The long-delayed Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was displayed at the LA Auto Show, Mitsubishi’s U.S. website now has a dedicated page for it, and its dealers are being told it will be available by February or March 2018.

At long last, the only all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid crossover in its $35,000-and-up price range (before incentives) appears due, and this time it may mean it.

SEE ALSO: Mitsubishi Sells 100,000th Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi has famously promised and postponed what was Europe’s best-selling plug-in vehicle to the U.S. more than five times blaming all sorts of things like battery shortages, and other issues. It’s actually been refreshed since its January 2013 launch, remains enormously popular, and the real reason was financial woes which were amended last fall with a tie-up with Nissan.

Efficient As SUVs Go

Mitsubishi says the all-electric range will be 22 miles for the PHEV under EPA rules. Total fuel economy is expected by Mitsubishi to be 25 mpg under the EPA cycle, but this of course can be wildly improved if the driver utilizes the all-electric drive function and keeps the gas engine off.

Electric energy consumption is 74 MPGe, and a bit down from front-wheel drive PHEV sedans in the 90s and low hundreds, and extremely far below the class king Toyota Prius Prime’s 133 MPGe which is up there in pure EV territory.

But the Outlander turns a few tricks that may make it worth a look.

Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) will do what no other plug-in vehicle in its price range can for snow belters and those wanting to do mild forays off road. Mitsubishi has actually proven the vehicle by running a modified version across a multi-national rally in extreme truck country.

The S-AWC system, otherwise intended for suburbanites, is rather sophisticated, combining Active Yaw Control, ABS and Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control to tame the four-wheeler with civilized and user-friendly manners.

Its 2.0-liter MIVEC DOHC engine churning 137 horses and 117 pounds-feet torque is merged with front and rear electric motors. The front pushes 60 kW and 137 Nm torque, and the rear delivers 60 kW and 195 Nm torque.

Three drive modes – Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid – are provided in the electronically controlled powertrain meant to maximize efficiency through the single-speed gear-reduction transmission.

Charge times: Level 1 (120V, 8A): 13.0 hrs; Level 1 (120V 12 A): 8.0 hrs; Level 2 (240V 30 A): 3.5 hrs.; DC Fast (CHAdeMO): 80% in 25 minutes.

And whether others poo-pooh its 12-kWh battery, and wish it had at least as much as a 16-kWh Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, it otherwise is within ream of vehicles like the Ford Fusion Energi, C-Max Energi, Hyundai Sonata/Kia Optima cousins, Prius Prime, and others which have smaller batteries.

It also costs a whole lot less than the only other plug-in hybrid crossovers and SUVs which command princely sums by their European automakers who’ve put them together as a quick and easy way to meet tightening European regs.

The Outlander PHEV is also roomy, with 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space, and it has a 1,500 light-duty towing capacity.

Two trims are available – the SEL S-AWC starting at $34,595 plus destination, and GT S-AWC starting at $40,295 plus destination. Its 12 kWh battery is eligible for a $5,836 in federal tax credit, and state programs are available in many states as well.

The upscale GT S-AWC offers extras including 1,500 watts of continuous onboard power relying on the traction battery. That’s enough to run a coffee pot, or TV, or electric grille for a picnic or tailgate party.

A cold weather package includes a windshield wiper de-icer and available heated steering wheel.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is also available to maintain a space gap between the vehicle and the one ahead. Also available is blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and Forward collision warning.

Infotainment on a 7-inch screen includes Apple Carplay, Android Auto capability, and a birds eye view camera using multiple camera images stitched together to form the virtual picture.

Looking Ahead

Priced as it is from below $30,000 after incentives, it is in a class by itself if one considers alternative the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e, Volvo XC90 PHEV, or BMW X5 PHEV.

Although the company has promised the vehicle and pulled it back many times, Kyle Cassidy, a salesman at Springfield Mitsubishi says the dealers in his region are all required to have certified trained people ready for the vehicle expected next spring.

A regional ride-and-drive for the dealers to participate in is planned for January or February once the 2018-spec vehicle is here, and the car is expected to make the show circuit in January.

What Mitsubishi’s national distribution thoughts are is less clear, but Mitsubishi dealers in all states will at least have ability to order it, meaning it will be 50-state available.

Mitsubishi has long been bullish on plug-ins but has been hamstrung. In the U.S. its dealer network is not as robust as other major automakers, there’s been rumors it might even pull out of this market, but with Nissan coming to the rescue that appears no longer a worry.

Nissan is the other EV-bullish Japanese automaker and under CEO Carlos Ghosn, more crossovers are in the pipeline, but then again, so are others from competitors.

VW Group and others may have vehicles in the Outlander’s class in a few years, but at this stage, the Outlander is still relevant, and it is proven.

Gads of reviews from Europe and the UK attest to that, and for now it will fill a gap for a true SUV that other automakers like GM, Ford, Toyota, and Honda, etc., despite being better funded, have been reluctant to fill.