2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV First Drive: Head Of The Class (Of One)
– Catalina Island, California
There is a small audience for Mitsubishi vehicles in the U.S. While sales have been increasing – the company has experienced 75 percent growth since 2012 – Mitsubishi is still small potatoes in these parts. The company's rebound helped it sell more than 100,000 vehicles in 2016, the first time it had done so since 2007, but remember, Ford sells well over twice that many vehicles each month (many more profitable than the low-cost Mirage).
But Mitsubishi knows what side its sales bread is buttered on: crossovers. The recent resurgence is due to the success of the company's two CUVs, with sales volume for those models up 123 percent in the last year. The Outlander Sport was up 66 percent, while the Outlander was up 250 percent. It must have pained Mitsubishi North America representatives something awful when the automotive press kept bugging them these about the status of its plug-in-hybrid Outlander. We saw earlier versions of the Outlander PHEV do so incredibly well in Europe and Japan, and yet there was no sign of it here – despite repeated promises from Mitsu bosses. “It's coming, it's coming,” they said, but they kept us waiting. Now that it’s finally here (well, once deliveries actually start in January 2018), it's high time to see if Americans will be as enthusiastic about this affordable plug-in CUV as our friends across the oceans.
The Mitsubishi does better than any other plug-in hybrid CUV or SUV in the U.S. when it comes to all-elec...