Review: 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Forgoes Built-In Navigation in Favor of CarPlay

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Apr 12, 2001
    #1
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    Mitsubishi isn't one of the biggest-selling car manufacturers in the U.S. these days, but the Japanese automaker has been rebounding substantially in recent years thanks in large part to its focus on the popular crossover segment, led by the Outlander.

    The Mitsubishi Outlander has been offered in a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant for the last few years, and I've been testing out a brand-new 2019 model of the Outlander PHEV just as the first units are starting to roll out to dealers around the country.

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    In the U.S. at least, changes from the 2018 model are primarily cosmetic aside from some tweaks to the suspension, noise and vibration reduction, and comfort. 2019 models in other countries are seeing some more substantial upgrades under the hood, but those have yet to make their way into the U.S. models.

    The U.S. version of the 2019 Outlander PHEV offers a 2.0 L 4-cylinder gas engine paired with dual 60 kW electric motors and a 12 kWh Li-ion battery. Operating solely on electric power, the Outlander PHEV can drive up to 22 miles depending on conditions, while it gets 25 MPG in gasoline-only mode, for a combined rating of 74 MPGe. But with a relatively small 11.3-gallon gas tank to make room for the batteries, overall range is only a little over 300 miles.

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    Level 1/2 (left) and CHAdeMO (right) charging ports

    A 110-120 V Level 1 charging cable is included with the Outlander for charging from a standard electrical outlet, and it offers the ability to switch between 8 A and 12 A charging options. A full charge requires approximately 13 hours at 8 A or 8 hours at 12 A. For faster charging, you can use a 220-240 V Level 2 charging device, which takes about 3.5 hours for a full charge, or a CHAdeMO quick charger at a public charging station to deliver an 80 percent charge in about 25 minutes. The battery is also charged on the go through regenerative braking with steering mounted paddle shifters to adjust the regenerative braking force.

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    My test vehicle was the high-end GT S-AWC trim, which checks in at just over $42,500 before federal tax credits and includes a number of upgrades and option packages as part of the trim level. The lower-level SEL S-AWC trim starts around $35,000 before tax breaks.

    Smartphone Link Display Audio

    Mitsubishi offers a 7-inch touchscreen standard in the Outlander PHEV with an infotainment system it calls Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA). CarPlay and Android Auto support are also standard on all PHEV trims, although SDA and CarPlay/Android are not available on the base ES trim of the regular Outlander.

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    Mitsubishi's Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA) home screen

    What's interesting about Mitsubishi's SDA system is that there is no embedded navigation available in U.S. models, with users instead needing to rely on CarPlay or Android Auto for their navigation needs. I spoke with Bryan Arnett, Mitsubishi's senior manager for accessory development and advanced technology, and he explained to me that the company made the decision to remove embedded navigation as an option in the United States as of 2016 models for several interrelated reasons.

    One of the key aspects had to do with cost, as navigation packages frequently cost in excess of $1,000 on top of other options, so only a portion of users even purchased cars with built-in navigation. In addition, embedded navigation systems need to be regularly updated to ensure they have the latest maps and points of interest, and even when Mitsubishi offered map updates free of charge, users were slow to update.

    Embedded navigation systems also can have difficulty competing with smartphone options that owners are already used to in terms of interface and the overall user experience, so Mitsubishi made the decision to go all-in on CarPlay and Android Auto to provide navigation using devices customers already have. Arnett told me that customer feedback on this move has been great, with users increasingly preferring their phones over embedded navigation.

    That said, Mitsubishi is part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which late last year announced that it will be among a number of car manufacturers moving to adopt Google's Android OS to drive their future infotainment systems. The move will allow users to access built-in versions of Google Maps and other services, although CarPlay will continue to be supported. The Alliance is planning to start rolling out vehicles with Android OS-based systems in 2021.

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    SiriusXM screen in SDA

    As for the current SDA system in the Outlander PHEV, the 7-inch display is framed by a small power/volume knob at the lower left corner and a vertical strip of fixed touch icons along the right side. These icons include a Home button to take you back to the SDA home screen from wherever you are, including in CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as an Apps button that offers a persistent, one-touch option to take you into CarPlay or Android Auto.

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    Pop-up menu in SiriusXM screen

    There's also an Audio button to take you directly to the SDA audio functions and cycle through the various audio sources (including CarPlay's Music app), and a Menu button that pops up a panel at the lower right where you can access settings and other options depending on which SDA screen you're on.

