Perfect Family Crossover

By Derek Price

After completely redesigning and modernizing the Outlander SUV last year, Mitsubishi followed up with a plug-in hybrid version for 2023.

In doing so, they may have created the perfect family crossover.

It’s hard for me to find any faults in the Outlander PHEV after driving it for a week. Even in a market packed with great choices — the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5 and others — the Outlander stands out for its supple driving feel, spacious cabin, brawny looks and standard third-row seat.

The PHEV version, which starts around $40,000, makes it even better.

Like an electric car, the Outlander PHEV can run purely on electric power for up to 38 miles, according to the United States government. It’s capable of using DC fast chargers for those times you want to use a public charing station.

Unlike a pure electric car, it also has a gasoline engine and 14.8-gallon gas tank that extends the range up to 420 total miles and lets you drive it like any other gas-powered car.

That means you have the benefits of EVs without the drawbacks.

You can charge it in your garage and use it like an electric car for most everyday driving, but you don’t have to bide your time at charging stations when you go on road trips. It’s a perfect compromise, as I see things.

It’s not like the Outlander makes you sacrifice anything to do that, either.

The Mitsubishi Outlander is now available as a plug-in hybrid with 38 miles of electric range plus a gasoline engine. With a full tank, the total range is 420 miles.

This is one of the softest riding crossovers I’ve driven in recent years. Its suspension soaks up bumps and potholes almost like a luxury car, and the PHEV’s cabin is remarkably silent other than a high-pitched whirring sound from the electrical system when you’re accelerating or braking.

It’s also the highest quality cabin I’ve ever seen in a Mitsubishi. It feels solid and is covered in nice-feeling materials, especially in its highest trim levels. It also seems thoughtfully designed with attention to detail, something Mitsubishi products haven’t been known for in recent years.

The engine and two electric motors combine to make 248 horsepower, enough for sprightly acceleration. It comes with Mitsubishi’s sophisticated all-wheel traction system called Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC).

If you want to get picky, it was a stretch cramming a third-row seat into the Outlander. It’s a tight fit for passengers in back, and it doesn’t leave a whole lot of cargo space when it’s deployed. Considering not all its competitors even offer a third-row seat, though, it’s a nice option to have when you need seating for seven people in a pinch.

The new Outlander’s interior is some of Mitsubishi’s best work, comparable in quality to all the top crossovers for sale this year. A 12.3-inch driver information display behind the steering wheel is standard equipment.

A 12.3-inch screen behind the steering wheel puts lots of customizable information in front of the driver’s fingertips, and a 9-inch touchscreen is positioned at the top center of the dash to let you access smartphone functions, the navigation system and entertainment options. An optional Head-Up Display can project information onto the windshield, too.

To reduce the driver’s workload, the MI-PILOT Assist system combines lane-keeping functions with adaptive cruise control to keep the car centered in the lane and following the speed of traffic. It can bring the vehicle to a full stop and start again in city traffic, perfect for making traffic jams more tolerable.

While it’s designed for fuel-efficient driving, the Outlander is styled a lot like a gas-guzzling truck. It looks tall and boxy, with a polarizing front end that stands out compared to many of its cookie-cutter CUV competitors. Whether I love or hate the front end depends on the angle I’m looking at it from, but I’m glad Mitsubishi took a chance on being bold instead of boring.

As a whole, it’s hard to find fault in the Outlander PHEV, including the price. It offers a lot of space and content for the money with everything modern families are looking for: green driving, great technology, flexible space and a feeling of quality.

Pricing starts at $39,845 for the well-equipped base ES trim and tops out at $49,995 for the loaded 40th Anniversary Edition model.

The regular Outlander, without the hybrid system, starts at $27,595.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC ($45,445). Options: Premium paint ($995), SEL Premium package ($2,700), tonneau cover ($200), welcome package ($195). Price as tested (including $1,345 destination charge): $50,880
Wheelbase: 106.5 in.
Length: 185.4 in.
Width: 73.2 in.
Height: 68.7 in.
Powertrain: 2.4-liter engine plus two electric motors (248 combined system horsepower)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 64 MPG equivalent

Style: 7
Performance: 7
Price: 8
Handling: 6
Ride: 9
Comfort: 9
Quality: 8
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
It’s comfortable, quiet, spacious and runs on electric power for short trips.

Posted in Mitsubishi

Not Quite a Power Wagon

By Derek Price

It’s a good time to be an off-road truck buyer.

Well, if you can ignore the prices, it is. Pandemic-era supply constraints continue to keep transaction prices of pickups at high levels.

For those who can afford them, though, it’s never been a better time to be shopping for off-road trucks thanks to the plethora of choices hitting the market in the last three years.

This week I’m driving a fresh attempt at slicing and dicing the pickup market: the 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel.

Much like its more famous, longstanding brother, the Power Wagon, this is a three-quarter-ton pickup designed with serious off-road capability in mind. It has a unique suspension, skid plates, aggressive 33-inch tires and a locking rear differential.

It also doesn’t come with running boards, which makes getting in and out an adventure.

New for 2023, the Ram 2500 Rebel offers several advantages over the Power Wagon, including more towing capacity and an available diesel engine.

The obvious question about this truck, of course, is why wouldn’t you just buy a Power Wagon?

Aside from its slightly lower price, the Rebel offers several key advantages.

You can get it with a diesel engine, for starters. The Rebel is available with either a 6.4-liter gasoline V8 — the only engine offered in the Power Wagon — or with a 6.7-liter Cummins diesel that makes 850 pound-feet of torque.

