When it comes to plug-in hybrid SUVs, the Toyota RAV4 Prime is currently the undisputed leader and most attractive option with 302 horsepower, as much as 68 kilometres of zero-emission range and up to $13,000 in total EV incentives (if you happen to live in Quebec).
The RAV4 Prime is blessed with an 18.8-kWh battery whereas the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s battery has a capacity of only 13.8 kWh—below the threshold of 15 kWh set by the federal government to determine which vehicles qualify for the full EV rebate of $5,000. If you ask me, it doesn’t make any sense that a PHEV, which still burns gasoline through its combustion engine, can be put in the same boat as pure electric vehicles.
- Also: 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander: Doomed by the Third Row
- Also: Here’s When the New Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Will Arrive
Now, the RAV4 Prime has a ridiculously long waiting list and extremely high interest rates. Ford’s Escape PHEV has yet to hit the road due to design issues and production delays. So that leaves customers with the aging Outlander PHEV. That is, until the plug-in variants of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento arrive.
Where’s the Love?
Ironically, Mitsubishi Canada doesn’t seem to care about promoting the Outlander PHEV, instead focusing its efforts on the completely redesigned, gas-only 2022 Outlander. They are two separate vehicles, with the former having received some upgrades for 2021.
The powertrain features a more powerful and efficient 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine rated at 126 hp and 149 lb.-ft. of torque. Meanwhile, the 60-kW rear-axle-mounted electric motor has been replaced with a more powerful 70-kW unit. Combined, total system output is increased to 221 hp, up 31 hp from the previous model. The high-voltage battery capacity is up from 12.0 kWh to 13.8 kWh.
The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s official EV range is 39 kilometres, but as we found out in real-world driving you can travel as much as 48 kilometres without burning any gas—enough for a typical daily commute. Oh sure, the weather was perfect, but we had the A/C on a lot of the time. Come winter, though, that range will surely be cut in half (which is also true for the RAV4 Prime, by the way).
Once the battery ran out of electrons, we put the new 2.4-litre mill to the test and it definitely proved more convincing than the old 2.0-litre unit. It’s approximately 10 percent less efficient, however, resulting in a combined fuel consumption of 9.1 L/100 km according to Natural Resources Canada (6.0 L/100 km for the RAV4 Prime).
No matter the situation, the instant torque delivered by the electric motor is always a treat, especially with smooth and linear acceleration from a standstill. When the combustion engine gets going, the Outlander PHEV becomes particularly loud and shows a lack of refinement. On the other hand, it boasts a more competent AWD system than the RAV4 Prime, with super-quick torque distribution between the front and rear axles.
Furthermore, the front differential is able to constantly adjust wheel speed in order to improve stability and handling. Drivers also have the ability to lock torque distribution 50-50 to maximize traction on more challenging surfaces.
Despite the remarkable level of comfort and beautiful leather upholstery, the interior of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is vastly outdated. The displays are pretty basic and technology is nowhere near what you’ll find in the RAV4 Prime. Don’t expect outstanding fit and finish, either, as some cheap plastics remain throughout.
On a positive note, the driving position is adequate and the same can be said about passenger room. Fitting a pair of child seats in the second row is easy, while the trunk has no problem hauling a large stroller, portable baby crib and all the stuff you need to keep your little ones happy. Clearly, this is an excellent family vehicle. One more thing: you can hide the charging cable and other valuable items under the floor of the cargo area.
The lineup starts with the SE, but if you want a heated steering wheel, sunroof and power liftgate you must select the LE, which costs an extra $1,500. In our opinion, the most interesting model is the Black Edition. This one adds 18-inch dark alloy wheels, black accents instead of the usual chrome, as well as quilted leather seats.
Pricing for the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ranges from $46,098-$54,098 including destination. The RAV4 Prime is barely more expensive in base trim, though most customers end up picking the XSE Technology package at $59,105.
As mentioned earlier, the wait for the RAV4 Prime is ridiculously long—up to 24 months approximately—making the Outlander PHEV seem like a compelling alternative. However, the folks at Mitsubishi told us allotments for Canada are not what they used to be, mainly because there’s a brand new generation coming for 2023 (based on the 2022 Outlander). You should still consider the outgoing model due to its proven reliability and unbeatable warranty.