By Kimatni D. Rawlins
It was a thrilling, adrenalin-pumping visit to Quebec’s beautiful, chill lands to experience the cold-weather capabilities of the new 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) at the ICAR Complex in Montreal. The specific focus of this winter test drive was to highlight the benefits of Super All-Wheel Control, aka S-AWC, which is Mitsubishi’s patented all-wheel drive (AWD) system. Engineered in Japan and paired with Yokohama BlueEarth V906 winter tires, the PHEV literally maneuvered on the frozen surface like hockey players on ice skates!
The splendor of Montreal can be felt upon landing, so of course, I began preparing for Winter Wonderland activities immediately. Mitsubishi Motors and its SUV fleet from the “Land of the Rising Sun” have strategic ties to Canada. Thus, it was no coincidence that ICAR was chosen as the host venue for showcasing S-AWC. Founded in 2008 on what used to be an international airport, the racing complex offers luxury facilities and services, preventive safety driving courses, a 2.11-mile race track, a quarter-mile acceleration track, a karting center, drift park, an off-road trail, and the winter track we performed on with a group of white Outlander PHEVs.
With 21 years of Outlander perusing U.S. roads, 2023 marked the best sales year ever for the utility. The seven-seat, three-row SUV can be a winner for consumers looking for a crossover blessed with talent, sporty styling, rugged capabilities, extended range, and value. There is also a new for 2024 Platinum Edition highlighted by a Black Diamond Metallic and Alloy Silver color scheme, a Light Grey leather interior, and a unique accessory package. The brand is still growing and needs additional recognition for familiarity, which is why Mitsubishi tapped into the talents of actress Rashida Jones for commercial spots and DJ Khaled for musical connections. Moreover, Hispanics and African-American buyers of Mitsubishis represent 21% of sales.
The 2024 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid achieves an all-electric range of 38 miles. Overall, the PHEV can drive 420 miles from the combined front (85 kW) and rear (100 kW) electric motors and the front 2.4-liter 4-cylinder MIVEC gas engine while putting out 248-horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. The rear motor is heavier for a RWD bias and the 20 kW battery is centrally located.
A confident driver is a safer driver, making S-AWC special. I certainly felt confident behind the wheel during several skill and safety demonstrations on the ice, including an autocross, slalom, and circular skid pad. Offering traction, stability, and handling performance, S-AWC has been around since 2007 on the Evolution and 2010 for the Outlander XLS. In fact, the godfather of S-AWC, Sawase-san, Chief Engineer at Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in Japan, was in attendance to take media on professional hot laps as a testament to the AWD system’s incredible technologies. This man belongs in a rally series because he’s that gifted!
The Outlander PHEV’s S-AWC creates superior gripping and agility capabilities for various driving tasks. The dual-motor arrangement uses the rear motor to drive the rear axle and the front motor to drive the front axle. Moreover, the Outlander PHEV moves dramatically from right to left with aplomb when an explosive maneuver is required thanks to Lateral Torque Vectoring. Additionally, S-AWC has been upgraded with seven drive modes to tackle adverse weather or venture effortlessly through snowy, rainy, or muddy terrain as I witnessed at ICAR. The modes include Normal, Eco, Gravel, Power, Snow, Tarmac, and Mud. We tested Snow mode (less initial torque) against Normal and Eco to understand how fitting Snow is for Canadian-type environments. However, Sawase-san put the vehicle in Gravel mode (more intentional lateral slip) and turned off Dynamic Stability Control to demonstrate the capability of S-AWC as a stand-alone system.
I was impressed by the chiseled body, aggressive “Dynamic Shield” grille, dazzling 20” two-tone alloy rims, tall robotic headlamps, power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, and the curated interior that immediately caught my attention. According to Mitsubishi, the design ethos manifested from the phrase “I-Fu-Do-Do,” which equates to “authentic and majestic” in Japanese. On the road to ICAR, the Outlander PHEV felt smooth, quick, and energetic. The vehicle will attempt to seek the electric motors as the first power source unless you are aggressive on the throttle. In this instance, the MIVEC will take precedence. Two familiar settings are EV and HEV, which can be selected depending on whether you are cruising around the city at slower speeds or heading out of town on longer and faster routes.
The charging port is located on the rear passenger side of the Outlander PHEV. It will take 6.5 hours to charge the 350v lithium-ion battery using a 240v level-2 charger and 38 minutes for level 3 DC fast charging (up to 80%). An Innovative pedal operation mode enables the driver to use one pedal for acceleration and braking for most driving scenarios.
Inside the PHEV I enjoyed the double-pained windows for noise reduction, genuine aluminum trim, multi-view cameras, smartphone wireless charging, window shades, 100v AC power sources, physical knobs on the touchscreen, dynamic navigation graphics, and the 9-speaker Bose premium sound system. However, Mitsubishi needs to increase the size of the infotainment system since 9″ is small by today’s standards. In the rear, the third row folds out from the floor, but its use is for emergencies or small kids since long hauls would be uncomfortable.
Safety and convenience packages come in the form of Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Attention Alert, Automatic High Beam, and Hill Descent Control to name a few. Mitsubishi’s Global Warming plan will help establish a sustainable society by reducing the CO2 emissions of its new vehicles by 40% by 2030, with PHEVs as the focal point. The long-term goal is to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050. This platform is not new to the brand as Mitsubishi first experimented with electrification in 1971 with the MINICA EV and sold a prior Outlander PHEV in other countries.
With no federal incentives available since the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is not built in America, the starting MSRP is just $40,345. My outfitted package in Canada totaled $51,835. Also, expect the Mitsubishi Motors Confidence plan consisting of a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, five years of roadside assistance, and two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
Unquestionably, progress must continue for Mitsubishi to take over the consciousness of auto buyers since Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and Kia also come to mind when you think of Asian auto brands. But the plan is simple for the brand as customers only need to experience the Outlander PHEV’s stellar visualization and grappling S-AWC capabilities to become believers.