Want the utility of an SUV, but worried about the environmental impact? The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers all the performance and space you’d expect from an SUV with plug-in hybrid technology to help you reduce gas consumption—and save money while you’re at it.
Our Today’s Parent Approved editors and parent testers put the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV through its paces and found it’s a great choice for families: it has a comfortable interior, an impressive range of safety features are standard, and you can save at the pump. The Outlander PHEV is offered in three trim levels, each with all-wheel drive and seats for five passengers. We tested the top-level GT S-AWC trim and found this well-designed vehicle is fun to drive and an easy ride.
Safety is always top of mind when parents are buying a family vehicle. The Outlander PHEV, like most new vehicles, comes with antilock brakes, plenty of front, side-impact and driver’s knee airbags. But Mitsubishi has built the Outlander PHEV with a whole range of advanced safety features standard on every trim. Each vehicle includes a rearview camera, blind spot warning with lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist. Plus, this SUV also features active stability control, which helps you maintain control and prevent skidding on corners or when the road is slippery—something you’ll really appreciate about three-quarters of the year.
If you opt for the top GT S-AWC trim, you’ll also get forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control—a really great feature that helps you maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead without the need to step on the brake only to re-accelerate and re-set cruise control. There’s also a multi-view camera system, with a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the area around your vehicle. And if you drive on dark, rural roads, you’ll like the auto high beams, which switch to low beam as another vehicle approaches and then back up to high beam once it’s passed.
Our parent testers and editors were all impressed with these safety features. Parents all said they felt their family was safe and protected in this vehicle, and they all strongly agreed that the safety features in the vehicle added to its overall value. They were especially impressed with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s cameras, adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection.
A family vehicle is going to see its fair share of school drop-offs, drives across town to hockey practice and road trips, so comfort is key. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s suspension is smooth, but not too soft (no feeling like you’re on a boat, bobbing on waves)—especially important if your kid is prone to getting car sick.
While the dual-zone climate control can only be adjusted up front, it does a good job of keeping the vehicle interior comfortable.
The driver’s seat features eight-way power adjust, including lumbar and leg support, so you can settle into a position that offers you the best support. (The front passenger also gets power adjustable seat in the mid and top trims.) Plus, heated front seats are standard, which will keep you happy in winter. The rear seating is a bit more pared-back, without heating and with minimal contouring, but there’s good legroom and headroom—about 38 inches for each, which is good for many, but tall teens and adults may find it a bit cozy.
Comfort also comes into play with the placement of driver controls. We found that everything was laid out in a very logical way, with controls where you’d expect them and the most-used ones well within reach, helping to minimize distraction when you’re on the road. That said, the Outlander’s touch controls on the infotainment screen take a bit more conscious thought and attention than physical buttons would.
A small thing we always pay attention to is the placement and number of cupholders (you can never have too many). The rear centre armrest includes cupholders, making them within reach for kids. There’s also a bottle holder in each door and cupholders in the front centre console.
Cargo space is often sacrificed to make room for the battery in electric and PHEV vehicles, but Mitsubishi has managed avoid this by placing the battery under the floor. The cargo capacity tops out at a respectable 861 litres when the rear seats are in use, and 2,209 L with the rear seats folded down. What does that mean for you? We tried loading various strollers into the cargo area and found that a jogging stroller or a single stroller with a bulky fold (the UppaBaby Vista) fit easily—and you could also fit an umbrella stroller in alongside either of them. The side-by-side double stroller was a bit of a tight fit, but we could still make it work. The majority of our testers said they could fit the things their family needed to haul in the cargo space, though one parent wished it was more spacious.
For those times when you need space for room to haul a lot, the rear seats fold quickly and easily, though a little differently than in other vehicles: You’ll pull a loop on the headrest to fold it down and a loop on the seat cushion to move it forward, and then you lift a lever on the seat backrest to fold it down.
Getting things in and out of the cargo space is also important, and if you want a power liftgate to make that easier, you’re going to have to opt for the top trim (GT S-AWC). Unlike many other SUVs, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV doesn’t have a hands-free liftgate. Another nice feature you’ll get in this trim is a 1,500-Watt three-prong power outlet in the cargo space—great for an electric air mattress pump, plug-in coolers, coffee maker or even a slow cooker you want to keep warm on the drive to a family potluck.
The Outlander PHEV offers exceptional overall fuel economy thanks to its ability to drive on battery electric power alone for 35 kilometres, and its functionality as a hybrid once the battery’s charge has run down. When running on gas alone, it has a respectable combined fuel economy rating of 9.2 L/100 km, but in electric mode, the rating drops to a very impressive 3.2 L/100 km.
Depending on how much driving you can typically do on battery power alone, some days you may use no gas at all. While you would have the added cost of charging the battery to consider, the overall cost savings of using battery power compared to gasoline can be as high as 80 percent, depending on where you live and how you drive. It’s important to note that actual driving distance on battery power can depend on a lot of factors, including outside temperature, driving style (e.g., coasting and braking slowly help regenerate battery power), use of heating or air conditioning and the type of terrain you drive on.
Parent testers and editors agreed the Mitsubishi Outlander PVEV is fun and easy to drive. Thanks to the two full-time, high-output electric motors—one mounted at each axle—the Outlander PHEV can instantly supply torque to the wheels (the thing that makes them spin) for incredibly responsive performance and agility. Parents who tested the vehicle found it easy to merge onto highways, change lanes, and accelerate and stop abruptly. Impressively, this SUV can run fully in Electric Vehicle (EV) mode in all-wheel drive, something no other plug-in hybrid SUV in the Canadian market can do. And, of course, if more power is needed, the vehicle’s efficient 2.0-litre gasoline engine kicks in.
