Mitsubishi Motor Company recently disclosed details about the highly anticipated 2014 Outlander plug-in hybrid, scheduled to be released in Japan on January 24th. According to Mitsubishi, the Outlander PHEV is its “most important vehicle sold in decades.” This is a particularly bold claim coming from the car company who just last year released the i-MiEV (review here), a well-received all-electric vehicle.
The base price is ¥3,324,000 and its highest‐level factory model goes for about ¥4,297,000, approximately $38,972 to $50,380 U.S. at the current exchange rate. In Japan, the crossover qualifies for the “eco‐car” government incentives, which slashes about $5,000 off its cost, making the Outlander’s starting price as low as $33,471.
While the Outlander PHEV is an interesting, eco crossover entry, it should not be expecting an open season in the U.S. market. Probable competitors include the current Toyota Rav4 EV (review here) and the soon to be released Tesla Model X. However, these cars are both electric vehicles, making them only suitable for short trips. Tesla is attempting to overcome these shortcomings, claiming that its nationwide “supercharger network” will be finished sometime in late 2014. Considering Tesla’s reputation for sticker shock, the Model X is unlikely to be vying for Mitsubishi’s more modest market.
The Outlander PHEV is powered by Mitsubishi’s Plug-in Hybrid EV System, a multi-mode drivetrain, which combines two independent electric motors, a 12kWH lithium–ion battery pack, and a 2.0L four-cylinder MIVEC gas-powered engine. The gas engine is rated at 117 hp and 137 lb.-ft of torque. This “motor à trois” gives the Outlander PHEV an estimated 37 mile range on electric only, hybrid mpg of 44, and a combined fuel efficiency of 175 mpg.
Mitsubishi added that quick-charging will be an available option. This feature allows the Outlander PHEV to charge the battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes, undoubtedly a useful element when charging the crossover away from home. Also available is a plug‐in system that allows the vehicle to power other sources at 100 volts AC and up to 1,500 watts.
The Outlander PHEV will come in five trim levels. Four “G levels,” which include the barebones G, the G Safety Package featuring the “e-Assist” advanced safety technology system, the G Navi Package with an on-board navigation system, and the G Premium Package, which boasts a Rockford Fosgate Premium Sound System and leather-upholstered seats. The fifth trim level is the prestigious E, which is made-to‐order to the customer’s specifications.
Design wise, the 2014 Outlander was given a moderate facelift. The headlights have been narrowed and swept back further. The front has been squared off, giving the crossover a more robust, yet streamlined appearance. It is unknown whether or not this Japanese market design (as well as its price tag) will carry over to its later international release.