2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV First Drive


2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs (US spec)

Plug-in electric utility vehicles aren’t reserved for luxury buyers, starting now.

– Catalina Island, California

There is a small audience for Mitsubishi vehicles in the U.S. While sales have been increasing – the company has experienced 75 percent growth since 2012 – Mitsubishi is still small potatoes in these parts. The company’s rebound helped it sell more than 100,000 vehicles in 2016, the first time it had done so since 2007, but remember, Ford sells well over twice that many vehicles each month (many more profitable than the low-cost Mirage).

But Mitsubishi knows what side its sales bread is buttered on: crossovers. The recent resurgence is due to the success of the company’s two CUVs, with sales volume for those models up 123 percent in the last year. The Outlander Sport was up 66 percent, while the Outlander was up 250 percent. It must have pained Mitsubishi North America representatives something awful when the automotive press kept bugging them these about the status of its plug-in-hybrid Outlander. We saw earlier versions of the Outlander PHEV do so incredibly well in Europe and Japan, and yet there was no sign of it here – despite repeated promises from Mitsu bosses. “It’s coming, it’s coming,” they said, but they kept us waiting. Now that it’s finally here (well, once deliveries actually start in January 2018), it’s high time to see if Americans will be as enthusiastic about this affordable plug-in CUV as our friends across the oceans.

US Spec 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

As you might guess from the mention of the price just there, it’s well worth starting any discussion of the 2018 Outlander PHEV with a look at its MSRP. It’s $34,595 for the base SEL trim or $40,295 for the upper GT trim. Both of these will qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $5,836, thanks to the PHEV’s 12-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which makes the price an attractive $28,795 for the SEL and $34,495 for the GT.

In case you haven’t priced out a plug-in hybrid utility vehicle recently, the closest you can come in price is the BMW X5 xDrive40e, which starts at $63,200. Of course, you get a lot more luxury with the Bimmer, and you get to drive a BMW and all that entails, but for the size and all-electric capability with a gas engine backup, the Outlander holds its own.

In fact, the Mitsubishi does better than any other plug-in hybrid CUV or SUV in the U.S. when it comes to all-electric range. While the company isn’t giving out exact, EPA-approved range numbers just yet (expect those some time in November), representatives at the vehicle launch in Catalina, California last week said that they are “very confident we will exceed all our competitors,” which we guess means around 20-23 miles of range, give or take based on the 12 kWh battery (and 33 mile NEDC rating). That means it’ll beat all of the other large PHEVs, which have a maximum EV range of 14 or 15 miles. You will not be able to say that $60,000 or $70,000 gets you the best CUV EV range.

There’s another unique benefit hiding in the Outlander PHEV. It is the only PHEV with a DC fast charger. If you plug into a CHAdeMO outlet, you’ll be able to fill the battery up to 80 percent full in about 25 minutes. Compare that with around four hours for a full charge using Level 2, and eight hours from a standard 120-volt outlet.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Outlander has other, more expected features of a CUV in today’s market. The brand’s four-wheel-drive system, called S-AWC, is standard on both trims thanks to two 60-kW motors (similar to each other, but not exactly the same), one on the front axle and one in back. It can tow up to a maximum 1,500 kg (3,300lb). And there is a 1,140-watt onboard sound system plus two,120-volt outlets in what Mitsubishi representatives called the “ultimate tailgating vehicle” that will let you plug in a TV in the stadium parking lot or a mini-fridge if you’re out glamping. While the battery should provide hours of power, the gas engine will come on to power the outlets if needed.

So, on paper, there’s a lot to make checking out the Outlander PHEV a worthwhile way to spend your car shopping hours. Spending a few hours on the dirt roads of Catalina showed that the CUV can handle itself in situations beyond shuttling a brood to school and back. Even though the speed limit throughout the island is a meager 25 miles an hour, the hills and tight turns provided more than enough proof that the average driver will get more than enough power and performance out of the Outlander PHEV.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Since the Outlander PHEV has driver-selectable regenerative braking levels, we learned that the strongest setting made the dusty drive relatively easy. Mildly challenging dirt roads aren’t the only place where the Outlander PHEV feels at home, though. On paved surfaces with enough charge in the pack to drive in EV mode, the CUV is surprisingly quiet and calm. Even when the engine kicks on, there are no annoying rattles and shakes.