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    FM radio screen in SDA

    In general, Mitsubishi has worked to ensure that the SDA system is intuitive by limiting submenus and making sure everything you need should be no more than two taps away. That's certainly the case with most functions, but I feel like there are some areas where the interface could use some improvements.

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    Phone keypad in SDA

    In particular, the SDA system could use a visual overhaul with modernization of icon and button designs, and some functions such as the SiriusXM screen feel quite cluttered. I recognize that SiriusXM offers a lot of features and I appreciate Mitsubishi's effort to make them all accessible, but I feel like there could definitely be some streamlining.

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    Second page of SDA home screen showing EV-related icons

    As a plug-in hybrid, the Outlander PHEV has a good bit more going on technology-wise than most other cars, and so the SDA system has been augmented to handle that. There are a number of home screen icons for PHEV-specific functions such as vehicle info on charging state and power flow, timed air conditioning and charging settings, and more.

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    EV eco-related data

    Climate controls are handled strictly through separate hardware controls located below the infotainment system, although you do get a brief climate setting overlay on the screen when you make an adjustment. There's also an Air Conditioning icon on the SDA home screen that displays the current climate control settings, but you can't make any adjustments through the touchscreen.

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    Hardware climate controls at bottom with display-only climate information app in SDA

    CarPlay

    CarPlay uses a wired connection in the Outlander PHEV, which is unsurprising given how slow wireless CarPlay has been to take off. There's a single USB-A port near the bottom of the center stack, which comes with a rubberized plug cover that feels a little unnecessary and just seems to get in the way if you plan to be plugging and unplugging a USB cable frequently.

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    CarPlay home screen

    CarPlay behaves as you'd expect on the 7-inch screen, which is about middle of the road in terms of screen sizes. Some views such as in maps feel a little on the small and cluttered side if you're used to an 8-inch screen, but it's completely usable. CarPlay is operated strictly by the touchscreen, with no additional touch pad or control knob on the center console, and that's fine with me.

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    Apple Maps route guidance in CarPlay

    The dedicated Home and Apps buttons make it easy to jump in and out of CarPlay, although I'd prefer it if they were located on the left side of the screen for a little bit easier reach.

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    Now Playing screen in CarPlay

    The Outlander PHEV does come with a digital driver's display centered behind the steering wheel that can offer information such as range, MPG, trip odometers, energy flow, and more, but unfortunately there's no option to display audio information, a feature I typically like to use when the main infotainment screen is taken over by other functions such as CarPlay navigation.

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    Driver's display between the speedometer and power/charge gauges

    As with most other cars, the voice control button on the steering wheel serves dual duty, with a short press bring up the SDA voice assistant and a long press bringing up Siri.

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    SDA and Siri voice control button located at top of lower left cluster

    The first time you hit the voice control button, a screen pops up letting you know how that works, and you can tap a checkbox to permanently prevent the introduction screen from showing up in the future.

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    Pop-up screen explaining how to activate SDA and Siri voice controls

    Ports and Connectivity

    As I mentioned in the previous section, there's a single USB-A near the base of the center stack, where you can connect a phone for CarPlay or Android Auto, or other devices like iPods for audio purposes.

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    USB port located at base of center stack and adjacent to console cupholders

    A pair of cupholders are located very close to the USB port and serve as decent places to store a connected phone, but there's no dedicated phone storage tray. I do feel like Mitsubishi could have made room for a tray, as there is a fair amount of empty space on the center console even with some extra buttons and switches for managing the hybrid functions of the vehicle.

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    Center console layout

    There's no USB port inside the center console compartment, which would have been another nice option to have for those who like to keep their phones hidden away while driving. You can certainly still store your phone in the compartment, but you'll have a USB cable running out from under the lid all the way up to the dash.

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    On the rear of the center console, you'll find a second USB-A port for rear passengers. It's a fully functional USB data port, so it can be used not only for device charging but also for CarPlay or a media source.

    Mitsubishi does not offer any wireless phone charging or Wi-Fi hotspot option on the Outlander PHEV.

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    One thing that is available on the Outlander PHEV GT trim is a 1500-watt AC power system with one outlet on the rear of the center console and a second in the cargo area. When active, you can power all sorts of electrical devices using the system, which can be handy for camping, extended trips into remote areas, or even for household items during power outages. There's also a single 12V DC power port up front on the dashboard.

    Wrap-up

    Overall, I was impressed with the CarPlay integration on Mitsubishi's latest SDA infotainment system, which the company tells me has been included on over 400,000 vehicles worldwide and over 100,000 in the United States. Interactions with CarPlay are fluid, and dedicated touch buttons for hopping in and out of CarPlay make for a smoothly integrated experience.

