Words: Sammy Chan
Photography: Sammy Chan
Published: December 16, 2022
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It's been 20 long years since Mitsubishi Motors has established its stronghold in Canada. To celebrate this achievement, Mitsubishi has recently launched its highly respected all-new Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid). After all, in addition to being Mitsubishi's best-selling vehicle in Canada, the Outlander PHEV is also the most popular plug-in hybrid amongst its competitors. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in Canada with the launch of the all-new Outlander PHEV just shows how important Mitsubishi values its contribution.
Although Outlander PHEV has only evolved to its second generation, Mitsubishi has long been at work in the research and development of things EV. As early as the 70s, it came out with the 1971 MINICA EV, followed by 1996 MITSU HEV, 1999 FTO EV and the 2009 i-MiEV with the latter playing a critical role in the development of Outlander PHEV.
Renowned as the Godfather of S-AWC, Dr. Kaoru Sawase was flown from Mitsubishi's headquarter in Japan to North America's media test drive to explain in-depth of its new baby to the media. Mitsubishi has also commissioned Q-Seqment Chief Vehicle Engineer Kentaro Honda to share his experience in the development of the new PHEV. Who is Kaoru Sawase? You should have heard of Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, right? The inventor of EVO's divine S-AWC Super All-Wheel Control is Professor Kaoru Sawase.
With the launch of the all-new PHEV, Outlander's 2023 lineup has never before been so expanse. With non-phev models combined, there are now up to 11 different models to choose from. I.C.E series starts with the $32,698 ES, followed by SE, LE, LE Premium, SEL, GT and GT Premium trims. PHEV models and corresponding MSRP are: ES $46,538, LE $51,238, SEL $54,048, GT $56,348 and GT-Premium $57,048.
Though Plug-in Hybrid models are about $14,000 more costly than its ICE counterpart, advantages of PHEVs are insurmountable. Not only will it help you towards your environmental cause, it can also help you save thousands of fuel costs every year, not to mention the $2,500 rebate you'll get from the federal government (British Columbia and Quebec provinces have additional rebates too), and the priceless Green Plate that gives a lone driver the right to HOV lanes.
Standard features of even the entry-level ES is immensely rich. In addition to Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) and seven-person seating, standard equipment includes heated front seats, electric heating plates, power liftgate, dual-zone climate control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking. For not more than $50,000, you can embrace PHEV technology on top of all these standard features.
In fact, the gasoline version was all-new as of the beginning of last year. The 2022 MY fourth generation Mitsubishi Outlander is completely new inside and outside, and is also vastly different from the outgoing model. After all, the new model adopts a new modular chassis jointly developed with Nissan and Renault of France. Thanks to the adoption of the new modular chassis, the new car is much larger than before in length, wheelbase and width.
Length and wheelbase have increased by 36mm and 15 mm respectively, and change in width is even more significant, seeing an increase of 87mm. Effect is obvious in the cabin. One glance at the three rows of space from the driver's seat, it feels like being in a much larger vehicle. Outlander has always had 3 rows of seats, an advantage point it long holds in its category. Being as big as it is now, the new Outlander can surpass Honda CR-V to challenge its bigger brother Pilot and even the Toyota Highlander.
Seiji Watanbe, a famous designer from Nissan, is responsible for the design. His masterpieces include Nissan Skyline GT-R and Infiniti G35 Coupe. To make Outlander standout, design should permeate the sensual charm, that is, the design concept of "I-FU-DO-DO 威風堂堂". Visual appearance of the vehicle is really majestic, upright and very eye-catching. The bold and surging body lines make people stop and admire.
The frontal design of the car is the most eye-catching of all. The vertical cube-shaped headlights imparts a strong three-dimensional sense from any angle. The thin sharp-looking daytime running lights and dynamic shield front grille look just right, setting a stage for future generations to come. Even the entry-model ES is as good as the GT in appearance, with rear spoiler, Auto LED headlights and LED rear lights as standard. For the first time, Outlander PHEV can also be optioned with a two-tone roof, like the GT Premium model pictured here with black roof over White Diamond body color.
Interior design is also all-new, layout and design purports a large SUV presence, quite similar to the Kia Telluride. Material used on instrument panels and the center console have been greatly improved. The four-spoke steering wheel is not only stylish, but also an artwork its German counterparts will admire. Mitsubishi has not only vastly improved the quality of Outlander's interior, it has also injected a number of high-end devices rare in this class, such as the 9-inch touch screen and the 12.3-inch digital driver display. Seat massage also appears the first time on PHEV, an exclusive feature of its GT Premium model.
The 3-passenger seating midrow is divided into 40/20/40. Shoulder and knee space are the most spacious of 7-passenger SUV in its segment. Third row is a tight fit for two adults, more suited for kids for long-distance driving. All passengers in the midrow can slide their seats back and forth to free up more space for the back 3rdrow. And what surprised me most was that front and rear adjustments of the midrow seats provide as many as ten different adjustment range. It is also easy to enter and exit the third row of seats, and easy to flip second row forward with just one hand. When not needed to accommodate passengers, the third row can easily be folded forward, and cargo volume will increase from 362 litres to 872 liters. With second row also folded, maximum cargo volume will greatly increase to 1,875 litres.