That’s closely related to another advantage: the Rebel can tow a lot more, up to 16,870 pounds, versus around 10,000 on the Power Wagon. The diesel engine plus stiffer springs translate into more pulling capability.

It also offers a distinctive look, similar to the 1500 Rebel that’s been a sales hit for Ram in recent years. Black trim on the fenders, grille and lower body give it a purposeful style.

The 2500 Rebel mixes purposeful style with luxurious appointments.

Driving the 2500 Rebel doesn’t offer any surprises. This is a massive truck with gigantic off-road tires and stiff springs, making it one of the least comfortable pickups in Ram’s spectacularly quiet, supple lineup. This Rebel is designed for capability over cushiness.

Still, I found it quieter and more friendly to drive in city traffic than the Ford F-250 Tremor.

Like all the latest Ram trucks, the 2500 Rebel has a beautifully designed cabin, including ample soft-touch materials and a 12-inch touchscreen with one of the best infotainment systems available anywhere.

It’s only available in one layout, a four-door crew cab with a six-foot, four-inch bed.

Pricing starts at $67,045, plus a hefty $1,895 destination charge.

If you want the diesel, it costs an extra $9,695.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2023 Ram 2500 Rebel ($67,045). Options: Bed utility group ($845), safety group ($2,140), Level 2 equipment group ($7,110). Price as tested (including $1,895 destination charge): $79,035
Wheelbase: 149 in.
Length: 238.8 in.
Width: 83.5 in.
Height: 80.2 in.
Engine: 6.4-liter HEMI V8 (410 hp, 429 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: Not rated


Style: 8
Price: 6
Handling: 5
Ride: 5
Comfort: 6
Quality: 8
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
This new flavor of heavy-duty, off-road truck offers some advantages over the Power Wagon, including more towing capability and an optional diesel engine.

Posted in Ram

Special Edition Pilfers Hearts

By Derek Price
Special-edition cars have long been designed to extract money from enthusiastic buyers by adding vinyl decals, cheap badges and other gimmicks to pump up sales.
At least, that’s how skeptics see them.
Dodge is taking special editions to a new level this year with a whopping seven “Last Call” models that celebrate the end of the road for their current-generation Challenger and Charger muscle cars.
The first of them is called, apparently without irony, the Shakedown.
I’m looking forward to driving the other six — the Swindle, the Ponzi, the Extortion, the Fraud, the Racket and the Coercion — because as much as I really want to dislike the Shakedown, I’m struggling not to fall in love with it.
Despite its unfortunate name, this car embodies everything great about the internal-combustion engine. It rumbles, shakes, snorts, growls and thunders its way into people’s hearts, much like I imagine steam locomotives did until the early 20th century.

The Challenger Shakedown is one of seven unique “Last Call” models Dodge is releasing for its muscle cars in 2023.

I grew up long after those steam trains had been replaced by diesel, but I still loved making chugga-chugga choo-choo noises as a little boy.

If American children soon live in a world where silent electric cars are the norm, I bet they’ll still dream of vroom-vroom-squeal cars exactly like this one.
Every Challenger carries a sense of gasoline-powered romanticism. Its throwback, 1960s-inspired shape and emphasis on all-American muscle, from the base 303-horsepower V6 to the 807-horse Hellcat engine in the SRT Super Stock, make it one of the most visceral cars you can buy in 2023.
That’s how Dodge can offer the Shady Profiteering edition with exclusive Blackmail Me paint, and people not only line up to buy it, but pay extra for the optional Graft Package. It’s that fun.
The Challenger Shakedown comes with performance and visual changes that amp up its emotional and nostalgic appeal. A long list of unique features — from the Shaker hood and air intake, to dramatic stripes and red “392” badges that boast about its cylinders’ girth — make it look a lot like the sinister Shakedown concept car Dodge created in 2016.

Special badges, red seat belts and coordinated red stitching give the Shakedown a menacing look inside.

A thousand Shakedown cars are planned for production in 2023, half of which will be the standard-width model with gray paint. The other 500 copies will be the Widebody version that comes exclusively in black.

My tester, a Widebody with that menacing black paint, is absolutely thrilling to drive. Its 485-horsepower engine delivers the wicked sound and speed that make the HEMI V8 legendary, and its handling is surprisingly sharp for such a heavy car. It drives like an angry rhinoceros and weighs about the same at 4,303 pounds.
The Challenger Shakedown I tested rang up at $67,490, including options.
If you need to rationalize it, that works out to $15.69 per pound, which is less than the cost of a ribeye steak these days. It’s basically like buying groceries.
It also costs less than even the cheapest Challenger Hellcat, which means there’s another thing you can call the Shakedown.
It’s a steal.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2023 Dodge Challenger Shakedown. Options: Shakedown Special Edition, Plus Package, Carbon/Suede Interior Package, Shaker Package, Harmon Kardon Audio Group with Subwoofer, Uconnect 4C NAV. Price as tested: $67,490
Wheelbase: 116 in.
Length: 197.5 in.
Width: 78.3 in.
Height: 57.7 in.
Engine: 6.4-liter V8 (485 hp, 475 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 15 city, 24 highway


Style: 9
Price: 6
Handling: 8
Ride: 7
Comfort: 6
Quality: 7
Overall: 7

Why buy it?
A menacing red-on-black color scheme and special badges make the Challenger Shakedown a fitting celebration for the end of an iconic generation of muscle car.

Posted in Uncategorized