While it has yet to go on sale in the U.S., the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid has proven itself incredibly popular with plug-in car buyers around the world. In fact, the mid-size plug-in hybrid crossover SUV has proven so popular in Japan, the UK and mainland Europe that it has given the Japanese automaker some of its most profitable years on record.
With 20 miles of all-electric range, CHAdeMO DC quick charging port, all-wheel drive capabilities, exemption from the London congestion charging fee and eligibility for the UK Government’s outgoing £5,000 plug-in car grant, the Outlander PHEV is more popular than the the all-electric Nissan LEAF hatchback in many parts of the UK. In the UK alone last year, 83 percent of all Mitsubishi Outlanders sold were plug-in hybrids.
In fact, it’s done an excellent job in cementing itself as the socially-acceptable choice for those who want a 4×4 but can’t face the usual tailpipe emissions of one.
Like the rest of the Mitsubishi Outlander family, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been given a mild refresh for 2016, sporting a new sportier, more agressive face that adopts the same X-shaped grille seen on other Mitsubishi models. There are also some tweaks to the vehicle’s drivetrain and energy management system in an attempt to make it smoother on the road and more energy efficient.
And as Mitsubishi told us this morning, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV also gets two brand-new high-end trim options for 2016, extending the model’s appeal toward the premium market. While we understand these two trim options are intended only for UK market models at this time, we think it hints at what we can expect from the U.S. specification 2017 Outlander PHEV when it launches stateside next year.
The two new trim options — GX5 and GX5hs respectively — sit above the previous GX4 and GX4hs at the top of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV lineup. Costing £43,399 and £45,499 respectively before UK Government plug-in grants, they add a host of new features designed to enhance both the car’s looks and functionality.
The Outlander PHEV GX5h adds a premium Nappa leather seats with padded door cards and handbrake in a choice of three different colours: Claret Red, Porcelain Beige, or Gunmetal Grey. It also adds fully heated rear seats, as well as front and rear blue LED mood lighting, LED interior lights, puddle lamps, and twin rear USB charging ports. The steering wheel is heated, and there’s also a fully electric sunroof and auto-dimming rear view mirror to make driving more pleasurable for the driver.
The audio system gets an upgrade too, adding a premium Alpine audio system which includes a 420-watt, 6-channel amplifier with DSP and digital radio with Bluetooth, USB and SD card connectivity. There’s an upgraded infotainment system too, with satellite navigation as standard as well as a 360-degree parking camera system.
Outside meanwhile, the Outlander PHEV GX5h comes with LED exterior fog and high-beam lights, as well as LED numberplate light and charge port door light.
The even higher-trim Outlander PHEV GX5hs adds forward collision detection system, lane departure warning system and a system designed to prevent unintended acceleration.
Of course, these two new additions to the Outlander PHEV lineup aren’t exactly cheap, but it’s clear that Mitsubishi is eager to extend the appeal of its best-selling plug-in to buyers who would ordinarily choose a premium marque like Volvo, Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
Indeed, with the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid and Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid both due to launch in the UK soon, we think Mitsubishi’s decision to increase the premium appeal of the Outlander PHEV is not coincidental.
So far, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has enjoyed its runaway success, helped in part by it being the only plug-in hybrid SUV in its market segment. But with premium marques now starting to realize the plug-in hybrid as a vehicle — as well as its impending introduction into the U.S. market, where buyers expect far more premium features for less — it’s clear Mitsubishi is well aware of how its position could change in the near future.
After all, with plug-in hybrids coming from all the major premium brands — and Tesla’s all-electric Model X due to ramp up production in the next few months — Mitsubish has a lot more competition than it did this time last year.
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