2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Second Drive Review: A True Underdog Story

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Second Drive Review: A True Underdog Story

On a rainy day, I headed out to test the Outlander PHEV's S-AWC system. Antoine Goodwin/CNETCarr © Provided by Roadshow. I took to the track on a rainy day to test the Outlander PHEV's S-AWC system. Antoine Goodwin/CNETCarr

Everyone loves a villain story, but no one really wants to be the underdog. Mitsubishi finds itself in this strange position as it ramps up production of the new 2023 Outlander plug-in hybrid (PHEV) . Chances are, you've probably forgotten the automaker even exists. And while PHEVs aren't as environmentally friendly as they once were, electric vehicles are widespread today.

But even when the deck is stacked, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV still shines. No model in the automaker's lineup is more promising. And while plug-in SUV space may be shrinking, the Outlander is one of the best values ​​in its class and a big step toward electrification for drivers unwilling or unable to make the BEV leap.

chassis and design

Surprisingly, the new Outlander PHEV is externally identical to the regular version that debuted last year, with the same Dynamic Shield front fascia and pronounced dimensions that are about 2.4 inches wider than the previous-generation plug-in . If you look closely, you can see a second cover for the charging port that mirrors the gas cap on the driver's side, but a more obvious way to spot the PHEV from a distance is the "Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle" badge that adorns the front. SUV door. .

The 2023 PHEV now comes standard with larger 20-inch wheels wrapped in Nexen Rhodian GTX 225/45 all-season tires. The larger-diameter drivetrain, along with a flatter battery pack, is responsible for the SUV's 8.3 inches of ground clearance, up from about 7.3 inches last year.

I was recently able to put the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and its S-AWC stability control system in the pouring rain on the road and on the track.

I recently took the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and its S-AWC stability control system on the highway and track in the rain.

© Provided by Roadshow

Behind the exterior design, the Outlander PHEV differs greatly from its non-electric counterpart. The suspension has been reworked to compensate for the added mass and different weight distribution of the battery pack and hybrid system. To free up space under the chassis for hybrid equipment, the PHEV also features a unique third-row design with slim seats that fold into the cargo floor. This clever technology creates slightly more cargo space than last year, with a third-row PHEV-powered 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space and 78.5 cubic feet with the seats folded, nearly the same as the ICE. However, it's still strong enough to keep you on the road home for mature passengers.

interior and technology

Up front, the PHEV cabin returns to the status quo with the same soft-touch panel design and materials as the non-hybrid one. My example is the quilted upholstery on the seats and door panels, which look quite nice. An available massage function for the front bucket adds a bit more advantage to the front bucket; It's not the most lively massage I've ever had in a car, but it's not bad for a Mitsubishi.

The dashboard features a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, standard PHEV equipment, which in my example is flanked by a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay cables are standard. The infotainment device (and the software that powers it) is one of the many components that fit perfectly with the Outlander's platform-swapping cousin, the Nissan Rogue. In fact, the available Mi-Pilot Assist suite of driver assistance and safety technology are also clones of Nissan's ProPilot Assist, but with a green activation button instead of Nissan's blue button. However, the ProPilot is pretty good, so this is another good find for the Outlander.

Plug-in hybrid engine

The second generation Outlander PHEV uses the latest version of the first generation hybrid production system. The electric motor responsible for turning the wheels has been improved for greater power and responsiveness. The front-wheel-drive engine now produces 85 kW (about 114 hp) and 166 lb-ft of torque; The rear engine was increased to 100 kW (134 hp) and 144 lb-ft. The engine bay is also shared with the 126bhp 2.4-litre Atkinson petrol engine, but its main function is to power the electric motor generator to power the electric motor and battery pack.

The battery is a 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion unit located under the cabin floor. It's longer and thinner than the old 13.8kWh pack. A fully charged Outlander will travel up to 38 miles before firing up the combustion engine to extend the hybrid range to nearly 420 miles. (Good.) Fuel economy estimates haven't been finalized, but I averaged 30.3 mpg over about 73 miles of highway driving.

Fully charged and with a full tank, the Outlander PHEV goes 420 miles between charges, up from the standard model's 348 miles. Antoine Goodwin/CNET There was © Provided by Roadshow Fully charged and with a full tank of fuel, the Outlander PHEV will go 420 miles between charges, up from the standard model's 348 miles. Antoine Goodwin/CNET There was

If you slow down, the gasoline engine may die prematurely to provide additional power. With all three powerplants, the Outlander produces a maximum output of 248 hp and 332 lb-ft. A combustion engine can drive the front wheels through a transmission at a speed of 45 mph or more, but it is usually stable, easy to move, more efficient than an electric motor. However, in most cases, the electric motor is responsible for generating all the rotation of the drive.

