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A New Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Generation in 2021?

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Since the end of 2018, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid sold in Europe has been equipped with a more efficient powertrain. Rumours about the possible arrival of this new configuration in versions sold on the North American market have been floating around for a little over a year. This time, the information that's filtering through seems to give us a more precise idea of what's to come.

The AutoGuide website reviewed documents that Mitsubishi has filed with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) regarding the ocmpany’s 2021 product line. These show a 126-hp, 2.4L 4-cylinder engine as a replacement for the 117-hp, 2.4L 4-cylinder that powers our current plug-in Outlander.

The European version of the PHEV features a 133-hp, 2.4L, 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine, while promising "higher torque, smoother operation and higher overall efficiency. The 13.8-kWh battery (our present Outlander PHEV has a 12 kWh battery), and the 93-hp rear electric motor are the same as those found overseas. The electric motor on the front axle offers the same capacity at 80 hp.

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Photo: D.Boshouwers

Unless Mitsubishi is hiding something from us, the documents describe the next generation of the Outlander, which should be launched later this year. The Outlander will use a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance platform, the same architecture that will be used in the next Nissan Rogue 2021, a vehicle that's eagerly awaited at Nissan.

There's only a 0.3-inch difference between the current Outlander and Rogue, and both are set to get a little bigger. In this light, the two companies using a common platform makes a lot of sense. The exterior of the new Outlander will be inspired by the Engelberg Tourer concept, with vertically oriented headlights, a revised grille and a more-massive rear spoiler.

If Mitsubishi also integrates the rest of the improvements made to the international versions of the plug-in Outlander, we'll get a more-powerful generator and new Sport and Snow drive modes.

Suspension and four-wheel-drive lockup have also been strengthened on the current version, but with a new generation, we expect more-substantial revisions touching on both hardware and software.

The big question will be how much range the next-generation model delivers. The current 35 km or so is nothing to write home about, let’s say. During the test cycle in Japan, the new powertrain increased the all-electric driving range from 60.8 to 65 km.