    As for SDA itself, it certainly offers a lot of capabilities, especially on the Outlander PHEV with all of its hybrid technology. I thought I'd miss an option for embedded navigation, but it's starting to make a lot of sense for companies to forego built-in navigation in favor of owners' own smartphones that can offer a better user experience.

    But while Mitsubishi has emphasized a streamlined menu hierarchy to limit the number of taps needed to access any option or setting, the visual design of the system could stand to see some improvement. It looks dated, and some screens end up looking quite cluttered. The home screens are easy-to-use grids with colorful icons to help you pick out what you're looking for at a quick glance, but again, the user interface element designs are looking rather dated and could really use some freshening up.

    I'm optimistic about Mitsubishi and other manufacturers moving toward Android OS in the next few years, as built-in Google Maps (and hopefully Waze) will be great additions to these systems. Cloud-based navigation systems do sometimes falter compared to embedded systems in areas of poor cellular coverage, but Mitsubishi tells me it's working on addressing that through caching and other means as it moves toward bringing built-in navigation back with Android OS.

    The base gas-powered Outlander ES trim starts at a little under $25,000, but you'll need to step up to the SE trim for an additional $1,000 in order to get the SDA system with CarPlay. If you're interested in the PHEV version of the Outlander, that starts around $35,000 for the SEL S-AWC trim with SDA and CarPlay standard.

    Stepping up to the higher-level GT S-AWC trim can push pricing up to around $42,000, with even more options and packages available on top of that. Keep in mind that the Outlander PHEV will qualify for federal electric vehicle tax credits of $5,836, so that'll go a long way toward making the PHEV version more price competitive compared to traditional gas models if you'd like to go that route.

    Article Link: Review: 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Forgoes Built-In Navigation in Favor of CarPlay
     
  2. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3

    ArtOfWarfare

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #2
    Is this the first time MacRumors has chosen to review a plugin vehicle (what a world we live in... MacRumors reviews vehicles even though Apple doesn't even have a publicly announced car, yet)?

    Disappointing that Mitsubishi is using CHAdeMO - I was under the impression Nissan (and partially Tesla) were the only two not switched over to CCS.
     
  3. oldMacGenius macrumors newbie

    oldMacGenius

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2018
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #3
    Surprising also that a PHEV with a 12kW battery has any DCFC capabilities! Seems like overkill to me. But if a market for it exists...
     
  4. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3

    ArtOfWarfare

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #4
    I didn't even think of that. Yeah. A 50 kW CHAdeMO charger should fully charge that battery in ~20 minutes (unless I'm being way too optimistic about how quickly the charge will taper off for such a small battery...)
     
  5. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #5
    I did also do the Pacifica Hybrid plug-in:

    https://www.macrumors.com/review/chrysler-pacifica-hybrid-carplay/

    These articles aren't really meant to be car reviews, as they're primarily focused on CarPlay integration with native infotainment systems. I touch on some of the other aspects when they warrant, but don't go in-depth on them.

    Every manufacturer does CarPlay and infotainment a little differently and it's becoming an increasingly important part of the decision-making process when buying a new car, so I figured a series of reviews looking at some of the major brands would be helpful.
     
  6. hiphopdan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #6
    Gonna buy a Mitsubishi with my Discover card, go pick up some Fanta Cola and go home and watch the Starz network on my new Insignia TV; maybe make a few calls on my Jitterbug phone.
     
  7. dalailaptop macrumors newbie

    dalailaptop

    Joined:
    May 23, 2003
    #7
    We have the 2018 and while it's not a superstar in any category it's a solid performer in many. There are good reasons it's the best selling PHEV in the world.

    It's a decent family hauler with room for the occasional cargo load. It's the only all-wheel drive PHEV, we live in a hilly region with significant winter weather.

    We work from home and so we only need one car but all electric isn't practical because we're in the exurbs with little public charging and where there is, it's always full. We're also unwilling to wait hours for a charger on I95 just to visit family. Not to mention, I don't trust vehicles that do over the air software updates.

    Comfort/handling wise, it's slightly less than our Outback Touring but far better than the Prius V5 we had before that. The heated steering wheel alone has made my winter.

    We're averaging ~80/60mpge (normal vs <32° weather) on the gas we do buy and only filling up ~once a month now. It was also an easy choice as we were installing solar at the time and so we're essentially charging for pennies to do the vast majority of our errands and drop-offs.

    Lastly, who knocks Starz? Have you seen Counterpart or American Gods?
     