I'm already a fan of the smooth, EV-like acceleration and instant response of the Outlander PHEV, so I'm enjoying this more powerful version even more. However, the hybrid system is remarkably quick when driving around town; I'm not entirely sure, but it will take a little longer. It also takes some getting used to, as the sound of the petrol engine is completely cut off from the SUV's speed, but it's quiet enough that I didn't feel any discomfort.

It took about 38 minutes to charge the DC station to 80%, which isn't particularly impressive given ChaDeMo's range and connections, which are rarer than CCS outlets in the US. However, the Outlander is one of only three PHEVs in the US market that I know of that even supports DC fast charging; the others are the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport P440e, so I won't complain too much. Owners will likely do most of their charging from a 15A/m AC outlet, which takes about 7.5 hours to charge the pack. You can also use the Charge Hybrid setting to charge the battery up to 80% during 94 minutes of idling with the combustion engine running, but that defeats the purpose.

ChaDeMo stations are on the decline here in the United States, but DC fast charging of any kind for a PHEV is rare. Antoine Goodwin/CNET There was © Provided by Roadshow ChaDeMo stations are on the decline here in the United States, but DC fast charging of any kind for PHEVs is rare. Antoine Goodwin/CNETCarr

Innovative pedal regenerative braking

Five levels of regenerative braking can be selected via the steering wheel paddles to fine-tune the Outlander's performance and drain the battery with every mile. Innovative for 2023 is Pedal Mode, which attempts to mimic the one-pedal drivetrain of all EVs by delivering maximum revs when the gas pedal is lifted, making the PHEV nearly impossible to drive with the left pedal. I say almost because below about 3 mph this setup still feels like a torque converter automatic; Mitsubishi says this will help with more natural low-speed maneuvers such as parking.

Interestingly, the innovative pedal mode can slow the SUV down from Regen level 5 as it activates multiple friction brakes to complete the illusion of a pedal. (In fact, if you look down, which I really don't recommend, you can actually see the pedal move a little when you lift it up.) It's weird when you think about it, but I found that when I was working, I really liked it. . came: in a bit of I-Pedal mode, ended up handling it most of the day, both outdoors and on track.

Imagine this trail getting wet during a week of heavy rain. The S-AWC system handles wet tracks perfectly. Mitsubishi: © Courtesy of Roadshow Imagine the course gets wet during a rainy week; The S-AWC system handles wet tracks perfectly. Mitsubishi:

A wet and wild ride

During my test drive near Mitsubishi's headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, it rained all day, giving me plenty of time to test the Outlander PHEV's Super All-Wheel Control traction and stability system. Around wet corners and through inch-deep puddles, the Outlander was remarkably stable exactly where I aimed, brake-based torque control kicking in transparently while the electric motor quietly shifts torque between the axles. The conditions were terrible, but driving at reasonable speeds was very comfortable.

Mitsubishi likes to put pictures of the Evo X on the slide and praise the S-AWC, but the Outlander PHEV is not a racing car. However, the handling track at the local Polecat training center is a good and safe environment for the limitations of the traction and handling systems on a somewhat closed course. I wonder if Mitsubishi canceled that part of the route because of the rain. His faith in the system was so high.

On slippery, wet roads, I was able to push the SUV as far as possible on public roads and really stretch the S-AWC's legs. Sand/Rain mode keeps the angle clearly neutral on slippery surfaces. In Sport Tarmac mode I can use the tail sway to add a bit of rear wheel preload to the power delivery. There's no oversteer, but I can feel the active torque steer grabbing the SUV and reluctantly jumping to the edge of overdrive. Chasing the hot hybrid around the course was a breeze and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Plug-in hybrids aren't for everyone, but the Outlander PHEV is one of the best in its class. Antoine Goodwin/CNETCarr © Roadshow Plug-in hybrids aren't for everyone, but the Outlander PHEV is among the best in its class Antoine Goodwin/CNET Carr.

Pricing and Availability

Plug-in hybrids aren't for everyone, but the Outlander PHEV fits the bill, with enough electric range for average daily commutes and enough hybrid operating flexibility for productive weekend trips. More power, more premium features and outstanding S-AWC wet weather performance only make this 2023 model even more attractive and easy to recommend.

The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will go on sale in the coming weeks starting at $41,190 with an MSRP of $1,345, roughly a $10,000 PHEV premium when compared to traditional AWD models. My White Diamond SEL Premium model is priced at $51,275, which seems like a lot; The well-appointed SE model appears to be the best value at around $45,000.

Editor's note: Travel expenses related to this story are covered by the manufacturer, which is standard in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of CNET staff are our own, and we do not accept paid editorial content.

This was originally published on Roadshow.

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