2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Styling

The Outlander plug-in crossover has a generally clean appearance. While the design of the front fascia looks a little awkward and the overall shape feels somewhat bulky, it’s pleasant enough.

There’s not much to distinguish the plug-in Outlander from the conventional gas-powered Outlander, which gets only average marks for style from most auto reviewers.

The plug-in’s front grille is slightly different, and the rocker sills take on some chrome accents. It also features allow wheels with black accents. The most defining distinction is the presence of an additional fuel door—a port for charging on the right-rear fender to mirror the small gasoline filler-door on the driver’s side.

Performance

The Outlander combines power from two 60-kW electric motors—one on each axle—and a 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Total output is 197 horsepower.

If power and handling are only middling, then you can look to the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid’s all-wheel-drive—or “super all-wheel control” as Mitsubishi calls it—for a reason to choose this model over its competitors. The Outlander doesn’t qualify as a true off-road vehicle that can handle climbing the steepest dirt roads, but reviewers say that it does a good job of maintaining traction on unpaved country stretches. It helps with handling that the crossover is a plug-in with a relatively heavy battery pack positioned to lower the center of gravity. (Ground clearance is 7.3 inches compared to the gas version’s 8.5 inches.) The Outlanders also benefits from a tight turning radius.

Mitsubishi has a lot of experience with electric powertrains. That proved helpful with the Outlander’s hybrid system, which makes seamless transitions between electric propulsion and gasoline operation.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Efficiency/Range

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rated the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid to provide 22 miles of all-electric range. When its battery pack is sufficiently charged, the vehicle offers 74 miles per gallon estimated. After the battery pack is depleted, the Outlander is rated at 25 mpg by the EPA. Its total driving range is 310 miles.

The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid’s 22 miles of range, courtesy of its 12-kWh battery pack, might seem modest compared to the Chevy Volt’s 53 miles of all-electric miles. But for a larger, heavier crossover SUV, that’s great. In fact, it nearly matches the all-electric range of smaller models like the Prius Prime and Mini Countryman—and handily beats the luxury plug-in SUVs that commonly offer electric range in the mid-teens.

Charging

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

You won’t experience anything unusual when charging the Outlander at home. When using a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, it takes about 3.5 hours to go from empty to full. If you use the provided 120-volt charging cord, expect an overnight charge of about 13 hours. That’s all par for the course.

What’s unusual—and frankly a little odd—is Mitsubishi’s choice to provide the Quick-Charge port as standard equipment. That might make sense for a pure electric car with a larger battery pack, but not for a plug-in hybrid. With the Outlander's Quick-Charge part, you can go to CHAdeMo-based public chargers, and refuel from empty to full in about 25 minutes. For most drivers, that feature will almost never be used because, with a plug-in hybrid, you can always utilize the gas engine for extended driving. You are likely to burn off several miles of fuel just getting to and from a station—wasting a bit of time and money—negating much of the Quick Charger’s benefit.

Passenger/Cargo Room

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is a five-passenger vehicle. Sorry, but unlike the gas-powered version, the crossover doesn’t offer third-row seating. Nonetheless, the seats are comfortable, the steering wheel is beefy, and the layout of buttons and cargo spaces are logical. The plug-in model only offers the top two levels of the Outlander’s interior trim choices. Even so, some auto reviewers complain that there’s evidence of cost-cutting found in cheap cabin materials.

The vehicle provides a decent list of amenities. A touchscreen in the center of the dashboard provides information related to plug-in energy use and range. There is a pair of USB ports, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and two standard 110-volt outlets for use at tailgate parties.

Capacity in the rear compartment behind the second row is adequate—although it’s only 30.4 cubic feet in the plug-in version compared to 34.2 cubes in the conventional Outlander.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Safety

We don’t have official test ratings from the safety agencies, but the gas version of the Outlander performs well on most tests—getting good, if not quite the highest rating. The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is available with plenty of safety gear—including seven airbags, standard rear-vision camera, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as optional lane-departure warning, forward collision braking, and radar cruise control.

Price

In a growing field of plug-in hybrid SUVs, the Mitsubishi Outlander has the lowest starting price at $34,595—with the federal tax credit of $5,836 further reducing its price. The base SEL model comes with leather seats, power driver and passenger seats, power liftgate, and the 7-inch touch screen for the infotainment system.

The higher-trim GT version of the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid starts at $41,235—bringing a premium audio system, adaptive cruise control, power sunroof, and LED headlights. It also adds safety features such as forward collision braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Comparison with Similar Cars

If you’re shopping for a crossover plug-in hybrid, the Outlander is by far the most affordable option. You would need to spend at least an additional $10,000 to upgrade to the $53,000 Volvo XC60 T8, or $20,00 for the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid. That’s a big step up in price, even if it brings home much more capable and well-appointed vehicles.

If you want to maximize efficiency but can forgo the 22 miles of all-electric range, you might consider the no-plug 32-mpg Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or the 34-mpg Nissan's Rogue Hybrid. Both of those vehicles have a nicer exterior design and more comfortable higher-quality interior.

The efficiency of those regular-hybrid crossovers is well below the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid’s 74 MPGe rating—but that metric is based on the first 22 miles of driving.

Driving a 74-MPGe SUV is a fantastic opportunity, but you can only expect that level of efficiency if you have a short commute or can plug-in throughout the day. But if you commonly drive a lot more than 22 miles in a single day, the combined city-highway efficiency drops to 25 mpg—a step below the RAV and Rogue hybrids.

Purchase Process

Mitsubishi dealerships reported the first 100 sales of the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid in December 2017—so the 300 or so Mitsubishi dealerships—the ones certified for plug-in sales—should now have vehicles available for sale or lease. The Outlander-with-plug is a 50-state vehicle. However, be advised that production will be somewhat limited. Mitsubishi plans to sell as few as 3,000 Outlander Plug-in Hybrids in 2018, so don’t be surprised if you need to look around to a few dealerships or wait a few weeks for your closest dealership to have one with your desired features.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $34600
Est. tax credit: $5800
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 22 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 12 kWh
Charging rate: 3.3 kW

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