The Mitsubishi Outlander has two available engines: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 168 hp, available in the ES and SE trim levels, and a 3.0-liter V6 making 230 hp in the XLS and GT trims. The 4-cylinder is mated to a CVT transmission, while the V6 uses a 6-speed Sportronic automatic transmission. The SE, XLS and GT also have standard magnesium paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
The ES, SE and XLS all come standard with front-wheel drive, while the SE can also be outfitted with All-Wheel Control (AWC). The top-of-the-line Outlander GT comes only in Mitsubishi's Super All-Wheel Control System (S-AWC for short). The system has the first electronically controlled active front differential on a CUV, which detects traction of the front tires and directs power appropriately, improving both safety and performance. A dial allows the driver to select from three settings, depending on conditions: Tarmac, Snow and Lock.
The Outlander is loaded with safety features that make it smart buy. Six airbags are standard, as are active stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring and pedestrian impact crumple zones. In addition to the S-AWC system, the GT also has standard Hill Start Assist.
As for the interior, the ES base model has fabric upholstery with 60/40 split folding rear seats, plus air conditioning, cruise control, power doors and windows and a 6-speaker CD/MP3 stereo. The SE upgrades include a leather-wrapped shift knob and multi-function steering wheel, leather bolsters with sport fabric seats, a 6-CD in-dash changer and Bluetooth.
The XLS adds automatic climate control, independently adjustable rear seats, a rear seat that can be stowed under the floor and the FUSE hands-free link system, which allows the driver to interface with a Bluetooth-enabled phone or the stereo using voice commands. Heated front seats, leather seating surfaces and trim and a power driver's seat are available as part of a package for the XLS.
The GT includes everything in the other Outlanders, plus the standard S-AWC system with active yaw control for even more stable handling, aluminum sport pedals and a powerful 710-watt Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker sound system. An upgraded leather and power interior package can be added to this trim level, too.
Not only is the Mitsubishi outdated in a number of ways, it doesn't post huge gains in efficiency over its gasoline-only competitors. Sure, it's comfortable and nicely equipped, but with its higher cost of entry, is the Outlander PHEV just a tough sell?
The Outlander PHEV is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that works in conjunction with a 12-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and two electric motors -- one at the front axle and one at the rear. For the most part, the battery and electric motors are what actually drive the SUV's wheels, while the engine itself charges the battery. At freeway speeds, however, the engine can directly power the wheels to help with high-speed efficiency. Total system output is 190 horsepower, the delivery of which is really smooth. No, the 4,200-pound Outlander isn't going to win many drag races, but it's not noticeably slow off the line, either. With the electric motors providing a silky supply of instant torque from a stop, there's just enough grunt to leap ahead of traffic when the light flashes green.
That isn't to say the Outlander likes to be driven quickly. On the contrary, it doesn't handle particularly well if you try to hustle it though turns. Instead, this Mitsubishi is much happier when simply straight-line cruising, like on the highway. That's where it comes into its own and begins to show off its best attribute: its comfortable ride. The Outlander's steering contributes to that relaxed feeling from behind the wheel. An abundance of power assistance makes maneuvering a breeze through the tight confines of downtown LA. However, if you're searching for steering feel, you'll have to look elsewhere, because feedback is pretty much nonexistent.
The Good The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV's smooth ride and silky power delivery make it comfortable to drive.
The Bad Gas-only fuel economy could be better, and it is kind of pricey.
The Bottom Line For most people, a conventionally gas-powered compact crossover will be more efficient.
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