  8. dontwalkhand macrumors 603

    dontwalkhand

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    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #8
    Haha haha.

    You got me with the Discover Card and the Fanta orange today. Own an older Mercedes, a Vizio TV and an iPhone though.
     
  9. Albright macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2011
    #9
    Something that's keeping me from entirely replacing my stand-alone GPS unit with my iPhone is that driving to see family a couple states over involves driving through long stretches of nothing where there will be no cell phone service at all. From what I understand, Apple Maps (and Google Maps) still need to download their maps and routing info from (and pardon me for using this horrific term) the cloud, so if I plot a route but then one of the roads is closed and I need to reroute in the middle of nowhere, my iPhone is more useless for me than a paper map. This is not a problem with a GPS unit with pre-loaded maps and on-device routing.

    Have Mitsubishi and/or Apple (and/or Google) done anything to account for this sort of situation? If not, I don't think I'd want to drive this car without a traditional GPS unit in the glovebox just in case.
     
  10. Thundarr macrumors newbie

    Thundarr

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2019
    #10
    Why would anyone buy the old version of the OutlanderPHEV when Mitsubishi sells the updated version already in Europe and Canada with the better performing longer range engine. I'm going to wait for the 2020s unless another manufacturer comes out before then.
     
  11. sirozha macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    #11
    The only android phones I have are for being used in my vehicles with Android Auto. I’ve been doing this for two years now. The Android phones are permanently connected to my vehicles’ infotainment systems. For two years now I’ve been saying that Android Auto beats CarPlay hands down even after CarPlay got Google Maps and Waze.

    Now that the Android will run natively in car infotainment units with Google Maps running natively, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Apple has lost another battle with Google on the tech that Apple invented.
     
  12. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    192.168.1.1
    #12
    I drive a '17 Chevy Volt and freaking love the thing. Gets about 45-50 miles on battery and charges full in about 4 hours on my home 220v 20A level 2 charger. Only time I drive on gas is if I exceed the 50 mile battery range in a single trip. It'll go another 300 miles on its 8.9 gallon gas tank. Also has CarPlay which I use almost daily.

    I've been thinking about getting something bigger, as I've got kids that need stuff hauled back and forth to college, but I can't see going back to a gas-only vehicle. The 20-mile electric range is a bit disappointing (at least it'll get me to work and back) compared to my Volt, but may have to give this Mitsubishi PHEV SUV a look.
     
  13. ColdShadow macrumors 65816

    ColdShadow

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    #13
    There is nothing exciting about Mitsubishi anymore since they were merged with Nissan and Renault.
     
  14. dontwalkhand macrumors 603

    dontwalkhand

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    Phoenix, AZ
    #14
    It does download the route at every opportunity. So long as you’ve already started the route you don’t need to worry about losing service.
     
  15. MrCubes macrumors regular

    MrCubes

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2008
    #15
    What timing. I just bought a 2018 4HS model at the weekend - same colour as the reviewed model, too.

    One thing I found odd in the review was the talk of USB ports in the centre console. I don't know if it's a difference with the US and UK markets (I don't see why it would be) but mine definitely has two ports in there. So I keep my phone plugged in there - completely invisible - with full access to CarPlay - which I'm loving (although I agree that an 8" display would have been even nicer, as I've used on some rentals)!

    Personally I don't miss a wireless option. I find I just get endless conflicts with it switching between mine and my wife's phones. Funniest one was when I was at home, once, and talking to my Dad on FaceTime. My wife was arriving home with the kids in the car, and as she got in range of my phone it hijacked the audio and she ended up having a few minutes of conversation with him there while I was trying to work out what was going on with his audio!
     
  16. tiochristopher macrumors newbie

    tiochristopher

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2019
    #16
    The review is pretty spot-on. We have a 2014 Outlander. We will be replacing it with a new one. The 14 has the same touch screen look but without Android auto or car play. It does have a built-in navigation system but just as Mitsubishi stated one has to update the system often. We found it much easier to just use Waze on our phone than to use the remedial looking graphics on the factory system.
     
  17. Ronlap macrumors regular

    Ronlap

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    #17
    Well about freaking time! Toyota wants around $300 each to update the Nav in my 2010 and 2012 Prius, so I put an iPhone mount on the dash. No need for on-board anything these days except to mirror your cellphone.
     
  18. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Dallas, TX USA
    #18
    But you do on-line banking, buy things off the Internet using your credit card, etc., but you don't trust software updates. Um...

    Kind of wish Mitsubishi included a 16kWh battery instead of the 12kWh battery to max out the tax credit.
     

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17 February 26, 2019