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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid

Mitsubishi sales may have desiccated in the U.S., but the company is still chugging along, as evidenced by this rather high-tech Outlander plug-in hybrid for the 2012 Paris auto show. It isn’t presently clear whether the fuel-sipping Outlander plug-in is destined for our shores—it’s based on the recently redesigned gas-powered version—but the crossover is significant if only for its parent company’s current humble position.

Outlying Outlander

The Outlander plug-in hybrid looks nearly identical to the gas-fired version. We dig, if only because the three-row crossover’s sharp, techy exterior styling is reasonably modern looking, if a bit anonymous. Mitsubishi designed the crossover’s platform to accommodate plug-in hybrid gear from the get-go, so none of the hybrid gear intrudes into the interior. Thus plug-in buyers will enjoy the same space as they would in the conventional Outlander.

Outside, the only giveaways that the plug-in is special are a unique grille, a monochrome paint job, LED taillights, and 18-inch wheels. The regular rig features 2.0-liter gas and 2.2-liter diesel engines (in Europe, at least), while the plug-in mates a 2.0-liter, gas-slurping four with two 81-hp electric motors and a 70-kW generator (Mitsubishi has yet to release specs for the engine.) One electric motor lives up front with the gas engine and the generator, while the other takes up residence at the rear axle and powers the rear wheels. Interestingly, the rear electric motor produces 43 additional lb-ft of torque than does the front unit, for a total of 144.

The Outlander plug-in can operate in three drive modes that are engaged automatically: Pure EV, series hybrid, and parallel hybrid. In Pure EV mode, the front and rear electric motors are fed directly by a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Electric-only operation is said to be feasible for up to 34 miles at a maximum speed of 75 mph, and topping off the battery takes just four hours using a 240-volt outlet. Series hybrid operation is possible, in which the gas engine powers only the generator to feed the battery. Otherwise, the Outlander’s gas engine and electric motors work in tandem in parallel hybrid mode; in this case, the gas engine powers only the front wheels via a gear-reduction setup.
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