The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Leaves Me Confused

2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT S-AWC

Price: $57,948 CAD

Colour: White Diamond

I’ve been a fan of Mitsubishi vehicles since I was a kid. I grew up in the age of the Eclipse and the 3000 GT when they produced some of the best affordable sports cars on the market. I also read stories of the Delica and what you could do with that thing in the bush. Living in Canada we didn’t see any of these cars except those imported from the US and Japan. Despite this, my admiration for what the brand accomplished during the 90’s was and has remained strong. It’s sad then that the company has been allowed to wither and die on the vine as it has. As an automobile manufacturer their lineup has shrunk to the point where they really only make 3 vehicles of note. The king of that particular castle for the last decade has been the Outlander. It’s by far their most popular car and has been a leader of sorts in one market segment for a long time. It’s one of the first PHEV’s to sell in large numbers, long before anyone really knew what that was. The newest version has left me a touch confused as I can’t figure out if I like it or not.

With the 2022 redesign the Outlander was switched to the same platform as the Nissan Rogue. In addition to a Nissan platform, it also inherited lots of other Nissan bits. This was meant to improve many aspects of the vehicle while generating cost savings. I’m not a huge fan of some Nissan interior trims we’ve seen on recent models. The synthetic leather-like materials featured on the Outlander are ones I’ve seen on many other Nissan vehicles like the Sentra, Versa, Kicks and Pathfinder. Unfortunately, this isn’t a nice material. It looks and feels fake. This results in a cheapened interior I really didn’t care for.

PHEV systems are a curious thing. Some work very well and offer real world range and others seem to exist purely to meet CO2 targets on a spreadsheet. The PHEV system on the Outlander works. The electric only range is somewhere between 45-55kms. My real-world result varied considerably depending on what roads I was travelling on. When you run out of juice you can fire up the gas engine to not only drive the car but charge the battery as well. I had troubles with this system. When it worked it worked great, but it routinely decide it was siesta time and refused to charge the battery. A restart of the car usually solved this problem, but I refuse to treat my car like a smart phone.

Performance from the Outlander was a pleasant surprise. The combined horsepower is a dizzying 250 or so. Not the most impressive number I’ve ever seen but it does move the Outlander along at a brisk pace. I expected it to be lumpen and slow under harsh throttle, but it moved along well. You can certainly feel the electric drive doing its job and the results are great. I can only imagine what the ICE only version of this car is like, and I feel fortunate to have so far only been blessed with the PHEV.

As I get older and larger, the comfort offered by a vehicle becomes increasingly important. I miss my halcyon days as a young man leaping in and out of whatever undersized contraption I chose. These days a vehicle like the Outlander not only provides easy access but one hell of a comfortable seat and this immediately put a smile on my face.

They say you only get one chance at making a first impression. I happen to agree strongly with this statement and the 2024 Outlander makes a great first impression with its good looks. It’s a handsome car and that’s much better than being ugly. This is something I know much about. This vehicle has evolved over time and matured into something lovely. 

For all the years I’ve been driving Nissan Rogues I’ve never looked at that car and said to myself “You know what this thing needs? Two idiotic seats jammed into an equally idiotic third row to allow the car to be marketed as a 7-seater.” The rear of any mid-sized SUV should be for legroom in the second row and a good-sized cargo area. For reasons I cannot possibly explain, Mitsubishi has opted to add seats back there. The reality is there just isn’t any room for another row of seats in this car. There are headroom, legroom and horrible access issues with the third row of this vehicle. Add to that the horrible design of those two seats, with particular attention paid those headrests. It’s like they were designed for someone who had their head squeezed with forceps during child birth and their head has been horribly misshapen ever since. They are so thin and narrow. If you ever crashed your Outlander in a lake you could use them quite effectively as paddles. I can usually find a rationale for most vehicle design decisions, but this is like some Italian cars from the 70’s… it just doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t know what to say in summation about the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. It works as an EV most of the time and it’s handsome. I don’t like all the interior material choices and that third row makes me angry in the same way I feel when my wife wants to “have a chat”. It’s also comfortable and decent to drive. This is a car of multiple faces and leaves me at a loss. Should you buy one? I don’t know. For the first time in my semi-professional auto journalism career, I’m going to leave that to you.

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