Let’s assume you’re lost and have made your way to a Mitsubishi dealership to make an emergency phone call and use the bathroom. Suddenly, the urge to buy a hybrid SUV overtakes you and you involuntarily find yourself asking a salesperson to direct you to the nearest model. They have several available and walk you over to the Outlanders, where they totally bypass the new models to show you the previous-generation PHEV.
It costs substantially more than the current, fourth-generation utilities — all of which are powered exclusively by liquid fuel and look nicer. But you can’t help yourself. Before you realize what’s going on, the dealer has invited you back to his office to start the paperwork on your new plug-in hybrid. Too terrified to scream, you walk past the much larger used lot and are handed a pen you’re told you can keep once seated. As you touch it to the documents, black ink flows out endlessly onto the paper and begins traveling up your arm. Panicked, you flail around on the floor as sensory organs begin to fail you and the world goes dark.
You awake drenched in what you hope is sweat and begin sobbing, relieved that it had all been a terrible dream. But the above could be a reality for less-discerning drivers, minus the supernatural elements.
Mitsubishi has continued selling the previous Outlander PHEV to make up for the fact that the current SUV offer doesn’t have one. While not nearly as bad of a vehicle as some of us like to pretend, the third-gen model couldn’t be called graceful or polished and its hybrid powertrain (updated in a bid to remain competitive) has been outclassed by enough rivals to avoid any serious recommendations.
But that might not be the case for much longer, as Mitsubishi recently confirmed that it will be offering a new Outlander PHEV based on the new platform in 2022. Details are limited but it’s supposed to address the shortcomings of the aged third-generation model by bringing over improvements from gen four.
These include a substantially upgraded cabin, cramped third-row seating (clearly intended for children), and a general sense of refinement from behind the wheel thanks to Mitsubishi collaborating with Nissan to basically offer a cheaper version of the Rogue. When combined with the brand’s rather good 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the standard model even makes for a fairly compelling value proposition — something we hope carries over to the forthcoming PHEV.
Unfortunately, pricing is TDB. But Nissan hasn’t said anything about bringing a hybridized Rogue to market, giving the upcoming Mitsubishi some time to shine when it goes on sale in the second half of 2022. For now, the manufacturer was only willing to state that the next Outlander hybrid will offer improved battery capacity and a stronger electric motor than its predecessor. That means an all-electric range surpassing 24 miles and likely a combined output exceeding 221 horsepower.
We’ll have to wait to see how it stacks up against other high-riding PHEVs. But my own nostalgia for Mitsubishi makes it difficult to root against the brand and North America always needs more value-oriented vehicles that aren’t abysmal to drive.
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