The colorful drive mode screens on the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Selects

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

When it comes to the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, it also means the difference between sliding on slick roads or rolling along at a nice steady pace.

I know this because we had an icy rainfall here in Minnesota where I live. It lasted only a few hours, and we’ve since bounced back to nice weather. I was happy to have the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander that day, mostly because I’m a visual person.

I like to see what I am getting myself into. This applies to looking out the window of my house, as opposed to just trusting the weather app on my phone. It also applies to the Outlander, because of the Drive Selector dial. In some vehicles, you can adjust the traction control and power by turning a knob, but on the Outlander, you see exactly what will happen.

The display shows what to expect in that mode, and it’s about the best I’ve seen in recent tests — only the Ford Bronco can match the visual appeal. If you want to do some off-roading, the Sand mode is the one for you. I clicked over to Snow mode and found the vehicles had a better grip, likely due to the engine not providing as much power that can make the vehicle fishtail if you’re not careful. There’s also a setting for mud and deep snow that changes the tire slip ratio to be more favorable. Slip ratio has to do with whether the tire is spinning normally or has lost traction — in racing, a 0 means normal and 1 means no traction. So this setting manages the slip to make sure you can keep moving.

Honestly, I flipped through the selector to see the colorful and well-designed display for each setting, just because they look cool. Will I ever find myself needing the Mud/Deep Snow mode? Likely not, since I’m always careful about where I drive these test cars. It’s nice to know it’s there.

I liked the Eco mode on a long drive because it adjusts power and AWD settings to save gas. I also liked the Power model since, you know, you have to test all of the settings and I like quick acceleration. This mode uses power from the electric motor to add some oomph when you need to pass another car or speed up from an on-ramp. It’s fun to test these modes, not only because of the visual look, but because you can feel the engine and traction settings change as you drive.

What this means is you gain flexibility to drive on any surface, and even how you drive on that surface. I’m not a big fan of winter driving, so I know the Snow setting would give me more peace of mind. If I owned this car, it’s also nice to know you can gain a boost in traction and grip if you ever get into some deep snow or mud. In the Power mode, it was handy to be able to really boost the vehicle with as much power as possible, instead of being stuck with only one setting or a run-of-the-mill sport mode.

The wonderful thing about modern cars is that they are only getting better. I’m sure AI will become a factor soon enough in traction control at some point, maybe even adjusting automatically for the road conditions the bot senses as you drive — no drive selector dial needed.

For now, I like what Mitsubishi has done to show you — in a clear and colorful visual display — which mode you are in and what to expect as you drive. It’s a brilliant driving aid.