Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins, www.AutomotiveRhythms.com
It was an insightful media trip to Franklin, TN to visit with product planners, communications professionals, and Mitsubishi Motors engineers for a deeper understanding of the newly released 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The sporty and family SUV PHEV, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, has a combined driving range of 420 miles. If you decide to cruise around town in EV mode only, the battery affords the Outlander 38 all-electric miles. The Japanese seven-seat, three-row SUV is a winner for consumers looking for a crossover utility blessed with talent, sporty styling, rugged capabilities, and extended range.
From the time the reimagined gasoline model hit the scene last year, the company’s 330 dealer partners across the United States have been engaged and selling Outlanders like holiday cupcakes. We are not sure why Mitsubishi took so long to reinvigorate the product, but they are no longer a forgotten brand. Of course progress must continue to take over the consciousness of auto buyers since Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota come to mind in the value SUV market. Nevertheless, Mitsubishi is aware of its disposition and attacking the airwaves with product announcements and marketing campaigns to win over potential new buyers. Furthermore, if an all-electric vehicle is not in your foreseeable future, a PHEV may be perfect for your lifestyle in preparation for the impending mobility shift.
“Since its launch in March 2022, the gasoline version of the all-new Outlander has been a homerun, setting sales records monthly even in the face of global supply challenges,” said Mark Chaffin, MMNA president and CEO. “When sales begin in the U.S., the 2023 Outlander PHEV will take its place as the flagship of the Mitsubishi fleet. It is the most advanced and best-equipped vehicle we have ever sold, and it is the perfect blend of quiet and clean electric motoring with the range and ease of refueling of a gasoline-powered vehicle.”
The latest third-generation Outlander is larger, wider, more authentic, and more resilient than the model it replaces. With a solid and rigid physique and dazzling 20” two-tone alloy rims, the SUV is embraced by stellar visualization that translates to one of the most stylish SUVs on the market. According to Mitsubishi, the design ethos manifested from the phrase “I-Fu-Do-Do,” which equates to “authentic and majestic” in Japanese. Before this model, I had never considered an Outlander because it did not speak to me or offer any substantial benefits to my lifestyle. Well, now it does with a chiseled body, aggressive “Dynamic Shield” grille, tall robotic headlamps, a power liftgate, a panoramic sunroof, and an impressively curated interior that immediately caught my attention.
Mitsubishi’s Global Warning plan will help establish a sustainable society by reducing the CO2 emissions of its new vehicles by 40% by 2030, with PHEVs as the focal point. The long-term goal is to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050. Thus, this platform is not new to the brand as they first experimented with electrification in 1971 with the MINICA EV and also sold a prior Outlander PHEV in other countries. The current 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV features a new generation of the Mitsubishi twin-motor 4WD PHEV system with more power produced from the front (114-horsepower) and rear (134-horsepower) motors that pair with a 20 kWh large capacity 350v lithium-ion drive battery. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder MIVEC gas engine (132 horsepower) remains and pairs with a larger plastic-sealed gas tank (from 11.9 gallons to 14.8 gallons), reducing the vehicle’s weight and allowing for more fuel. The combined powertrain produces 248-horsepower, 332 lb/ft torque, and 64 MPGe. On the road, the Outlander PHEV is smooth, quick, and never felt underpowered. Additionally, the vehicle will always seek the electric motors as the first power source. Overall, the Outlander PHEV weighs 440 pounds more than the Outlander ICE (Internal Combustion Engine).
Regarding charging, the port is located on the Outlander PHEV’s rear passenger side. It will take 6.5 hours to charge the battery using a 240v level-2 charger and 38 minutes through level 3 DC fast charging up to 80%. The SUV features an EV button with four modes: Normal, Charge, Save, and EV mode. Then there is the Innovative Pedal which allows the driver to use one pedal for acceleration and braking for most driving scenarios.
Inside the PHEV I enjoyed the double-pained windows for noise reduction, genuine aluminum trim, multi-view cameras, smartphone wireless charging, window shades, 100v AC power sources, physical knobs on the 9″ touchscreen infotainment system, dynamic navigation graphics, and the impressive 9-speaker Bose premium sound system. However, Mitsubishi needs to increase the size of the infotainment system since 9″ is small by today’s standards. In the rear, the third row folds out from the floor, but its use is for emergencies or small kids since long hauls would be uncomfortable. The high-quality cabin is spacious, and the softer materials add a flare of elegance. I also relished the massaging feature on the sporty seats.
On the road, the PHEV’s Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) offers superior gripping and agility capabilities. The dual-motor arrangement uses the rear motor to drive the rear axle and up-front employs the gas engine and motor to drive the front axle. This combo brings extra confidence behind the wheel, especially during high-speed turns which I experienced at a small racetrack in TN. The Outlander PHEV shifts dramatically from right to left with aplomb when an explosive maneuver is required. S-AWC has been upgraded with seven drive modes to tackle adverse weather or venture effortlessly through muddy terrain as I also experienced in a mud pit at the track. S-AWC simultaneously provided excellent handling performance, stability performance, and traction performance. The modes include Normal, Eco, Gravel, Power, Snow, Tarmac, and Mud.
With no federal incentives available, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV costs approximately $8,000 more than the ICE Outlander. Prices fluctuate from $39,845 for an SE model to $49,995 for the 40th Anniversary Edition. Safety abounds with packages like Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Attention Alert, Automatic High Beam, and Hill Descent Control, to name a few. Lastly, Mitsubishi offers a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty. Not bad for a vehicle that will be good to you in almost every department.