The 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was a car that I was really looking forward to reviewing, even though I absolutely hate plug-in hybrid vehicles for everything they represent. I’ll get back to that later, but the main reason I was interested in this car is because the first-generation Outlander PHEV was rather great, a pioneer if you will, in the plug-in hybrid SUV segment. I was therefore expecting this new one to be a homerun. It does impress on paper, but it sadly doesn’t deliver out there in the real world.
2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review: The Family Fortress
I’ll begin with the positives surrounding the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, because there are a few. I personally really like the way this thing looks. In this sea of blob-like crossovers that all look like carbon copies of one another, the new Outlander stands out as a bold, refined and very Japanese design. And although it shares a platform and several components with the Nissan Rogue, it doesn’t really look anything like its corporate twin.It’s also a fantastic family fortress due to its size, available cargo space and general sense of great build quality and the materials used. I’ll go more in detail on these qualities later on in the review, but the immediate sensation I had when I sat inside its driver’s seat was that this would be an amazing road-trip vehicle for the entire family, dog included.
Plug-In Hybrids And The All-In-One Printer Rule
Now, the reason I hate plug-in hybrids (also known as PHEVs) is because I consider them to offer the worse of both technologies. I know this feels like the opposite of what many people – including carmakers and fellow automotive journalists have been saying – but please, hear me out.I’ve learned, over time and from my past experience working in a Future Shop electronics store up here in Canada during my university years (Future Shop was a Canadian electronics store that was acquired by Best Buy), that any device that attempts to combine several technologies in one ends up delivering only mediocre performance. It’s what I like to call the all-in-one printer rule. All-in-one printers seem great on paper, offering the benefit of printing, scanning and photocopying, but in reality, they don’t perform very well in each metric.Plug-in hybrids are very similar in the sense that they promise the benefits of being able to drive on pure electricity for short distances, such as urban areas, but also grant you the freedom of driving longer distances thanks to their internal combustion engine (ICE). On paper, that’s an amazing promise. Wouldn’t that be the perfect car? Yes. But there’s a problem, one that the Outlander PHEV has written all-over its massive front grille.The more PHEVs I drive, the more I realize that they only deliver as per the carmaker’s promise if you operate them within a very constrained window and under very precise conditions. The first obvious problem here is that nobody controls the weather or ambient temperatures, which have the potential of heavily offsetting a PHEV’s performance. Because the lithium-ion traction battery in the Outlander PHEV only has a capacity of 20 kWh (this is high for a PHEV), you can’t expect it to both heat up the cabin and power the electric motors.Technically, it can do both, but its performance will inevitably be limited due to its small size, either sacrificing EV range, or cabin temperature. Since nobody likes to freeze to death inside their car, engineers have programmed PHEVs to automatically activate the ICE in order to help assist the battery for cabin heating. If you live in a northern climate like I do, below 0 temperatures are frequent and consistent, so, you’ll basically be burning gasoline all winter, defeating the purpose of buying a PHEV in the first place.Now, it is possible to mitigate this by preheating the cabin like you would in a traditional electric vehicle, which is what I did using the Mitsubishi mobile app. But somehow (Mitsubishi you need to explain this to me), the car still refused to run on EV mode. Even if I overrode it using the EV button on the center console, I’d still hear that 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine periodically kick in.
Non-Efficient EV, Only Average ICE
I did, at some point, manage to drive the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on full EV mode in which case it consumed its electricity at a rate of 45.4 kWh/100 km! Why was it consuming more electricity than a Ford F-150 Lightning?And of course, there was the inherent issue that when it was running on gasoline (PHEVs essentially become hybrids when burning fuel), the Outlander PHEV was not particularly fuel-efficient, which is really weird. The entire time I had this car in my possession, I was unable to stay under the 9L/100 km mark. Even Natural Resources Canada‘s evaluations don’t show better results. As a reference, I got better fuel economy from the considerably larger Toyota Grand Highlander hybrid.Then there’s the overcomplicated nature of the damn thing. Mitsubishi gives you no less than 7 drive modes to operate the car, and you never really know which one you should use. Regenerative braking is also extremely complex due to a B mode, a button on the center console that activates a more aggressive form of regenerative braking and paddle shifters on the steering wheel to help you modulate between different levels of resistance. Overkill? Yes, very.Oh, and for some reason this car makes the most annoying sounds. High pitch noises that make you go crazy, worrying humming and clunking noises. This is by far one of the strangest-sounding vehicles I have driven in my career. At end of my week with the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, I asked myself why they simply didn’t make it purely electric.And that’s actually the irony with this vehicle, the fact that it was thought out to first be an EV, with the gasoline engine acting as a range extender, similar to a Chevrolet Volt. The car uses an EV-inspired skateboard layout, with the battery nestled underneath its floor and an electric motor on each axle, yet, it just doesn’t deliver.Smashing the accelerator pedal will at least grant you decent performance thanks to 248 combined horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Once that battery is juiced up and everything works in sync to deliver performance, the Outlander PHEV is indeed pretty quick off the line. Its level of traction in the snow is also fantastic.Back to its cabin. I can’t stress enough how beautifully detailed and well put together this thing is. It really looks and feels like a premium product in there. My tester, a GT Premium ($58,198) was also loaded with all the current technology you can expect: wireless charging, wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, more USB ports than you actually need and over-the-air update capability. It’s also a three-row SUV that conveniently becomes a two-row by cleverly stowing its rear seats into the floor.That all being said, I conclude that the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a fantastic SUV for all the reasons I just listed. It’s just plagued by a technology that’s already beginning to feel dated next to all the compelling EVs currently on sale. If you want my honest recommendation, I’d say buy an ICE, buy a hybrid or buy an EV, but for the love of God, stay away from a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Review of the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV by William Clavey
Plug-in Hybrid SUVs
- Looks rather sharp.
- Spacious, well put together and comfortable.
- Fantastic all-wheel drive system.
- Non-efficient EV mode.
- Non-efficient gasoline engine.
- So complicated with very little gains.
6.5 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Mitsubishi Motors Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]