2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Plug-In Hybrid

Mitsubishi’s technology flagship, the Outlander plug-in hybrid, has arrived in the United States nearly five years after it was originally due. The vehicle itself might look rather dated (as does the rest of the Outlander lineup), but the technology within is most definitely not. As a testament to how far ahead of its time the Outlander PHEV was a half-decade ago, it remains the plug-in SUV with the longest electric range, the only plug-in hybrid from a nonluxury brand with all-wheel drive, and the only plug-in-hybrid model of any kind to offer Level 3 fast charging.

That’s no exaggeration. Mitsubishi has sold 100,000 Outlander PHEVs in Europe alone, and over the past three years it has been the top-selling plug-in hybrid in that market. It’s also the best-selling crossover with a plug in the world, according to Mitsubishi—yes, better than the Tesla Model X and better than anything in China. In the Netherlands, for instance, the Outlander PHEV sells strongly at a base price equivalent to about $44,000.

Quick-Reacting, Not Quick

That hair-trigger electric responsiveness is something of a red herring, because the Outlander PHEV isn’t quick by any means. Our U.S.-spec test vehicle accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds. That’s 0.1 second quicker than the last four-cylinder, AWD Outlander we tested but 1.6 seconds slower than a V-6 AWD Outlander and nearly a second behind the Toyota RAV4 hybrid. And 100 mph came after 26.8 seconds—almost double the time it took the Volvo XC60 T8 plug-in.

So Many Choices

You can recharge the 12.0-kWh battery pack several ways. Plug it in with the included 120-volt cord (8 hours) or sidle up to a Level 2 charger such as you’d install in a home garage or find at a shopping center (3.5 hours). Or, if you’re in a hurry, find a Level 3 fast-charging station of the CHAdeMO sort used by the Nissan Leaf. We did so and brought the Outlander PHEV to an 80 percent state of charge in just over 21 minutes (Mitsubishi quotes 25 minutes for an 80 percent charge).

Makes Sense If You Plug In

From a mileage standpoint—and considering the price, even with the tax credit—if you’re not planning to connect the Outlander PHEV to the electric grid whenever possible, we don’t see a lot of convincing reasons to choose this over most crossovers its size. Using less discipline about charging, we saw just 24 MPGe over more than 750 miles.