Based on the popular Mitsubishi Outlander, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV looks like it’s fossil-fueled counterpart on the outside. What makes it special, however, is the way it combines and delivers electric and petrol power under the same shell.

The technologically advanced 2018 Outlander PHEV(Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) uses a fuel efficient 2 liter, 4 cylinder, petrol engine, pushing out 117 hp and 137 lb-ft when in non-electric mode and twin 60 kW AC synchronous permanent magnet motors, each powering one axle, when in full electric mode.

At the front, there is a PDU (Power Delivery Unit), which controls the front motor and petrol-powered generator, which helps charge the batteries. Mounted below the rear storage area, there is something called EMCU (Electronic Motor Control Unit), which is responsible for just the rear motor.

Charging the 12 kWh lithium-ion battery on the go is achieved with the use of regenerative braking, or to be specific, while coasting or pressing the brake pedal. Once either of those happens, the electric motors become generators and feed the one-off battery electric juice.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Image Credit: Mitsubishi

The magic behind the functionality of the system is handled by the high-tech brains of the Outlander PHEV, automatically deciding on one of three drive modes.

While you’re running around town, doing daily chores, you’ll probably opt for the pure EV mode, or EV Drive Mode as Mitsubishi calls it. Zero emission and zero noise at the push of a button.

Now imagine you’ve been driving for a while and the batteries start to get empty or you need to overtake someone, and you stomp the accelerator. In both of those cases, the ECU will kick-in the Series Hybrid Mode, in which the 2-liter petrol engine charges the batteries and helps out the electric motors.

The third mode is the most efficient and suitable for long distance trips. The main power behind this mode is the petrol engine which drives the front wheels. Once you reach a certain speed, a special clutch activates the Parallel Drive Mode and you remain on just the petrol engine. However, if you need some extra oomph, like when going uphill, the electric motors will engage and give you a push. Likewise, if you’re on a constant speed journey, any power that’s not needed to maintain the speed is pushed into the batteries.

Aside from the automatically chosen modes, there are also the modes that the driver can opt for, in which you can save or charge the battery, or reduce the usage of both petrol and fuel with the clever ECO mode.

Inherited from the rally winning Lancer Evolution, the all-wheel-drive S-AWC system is revamped for use in the Outlander PHEV, giving you maximum safety and efficiency while maintaining optimum performance.

The re-engineered system offers something special alongside the usual driving assists. It’s the Twin-Motor 4WD LOCK, available at the press of a button when needed. With this option activated, the twin electric motors act as if you locked a central diff and split the torque in the safest and most usable way possible.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Image Credit: Mitsubishi

The Outlander PHEV specific 12 kWh, 80 cell lithium-ion battery is cleverly placed in a dust and waterproof case underneath the passenger compartment, making sure not to sacrifice passenger comfort. Like with all power-related options on the car, there are three ways you can charge them while not in motion.

If you’re in a hurry, you can use the DC Fast Charge option, which charges you up to 80% in a blistering 25 minutes. And here’s a fact for you. The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the only plug-in hybrid that offers the fast charge option.

If you’re in a residential or public 240 V area, you can recharge in under four hours, while the standard 120 V charge will top you up in under eight hours.

The 120 V plugs inside the cargo and rear seat area can also be used to draw up to 1500 W from the batteries when you’re outdoors, which easily powers portable household appliances.

Tech On The Outside, Comfort On The Inside

All that tech is great, but what about the looks and comfort? Well, the deceiving exterior of the 2018 Outlander PHEV can be had in a number of colors, including a new and exclusive Ruby Black Metallic. Attractive looks are achieved with the gorgeous two-tone 18in wheels, while the power and tilt glass sunroof can be had as an option. There is also a rear privacy glass, which is handy for those that like to peek inside.

On the interior side of things, there’s leather as standard, which also has a new swatch- dark brown with red accents. The infotainment system is available through the 7” display, which can be paired to the optional Rockford Fosgate audio system. The comfy front seats feature eight-way power adjustments, while the exclusive leather is paired to the luscious piano black accenting throughout the cabin.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Image Credit: Mitsubishi

Paddle shifters placed behind the steering wheel are not for the gearbox as this is a single speed car, but it is for choosing between one of six options regarding regenerative braking. There is also a special PHEV cluster, which displays important data about the system through the Energy Meter.

Even though I’m not a family guy or into the crossover, I have to say that I’m impressed with what the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has to offer, especially with its unique hybrid system. With a price tag of around $35000, you’ll have a tough time finding something better, especially because the price is prior to any federal, state or provincial tax incentives. In the US the federal credit is another $5,836.