A new model year sometimes brings big changes and improvements, and sometimes it doesn’t. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has only moderate changes for the 2021 model year, which fixes some of its problems but not others. That lead MotorTrend to make a rather lukewarm comment about the plug-in hybrid SUV, saying it’s “old-school-ish and imperfect, but at least the electric Outlander is interesting.” Here’s what’s improved in the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and what is still holding it back.
The fast-charging 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
An unusual and helpful feature of the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is that it can use quick chargers. Not many PHEVs can use them, and the Outlander PHEV is the only one in its segment that does. MotorTrend says it “can charge from empty to 80 percent via a Level 3 CHAdeMO fast charger in as little as 25 minutes.”
Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger takes four hours for a full charge, and a 120-volt plug takes either nine or 14.5 hours for a full charge, depending on the circuit type. The 2021 Outlander PHEV also has a larger battery pack than previous models, which improves its range. The battery pack has been increased from 12.0 kWh to 13.8 kWh.
The Outlander PHEV has drive modes that can help the driver control use of the battery power. It has Eco, Save, Charge, Normal, and Sport modes. The Charge mode allows the engine to generate extra power to recharge the battery, which does use extra fuel. The Save mode helps use less of the battery power for use in certain electric-only zones. The other drive modes use the battery at different rates, and the driver can keep track of power use and the charge level on the Energy Flow information display.
Range for the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has slight upgrades in range and power over last year’s model. It now has 24 miles of electric-only range, rather than 22 miles. Plus, it has a bit more horsepower (31 hp more). A new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine now generates 126 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with two electric motors. The front one produces 80 hp and 101 lb-ft of torque. The rear one produces 94 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. The engine mainly powers a generator, but at higher speeds, it can power the front wheels. Altogether, the Outlander PHEV produces 221 hp, but it normally uses just the two electric motors combined 174 hp.
When using the gas engine, the Outlander PHEV gets fuel efficiency of 26 MPG whether in the city or on the highway. When using gas and electric power, it gets 77 MPG in the city, 71 MPG on the highway, and 74 MPG combined.
The 2021 Outlander PHEV sounds quiet like a full EV, even at highway speeds. Accelerating, though, does wake up the engine. There are five levels of regenerative braking that drivers can select among to help extend the battery life. MotorTrend found the Outlander PHEV’s handling to be a little “clumsy on irregular road surfaces.” While competitors do have better handling, MotorTrend describes both the handling and the acceleration as “inoffensive.”
An overview of the 2021 model
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, first sold in the U.S. in 2017, is the best-selling PHEV around the world and very popular in Europe, says MotorTrend. The PHEV is the only powertrain available for the 2021 model year, although the gas-powered version will return for 2022.
Available in three trim levels, the base Outlander PHEV has a starting price of $37,490, while the LE trim starts at $39,190, and the GT trim starts at $43,805. Keep in mind that this SUV is eligible for $6,587 in federal tax incentives, increased this year due to the larger battery pack. Some places have state and local tax credits too.
The interior is one place that didn’t get enough updates for 2021. MotorTrend calls it dated and points to hard plastics and old-fashioned designs for the buttons and touchscreen. The 8-inch touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though. The seats are firm but not uncomfortable. MotorTrend calls the quilted leather upholstery in the GT trim it tested “gorgeous.” The GT trim level also features glossy black trim and a black headliner.
The Outlander PHEV comes standard with all-wheel drive. It also includes heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, plus two AC power outlets, says MotorTrend. Its standard safety features include a “360-degree camera, forward collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, an electronic parking brake with auto hold, and automatic high beams.”
While the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has some attractive qualities, including its quick charging and improved range, competitors still have more modern designs and more features. MotorTrend recommends taking a look at the Toyota RAV4 Prime or waiting for the next generation of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.