Everything about the Tesla Model Y looks like the car of the future. From its pod shape, to its silent but explosive acceleration, to its all-encompassing infotainment screen with no physical buttons, the electric-car maker’s new entry-level crossover is more about sensibly reducing gasoline usage. It gives you a peek into the decades to come, and it gives you a rollicking good time while you do it. It’s not just an electric car, but a special vehicle that triggers a powerful emotional response. This is one way to electrify an SUV.
Then there’s Mitsubishi’s way: the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport PHEV. All-electric cars eventually run out of charge, even long-range models like Teslas. So Mitsubishi made a plug-in hybrid whose gasoline engine can help out when you use up the battery or need more power. To keep costs down, the battery isn’t huge and the motors aren’t wildly powerful. And Mitsubishi already makes many gas-powered crossovers, so rather than wasting resources to develop a new one, it retrofitted electric components into its flagship model, the compact Outlander.
The result is a left-brain approach to the segment — the Outlander PHEV makes perfect sense, but it’s an improved present rather than the future. At best, you’ll feel something between mildly impressed and grudgingly accepting. It’s hard to imagine falling in love.