2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Styling

The overall design of the five-passenger Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is upright and clean. There’s a heft to the design, which is accented by a busy front fascia. Aesthetics are subjective. But the combination of a shapeless body and growling front grille is awkward to many observers. Fortunately, the design was tweaked for 2019. The grille and headlamps were streamlined, and the rocker sills added chrome accents.

If the Outlander looks like a generic SUV, that’s okay. It’s primarily intended to perform routine family duties rather than sporty antics. The plug-in hybrid variant is nearly identical to the gas-powered version, except for unique plug-in badges and an extra fueling door on the rear passenger side for recharging.

The style carries over to the interior, which has a slightly dated appearance—most evident in the utilitarian dashboard interface. The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid indeed provides comfortable seating and easy-to-use interior features, but without much pizzazz.

Performance

The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid combines a two-liter gas engine with two 60-kilowatt (80 hp) electric motors at each axle. Total output is 190 horsepower. It takes off with gusto, but moving from zero to 60 miles per hour in the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid takes nearly 10 seconds. This SUV is not exactly a fun ride, but it’s more than adequate for highway maneuvers.

While operating electrically in town, the SUV is quiet and civilized. But the two-liter engine emits an intrusive drone or buzz when put to the task of reaching higher acceleration.

Mitsubishi brands its all-wheel-drive system as “super all-wheel control,” a combination of anti-lock braking, active stability control, and traction control. Left in standard mode, the vehicle will decide which source of energy to use for maximum efficiency. Or the driver can press the “4WD LOCK” button for optimal torque distribution to all four wheels.

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

The all-wheel-drive system’s ability to hug the road is helped by a battery pack placed beneath the rear load floor—lowering the center of gravity. As a result, reviewers say that the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid maintains a sure foot on rough roads (although not when pushed around tight corners). Nonetheless, the power steering is accurate and engaging.

The plug-in SUV is not a legitimate off-road vehicle. Compared to the gas-powered model, the plug-in variant lost more than an inch of ground clearance, which drops to 7.3 inches.

Drivers can utilize a few levels of regen braking, either by using paddle controls mounted on the steering wheel or via the shifter. The most aggressive regenerative mode approximates a one-pedal EV driving experience.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is one of the few pluggable models with towing capacity. It’s rated to pull 1,500 pounds.

Efficiency/Range

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid to provide 22 miles of all-electric range. That’s even though Mitsubishi in 2019 started offering the Outlander with an updated longer-range powertrain in Europe. The updated version boosts the size of the Outlander’s battery pack from 12 kilowatt-hours to 13.8-kWh—enough to bump the SUV’s range on a single charge to as high as about 28 miles.

Nonetheless, Mitsubishi’s U.S. website and the federal government’s FuelEconomy.gov website continue to list the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid’s electric range at 22 miles. That official estimate pegs the vehicle’s efficiency at 74 miles per gallon while the EV battery has energy. After the pack is depleted, the Outlander is rated at 25 mpg by the EPA. Its total driving range is 310 miles.

For a vehicle of the Outlander’s size, and with its capacity as an all-wheel-drive SUV, a range of 22 miles is quite decent. Yes, there is a trio of affordable smaller cars offering range in the mid- to high-20s. The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is way ahead of the pack with 48 miles of range.

As with all plug-in hybrids, the overall efficiency depends on how often you remain in pure EV mode. The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid’s electric-ness is the most advantageous for short-range commuters. If you need to clock a lot of miles between charges, you might consider a no-plug hybrid SUV like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. You don’t get the pure electric miles, but its gasoline fuel-efficiency is rated at 40 miles per gallon and provides a total driving range of 580 miles. That’s a big jump from the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid’s 25 mpg (after the first 22 miles).

By most accounts, the RAV4 hybrid provides a better drive and more reliability for several thousand dollars less than the Outlander (even after the plug-in tax credit.)

