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Better late than never: Mitsubishi’s Outlander Plug-In Hybrid makes US debut

The U.S. launch of the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid has been one of the most drawn-out in recent memory. Mitsubishi originally said it would put the plug-in Outlander on sale here in 2013, and if it had, the Outlander would have been the first plug-in hybrid SUV sold in the U.S. That obviously didn’t happen, but this much-delayed model is finally here.

Mitsubishi chose the 2016 New York Auto Show to unveil the U.S.-spec Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, which will go on sale here this fall as a 2017 model. It may have missed out on being the first, but the Outlander will still be the only plug-in hybrid SUV sold in the U.S. that isn’t a luxury model. And it’s an important part of Mitsubishi’s strategy of redemption, which emphasizes both crossovers and electrified powertrains.

On the outside, this Outlander looks largely the same as the face-lifted, non-hybrid version that was unveiled in New York a year ago. Under the skin, though, it’s a different story, as the powertrain includes a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. This is the same powertrain that’s been available in Europe and Japan for a couple of years now.

Related: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gets a refresh

One motor assists the gasoline engine in powering the front axle, while the second motor powers the rear axle, giving the Outlander all-wheel drive. A 12-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack should provide enough capacity for appreciable amounts of electric-only driving, and the Outlander can also operate as a conventional hybrid, with both power sources driving the wheels.

In addition to its long-awaited electrified powertrain, the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid also becomes the second U.S. Mitsubishi model, after the 2017 Mirage, to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has a full suite of available safety features, including a surround-view camera system, Forward Collision Mitigation with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid goes on sale in the U.S. this fall. Will it be worth the wait?