There will be some trade-offs with the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. For example, to account for the hybrid powertrain, the Outlander PHEV ditches the third row and spare tire. The increase in fuel economy drops the fun factor behind the wheel, as this variant isn't very engaging or energetic. However, the different drive modes will maximize charging and range in nearly every situation. And as a bonus, all-wheel drive is there for good measure.
Safety & Tech Features
Range & Efficiency
5-Star Rating From NHTSA
No 3rd Row
No Spare Tire
SUV shoppers looking for fuel economy should put the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) on their list. It comes with DC fast charging, 22 miles of electric-only propulsion, and over 70 combined MPGe. In addition, the Outlander PHEV has a generous list of advanced safety tech, a new upscale interior package, and mild off-road capabilities for those with active lifestyles.
This week, we drove the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT with all-wheen drive.
Mitsubishi Outlander: What’s New For 2020?
The Outlander SEL now has forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams as standard equipment. A second rear USB charging port is now available on SEL trims.
The eight-inch Smartphone-link Display Audio system comes with new graphics and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Features & Options: Comfort & Tech
Our 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT ($41,495) came standard with 18-inch alloy wheels; automatic headlights; fog lights; heated side mirrors; automatic wipers; power liftgate; keyless entry; and push-button start. On the inside, our test vehicle had leather upholstery; power-adjustable heated front seats; 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seats; dual-zone automatic climate control; and a rearview camera.
Tech and connectivity features included three USB ports, and an eight-inch touchscreen display compatible with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Driver safety aids included forward collision alert with pedestrian detection; automatic emergency braking; lane departure warning; blind-spot monitoring; rear cross-traffic alert; and automatic high beams.
Features & Options: Audio & Luxury
Our GT tester included a sunroof; heated steering wheel; multiview camera; dual AC power outlets (replacing the rear USB ports); adaptive cruise control; and an upgraded sound system. A new Mitsubishi Power Sound System replaces the previous Rockford-Fosgate audio unit on GT trims.
A new Premium Interior package ($400) is available for the GT. It added a diamond-quilted leather pattern to the seats, black instrument panel accents, and a black floor console to the inside of our 2020 Outlander PHEV. On the outside we had Pearl White paint ($395).
What Does The Outlander PHEV Cost?
Total MSRP, including destination, for our test vehicle: $43,600. By comparison, the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV starts at $36,295.
Interior Highlights: Comfortable Yet Smaller
Stepping inside the Outlander PHEV reveals the new GT premium interior right away as the diamond-quilted pattern really stands out. The new leather-trimmed seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. The PHEV-specific, four-spoke steering wheel features an EV mode button and a unique shifter on the center console. Five levels of regenerative braking can be selected by the driver at any time using the steering wheel paddle-shifters, which are easily within reach.
We made liberal use of the heated seats and steering wheel as temperatures dropped in the Denver area this week. Front and rear headroom and legroom are unaffected by the extra PHEV hardware in this model. However, the PHEV only has two rows of seats unlike the standard Outlander offering three rows.
Cargo room in the PHEV is affected with a higher rear deck, as cargo capacity behind the second row dips from 34.2 to 30.4 cubic feet. There’s also no temporary spare tire under the floor because the PHEV uses that space for the hybrid hardware, substituting a tire inflation kit instead.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Powertrain
The Outlander PHEV is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 117 horsepower. The engine is mated with two 60-kilowatt electric motors at each axle. These units supply power to all four wheels and give the Outlander PHEV a total system output of 190 horsepower. The front-mounted generator converts mechanical power to electricity and continuously charges the drive battery, while a Power Drive Unit helps to convert the electric power and send it to the front motor.
Electrical power is stored in a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack consisting of 80 cells configured in a series (total voltage of 300V). The battery is located in a dust-proof and waterproof casing beneath the passenger compartment sub-floor and between the front and rear axles. It does not intrude on the interior and passengers won’t know it’s there.
The Outlander PHEV comes with enough battery-only power for an EPA-rated 22 miles, as long as you are on level terrain. It gets an EPA-estimated 74 MPGe and 25 gas-only mpg.
There are three ways to charge the plug-in hybrid system. You can use a 120-volt Level 1 backup cord which takes between eight and 13 hours to recharge. You can use the standard 240-volt Level 2 electric-vehicle charging equipment which takes about 3.5 hours; or you can use the 400-volt Level 3 CHAdeMO charging equipment which fills the battery to 80 percent in just 25 minutes.
Not to worry if you run the battery down to zero. The Outlander PHEV has electric motors at both ends, and uses regenerative braking in which both drive motors are temporarily reconfigured to use their magnetism to turn motion into electricity. So if you are traveling downhill, you’ll notice the battery gauge on the dash refilling as you drive.
Driving Dynamics: Solid But Lacks Energy
The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is an undemanding crossover that’s mostly quiet, comfortable, and well-mannered on the open road. Be that as it may, it can seem a bit soft and detached from the driver. For example, the 2.0-liter engine, coupled with the single speed fixed reduction gear transmission, is designed for fuel economy. It won’t give you the engagement and thrill that other gasoline-only SUVs might.
We pushed the Outlander PHEV hard going up I-70 at 9,000 feet elevation, and it held its own while hauling two people. Add a full complement of kids and gear and it will struggle, however. If you drive in the city, which most families will, the Outlander PHEV will be just fine.
Even though the optional lane-departure warning is a bit annoying, it worked almost too well as we traveled the two-lane mountain roads. Our Outlander PHEV also came with a forward collision mitigation system that notifies the driver when they are following another vehicle too closely. If the driver fails to react, it automatically applies the brakes to reduce the severity of an impact.
Driving Dynamics: Benefits of All-Wheel Drive
Families who want the security of all-wheel-drive will benefit from Mitsubishi’s many years of rally racing where they perfected the system. The system, called S-AWC, sends the optimum torque split to each wheel when driving, even when just one tire is on ice. We were able to test it on a few snow-covered roads in the mountains, and we felt confident.
Should I Buy An Outlander PHEV?
If you need an affordable and efficient SUV, the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is worth considering. It’s an example of how you don’t need to enter the luxury market for plug-in hybrid technology and all-wheel drive capability. As far as all-wheel drive systems go, Mitsubishi has one of the best.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy