|Positives: Feels more put together than the regular Outlander GT, toned down looks give it more sophistication, feels faster than it actually is, solid efficiency, spacious interior.|
|Negatives: Still too much chrome and overstyling outside, low rent interior.|
|Bottom Line: The Outlander PHEV impressed us. It's not the best PHEV out there, nor is it the most attractive. But it does provide utility, efficiency, and a modicum of driving entertainment that easily qualify it as Mitsubishi's best vehicle right now.|
The Outlander PHEV is very good to drive for what it is, a large EV crossover that's meant to be family-friendly, efficient, and four-seasons capable. That's a tall order, but the Outlander PHEV pulls it off well. Two electric motors and a gas four-cylinder keep the show going, and you can drive it one of three modes: Hybrid (uses the gas engine when needed), EV (pure electric with a 22-mile range); and Charge (100 gas engine that charges the battery).
Ride Quality: Soft and compliant with a bit of a disconnected feel, but it will suit most buyers very well.
Acceleration: It feels faster than it actually is thanks to the pull of the electric motors. 0-60 comes in a little over nine seconds, which isn't quick, but it's deceptive.
Braking: The multi-level regenerative brakes are good for what they are, and you can even set them for one-pedal driving most of the time.
Steering: Steering is numb in terms of feedback, but it responds decently to inputs.
Handling: The suspension is soft, so there's some definitely body roll in the turns. The low center of gravity thanks to the battery helps keep it composed.
Aside from the technology in the smart powertrain, the in-car technology is decent but it won't impress the way better systems from Hyundai, Kia, BMW, and Audi. For the most part, it does what it needs to do and sort of resembles the system found in Subarus. The good thing is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.
Infotainment System: the 7" touchscreen is clear and has a lot of colors, almost too many. Responsiveness and navigation are good, but there's nothing about the system that blows us away. You're better off using one of the smartphone systems to manage things.
Controls: Most infotainment functions are performed through the touchscreen. The physical audio knob is too small and short for our liking. HVAC controls work well, but they feel like they were pulled from a Mazda from eight years ago.
The PHEV version of the Outlander pretty much looks like the regular Outlander, but the multi-spoke wheels and the lower fascia revisions keep it fresh. We wouldn't call the Outlander PHEV attractive, but it looks more put together in this trim, and the chrome on our tester tends to blend in better with the silver paint.
Front: Those big chrome accents that flank the grille need to be thinned out. There's just too much of it. It's a busy front end, but the silver paint helps mute things a little bit.
Rear: Though not especially attractive or distinctive, the rear fascia is nicely balanced from top to bottom, preventing the Outlander PHEV from looking too tall.
Profile: It might be a boring view with no characteristic styling elements that set it apart from other crossovers, but it's well proportioned, and the wheels look great. We appreciate the fact that they didn't try to pull off a floating roof or faux fender vents.
Cabin: Mitsubishi interiors are bad because they're dark and cheap looking. The fake carbon fiber is pretty lousy, and the dashboard is way too thick. At least the leather on the seats is decent.
The Outlander PHEV has ample space for all occupants and actually provides a great, if not attractive, cabin in terms of comfort. Though more soft touch materials would be great, families of five will find it a good place to spend road time in. The absence of the third row (due to battery placement) actually helps the car feel more solid.
Front Seats: Plain but comfortable with the right amount of bolstering and cushioning.
Rear Seats: There's actually a tad more legroom and headroom in the PHEV over the standard gas Outlander. Hip room is down a smidge, but you can still fit three adults in the second row, even with six-footers in front.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The PHEV feels solid thanks to the removal of the third row, reducing rattling. Overall, it's quiet with only the sound of the gas engine interrupting things when it kicks in.
Visibility: The pillars aren't oversized, which is a good thing. The conservative styling keeps the windows large, which helps visibility.
Climate: The climate system worked well and queued up quickly, as did the heated seats and steering wheel during the chilly spring in Chicago.
The Outlander PHEV has only been crash tested by one of the two major organizations, but it did well overall and in higher trims has a robust set of safety features that should prove reassuring to owners and their families.
IIHS Rating: Though it nailed all the crash tests with "good", it suffered due to "marginal" and "poor" headlights (depending on trim).
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The PHEV GT pretty much comes loaded with all of the brand's safety tech, ranging from Adaptive Cruise Control to Forward Collision Mitigation, and there's also a multi-view camera.
Optional Tech: None.
The Outlander PHEV benefits again in this area due to battery placement, giving it a tad more cargo space than its gas brother. It's not huge in the back, but the load floor is flat.
Storage Space: Storage space for small items isn't exactly plentiful in the front row, but the cupholder and its retractable door and the medium-sized armrest help keep small items concealed. Door pockets are useful, as well.
Cargo Room: The PHEV gets 66.6 cubes with the second row folded flat, a little over 3 cubes more than its gas version. The Mazda CX-9, which isn't huge, has 71.2 cubes with the seats folded flat. The Honda CR-V has 75.8.
You may never have to plug in the Outlander PHEV thanks to its Charge mode. Drive it for 100 minutes in that state, and it will fully charge the battery. WOW. Can you say near-endless road trips? For gas only, it gets 25 mpg, not bad for a heavy hybrid crossover with all-wheel drive. A DC fast charger will amp it up 80% in 20 minutes, a 240-volt charger will get to 100% in 3.5 hours, and a 110-volt outlet will recharge it in 8 hours. We can't understate the significance of the Outlander PHEV's convenience, AWD capability, and efficiency. It's a great package.
Observed: 19.4 mpg
Distance Driven: 162 miles.
Driving Factors: We drove the PHEV very aggressively and in Hybrid mode most of the time, showing a serious dip in efficiency compared to the EPA estimate. We didn't even hit the 25 mpg gas rating. More conservative driving should provide much better numbers.
The upgraded Rockford Fosgate system with its 9 speakers sounds very good and thankfully comes in the PHEV GT as standard equipment. There's a big subwoofer in the back that looks pretty sweet, too. The system was clear and loud but lacked some of the depth of other premium systems.