The 2023 Outlander PHEV Could Save Mitsubishi From the Grave, Here's How

Mitsubishi Outlander 7 photos
Photo: Mitsubishi
Outlander PHEVOutlander PHEVOutlander PHEVOutlander PHEVOutlander PHEVOutlander PHEV
People don't seem to understand just how close Mitsubishi Motors came to going you-know-what's up in the 21st century. It was as if the death of the Evo 10 heralded a time when Mitsu's American passenger car business had taken a lower priority to the higher-ups in Japan.
How do we know this? Well, have you looked at the Eclipse Cross lately? Believe it or not, the Eclipse Cross used to look even worse. But beyond an iconic drop-top sports car repackaged as a drab crossover SUV, there was a sense that Mitsubishi was phoning it in a bit.

This was especially the case in the second half of the 2010s. Gone was the Lancer, Gallant, Eclipse, and Lancer Evo. All that remained were a couple of antiquated SUVs, crossovers, and the pipsqueak Mirage as their final non-SUV North American offering. A pity, wasn't it?

As North Americans know it especially, the third generation Outlander wasn't always much to write home about. Hitting the market in 2012, the all-wheel-drive, seven-seater SUV perpetually found itself being out-marketed and therefore outsold by other offerings in its segment like the Honda Pilot and CRV, and Toyota 4-Runner and RAV4, cars the Outlander was slotted in-between size-wise. Not to mention, also outsold by objectively worse vehicles like the Chevy Equinox and GMC Acadia.

Happily, the Plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander was an altogether different story. At a time when Mitsubishi was arguably at their lowest point in history, the Outlander PHEV was pound for pound the leader of its class. It was just enough of a success to merit a fourth-generation Outlander in North America.

Outlander PHEV
Photo: Mitsubishi
As the 2020s rolled around, there was a real sense that Mitsubishi was in its final chapter in North America. Their withdrawal from the United Kingdom market in late 2021 did little to help concerns.

But by-golly, Mitsubishi managed to pull off one heck of a miracle with the fourth-generation Outlander. Suddenly, for the first time in what feels like decades, there may be a real reason to consider Mitsubishi over Honda and Toyota in the full-sized, plug-in electric SUV segment in 2022.

From top to bottom, there's a whole lot to like about the new Outlander. Bold but not outrageous styling is a nice change from a brand as conservative as Mitsubishi has been over the last ten years or so.

At a time when prime competitors like the Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-9 are going big or going home, Mitsubishi was wise to throw as much pizzaz and style behind their new SUV. It's not objectively beautiful, but then again, not every SUV can be a second-gen Acura MDX.

Outlander PHEV
Photo: Mitsubishi
Even so, by 2021, more work was needed before the successor to the smash-hit Outlander was ready to hit the market. So the previous generation was given one more model year while final preps were made on a new one.

Hey, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. But with the preparations made and the all-new 2023 Outlander PHEV ready to hit the road any day, there's more than a lot to be excited about. And no, we're not saying it out of irony, for once.

Estimates from the media peg the full-electric range of the new Outlander PHEV of 30 to 45 miles. Not all that impressive by itself, but in conjunction with a larger 20 kWh battery and peppy 2.4-liter inline-four cylinder gas engine, you've got a combination that, at the very least, won't be slow.

Unlike the previous Outlander PHEV, the new one will sport the same seven-seater arrangement. The same one, the standard fourth-generation Outlander, touts as one of its primary selling points. It's an un-side that surely has the Nissan Rogue intimidated.

Outlander PHEV
Photo: Mitsubishi
If the new Outlander PHEV performs as well or better than its forbearers, it could put Mitsubishi in a position to finally revitalize their entire lineup. We're talking from top to bottom here. Does that mean a new Lancer Evolution at some point down the road? Well, if the Outlander in its standard and PHEV forms perform well, it'd be much less of a long shot.
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