The Outlander PHEV offers three driving modes: full electric in EV Mode, electric priority with some assistance from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine in series hybrid mode, and then, when the battery is low, a parallel hybrid mode where the engine does most of the work with some help from the motors when needed for extra acceleration. There are three driver selectable battery modes as well. Charge mode will use the gas engine to charge the pack, which Mitsubishi says is useful when climbing grades or towing. Save mode will keep the battery pack at its current level (once it’s below 90 percent full, so that there’s room in the pack for regenerative braking energy to go), in case you need it for city driving of the aforementioned power output. Lastly, there is an EV priority mode that does its best to keep the vehicle in all-electric mode if possible, unless “maximum power is needed.”

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The controls for all of these modes, as well as the “Twin Motor 4WD lock” button, are all near the gear shifter. But for some reason the “eco mode” button is located far away by the HVAC and audio controls. This is just one way you can tell that the interior is not where Mitsubishi spent most of its engineering dollars for the Outlander PHEV. While functional, things feel a bit weak inside. There’s no one-touch window button on passenger side, for example, and the moonroof cover is flimsy.

Looking at the infotainment screen is like going back in time – literally, in fact, as the the system’s date, and I’m not kidding about this, was set to February 2013. There are too many beeps happening, and. every touch is another beep. If you dare touch the “menu” button while in a screen that doesn’t have a menu option, it’ll just triple beep at you. Then there’s the way-too-complicated energy monitor screen. There are two circles with each half telling you something different and in a different way. “EV power” on left side of the left circle is output in kW. The right side of that circle is “instant fuel economy” in mpg. The left side of the right circle is your “regen braking” displayed in kW, while the right side of the right circle is cumulative charge in kWh. It’s far too much to take in while driving. But at least the Outlander PHEV has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Outlander PHEV is a reasonable CUV with an affordable electric powertrain. Sure, the target audience for this vehicle is small (but growing), but the truth is that anyone who actually test drives and/or buys one of these is likely to be wholly satisfied. You get a lot for your money, and it’s nice to be able to say that about more and more plug-in vehicles these days.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Specs

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54 Comments on "2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV First Drive"

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Battery size forecasts range. My estimate is 32-42 mile range.

Seems like kind of a high estimate to me. My thinking is more in the neighborhood of 22 to 28 miles of AER.

Had mine nearly 30 months and get 20 in cold months and 25 in summer here in the UK.

miles or Km?

We have one as well in the UK. That sounds spot on, and it’s miles.

What’s summer like? I’m in the more northern part of California’s Central Valley and based on what you said, I might get something closer to what I said…22 in Winter and 28 in summer.

For Reference (in degrees F):
Winter is hi 50’s low around 30
Summer is hi around 100 low around 60
Rainy season is October to April with most rain in Dec, Jan, and March.

We don’t get extreme temperatures here in the UK,

Winter here averages 7c (44F) but can go down to below freezing (32F)
Summer averages 23c (73F) can get up to 30c (86F)

Interesting. I had always thought it snowed in the UK in winter. Maybe not often, but more often than in the Northern California Valleys (which is almost never).

Sounds like we’d get closer to your numbers on AER then. Not bad, but not what I was hoping for or expecting.

Towing 1500 lb! Wow, is this the only plugin under $50K for sale in US that’s rated to tow?

There was a mention of US spec not having Chademo in previous article, but this one suggests that it will have it. Which?

It’s 1500kg in the rest of the world, so someone forgot to convert when they changed the units to lbs.

Yes, sorry about that, should read 1,500 kg/3,300 lbs. Good spotting. Fixed!

The chart at the bottom still says 1500lbs. Shouldn’t that be fixed as well?

Probably, but I’m feeling kinda lazy, (=

…alright, I’ll go fix that one too, heeh

tsk. tsk. I thought only NASA screw up so badly.


