This is very Mitsubishi! That’s the impression I had of the all-new Outlander PHEV. The previous exterior design gave a calm demeanor. Now, it has undergone a makeover, giving it a masculine and powerful appearance worthy of a Mitsubishi. Naturally, it offers a running performance suitable for a premium car. The quality of the interior has been improved as well.
It seems that the Outlander PHEV didn’t have that sort of impression prior to this latest model. It’s so different that it feels like an entirely different car. That’s because it inherits the Pajero’s excellent drivability on bad roads, and has been equipped with the S-AWC inegrated with ABS to improve drivability on snowy roads, the twin motors 4WD distinct to PHEV, and the EV technology that was fostered by the i-MiEV. The all-new Outlander is certainly an SUV filled with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s technological strength.
There were no major changes made to its two-liter engine mated to an EV system. In fact, the improvements were invisible, such as adding acoustic and soundproofing materials to lower the noise level. This led to significant improvement with the quietness. The results of this improvement can be immediately felt as soon as you drive the car. The road noises have lessened, and when you start the engine to charge the car, you’ll hardly notice any sounds. I would even say that the all-new Outlander PHEV’s overwhelming quietness is incomparable to its forerunner.
Instead of using the engine, the basic method of operation of the Outlander PHEV is that it uses the drive battery to travel short distances. The engine starts the moment the drive battery level lowers due to the long distances covered. In short, the engine is only used for power generation; in most cases, the electric motors are in charge of the driving force. Significantly improving the sound insulation gave way to that “premium car” feel, which seems to be this model’s charm.
Incidentally, I wonder why this facelift brought significant changes to the design. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Product Strategy Division Product Evaluator Akira Fudamoto said the reason for that: “PHEVs were a new category when we released the Outlander. Hence, its design was made safe and unobtrusive to target more customers. Because of this, many existing Mitsubishi customers avoided it. The current design was made in reflection to that.”
The all-new Outlander PHEV features thick chrome trims surrounding the opening of the front grille’s pumper, an aggressive design like never before.
Despite the changes made to the exterior, there were only few changes made to the interior. The dashboard, which is the part you usually touch, remains to be a hard plastic material, so when you use the turn indicator, you’ll feel its plasticky feel. For the seats, although they said that the design and material of the upholstery has been changed, I didn’t really feel it. The price range of the upper grade is more than 4.5 million yen because it’s a PHEV, but I feel that it’s a bit pricey.
You can buy the 2.4-liter gasoline model, which was there when I did the test drive, for around 3 million yen, and I think that it has a quite a satisfactory interior. Since it was also given the same soundproofing measures as the PHEV, the quietness it offers is a huge plus. Because the gasoline model doesn’t have added weight because of the battery and electric motors, it also offers a nimble performance. In that sense, I would say that the craftsmanship of the gasoline model has exceeded my expectations.
Nonetheless, once you have tasted the quietness that the PHEV offers, you can no longer turn back. It offers a comfortable ride while using the large torque that its electric motors generate. Furthermore, it offers excellent fuel economy unique to the PHEV. Also, for emergencies, it has been provisioned with two 100V/1500W electrical outlets inside the cabin. They have calculated that when the gas tank is filled to full capacity, it can cover 10 days worth of electricity consumption of a general household.
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Hajime Aida | AJAJ Member
Born in 1956 in Ibaraki Prefecture. Graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics in Meiji University. After graduating from the university, he became a member of an automotive journal and started working freelance in 1986. He expanded his writing profession particularly to car navigation and ITS fields, as well as writing reviews about new cars. He contributes write-ups with substantial advice about purchasing cars.
(Translated by Katherine N. Bantiles)