Getting around a busy city is easy thanks to the Outlander PHEV’s tight turning radius, which makes U-turns and three-point turns easier and makes navigating narrow streets and tight corners easier. The blind spot is small on this SUV, thanks in part to large windows, but blind spot warning is also standard on all trims—a feature than the majority of our testers found useful. Meanwhile, a standard rearview camera makes backing up easier, and if you opt for the top trim, the Mitsubishi’s 360-degree camera offers a bird’s-eye view all around the vehicle to make parallel parking and squeezing out of tight spots easier.
Driving is a different experience with a PHEV like the Outlander, which has both automatic and manual modes. Three automatic drive modes are controlled by the vehicle’s computer to make the most of the combination of battery and gas power. EV Drive Mode drives exclusively with the electric motors, using no gasoline. In Series Hybrid Mode, the electric motors power the vehicle, but the gasoline engine helps generate electricity for additional power. Parallel Hybrid Mode runs on the gasoline engine, with additional power support from the electric motors; it also feeds power back to the battery when there’s excess energy produced.
In addition to the automated modes, there are a number of driver-activated modes that can help boost fuel economy even further. In Battery Save Mode, you can opt to operate in hybrid mode while saving the charge in your battery for situations where battery only driving is preferred, such as in city stop-and-go traffic. In Eco Mode, a touch of a button reduces both fuel and electricity usage for increased efficiency, but you’ll sacrifice acceleration and responsiveness, and heater/AC output is reduced. EV Priority Mode provides the ability to prioritize full electric driving, which is best for stop-and-go traffic. Maybe most interesting is Battery Charge Mode, which uses a gas-powered generator to recharge the electric battery. This does increase fuel consumption in the moment, but you should net out ahead: basically, the gas you use to charge the battery will typically give you more EV driving range than you’d get from using the same amount of gas to drive the vehicle with the gas engine. Over and above the modes, you can use the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s four paddle shifters to control braking and coasting, which will ultimately help you maximize generation of energy for the battery.
INSTALLING A CAR SEAT
Installing a car seat is often, well, not easy. The Outlander PHEV’s interior height is pretty average for a mid-size SUV, and parents told us it was fairly easy to install car and booster seats, and their kids had plenty of legroom. In lab tests, editors had to move the front seat forward slightly to provide clearance for a car seat installed in a rear-facing position, but it wasn’t enough to impact the comfort of the front passenger. (Of course, this will depend on the height of your car seat.) Plus, the two sets of UAS/LATCH anchors and the three tethers are pretty easy to reach. Parents and editors also found that the doors on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV open wide enough to easy to get kids in and out of a car seat.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a practical interior design that features brightly coloured stitching for contrast, chrome plating along the door handles and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Seats in the base SE S-AWC trim are artificial leather, but if you opt for one of the other two trims, you’ll get premium leather seats. Editors found the soft leather seating comfortable against the skin and felt that it elevates the interior styling. There’s also a sunroof on the SE S-AWC Touring and GT S-AWC trims. Most of our testers said the interior is stylish and appealing, and all felt the interior finishes were made from high-quality materials.
When you need to give your car a good clean, you’ll be glad that the Outlander PHEV comes with rubber floor mats—you can shake off crumbs easily, and hose them down if one of your kids spills something sticky or gets sick.
Given how much time parents spend chauffeuring kids to and from swimming lessons and soccer tournaments, commuting, and hitting the road for a family vacation, a good infotainment system is a must. The top-trim GT S-AWC we tested boasts a nine-speaker, 710-Watt Rockford Fosgate Punch sound system with a 10-inch sub-woofer in the rear cargo area; it has a rich sound that both editors and parent testers appreciated. The two other trims feature a standard six-speaker sound system. Sirius XM Satellite Radio is built in on all trims, and you’ll get a three-month subscription.
Your phone can easily connect to the vehicle’s system via Bluetooth and USB, so you can make hands-free calls. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay—and good thing it does, because there’s no built-in GPS navigation system in this SUV. When your phone is connected to the infotainment system with either of these apps, you can access maps, play music, make phone calls and send texts through the Outlander PHEV’s seven-inch display screen (you can also use Siri for voice commands). Most of our testers found it easy to connect their devices. One thing worth noting is using map apps for navigation is going to use data from your cellphone plan (unless you choose to download maps), which some people may not be so keen on.
Price and budget are big factors when families are buying a vehicle, and all of our testers said the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is worth the money. The base price of $42,998 is quite competitive among similar types of hybrid vehicles, and the top trim that we tested maxes out at $49,998, before any add-ons. Two provinces offer incentives that can bring the price down a bit: You can get back $2,500 in B.C. and $4,000 in Quebec. (Note: there are some restrictions in both provinces.)
Since this is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the life-time savings on gas can really add up. If you’re using mostly the battery to run your vehicle, the potential savings over a year can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Mitsubishi has an online savings calculator that can help you get a picture of just how much money you’ll save on gas based on your driving habits, the fuel economy of your current vehicle and the price of gas in your area.
The warranty is also important, and the Outlander PHEV comes with a pretty standard five-year/100,000-km limited vehicle warranty, as well 10-year/160,000-km limited warranties on both the lithium-ion battery and the powertrain. You’ll also get five years of roadside assistance.
Our testers were impressed with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, especially the wide range of standard safety features, the quiet and efficient ride, and the environmental benefits that come from driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. They had no problems installing car seats and booster seats, and said there was plenty of room for parents up front, kids in the back and the stuff they needed to haul around in the cargo space. All the families who tested the Outlander PHEV gave it a very good rating across the board for overall quality, ease of use and value for money, and none would hesitate to recommend this mid-size SUV to other families. Over and above the wide range of family-friendly features, the Outlander PHEV is a joy to drive—and that’s just icing on the cake.
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