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I Drove The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid & Now I’m In Love

I Drove The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid & Now I’m In Love

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

From highways to the race track and even off-road, the overhauled Outlander impresses.

I’ve never been one to jump into things too quickly, be it a new romance, a career change, or even a new haircut. I hem, I haw, I wring my hands and debate ad nauseam before taking the plunge. No one is more shocked and delighted (and a little dismayed) to have finally experienced love at first sight; well at first drive, anyway.

That’s right, this is not a car review, it’s a love story. Get into it.

Author with the car

Me and bae in the beautiful woods of Tennessee


I recently had the pleasure of taking part in the 2023 Mitsubishi Motors Summer Drive Program in Tennessee, where I had the opportunity to drive the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid 40th Anniversary Special Edition. Always up for adventure, I jumped at the chance to head out on the road in a new car. After all, not only would I be driving it on the highways of “The Volunteer State’’ but on a bonafide race track, and I was excited to learn their off-roading portion as well (don’t worry, we’ll get there).

But as I slipped into the driver’s seat, took in the car’s quilted interior, and discovered the massage chair function, I felt a rumble not just in my back but in my heart. And that’s just one of the features that contributed to the overall feeling of luxury. For those who have hopped behind the wheel of Outlander models of previous years, it’s time to take another look. The new model has undergone a full redesign and it shows. Every element feels like luxury and comfort was at the forefront of Mitsubishi’s mind. The seats (heated in this case) were comfortable and would accommodate a wide variety of body types. There was plenty of legroom and headroom and though not much bigger than its direct competitor (it's only about an inch wider than the Toyota Rav4 but it just feels grander thanks to its sleek dash design), it felt expansive and roomy inside. Perfect for long road trip adventures.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV interior


Speaking of long road trips, one of the potential drawbacks of all-electric and hybrid vehicles is, of course, range. According to Mitsubishi, the Outlander PHEV has a combined range of 420 miles. For shorter drives, it has a range of 38 miles of 100 percent electric driving and when set to the zero-emission drive modes, it boasts an impressive 64 MPG.

Depending on your needs, you can easily switch between the modes. Normal mode is ideal for everyday use when you’re driving around town and utilizes the twin electric motors and the gas engine together. The EV Priority mode is great for shorter drives that stop the gas engine for an eco-friendly, zero-emission drive. Should you find yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Save Mode prioritizes the gas engine which will save your battery power. Speaking of which, should your battery level get low, the Charge Mode utilizes the gas engine to charge the battery while you drive. The overall effect is one of great flexibility that truly maximizes your range — or you can just keep it in Normal mode and enjoy that 420-mile range.

But enough with the practicalities; let’s talk about how much fun the Outlander is to drive. On freeways, it offers a smooth ride, but once I hit the race track at the Polecat Driving Academy Training Center in Lynchburg, its responsive handling and acceleration were revealed.

Driving the Outlander on the Polecat Training center track.


Nestled in the surrounding lush green hills, this track boasts 14 turns and 120 feet of elevation change over a 2.1 mile stretch. The Outlander took the turns easily and smoothly and accelerating down the stretch was, honestly, exhilarating.

After two laps around the track, I then headed off further into the hills for an offroading trip. Quickly, the black asphalt and open field gave way to rocky terrain and lush vegetation. All models of the Outlander PHEV come with the brand’s AWC all-wheel drive (AWD) and the single powertrain makes for 248 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. In other words, the Outlander was more than up to the task of taking the hills and ravines with ease. Putting it to the test was, in a word, fun. So very fun.

Driving the Outlander on the Polecat Training off-road track


As I handed back the keys, well technically the keyless entry fob, I knew the Outlander PHEV and I would meet again. How impressed was I by this vehicle? Well, let’s just say I started looking up local dealers as soon as I got home.

Yes, this love story is the kind with a happy ending.

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Rachel Shatto