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Friday, January 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Autos

Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid unique in compact crossover segment

The Outlander was last made-over in 2013 and though a series of updates have kept it in the hunt, it’s one of the segment’s senior members. It isn’t as refined — or as capable — as the segment leaders.

Still, it offers budget-minded buyers a solid value proposition. 

Outlander’s standard features include cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, second-row air vents, a sliding and reclining 60/40-split folding second-row seat, a 50/50-split third-row seat, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a 7-inch touchscreen display, a USB port, voice controls and a rearview camera.

A 7-inch touchscreen is standard and Mitsu’s infotainment system includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Depending on trim, the Outlander has as many as two USB ports and three 12-volt outlets. 

The up-level GT adds a pair of household-style outlets to the cargo area.

First-and second-row passengers enjoy plenty of legroom and headroom in a cabin that is dated but serviceable. The third row is for kids only; Mitsubishi says third-row passengers should be no taller than 5-3. 

Tuned for comfort

Outlander’s suspension is tuned for comfort, not performance. In most circumstances, its compliant suspension settings produce a comfortable ride that shrugs off most broken road surfaces. The downside is abundant body lean — especially in corners — and a somewhat disconnected feel at highway speeds.

Wind and road noise are noticeable but not intrusive. Fit-and-finish and materials quality could use attention. As could the front seats; they are less supportive than most, with too-short bottom cushions and insufficient lumbar support.

Power seats are available on the GT.

Steering feel is artificial and incommunicado. A vagueness at center allows the Outlander to wander in its lane.

Standard halogen headlamps light up dark two-lane roads and LED headlights are available on the top-level, GT ($31,190).

Lower trims are equipped with a blind-spot warning system, with rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist. 

The GT can be fitted with a Touring package that adds adaptive cruise, automatic high-beam headlights, forward-collision mitigation and lane-departure warning. 

Three powertrain choices

The Outlander is available with three powertrain choices. The base four-cylinder engine makes 166 horsepower and is matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). 

Under hard acceleration, the CVT produces the peculiar rubber-band feel and drone typical of less-sophisticated CVTs.  

A 224-hp V-6 is reserved for the AWD-only GT trim. It’s mated with a six-speed automatic.

The four can tow as much as 1500 pounds; the six is good for 3500 lb.

The PHEV ($35,7950) produces a total of 197 horsepower and can run for 22 miles on battery power alone. It delivers an EPA estimated 74 MPG-e and 25 mpg combined when running on gasoline.

It can run 22 miles in EV mode.

As typical of hybrids, it’s paired with a CVT and is not tow-rated. The system utilizes Level 3 fast charging from a standard household outlet. 

The Outlander boasts a generous 8.5 inches of ground clearance and the torque-vectoring AWD system can send 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, where it can be further distributed side-to-side.

Not long ago, insiders predicted Mitsu would toss the Outlander onto the discard pile. Instead, as gen-one sales continue to grow, preparations for the launch of an all-new 2021 Outlander proceed. 

Questions or comments? Contact Don at don@dadair.com.

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT
Vehicle base price: $25,690
Trim level base price: $41,490
As tested: $42,920 (includes destination and handling)
Options included Ruby Black Pearl paint, carpeted floor mats.
Tow rating: 3500 lb. 
EPA rating: 74 MPGe; 25 mpg combined, gas only)
Regular unleaded fuel specified



Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.