Mitsubishi Winter Drive Event: Showcasing Outlander PHEV’s Stellar AWD Chops

Recently in beautiful Montreal, Quebec, Pursuitist had the opportunity to do something that was eye-opening and a ton of fun: experience the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on a snow and ice-packed course at the International Center of Advanced Racing (ICAR) in Mirabel, Quebec.

ICAR is a multi-track facility located on the former runways at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport and features a 2.125 mile, 16-turn road course; a skidpad oval; a quarter-mile drag strip; two kart tracks, a driftpark; and an offroad course.

So given the icy conditions during our visit, ICAR was the perfect venue to showcase the Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC), and All-Wheel Drive (AWD) chassis of the 2024 Outlander PHEV.

Did you know Mitsubishi has been a world leader in AWD technology for decades? Subaru, Audi, and other brands get a ton of shine for their all-weather prowess, but Mitsubishi is legendary in the history of off-road and rally racing. Does the success of the Lancer Evolution, affectionately known as the “Evo,” ring a bell for those familiar with racing? My guess would be an emphatic “yes.” So it should be clear that Mitsubishi has the pedigree and technology to make the impressive Outlander PHEV at home in severe environments.

Before we began our Winter Drive experience, we drove from our host hotel to the ICAR circuit. The 2024 Outlander PHEV combines comfort and convenience in a super-affordable package. Remember, this is a three-row, seven-seat Sport Ute, and is an incredible buy given its starting MSRP of $40,345.

Outlander PHEV is powered by three motors: A gasoline 2.4-liter engine up front, and a generator and electric motor attached to the gas engine. At the rear, a single electric motor completes the AWD system.

S-AWC controls driving and braking forces at all four wheels to improve vehicle dynamics. The system uses Longitudinal Torque Distribution, Lateral Torque Vectoring, and 4-wheel Brake Control tuned for all road surfaces, weather and a reduction in driver fatigue – especially during cross-wind events; and while driving on crowned roads which create untoward chassis motions in lesser, non-S-AWC-equipped vehicles.

The 2024 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid achieves an all-electric range of 38 miles. Overall, the PHEV can drive 420 miles from the combined front (85 kW) and rear (100 kW) electric motors and the front 2.4-liter 4-cylinder MIVEC gas engine while outputting 248 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The rear motor is heavier for a RWD bias and the 20-kW battery is centrally located.

During our drive to ICAR, Outlander PHEV was super comfortable on Quebec’s smooth roads, accelerated well, had more than enough leg and headroom for my 6’9” 245-pound frame, and the ride was made more enjoyable thanks to an intuitive telematics system and high quality, great sounding audio system. We also experienced stunning frozen river views along the way.

Upon arrival, it was time to get prepped for our experience. Mitsubishi Senior Director, Communications and Events Jeremy Barnes gave us a program overview.

Next, Kentaro Honda, Mitsubishi’s chief vehicle engineer gave us a technical overview of the Outlander PHEV system.

Following Honda was a presentation by Mitsubishi Engineering Fellow Kaoru Sawase. Sawase-san gave us the “411” on S-AWC control modes, including Snow mode. More on Sawase-san later, as his driving skills match his PhD in engineering knowledge.

Our final pre-drive presentation was on the ICAR circuit we were about to experience. Assembled pro drivers laid out each section of the course, with suggested mode selections, and of course, discussed course safety.

Let’s D0 This!

The assembled fleet of Outlander PHEVs were resplendent in Arctic White livery. The course features in order were: abrupt lane changing, a skid circle, a high-speed cone slalom, another skid circle (higher speed), and finally a high-speed series of turns to charge to the finish line.

My first lap was with a pro instructor riding along, and then it was my turn to go solo. My instructor encouraged me to not only run the course in Snow mode, but also all S-AWC modes (Normal, Eco, Gravel, Power, Tarmac, and Mud) so we could experience the unique characteristics of each mode. We also had at our disposal a “special” mode Mitsubishi engineers dialed into the mode computer just for our drive experience.

Selecting special mode turned off ALL traction and stability aids, and highlighted the skills (and lack thereof!) of assembled media.

What a blast!

From doing great in all S-AWC modes to repeatedly wiping out in “special” mode, the Winter Drive experience was just awesome! Special thanks to our ICAR course instructors, as they really encouraged us to maximize our experience and trust what the Outlander PHEV was capable of.

Our Pro Instructors

After my rookie attempt to master the ICAR course, Kaoru Sawase showed assembled media how to really drive the Outlander PHEV on snow and ice. Wow! Riding shotgun while Sawase-san was dealing behind the wheel, I had memories of the legendary rally dominance of Mitsubishi cars.

Sawase-san driving at 10/10ths!

Yes, there are levels to this, and I thank Sawase-san for showing us what the Outlander PHEV can really do.

The Effect of Winter Tires

Even with the AWD mastery S-AWC delivers, winter driving demands a great set of “snowshoes,” a.k.a. winter tires. In fact, in Quebec where our event occurred, winter tires are required when it snows.

For or drive, our test range-topping SEL-trim snowmobiles were outfitted with 20-inch Yokohama Bluearth Winter V906 tires.

Bluearth winter tires feature an advanced polymer compound for enhanced snow performance, three-dimensional sipes (special, small cuts in the tread) that create thousands of “biting” edges in the battle with ice and snow, and great wet and dry weather performance with long tread life. It’s a very impressive tire and the perfect complement to the S-AWC system.

Yokohama’s Geolandar CV 4S G061 is available on other Outlander trims.

A Truly Worthy Sport-Ute

Our winter drive experience in the 2024 Outlander PHEV was phenomenal. To witness the true all-weather capability shows the Outlander is a bonafide 50-state vehicle. Yes, all of you in the snow belt or the rainy northwest should consider this impressive Sport-Ute for safe, year-round travels.

In summary, the 2024 Outlander PHEV combines great handling and fuel efficiency with a very well-appointed cabin. While a seven-seat Sport Ute, the third row is designed for small children or adults under the five-foot height mark.

Safety is also a major priority for Mitsubishi across all model lines, and our SEL trim tester was outfitted with 39 safety systems/components that helped the Outlander PHEV earn TOP SAFETY PICK from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS is widely viewed and respected for its impartial and thorough crash safety testing program.

With a base price of just over $40,000, and a fully loaded price a tick over $50,000, the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV represents an outstanding buy in the mid-size Sport Utility Vehicle segment.