CHICAGO – Mitsubishi today unveils the GC-PHEV at the Chicago Auto Show, a concept study of the return of a fullsize Montero CUV that departed the lineup in 2006.

The GC, which stands for Grand Cruiser, appears to be not a “what-if” but a “when” concept.

The fulltime all-wheel-drive vehicle, unveiled by Mitsubishi Executive Vice President Don Swearingen, differs significantly from the former model that offered a 3.8L, 215-hp V-6 teamed with a 5-speed automatic transmission and rated at 15/19 mpg (15.7/12.4 L/100 km).

The concept rendition is a gasoline/electric plug-in hybrid that teams a supercharged 3.0L, 335-hp gasoline V-6 and 8-speed automatic with a 94-hp electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. The target is 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) in gasoline mode with a range of 25 miles (40 km) in battery mode before needing to recharge.

Mitsubishi does not release figures on combined gasoline/battery-mode fuel economy or recharge time for the batteries, but promises both high performance and high mileage.

The power system automatically switches between all-electric and hybrid mode (gasoline and/or electric motor) depending on conditions. The electric motor kicks in to provide added power when needed, such as passing.

The concept’s high-capacity main-drive Li-ion battery pack has an added benefit: The 100V AC onboard electrical outlet can deliver up to 1,500 watts of electrical energy to act as an emergency mobile power source for home appliances in the event of a power outage. Using the energy stored within a fully charged li-ion battery pack alone, the system can supply the equivalent of a day’s worth of electrical-power consumption to the average household, Mitsubishi says.

The GC concept is in keeping with Mitsubishi's promise to add more plug-in hybrids in the next few years, starting with a compact Outlander plug-in CUV scheduled to arrive in April 2016.

Exterior highlights include narrow headlights, open/close grille louvers, a large hatchback lid and the noticeable absence of roof B-pillars. While the production version probably would feature three rows of seats to hold at least seven people, the concept carries four folks in individual bucket seats.

A new vehicle technology incorporated in the concept is a Tactical Table in the center of the cabin between the four seating positions.

The touchscreen table is an information system. It makes connected-car technology an available interactive experience for everyone inside the cabin by providing advanced two-way communication between the vehicle’s occupants, whether gathering information for a road trip or having fun with its advanced infotainment features. When the driver or a passenger places their smartphone atop the Tactical Table, they can create, collect, exchange and/or share information with others using the CUV’s onboard communication system.

As for safety, the concept features a novel windshield that pinpoints people or vehicles ahead or lingering in blindspots alongside or behind, in order to avoid contact. It also detects people, vehicles or objects (trees or fire hydrants) behind to avoid contact when backing up.

Under study is a system using cameras in the vehicle and sensors in the pavement to detect pedestrians and cyclists down the road to alert the driver and avoid an accident. Also under study: traffic-sign recognition that uses an onboard camera to recognize road signs ahead. The system could activate an engine-speed limiter, for example, if the vehicle enters a 50 mph (80 km/h) zone while traveling 70 mph (110 km/h).

Mitsubishi says it is working on ways to make all-electric and plug-in electric ownership easier and less costly by implementing user-friendly smartphone apps so motorists can check on electricity rates in varying locations to find the cheapest provider, as well as off-peak times to charge their vehicles economically.