In today’s automotive market, five years is a lifetime to wait to introduce a vehicle, but that’s exactly how long Mitsubishi waited to launch the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This plug-in crossover has been on sale in Europe since 2013 where, according to Mitsubishi, it is the best-selling plug-in hybrid. Mitsubishi also says that the Outlander PHEV is world’s first plug-in hybrid crossover, the only plug-in crossover with AWD and the only plug-in hybrid with DC Fast Charging capability.
With the vast selection of plug-ins and crossovers out there, these are some pretty noteworthy claims, so we were glad to see the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV arrive for this weeklong test drive review.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exterior
Some automakers use gimmicky styling to differentiate their electric and plug-in models, but the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is largely unchanged from the non-PHEV version of the 2018 Outlander. With the exception of the optional ($285) graphics that run down the lower side of the body, the only obvious feature that sets the PHEV apart is the model-specific, eight-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. This tester was also equipped with the optional ($85) “OUTLANDER” spelled out on the hood, which, for the record, we think should be a standard feature on all Outlanders, since it adds a cool styling element.
The standard Outlander is available in five trim levels, but the PHEV model comes in just two. This top GT trim adds standard premium content like LED headlights, LED fog lights and a power sunroof, and the overall package looks pretty stylish in this tester’s Quartz Brown Metallic paint job.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Interior
As is usually the case with electric and plug-in vehicles, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV gets a slight cabin makeover to distinguish it from the non-PHEV model, and that includes a more premium interior to help some customers better justify the added cost. In terms of styling and functionality, the PHEV gets an exclusive four-spoke steering wheel, a different shift lever and leather design on the seats and door panel with a more upscale appearance.
The biggest difference, though, is that unlike the Outlander, the Outlander PHEV does not have a third row of seats. The rear electric motor and battery pack take up some of the space where the small third-row seat would be in the Outlander, but the Outlander PHEV manages to deliver a roomier second-row as well as more cargo capacity: 77.7 cubic-feet in the Outlander PHEV compared to 77.3 cubic-feet in the Outlander.
The trim level differences are limited to a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system and the heated steering wheel, but despite its loaded content, there is no navigation available. But that being said, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Outlander PHEV.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Powertrain
The heart of the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is, of course, its powertrain, and it consists of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, single-speed transmission, lithium-ion battery pack, and an electric motor at each axle. While the Mitsubishi i-MiEV didn’t sell insignificant numbers, the Outlander PHEV’s powertrain is smooth and fun to operate. Weighing in at 4,178 pounds, the PHEV is about 500 pounds more than the standard Outlander GT, but this plug-in still delivers instant torque we’ve come to love from electric vehicles, along with an all-electric driving range of 22 miles.
Once the battery charge is low enough (or try to accelerate too hard), and the engine comes to life sending power to the front wheels, but this transition is a little buzzy under heavy acceleration. Using the DC Fast charger brings up to 80 percent charge in 25 minutes, while Mitsubishi says a 240-volt charger can fully recharge the battery in about 3.5 hours. Using the 120-volt power cord that comes with the PHEV, we saw recharge times in around eight hours. Official EPA-rated fuel economy estimates are 74 MPGe with electricity and gasoline and 25 mpg in combined driving with just the engine alone**.
We had the chance to drive the Outlander PHEV in both short city routes and long highway drives, and it delivered a smooth ride that felt more like a conventional crossover than what we’ve seen from modern EVs and PHEVs. The gear selector (especially the Park button) did take a while to get used to, but other than that, it felt no different from the non-PHEV Outlander.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Safety
Although the Outlander AWD received a five-star rating, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has not yet been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Outlander PHEV comes standard with seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag) and Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, while the GT trim level adds Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and the Multi-View Camera System.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Overall
For now, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a truly in a class by itself with the nearest competitors (price and efficiency) probably coming from smaller vehicles like the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevrolet Volt and Kia Niro PHEV. If Mitsubishi’s budding lineup of crossovers is any direction of the brand’s future, then things are definitely looking bright.
In base form, the standard Outlander is already one of the lowest-priced offerings in its segment, with a starting price of $23,945*, while the more advanced Outlander PHEV starts at $34,595 for the SEL trim. This 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT tester had a few relatively inexpensive options to give it an as-tested price of $41,985. And that doesn’t include any available state or federal rebates!
While that might seem like a steep bottom line price, it’s only about $8,000 more than the standard Outlander GT we recently drove, which, honestly, it not a bad premium for the advanced plug-in powertrain. And if that’s not good enough, the Outlander PHEV comes with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile warranty coverage for the powertrain, PHEV components and the battery.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mitsubishi dealership and test drive the fuel-efficient 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.