Compared with the previous Outlander PHEV, capacity of the lithium battery situated between the front and rear axles have increased by 45%. With the help of the current 20kWh lithium battery module, the new Outlander PHEV has a pure electric driving range of 61km before engine kicks in. In theory, if one does not exceed this mileage on every trip and if charging is readily availlable, one does not need to visit the gas station at all. Of course, such is not always true. Fortunately, Outlander PHEV possesses a gasoline engine that can be used for charging purposes. Manufacturer claims a total driving range of 687 km. But electricity is paid energy, so even under zero fuel consumption, fuel consumption value would still need to be expressed as Le/100 km. Outlander PHEV's combined Le/100km is 3.6, while actual fuel consumption is 9.2/8.7/9.0 L/100km.
While most PHEVs has just one fast charging 240V Level 2 capability, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers an additional Level 3 ultra-fast charging called CHAdeMO. According to Mitsubishi, it takes merely 38 minutes to quickly increase electric reserve to 80%. Level 3 ultra-fast charging stations can be found in many landmarks in many cities in Canada. While dining or shopping, one can enjoy an extra 49km (61x80%) electric driving range. No wonder PHEVs sell like hotcakes. When using 240V Level 2 charging stations, Outlander PHEV would need 6.5 hours to fully charge the battery. Of course, it also comes with a charging cable for you to use your 120V Level 1 outlet at home, but it would take 16 hours to fill the battery.
Outlander PHEV is equipped with a 2.4-liter DOHC MIVEC four-cylinder engine, which is mainly used for charging the battery. If you use CHARGE mode to drive for 94 minutes, battery capacity will be charged to 80%. The engine itself produces 131 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque, the front motor produces 114 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque, and the rear motor 134 hp and a strong 144 lb-ft torque, resulting in a combined output of 248 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.
Another value of having a EV is to change braking from negative to positive behaviour. In other words, braking is no longer a fuel consuming evil. On Outlander PHEV, in addition to using brake pedals, use of the steering wheel pedals will also charge the battery. In addition, Mitsubishi introduced a One Pedal driving function named Innovative Pedal for the new Outlander PHEV. Once the Innovation Pedal switch located on the right side of the shifter is activated, whether accelerating, slowing, driving downhill, cruising or stopping, you can drive all day with just the accelerator pedal alone. At first, it will be unaccustomed to get used to, but once you are familiar with it, you will find that it is the most natural thing to do.
With sufficient power, driver can switch to pure electric mode at any time via the EV switch and of course, one can always choose NORMAL, that is, hybrid mode at any time. In addition to having a CHARGE mode as previously mentioned, PHEV also comes with a SAVE mode to reserve electric capacity when needed. Zero engine noise is worthy of the unspeakable experience of driving a EV, let alone zero emissions to protect the earth.
With front and rear motors and S-AWC inherited from Lancer Evolution, the previous generation Outlander PHEV has long been the leader amongst AWD electric vehicles. Both dual-motor AWD and S-AWC system have been optimized and enhanced. In addition to integrating Active Stability Control and ABS to ensure the best grip, S-AWC also adds an all-new Active Yaw Control (AYC) that uses brakes to transfer power between front and rear or left and right wheels. With the battery installed low underneath the chassis, low COG plays a greater role around corners. There is ample reason to believe that PHEV will perform better than its ICE version on snow and muddy roads. There are 7 different driving modes-Eco, Normal, Tarmac, Power, Snow, Mud and Gravel.
2023 Outlander PHEV also enjoys a complete suite of advanced safety protection technologies. Features like rear parking sensors, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Mitigation are all standard, even Adaptive Cruise Control is standard. Adaptive Cruise Control is enhanced to MI-PILOT Assist on GT models. In addition to adding stop-and-go functions, it can also read road signs as well as adjusting road speed using navigation real-time traffic conditions.
Finds it hard to believe that PHEVs can also serve as a mobile generator. When travelling or camping in the countryside, household appliances like coffee machines and rice cookers can be powered by your Outlander PHEV. As long as they meet the 1,500 watt 120-volt AC system requirement, the two separate outlets one in the passenger cabin and one in cargo area can be of good service to you.
Mitsubishi Outlander has always been the most affordable 7-seater SUV on the market. With lack of competitors, the dual motor AWD system and plug-in charging capability makes the new Outlander PHEV even more unique. The comfortable and tranquil driving enjoyment realized by pure electric power is unparalleled by other 7-seaters such as the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. Finally, it is worth mentioning that both Outlander and Outlander PHEV are manufactured in Japan, very uncommon these days. Factory is located in Aichi Prefecture, famous for "八丁味噌" miso, Okazaki.
Model: 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Base Price: $46,538.00
Engine: 2.4L MIVEC 4-cylinder，dual motors，20kWh battery
Horsepower/Engine: 131 hp/5,000rpm
Horsepower/Electric Motor: 114 hp Front/134 hp Rear
Torque/Engine: 144 lb-ft/4,300rpm
Torque/Electric Motor: 188 lb-ft Front/144 lb-ft Rear
Transmission: single speed
Suspension-Front: MacPherson struts
Brakes-Front: Vented disc
Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined): 3.6 Le/100 km; 9.2/8.7/9.0 L/100 km
Tires: Kumho WinterCraft WS71 255/45R20