
  • Sophisticated all-wheel drive offers stability on slippery surfaces
  • Generous warranty coverage
  • Small gas tank limits overall range
  • Regular fuel economy is underwhelming
  • Lower ground clearance hinders off-road ability
  • Limited Mitsubishi dealer network


Which Outlander PHEV does Edmunds 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.

Full Edmunds Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV

Overall rating

6.5 / 10

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.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV models

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 full test of the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2.0L inline-4 plug-in hybrid | automatic | AWD).

Driving

6.5
The Outlander PHEV is the most off-road-capable vehicle in its small class and handles its complex powertrain smoothly on the road. But it suffers most of the foibles possible for a heavy hybrid SUV: It's slow and unrefined, with a harshly buzzing engine, bizarre steering and floppy handling.

Acceleration

5.5
The electric motors provide a nice thrust at low speeds, but power runs out quickly. When the engine is called into action, it sounds harsh and strained, especially on hills, and provides much more noise than power. The as-tested 0-60 mph time of 9.8 seconds is slow, even for a hybrid.

Braking

8.0
On our test track, the Outlander PHEV managed a panic stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is good for a hybrid SUV. The brake pedal feels numb but remains predictable and easy to modulate. The transition from regenerative to mechanical braking is almost unnoticeable.

Steering

4.5
Steering resistance is wholly artificial and doesn't build linearly. There's also a dead zone around the on-center point, and the Outlander requires constant shepherding in turns or in straight lines. Yet oddly, in low-traction situations, there's very good feel communicated from the front tires.

Handling

6.5
The lack of roll control creates a lot of lean in turns, and bumps cause unsettling motion in the body. There's no sense of what your wheels are doing, which is a shame because the actual capabilities of the car are perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, it's hard to have confidence in this vehicle.

Drivability

7.0
The Outlander transitions smoothly from all-electric to gas-assisted. The CVT automatic responds quickly to driver input, although it adds to the noise. There is a braking setting for hills, and the sole function of the column-mounted shift paddles is to select braking strength in this mode.

Off-road

8.5
Even in electric mode, the Outlander PHEV can drive all four wheels, and it can simulate a "locked" differential, splitting power 50-50 front and rear. Add in reasonable ground clearance, and while it's no Jeep Wrangler, it's the most off-road-friendly vehicle in its very narrow class.

Comfort

7.0
The comfortable front seats and climate control with a number of customization options are the highlights, along with the quiet of an electric motor in certain situations. But an unsettled, busy ride and generous helpings of noise on the freeway or when the engine engages spoil the effect.

Seat comfort

7.0
The front seats are accommodating and comfortable, but the way the power seat cushion adjustments change the seating position makes them finicky to use. The rear seats are quite firm and narrow and high up off the floor of the car, which may not agree with all passengers.

Ride comfort

5.0
Sharp impacts come through into the cabin, and there's noticeable bounce over bumps. The Outlander never really feels settled on the road, and its ride is busy and unsophisticated.

Noise & vibration

6.5
In electric mode at low speeds, the Outlander is very quiet, although traffic noise is not well-filtered. At freeway speeds, there's noticeable wind and road noise, and any time the engine is needed its harsh buzz is intrusive.

Climate control

8.0
Automatic climate control maintains temperature well, blowing quite cold when you need it. There are a number of options for adjusting its behavior in the vehicle's settings menus. Large buttons allow manual control of all functions, and while their layout isn't optimal, they're clearly marked.

Interior

7.0
The Outlander PHEV is roomy, with good visibility and easy entry and exit thanks to tall door openings and doors that aren't very long. But the cabin feels cheaply built, controls can be hard to locate, and taller drivers will find the driving position awkward.

Ease of use

6.5
Control buttons are clearly marked but placed haphazardly around the cabin, making some functions hard to find. The vehicle settings menus provide quite a lot of customization for a vehicle like this, but the screen is slow to respond and menu labeling isn't very logical.

Getting in/getting out

8.0
The tall, square door openings provide excellent access up front. The higher rear seats mean taller passengers will have to duck. But the rear doors are short, so access is good even in tight parking spaces.

Driving position

6.5
Drivers who prefer sitting higher up may wind up feeling a bit like they're perched in the car. The low armrests and beltline make you feel as if you're sitting above, rather than in, the driving position. Due to that issue and the odd seat cushion adjustments, finding a good position can take some time.

Roominess

8.5
The passenger cabin is pleasantly roomy, which is helped by the fact that you don't feel ensconced in the front, and there's good front kneeroom. The rear seats are narrow, and fitting three adults would be a real squeeze. Rear headroom is good, if not up to the standards of some small SUVs.

Visibility

8.5
The large rear-quarter windows help a lot with visibility over the shoulder, and front and rear visibility are clear and unobstructed. The wide side pillars can obstruct the side view, but generous mirrors and an available 360-degree camera help on the road and while parking.

Quality

5.0
We noticed some surprising lapses in quality, such as rattles and creaks from the cabin and rippling in the formed metal along the edges of the doors. The cabin is covered in hard plastic and vinyl, adding to the chintzy, lightweight feeling of the Outlander.

Utility

7.0
Put the fold-flat rear seats down, and there are tons of cargo space. But with them up, large wheelwell intrusions make for less usable space. There's a good amount of interior storage, but it's not well-organized and lacks the little cubbies and pockets that make other vehicles agreeable.

Small-item storage

6.5
The door pockets are generously large both front and back, as are the center console box and glovebox. But there aren't any of the handy little cubbies for phones or other small items that we've come to expect. The trunk has extra cupholders, just in case.

Cargo space

7.5
The load floor behind the rear seats is narrow, and not all of its 30.4 cubic feet is usable. But the rear seats fold completely flat to open up an excellent 78 cubic feet of space. There's no real liftover, making for an easy-to-use space aside from the intrusions behind the back seat.

Child safety seat accommodation

7.0
LATCH points are stuck down between the cushions and placed at an unusually steep angle, making them harder to access. However, the high rear seat means less bending over to situate kids, and there's plenty of space for even larger seats.

Towing

8.0
The Outlander PHEV's 1,500-pound towing capacity is good for a hybrid, although it still lags well behind the capabilities of traditionally motivated small SUVs.

Technology

6.5
The neatest tech tricks here are the high-output household outlets and a display of the vehicle's GPS coordinates. Cellphone integration is also welcome. But the voice controls are deeply frustrating in practice, and the stereo, while loud, doesn't offer a lot of fidelity.

Audio & navigation

6.0
Sound quality isn't very impressive, but a dedicated subwoofer with separate punch adjustment makes for a lot of bass response. There's no map-based GPS, although the Outlander will display its GPS coordinates. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work as a navigation replacement.

Smartphone integration

8.0
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect quickly and work well. There are two USB ports up front and a household outlet for the back seat and trunk, capable of running serious current. Bluetooth can be annoying, as we had to manually select which phone connected to audio streaming.

Driver aids

7.0
Adaptive cruise works well both at speed and in stop-and-go traffic, but it can react violently when traffic speed changes suddenly. The system does return to default settings between uses. We didn't notice issues with false positives from safety systems.

Voice control

5.0
Voice controls have a good set of available options, and there is a guide displayed on screen. That said, we had frequent issues getting voice recognition to work between misunderstandings and a seeming inability to distinguish spoken commands over the cabin noise.

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in Virginia is:

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