Well I personally didn’t make the mistake…as you know, I have a flawless record of perfection!

/closes thread to further comments

While you are at it fix the specs too. Outlander PHEV has no CVT or any other transmission. Its a single gear setup. This is a general misconception.

The only thing I can find from Mitsubishi says 1500lbs (not kg). Has anyone seen an official spec sheet?

Towing is 1500 Lbs
Decals are an optional port installed item
Cargo capacity is same as gas car
The 3rd row seat was eliminated to make room for the rear electric motor

Right now, yes, but the Kia Niro is rated to tow the same in Europe. Whether the US release is, we don’t know.

From 2013 they didn’t manage to do anything to improve battery range?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I know right?!?!?!?!?

Yeah this should have a battery at least 50% larger, I won’t consider a PHEV with a battery smaller than 16-20 kwhr. Given chemistry advances they should have been able to package this size battery in the existing platform.

Agreed. Even if they didn’t want to bother with sticking in more kWh you’d think maybe they could have been bothered to go with a higher density cell to recover some of the lost space!

Mitsu has been running a larger battery (16kWh) in their BAJA version. Why they would not capitalize on the maximum rebate possible is baffling (as is their delays in bringing it here). I think they brought it to Catalina so testers couldn’t complain how slow it is accelerating. Should be using 2.0 turbo for engine.

M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD

Nice option to have to decide— full BEV or PHEV for the CUV? This makes it a lot harder decision what gets to be the local hauler.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

There is a lot to like about this car.
They should bump the battery to 16KWh so you can get the full TAX rebate and get 30-38 miles AER.

This car is now in my radar.

My only negative is the audio system……lol
I tend to fit my own Bass.

It’s on mine as well. It’s now down to this vs the Pacifica. Outlander plus is AWD/4WD and cost. Pacifica plus is 7 passenger with similar cargo capacity. Tough call really.

The AER/Battery size is not as big a deal to me. This would be our backup/trip car while our Volt would remain the main/commuter car.

Pacifica cannot tow. This can. Even if you don’t plan to tow, it may affect resale.

If it can tow 1500 kg (3300 lb), wow, that opens up whole new realm. I might even tow a decent travel trailer, not the crunched up one like Starcraft.

That’s a good point about resale. The only thing I would ever want to hitch up is a bike rack, but if I were to want to sell it later, towing capability would probably fetch a better resale value.

I love the Pacifica but need to be able to tow. Chrysler doesn’t seem interested so the Pacifica is out.

Lots of confusion about 1500 lbs vs kg. Mitsubishi press release said lbs but I assume that was a mistake since it tows 1500 kg in Europe.

If it can tow that much the Outlander is the choice for me. I see no other options other than the Model X and it’s 5000 lb tow rating. But I don’t like it’s price now falcon wing doors. Like the Model S but it can’t tow.

I would totally get the Model X if I could afford it! I’m not rich enough to afford a $100,000 car though.

Really the only thing I need a tow hitch for is a bike rack, which I think is doable for the Pacifica. And I do find the 7 seats appealing but there is no AWD and it’s a good deal more expensive.

The other issue with Chrysler is perceived liability. Sure it likely uses the same drive train as the Volt, which is reliable and solid (most of the Pacifica issues have been the transmission on the gas version) but being a Chrysler will probably hurt resale value.

I’m definitely leaning towards the Outlander for the reasons above and because Chrysler really bungled the Pacifica release. But then, Mitsu delayed the outlander 7 times over 4 years! Ugh! Whey can’t a competent company come out with a PHEV SUV/CUV?!

” Sure it likely uses the same drive train as the Volt”
Different engine, and I’ve heard nothing about Chrysler licensing the Voltec e-CVT. Not the same drivetrain at all.

You’re right, it’s a very similar design according to the deep dive at allpar, with two motor-generators and a sun gear. Chrysler must have licensed a design or pay patent fees to GM or Toyota.

“The SI-EVT transmission is assembled at the Tipton Transmission plant; the gears and case are machined at Kokomo Transmission.

