Mitsubishi's 2020 Outlander fails to impress with EV system

We’ve been fans of Mitsubishi’s Outlander compact crossover ever since it arrived in the United States 17 years ago. It has proved to be Mitsubishi’s most durable entry in the U.S. market, having outlasted the Diamante, Galant, Lancer, Montero and a dozen other models over the years. For 2020, Mitsubishi ups the ante with desirable safety systems as standard equipment in most Outlanders, and continues to offer a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version.

The Outlander we tested was the full-dress model, the PHEV GT. Its price was on the high side — $43,600 — and we were unimpressed with the capabilities of its EV system. Having charged it to capacity overnight, we expected it to get us all the way from Bethel to our job site in Waterbury on battery power alone. No such luck. The gasoline engine kicked in about 15 miles into the trip, well short of the advertised 22-mile battery range.

Buyers who choose the Outlander PHEV also give up the third-row seat, standard in conventionally powered Outlanders, thanks to the space needs of the lithium ion battery pack. And the gasoline tank holds just 11.3 gallons, compared with a robust 16.6 gallons in gasoline-only models equipped with the 2.4-liter engine.

Still, the Outlander had some likable qualities, beginning with its conservative yet attractive styling. While sales of the Outlander are fairly brisk — more than 71,000 2019 Outlanders and the smaller Outlander Sports were sold — it’s not the same crossover everyone else is buying. The warranties are longer than most — 10 years or 100,000 miles, powertrain; five years, 60,000 miles, new vehicle limited warranty; seven years or 100,000 miles, anti-corrosion/perforation; and five years, unlimited miles, roadside assistance. Non-hybrid Outlanders also have third-row seating, a feature rarely seen in smaller crossovers. For some families, this is a high-value item.

We’ve downgraded earlier-model Outlanders for having interior plastics and fabrics that felt cheap. The 2020 Outlander GT seemed to have better-quality materials than were found in its predecessors.

The Outlander was among the best-handling crossovers in its early days, but has grown softer and less edgy over the years. It still handles well enough to satisfy most drivers, and rides comfortably. Mitsubishi’s Super All-wheel-control system is designed to make handling more predictable.

Our test car was loaded with comfort and convenience features, as well as the most desirable safety systems — blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic control, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, land-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. All of these features, with the exception of adaptive cruise control, are standard on Outlander trim levels LE and above. The Outlander LE, without the PHEV system and with a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, is base-priced at $27,295.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT S-AWC

Price: $43,600

Engine: plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid system with 2.0-liter inline Four, 190 horsepower combined

Transmission: single-speed fixed-reduction automatic

Drive: all-wheel control

Ground clearance: 7.3 in.

Weight: 4,222 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 18x7-in. multispoke alloy

Tires: P225/55R18 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 30.4 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 62.8 cu. ft.

Towing capacity: 3,500 lb.

Fuel capacity: 11.3 gal.

Fuel economy: 74 mpge, electricity-gasoline; 25 mpg, gasoline only

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline, electricity

The Outlander earned an overall 5-star rating in U.S. government crash tests.

Steven Macoy ( is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.