Charging

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

You won’t experience anything unusual when charging the Outlander at home. When using a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, it takes about 3.5 hours to go from empty to full. If you use the provided 120-volt charging cord, expect an overnight charge of about 13 hours. That’s all par for the course.

What’s unusual—and frankly a little odd—is Mitsubishi’s choice to provide the Quick-Charge port as standard equipment. That might make sense for a pure electric car with a larger battery pack, but not for a plug-in hybrid. With the Outlander’s Quick-Charge part, you can go to CHAdeMo-based public chargers, and refuel from empty to full in about 25 minutes. For most drivers, that feature will rarely be used because, with a plug-in hybrid, you can always utilize the gas engine for extended driving. You are likely to burn off several miles of fuel just getting to and from a station—wasting a bit of time and money—negating much of the Quick Charger’s benefit.

Still, Mitsubishi can brag that the Outlander is the only plug-in hybrid with a standard quick-charger. If a future version doubles the all-electric range, then it would make a little more sense.

Mitsubishi helps drivers charge at night with a bright light in the charging port.

Passenger/Cargo Room

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is a high-riding, five-passenger SUV. Visibility is excellent. While it’s not the most spacious in the broad class of small gas-powered SUVs, it provides significantly more size and utility than the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid, arguably its closest competitor among plug-in hybrids.

The Outlander provides 30.4 cubic feet behind the back seats, and up to 66.6 cubic feet with the second row folded. Total passenger volume is 102.1 cubic feet. Meanwhile, the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid offers 19.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 54.5 cubes with them folded down.

Upgrades to the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid include new front seats with added comfort and support. The up/down controls for all windows are now automatic. And thankfully the rear passengers now have AC vents, and the cabin now has two USB ports. The Outlander’s interior is somewhat awkward and lacking in small compartments and cubbies for phones and other devices. Reviewers consistently complain about a confusing dashboard interface and overall poor cabin build-quality cabin that creaks and rattles.

Mitsubishi makes up for these shortcomings by throwing in a few goodies. There are two AC power outlets for plugging in devices and laptops. A 360-degree camera for parking assistance comes standard.

Safety

The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid does well in IIHS safety tests. The vehicle gets Good ratings (the highest score) for all crash and safety tests, except for head restraints and seats, and headlights. The Outlander is also dinged for hard-to-use child-safety LATCH seats.

NHTSA did not yet test the plug-in Outlander.

The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid comes standard with plenty of safety gear—including seven airbags, standard rear-vision camera, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as optional lane-departure warning, forward collision braking, and radar cruise control.

Price

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid falls into the tier of non-luxury vehicles selling in the mid-$30,000s. There are three less expensive plug-in hybrids—selling for below $30,000—with an all-electric driving range close to 30 miles. But those are relatively small hatchbacks.

The next step up in price brings either more extended EV range, bigger sedan platforms, or premium features. The Outlander fits into this category as an all-wheel-drive SUV.

The remaining plug-in hybrid options are luxury vehicles starting at $40,000 and climbing to $70,000 or more. If you are willing and able to make the investment, you might consider the $53,000 Volvo XC60 with 18 miles of plug-in range—or even the $65,000 BMW X5 xdrive40e.

Again, the Mitsubishi Outlander is the single legit plug-in hybrid SUV without luxury pricing. After a federal tax credit of $5,836 (and local incentives), the Outlander’s net price drop to around $30,000.

The $36,890 base SEL model comes with leather seats, power driver and passenger seats, a power liftgate, and the seven-inch touch screen for the infotainment system.

The higher-trim GT version of the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid starts at $41,235—bringing a premium audio system, adaptive cruise control, power sunroof, and LED headlights. It also adds safety features such as forward collision braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Add-on accessories include mudguards, chrome side mirror covers, lower air dams, cargo nets, and a towing package.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $36900
Est. tax credit: $5800
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 22 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 12 kWh
Charging rate: 3.3 kW

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