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2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to get major powertrain upgrades

Back in 2018, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV received a significant update in other global markets. The U.S.-spec model, however, stayed mostly unchanged. Until now that is. If this California Air Resources Board (CARB) filing is any indication, the Outlander PHEV is poised to become competitive among other plug-in hybrid compact SUVs thanks to these upgrades finally finding their way into North American-spec vehicles. This is right in line with Mitsubishi’s announcement earlier this year, stating that significant changes are coming to the Outlander PHEV.

The CARB filing reveals a number of big changes for the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder replaces the current 2.0-liter unit while the lithium-ion battery’s size increase to 13.8 kWh from 12 kWh. As a result, total EV range is stated at 37 miles, a 15-mile increase over the current Outlander PHEV and just 5 miles less than the Toyota RAV4 Prime, its closest competitor. In other global markets, the Outlander PHEV’s powertrain tweaks also coincided with other improvements like a stiffer, more rigid body, quicker steering, revised dampers, and two new drive modes: Snow and Sport. Expect those to also be part of the major refresh for the North American-spec vehicles.

Although Mitsubishi hasn’t revealed the extent of changes coming to their North American lineup, it won’t come as a surprise if the Outlander PHEV isn’t the only one getting major upgrades. The same plug-in hybrid powertrain detailed in the CARB filing for the 2021 Outlander PHEV has already found its way into the refreshed Eclipse Cross. That variant is already on sale in Mitsubishi’s home market of Japan and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if it ended up in North America. With the powertrain already emissions tested and approved for the Outlander PHEV, it wouldn’t cost much for Mitsubishi to bring the Eclipse Cross PHEV across the Pacific.

Having the Outlander PHEV and Eclipse Cross PHEV would help the Mitsubishi brand. As the Japanese automaker focuses more on electrification to reclaim its former glory, both of these SUVs and their complex powertrains are ways to show that it still knows how to innovate.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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