OUTLANDER PHEV - Tires: 225/55R18; Wheelbase: 105.1 inches; Length: 184.8 inches; Weight: 4,178 pounds; Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear; Steering: electric power; Gas only: 25 mpg; Combined gas+electric: 74 MPGe; Base price: $41,495; Website: www.mitsubishicars.com.

We have driven several versions of the Mitsubishi Outlander with the somewhat OK 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and 3.0-liter V6 power trains under the hood. But recently, we test drove the five-passenger SUV with a 2.0-liter engine, putting out 117 horsepower @ 4500 rpm and 137 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm.

And yes, it is a PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), which adds an electric charge feature, enabling the five-passenger SUV to go up to 22 miles without using gas. The charge port, located in the passenger’s side rear fender, uses a 240-volt system that can take four hours or a 120 volt consuming about eight hours. You can essentially go 310 miles on a tank (11.3 gallons) with its gas, hybrid and plug-in electric features. Tow capacity is satisfactory at 1,500 pounds.

The 4-cylinder gasoline engine is mated to twin electric motors (each 60 kW) and a 70kW generator, which are powered by a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery. That is adequate enough to put out a total of 197 hp while paired to a single-speed transmission. The SUV does offer a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the ride is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the battery.

Though a plug-in hybrid, the Outlander shows off a bold look with LED headlights and fog lamps surrounding dark chrome grille accents, front bumper silver accents and roof spoiler. The cabin is spacious with a passenger volume of 101 cubic ft. The seven-inch touch navigation and display audio interface is easy to operate. The black instrument panel with silver accents conveys elegance found in high-end vehicles.

Keep an eye on the rounded energy meter for fuel savings, which displays charge, eco and power readings. Several goodies are offered, such as dual auto A/C, leather tilt/telescopic leather steering column and shifter, eight-way power seats, driver information center, 60/40 rear seat, power liftgate and sunroof, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system with nine speakers, under floor cargo hold and a rear seat armrest with two cup holders.

Dual front and side airbags, a side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, active stability and traction control, hill start assist, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, anti-theft alarm, rear camera, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist and lane departure warning, front pedestrian impact crumple zones, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

This Outlander is an excellent gas/electric/plug-in hybrid effort from Mitsubishi. It has ample power to ensure a smooth ride with good balance and handling. Besides, there is also generous cargo/passenger space though fuel mileage could be better.

That it comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain and a five-year or 60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty is a plus. Lest we forget, the lithium-ion battery is also covered for 10-year/100,000 miles.

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