Life is full of twists and turns in the road and it’s great when you find a surprise around one of them. Such is the case where my most recent review vehicle, the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV), is concerned. I suppose my surprise isn’t entirely warranted, given that it’s the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the world. But based on my previous Mitsubishi experiences, it’s clear the automaker is on a mission to improve its offerings. The 2019 Outlander PHEV is a comfortable, great riding and handling SUV that makes a successful effort to elevate the brand. (That’s not something I could say after driving the 2017 Outlander Sport.)
The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is powered by a battery with twin electric motors coupled with a 2.0-liter gas engine. The hybrid powertrain combo delivers 190-horsepower which felt okay even with a heavier 4,000+ lb. SUV. It’s a quiet ride, too, and engine drone wasn’t an issue trying to accelerate. For me, the big story with the Outlander PHEV is it’s terrific handling thanks to the extra torque to the rear wheels -- resulting in a more engaging, sportier drive with a tighter steering feel than in non-hybrids. It’s standard all-wheel drive comes with a center locking differential that distributes power from the electric motors evenly to the front and rear wheels as well.
I also loved the overall suspension, ride quality and ride height. It's a great riding, comfortable SUV.
Drive Modes and Charging
You can drive the Outlander PHEV in pure EV mode, series hybrid mode which uses an electric with help from the engine when needed to merge onto the highway for example, or in parallel hybrid mode the engine powers the vehicle with assistance from the electric motors, which is the least fuel efficient option. Excess energy can also charge the battery while driving. The Outlander PHEV delivers an electric driving range of 22 miles and total driving range 310 miles. Charging the battery to 80% takes about 25 minutes using DC fast charging and a 10-volt charging cable stored in the trunk.
The Outlander is due for a redesign for the 2021 model year. While the current model’s front end looks dated to me, I applaud its LED headlights and running lights standard on the GT trim. LED combo tail lights round out the rear. Meanwhile, 18-inch wheels seemed too small for the high wheel arches that felt like they were missing body cladding. Silver roof rails sit on top along with a spoiler. My Ruby Black Pearl ($295) Outlander PHEV arrived with GT and PHEV badging.
This interior, while a bit dated, gave an overall favorable impression with soft touch materials along with new silver hydrographic accent panels. You’ll grasp a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel and sit in comfortable eight-way power adjustable driver and passenger leather seats with side bolsters. Above the paddle-wheel appointed steering wheel, with controls placed both horizontally and vertically, you see a colorful easy to read LCD driver display in the center of the tachometer.
I give Mitsubishi props for adding patterned accent trim on the door panels and console which really add to the interior as well as for trying to be unique in some aspects of its interior design. (Like by angling the dash on the driver’s side slightly so the dual zone A/C vent has more direct aim at the driver. ) But the long center console design could in my opinion use some tweaking to be more user friendly. While I liked the gear shifter’s look and feel (with a separate Park button), there is a ton of unused real estate beside it. The electric parking brake, auto hold, AWD and heated seat controls are pushed far back instead of alongside it. I found them hard to reach and the design, while clean and uncluttered, also reduces storage bin space.
There is plenty of room in the Outlander PHEV and no large hump in the floorboard in the back. But there is a bit of cost cutting in back with some plastic on the second-row doors panels. The rear seats recline and passengers are treated to a drop down center console with cupholders and new air vents. Above, there is a power glass sunroof, but a panoramic would be a great option.
Technology could still use some updating in the Outlander, though it does offer both standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, with a good response time, is on the smaller side but does offer a multi-view camera. I did find the voice recognition to be a bit cumbersome and require more steps to operate than other systems. This trim level is equipped with an upgraded 9-speaker Rockford-Fosgate audio system. Bluetooth along with two USBs are standard, one in the front and one in the rear, and in my opinion a 5-passenger SUV could use to have more.
The Outlander provides the expected standard 60/40 fold down rear seat. Ample truck space includes cargo tie-down hooks. $135 carpeted floor mats are optional. On the GT trim, you can tap into 1500W of power via the main drive battery from two 110 volt outlets located in the rear seat and cargo area. It can tow up to 1,500 pounds with a towing package.
Driver assistance features on the Outlander PHEV GT S-AWD include standard Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning with Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. It’s also equipped with automatic high beams.
Is it the most stylish SUV out there? That depends on your personal taste. But the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander is definitely worth a test drive if you’re in the market for a plug-in hybrid vehicle with AWD, especially if handling is important to you. Plus, at $42,920 price tag as tested, BEFORE a federal tax credit, I consider it a good value in my book for a hybrid vehicle of this size and utility.
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT S-AWD
- What I liked most: It’s great handling and ride quality.
- What I would change: Update somewhat dated styling inside and out. Reconfigure center console to push more controls forward and in easier reach.
- MSRP: Base price $41,495; as equipped $42,920 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: 25 city/highway combined; 74 MPGe.
- Official Color: Ruby Black Pearl ($295).
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,661 miles.
- Weight: 4,178 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Tire Repair Kit.
- Length-Width-Height: 184.8” long/70.9” wide/67.3” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.3 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs.
- 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: A roomy, quiet plug-in hybrid that delivers a comfortable ride and surprisingly great driving dynamics that elevates the brand.
- Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty/10-year /100,000-mile warranty on PHEV components and the Main Drive Lithiumion battery.
- Final Assembly Location: Okazaki, Japan.
- Manufacturers website: Mitsubishi