Flip open the fuel filler flap of the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and you will find two ports: one for gasoline, one for juice.

By juice I mean, electricity. For this Outlander runs on both gas and electricity, though the all-EV (electric vehicle) part is limited to some 35 km before you need more, well, juice. If there’s no outlet – either 110/120V, 220/240V or DC fast-charging — the four-cylinder gasoline engine is there to ease your range anxiety. If it’s snowing, well, this rig offers four-wheel drive in 100 per cent EV mode (electric motors front and rear).

Series Hybrid Mode

You might think a plug-in hybrid might have limited appeal. After all, 35 km is about the length I go on a training ride on my bicycle, and I’m hardly the second coming of Lance Armstrong. Yet the Outlander PHEV has hit quite the nerve in this marketplace and globally, too.

Mitsu Canada has sold more than 9,000 Outlander plug-ins since its launch in 2018, and some 200,000-plus around the globe. No car company has sold more plug-in hybrids, in fact. Mitsu Canada president Juyu Jeon, or JJ, is quick to tell me that about one in four plug-in hybrids sold in Canada is an Outlander PHEV.

Sales got a boost earlier this year when the federal government slapped a $2,500 rebate atop whatever provincial taxpayer subsidies are available for this sort of rig. This means that while the base sticker is $43,498, you will pay less once the taxpayer makes a contribution. Note, too, that the top-line GT S-AWC model lists for $51,498.

EV Drive

The good news about the latter is that you cannot buy any options packages and the few add-ons for sale (roof box, bike carrier, and such) cost just a few hundred bucks. A fully dressed Outlander PHEV will run you around $765/month for 84 months, if you take Mitsu’s 1.99% financing. Less the government’s contribution, of course.

That may sound like a high price to pay, but in the world of plug-in hybrids, it’s not. Not really. You’ll spend tens of thousands more for a German plug-in SUV, and then more still on parts and service. The Outlander, meanwhile, has a 10-year powertrain warranty, and five years’ coverage bumper-to-bumper.

It’s no secret that an all-new Outlander is coming next year, BTW. It will ride on a platform shared with Mitsubishi’s alliance partners, Nissan and Renault. Jeon calls the coming Outlander a “game-changer” and it’s certainly vital to Mitsubishi.

Regenerative Braking

That means the Outlander PHEV we see now is in its last year or so of production. Still, Mitsu has done some upgrading for the 2020 model year, to keep things fresh and address past concerns, primarily around the infotainment system.

Yes, there is now an 8-inch audio touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I’d advocate for a larger screen still, something along the lines of what you see in Volvo’s latest plug-in hybrid SUVs. But this system has a clean and friendly interface. Perhaps in the new Outlander’s screen will be as large as an iPad and we’ll all be ecstatic.

Let’s remember, though, that this Outlander comes standard with all-wheel drive (Mitsu’s “Super All-Wheel Control” or S-AWC) and three rows of seats are also standard across the lineup – no small feat in a plug-in that has 12 kWh of lithium ion batteries squeezed into what is traditionally used as the transmission tunnel.

(Note: the reinvented Outlander PHEV will surely have more range from a bigger battery pack accommodated in the new platform/design. We can expect another 10-15 kWh of battery, boosting range to the 80-100 km range on pure electric power. Hmm. Worth the wait?)

If you are careful and conscientious, you might not use much gas at all.

If you stick to only battery power, which means you’re charging up pretty regularly, you’ll use barely any gasoline at all. If you drive like a normal though conscientious person, you’ll likely get in the 7.0 litres/100 km range, which is really quite impressive for a big rig like this. Give some thanks to the Atkinson cycle, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine which is efficient if not overly muscular.

All this electrification talk aside, the Outlander PHEV is getting a lot of traction on the more mundane side of the car-buying equation: features. So much is standard, it’s much easier to tell you what is not part of the normal kit, or even available. Adaptive cruise control is not available, though blind-spot warning is. Auto on/off headlamps are standard on the priciest Outlander PHEV, as is a powered front passenger seat. Leather is standard on the top model, cloth the others.

The shifter.

Regardless of trim, this Outlander feels sturdy and is very roomy and functional. It’s most pleasant to drive in all-EV mode, primarily because the 2.0-litre four-banger has to grind hard when your battery is drained and you’re using gasoline. It’s not exactly sluggish, but it’s no V-6, either.

And so for now, Mitsubishi has an excellent value proposition in a plug-in, though the world knows something better still is coming in the next Outlander. When, precisely, it will go on sale, and for how much remain open questions, while the 2020 Outlander PHEV is an answer unto itself.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Price: $43,498 base.

Powertrain: 2.0-litre I4 gasoline engine (117 horsepower/137 lb-ft of torque); twin AC electric motors (front 80 hp/rear 101 lb-ft torque) and rear 80 hp/144lb-ft torque) and 12 kWh lithium ion battery pack.

Transmission: front single speed switchable drive mode, rear single speed fixed reduction gearbox.

Drive: all-wheel.

Leather is standard in top-line models.

Fuel economy electric (gasoline) LE/100 km (L/100 km): 3.0 (9.4) city/3.4 (9.0) hwy.

Range: 499 km

Charging times: 120V/12A: 8.0 hours; 240V/16A: 3.5 hours; Chademo quick charger to 80%: 25 minutes.

Battery range: 35 km.




Comments are closed.