Caraganza First Drive Review 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LE: The Electric Bridge

Look I get it: eventually fully gasoline powered vehicles will be no more. When the transition first started many years ago, I was resistant to it. My God-given-right-to drive-a-smoke-belching-gas-guzzling-thundering-V8 shall not be trampled upon.

I lost that argument of course.

When the first hybrids came out, perhaps being a little biased, I threw up in my mouth a little. One of the biggest problems were the way they looked. The first models seemed to be designed to look like futuristic spaceships on wheels. It was like the designers watched reruns of the Jetsons for inspiration. No way was I going to be caught behind the wheel of one.

As the years have passed, I’ve softened a bit to the electrification of the automotive market. While I’m still not ready to fully embrace a plug-in, a hybrid isn’t bad. And what’s even better is the fact that they all don’t look like something George Jetson would commute to Spacely Sprockets in.

My tester this past week was a perfect example.

Mitsubishi sent me a 2021 Outlander, one of the more popular small SUVs on the market. A lot of that popularity has to do with the affordability. The Outlander has always been very well made and very nicely priced. I had my last one back in 2016 and was impressed.

For this go-around however I had the plug-in hybrid model. It turns out that it’s the only model they offer this year. The 2.0-liter gas engine (and the available V-6 ) are gone, replaced with a larger and more powerful 2.4-liter (paired of course with two electric engines).

The Outlander seats five (they had to do away with the third-row seating to make room for the battery pack) and is available in three trims: SEL, LE and GT.

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Keeping with the great value story the base SEL is nicely equipped with a power liftgate, leather upholstery, power-adjustable, heated front seats and an 8-inch touchscreen display. It also has all the standard safety features like automatic emergency braking, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. All at a starting price of $36,295.

All the trims come standard with all-wheel drive by the way.

My tester for the week was the new for 2021 LE trim which has 18-inch dark chrome alloy wheels, unique front and rear bumpers, blackout exterior trim and grille a sunroof and an eight-speaker upgraded sound system. It carries an MSRP of $37,995.

Though essentially a placeholder until the redesigned 2022 hits the lots, the 2021 has a hybrid system that is updated and uses Level 3 fast charging. And while I don’t know much about the all-electric world, Level 3 charging is reportedly the latest and greatest. For 2021 the all-electric range is up a bit to 24 miles (up from 22), and there is an additional 31 horsepower. The combined power is now 221 horses (divided between the gas engine and two electric motors).

On the road you won’t wowed by the drive, but the ride is smooth enough and with different levels of regenerative braking, selectable via paddles behind the steering wheel, keeping the battery topped off isn’t too big a challenge.  There are several driving modes: Eco, Save, Charge, Normal, and Sport. The Snow and Sport modes are new for 2021.

When Charge mode is used, the engine generates more power than needed, replenishing the battery at the expense of fuel consumption. Save mode preserves the battery level for when you might need to go electric-only. In the other modes, the battery exhausts itself at varying rates.

Overall, my week was a pleasant one. The only minor issue I had was the overall interior. Sure, there’s plenty of room, but the styling is dated. Though I have not seen the updated 2022 model in person, looking at photos it appears this was addressed so moving forward that minor issue should go away.

The 2022 PHEV has yet to join the lineup but looking at the 2022 models (which are now powered by a 2.5 liter) have pricing that seems to be in line with the past models, so an updated interior at a fair price: winning.

I’m not advocating that you wait for the 2022 PHEV. With the new models coming out, there is little doubt that a smart shopper can find a great deal on a 2021 PHEV. I may have lost my God-given-right-to drive-a-smoke-belching-rumbling-V8, but if the future is as nice as the 2021 Mitsubishi PHEV, I don’t think I’ll mind a bit.

 
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LE
MSRP: $37,995
MSRP (as tested): $39,835
Gas/Electric 2.4 liter I-4, twin electric motors (70kW)
Maximum Horsepower (Combined) 221 hp
Maximum Torque 147 ft-lb. @ 4500 RPM
Base Curb Weight (pounds): 4244
Transmission: CVT

Exterior Dimensions (Inches)
Wheelbase: 105.1
Length: 184.8
Width, without mirrors: 70.9
Height: 67.3
Front Track Width: 60.6
Rear Track Width: 60.6
Minimum Ground Clearance: 7.3

Interior Dimensions
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 5
Total Passenger Volume (cubic feet): 101
Front Head Room (inches): 39.9
Front Leg Room (inches): 40.9
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 56.4
Front Hip Room (inches): 52.6
Second Row Head Room (inches): 38.1
Second Row Leg Room (inches): 37.9
Second Row Shoulder Room (inches): 56
Second Row Hip Room (inches): 51.9
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 62.8
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 30.4
Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet): 30.4

Warranty    
Basic: 5 years / 60000 miles
Powertrain: 10 years / 100000 miles
Corrosion: 7 years / 100000 miles
PHEV Components/Main Drive Lithium-Ion Battery 10 years / 100000 miles

 

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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