This hybrid SUV is the future of driving

Published October 22, 2021, 8:07 AM

by Eric R. Tipan

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Twin Motor 4WD

Say what you will about EVs (electric vehicles) but unless the electricity used to power it was harvested sustainably, then I’d take a hybrid any day. The great thing about this vehicle I’m reviewing is that you don’t have to choose between the two, it’s an EV and a plug-in hybrid all rolled into one. This is the Outlander PHEV.

Launched locally in 2019, it resembles a smaller Montero Sport but with an arguably shinier Dynamic Shield grille that’s made much brighter by LED headlamps, foglamps, and daytime running lamps.

It comes in eight colors, six of which are by-order basis only, so what’s readily available is this White Pearl and Titanium Gray Metallic. The body isn’t much; just your basic compact SUV with the ‘PLUG-IN HYBRID EV’ badge on the front fenders and an ‘OUTLANDER PHEV’ on the tailgate. What does give it an upscale touch are chrome trims on various sections including the belt line and the door handles.

On top are inconspicuous silver roof rails, an electric sliding sunroof, a shark’s fin antenna, and a rear spoiler. Taillights are also LEDs and to slightly toughen up the image is a silver rear underbody garnish.

It appears rather large for a compact SUV and that’s partly because of the longer tail that can accommodate a solid 463 liters of cargo space even with the seats up. More on the interior later.

Ground clearance is a pretty good 190 mm, which is higher than the RAV4’s and just 8-mm shy of a CR-V’s. So don’t fret if you’re approaching a puddle or a flash flood. Like all EVs, these are put under high-pressure water testing and all electrical components are sealed and insulated for waterproofing. That being said, this isn’t a boat and you should be extremely careful when approaching rising water.

Except for the funky gear shifter, the cockpit looks ordinary for something so high-tech. The adjustable multi-function leather steering wheel feels big and comes paddle shifters behind. One other major tell is the left gauge of the instrument panel that indicates charge and consumption status, plus the multi-information display that shows what’s driving the wheels.

The layout is simple but driver-centric as a silver trim highlights the necessary equipment, including the eight-inch touchscreen with a Smartphone-Link system and four speakers and four tweeters, that’s under the purview of whomever is behind the wheel.

Seats are firm but leather-wrapped. There are carbon-fiber effects as seen on the front door panels, dashboard, and even the very wide center console. The rear seats seem smaller but the good thing is, it makes for wider leg room. There are air vents here, a USB port, and my favorite, a 220-volt outlet as well.

As a true mix of hybrid and EV tech, it has a 2.4L MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) engine putting out 128-PS and 199-Nm of torque that’s complemented by a motor that gives the front wheels an additional 80-HP / 137-Nm of torque and the rear wheels 94-HP / 195-Nm of torque. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery with a total capacity of 300 volts.

Expectedly, the drive is super smooth as the Twin Motor 4WD system doesn’t have a propeller shaft, hydraulic system, or clutch plate. Even more so on EV mode as the engine shuts down so there are a lot less moving parts to vibrate. Plus, as the two motors directly power the front and rear axles, torque delivery is instant and feels like something out of a V6 engine.

Should the battery have less than 30-percent juice, the wonder of the Outlander is that is can run on either Series (run by motors powered by a generator that’s charged by the engine) or Parallel hybrid (engine driving the front wheels with support from motors to the front and rear wheel).

With all four wheels delivering drive, it didn’t feel like a 1.8-tonner even on hybrid mode. Steering feedback was light and easy on the arms. It’s the corners and turns that feel odd as the chassis feels planted because of the 250-kilo batteries installed on the floor whilst the body gets the brunt of the G-force.

Nonetheless, comfort is excellent and at par with what you’d expect from a compact SUV. Road noise does creep in though, through its 55-series R18 tires.

On hybrid mode, it averaged about 19.6 km/l and of course, zero in EV mode. Charging can be done at home with the right adapter. It’ll take about 5.5 hours but you can leave it overnight, without worrying about overcharging.

It has Mitsubishi’s Misacceleration Prevention System, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High Beam, and a Multi-Around Monitor so needless to say, it’s loaded with latest safety features.

The whole package isn’t flashy and a little bit pricey at P2.998 million, but if tax breaks and incentives for it ever get approved, this should sell very easily because it’s safe, versatile, and super efficient.

Sure, it’s an old model (Mitsubishi even has the fourth-gen selling in some markets around the world) but if we’re ever going to get serious about lowering emissions, the Outlander PHEV Twin Motor 4WD is the future of driving.