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A Week With: 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

by | February 19, 2024

If the Mitsubishi Outlander was just another plug-in hybrid SUV, that would be good enough to make this vehicle a strong contender. It’s got enough battery to cover 38 miles of electric driving on a charge, which is farther than the daily commute made by the majority of American drivers.

2024 Mitsubishi Outland PHEV nose

The Outlander PHEV is much more than just another hybrid – it’s an effective all-weather driving machine with a sophisticated all-wheel drive system and a luxury interior.

Then, if your commute is more than 38 miles, the Outlander gets decent fuel economy running on gas. But the Outlander PHEV is much more than just another hybrid – it’s an effective all-weather driving machine with a sophisticated all-wheel drive system and a luxury interior.

Overview

Mitsubishi has been making some form of the Outlander SUV since 2001. It went from a basic wagon-based crossover to an effective SUV by the second generation, but the fourth generation launched in 2021 really brought this SUV to the front of the pack.

Mitsubishi had long lagged in interior quality and the mechanical aspect was undistinguished. That all changed with the current generation. There’s a basic gas-powered version, but the big news is the plug-in hybrid with Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control – their name for all-wheel drive.

Exterior

From the outside, the Outlander is a good-looking SUV. It’s squared-off, according to the current fashion, and big enough to give you midsize SUV cabin space while still technically being a compact SUV. Mitsubishi went with the ubiquitous floating roof look, with some sculpture to the sides. Honestly, it’s still an SUV well within the design bounds of current SUV looks. There are no design deal-breakers, but the exterior is not the reason you want to consider the Outlander.

2024 Mitsubishi Outland PHEV side

From the outside, the Outlander is a good-looking SUV. It’s squared-off, according to the current fashion, and big enough to give you midsize SUV cabin space

Interior

The interior is where Mitsubishi has made the greatest strides. While past Outlanders have been “OK for an economy brand,” the current generation Outlander is deluxe, comfortable, and more in line with the upper trim levels of a premium brand.

Our test vehicle was the top-end SEL trim, with the SEL Premium option package, but you can name any feature from an SUV at twice the price point and the Outlander has it. Semi-aniline leather seats with heat and massage? Yup. Head-up display? Got it. Heated steering wheel? Naturally. Wireless charging? Of course. Bose audio? Yawn, what else would it have?

The short version is, if you have an image of a Mitsubishi interior that’s less than state-of-the-art, it’s time to take a fresh look and revise your opinion. Oh yes, we should mention that the Outlander can seat up to seven people, but the back row is super small and really only for emergencies. The first and second rows are nice and comfortable, though.

Powertrain

2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV wheel grinding

There’s a basic gas-powered version, but the big news is the plug-in hybrid with Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control – their name for all-wheel drive.

The powertrain for the Outlander PHEV is the big deal. It’s a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with hybrid motor in front, and then the rear wheels are driven by a separate electric motor. That’s hardly unique these days, but Mitsubishi’s implementation (Super All-Wheel Control) is excellent, and there are driving modes for everything from sporty track day to snow and ice. We took a trip up to Montreal to spend a day on a test course working out the snow and ice mode.

As with many plug-in hybrids, there’s no real transmission for the Outlander. It’s all done with a single speed driveline in front with a switchable reduction gear. In back, it’s straight direct drive with a fixed reduction gear. But don’t go to thinking it’s simple and not sophisticated. As we learned from Mitsubishi’s chassis engineers, there’s a lot going on to make sure the Outlander goes where you point it and stays stable even on slick ice.

Safety and Technology

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Outlander PHEV as “Top Safety Pick,” one step down from its top designation. Standard equipment includes every advanced driver assist feature you can name, including adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams (my favorites). Assisted steering is there, too, with blind spot assist, road sign recognition, and the rest of the long list.

On the dash, you’ll find a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, plus a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen supporting wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a mobile device charging pad down on the console. Mitsubishi’s native GPS navigation and infotainment system are also good and easy to learn. There’s a multi-view camera system, and more USB ports in A and C format than we cared to count.

Driving Impressions

2024 Mitsubshi Outlander PHEV cockpit

The current generation Outlander is deluxe, comfortable, and more in line with the upper trim levels of a premium brand.

OK, here’s where the Outlander PHEV gets real. We spent a week driving it around our usual test regimen, and that was all good. It’s smooth, quick, tight, and everything you want. To be honest, it far outpaces the current crop of Mercedes-Benz SUVs in driving enjoyment, and rides with BMW and Volvo. But the real learning happened on the ice and snow course in Canada.

Mitsubishi gives the Outlander a set of driving modes, with everything from sport to standard pavement, sand, gravel, mud, right down to snow and ice. You can select your mode with a dial on the console. The chassis engineers explained how they change the controls for yaw and wheel slip to generate maximum traction under each condition.

We had a chance to experience the Outlander under all these modes on an ice-covered course with a dusting of snow. For the most part, we did our tests using Yokohama’s latest winter tires, but we did have one Outlander on a set of all-seasons, just for comparison.

Using the various modes, we put the Outlander through a course that simulates emergency braking, avoidance maneuvers, and acceleration. In Ice and Snow mode, you’ll notice a little less muscle, but vastly more finesse from the vehicle on frozen surfaces. I got out to take photos, but honestly there were no spectacular rooster tails of snow or sideways vehicles because the Outlander keeps itself under control. When your family is riding in winter weather, that’s just what you want.

Underneath it all, there’s a lot going on. We learned about how the Mitsubishi chassis engineers calculate wheel slip and how to modulate power to each wheel to keep the SUV under perfect control. It’s fun to learn and know about that work, but from the perspective of the SUV buyer, you just want to be sure that the vehicle is going to get you to your destination safely.

All of the sophistication and complexity become perfectly transparent. All the driver of an Outlander will say is, “Getting through the storm wasn’t so bad. My Mitsubishi just drove right through it like nothing was happening.”

Wrap Up

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can be purchased for as little as $40,345 MSRP, but we’re going to recommend you go whole hog with the SEL trim and SEL Premium package. That retails at $51,835 all-in.

That includes the seat massage and head-up display and all the goodies. We recommend it because when you cross-shop this SUV against the Europeans or the premium Japanese brands, you’re going to find that you get all of the stuff you’ve dreamed about for a lot less money, in an SUV that’s just as good.

Mitsubishi backs the Outlander PHEV with a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty that covers the battery and all the electrics. You can read up on the horror stories about battery replacement from some of the European brands when they’re out of warranty.

The bottom line is easy: The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a whole new game for one of Japan’s niche manufacturers, and you should really check it out before you buy your next family wagon.

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