Magnetti Marelli has made several announcements to the Italian press about supplying electronics and possibly motors for the SI-EVT transmission.”

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

WHY!!!……did they put a PHEV sticker on it?!?!?!?

I think that’s just for these demo cars, not going to be on the real one available to consumers.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Fingers crossed that you are right and I am wrong.

They’ve been selling them in the UK for several years now (where they are the best-selling EV because they hit a tax break) and they all have PHEV badging on the rear and both front wings.

You could scrape the P and the H off 😉

Yes on 16kwh battery. That would be a deal maker.

“The brand’s four-wheel-drive system, called S-AWC, is standard on both trims thanks to two 60-kWh motors”

That should be “60 kW motors”.

doh, I hate those. Fixed, (=

I noticed on the link below that cargo capacity is listed at 16 cu. ft.


Mitsubishi shows a capacity of 34 cu. ft. for the gas version behind the second row (since the PHEV omits the third row). I hope that’s a typo or something!

Link: https://www.autoblog.com/2017/10/02/2018-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-first-drive-review/

It was a huge battle to keep the CHAdeMO port for the US spec. Too bad the onboard AC charger is not 7 kW but with the CHAdeMO port that can be forgiven.

Your turn GM!

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

What is the AC L2 Max charge rate?

Looks like around 3 kw.

At the risk of being flamed in effigy, I don’t see the point of having a QC on this. When I got the Leaf, I purposefully didn’t get one with a QC and I frankly can’t see getting any non-Tesla EV (let a lone a PHEV) with a QC port. Unless you own a Tesla, the QC network is dismal.

“If you plug into a CHAdeMO outlet, you’ll be able to fill the battery up to 80 percent full in about 25 minutes. Compare that with around four hours for a full charge using Level 2, and eight hours from a standard 120-volt outlet.”
If it charges twice as quickly on L2 versus L1, then it likely has a 3.3 kW charger. Why would this model have a CHAdeMO port and not 6.6 kW charging?!?!? The number of CHAdeMO chargers in the United States is still severely lacking, and does not need to be overwhelmed unnecessarily by PHEVs, especially those that can only go ~22 miles. It would make much more sense to offer 6.6 kW charging so that L2 charge time can be reduced to 2 hours which would mean faster turnover at L2 chargers.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

6.6Kw & 7.2KW is passe.

All new EV’s should come out with at least 10KW or 15KW AC L2 charging.

Anything less is too slow especially those 3.3KW stations.

M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD

I found that disturbing too — 3.3 Kw L2. that’s like our Spark EV — very slow and good only for overnight charging. as a PHEV, it’s forgivable though.

Anyone with idea about safety features and ACC, Park assist?

Well, the car is being built down to a price – they didn’t put in the more pricey 6.6, 7.2 or 7.6 kw charger..

One nice thing about the Japanese models is they work well at lower voltage public stations. My friend Brian’s ancient Leaf charges at the full 3.6 kw while I can’t even get 3 kw sometimes on my ELR.

So what is its hybrid mode MPG? 40+ would be good.

40+ mpg with that body?

35 would be impressive. I expect 32.

M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD
Found nice cnet article outlining features — pretty loaded options with good proven safety features. https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2018-mitsubishi-outlander-phev/preview/ “Unfortunately I didn’t get to experience the Outlander on the highway, so I can’t speak to its handling, ride quality or driver’s aids. The Outlander will be available standard with blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, but features like a multi-view camera, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation will only be available on the GT trim, starting at $40,295. This upper trim will also come standard with adaptive cruise control, which Mitsubishi says will bring the Outlander to a full stop, but the driver will need to re-engage the system once traffic starts moving again. A new app can control the charging schedule of the Outlander, monitor vehicle status and remotely operate the HVAC system and headlights. The Outlander PHEV’s interior is fine, if unremarkable. Materials and design are nothing special, but I didn’t notice any cheap plastic components. A seven-inch touchscreen supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there are two USB ports in the center console. There is also a standard AC outlet in the rear cargo compartment that can handle 1,500 watts of your electronic goodies, making the Outlander PHEV… Read more »