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Mitsubishi Outlander

Fuel efficiency Ancap rating
$34,990–$70,990 1.5–8.1 L/100km 5

The Mitsubishi Outlander has been the Japanese brand’s midsized SUV offering since 2003.

Mitsubishi’s fourth-generation Outlander arrived in Australia in 2022, presenting as a roomier and classier offering than the third generation, and sharing a platform with the new Nissan X-Trail.

Latest Review

E Dewar 220920 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4320

Long-term review: New Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Is the new Outlander PHEV worth $16K more than its petrol equivalent? We add the world's most popular plug-in hybrid to our long-term fleet to find out

13 Feb 2023

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV long-term review


Ed note: this is part two of our extended review of the Mitsubishi Outlander. Read our in-depth review of the petrol Exceed here.

The basics

Is there a powertrain that generates more furrowed brows and curious expressions than a plug-in hybrid? I’ve been in possession of this white Outlander PHEV for a few weeks now and the questions have been coming thick and fast.

“What’s the range like?” “Isn’t it heavy?” “What happens when you run out of electricity?” “How fast does the battery degrade?”

These are just warm up fodder, though. The thing most people really want to know comes later when they learn this particular Outlander PHEV, which is the flagship Exceed Tourer, costs $68,490 before on-road costs.

“Oh,” they say with a polite tilt of the head. “Wouldn’t you be better off with an SUV that’s fully electric?”

It’s an intriguing thought. You can slip into our reigning Car of the Year, the Kia EV6 for just $4000 more, and much to Mitsubishi’s ire, plug-ins also aren’t eligible for the increasing number of EV incentives offered around the country.

So in a world where pure EV sales and infrastructure are quickly growing, does a plug-in still offer a logical stepping stone from ICE? Or is it a compromised middle ground? That’s what I’m hoping to answer at the end of this six-month loan.

More immediately, the attraction to our particular Outlander plug-in is obvious. This is the second-generation Outlander PHEV and Mitsubishi has made some big improvements. The battery is now 50 per cent larger at 20kWh and the claimed EV range has jumped to an impressive 84km.

I’m yet to scientifically test how that translates into the real world but early signs are positive, given I’m averaging around 21kWh/100km. Most of the benefits of an EV on your daily commute without the range anxiety? Welcome to PHEV ownership.

Mitsubishi has also worked hard to ensure this PHEV sidesteps the compromises of the model it replaces, too. The braked tow rating, for example, is identical to a petrol-powered Outlander at 1600kg. And because the rear motor and control unit are now 50 per cent smaller, the PHEV doesn’t skimp on boot space.

Regardless of powertrain, every model in the Outlander range now has 485L of luggage capacity. And don’t fixate on the $68,490 sticker price of our particular tester. You can slip into an Outlander Aspire PHEV for $54,490.

That’s still $16,000 more than an equivalent petrol-powered Outlander, however, so that’s question two this long-term loan needs to answer: is the PHEV powertrain worth the circa-$16K price premium over the atmo 2.5-litre?

I am enjoying the creature comforts of this flagship Exceed Tourer, though. I’ve just spent six months in a petrol-powered Outlander Exceed and all of the foundations that made that car such a convincing family SUV (vastly improved exterior design, richly equipped cabin and tidy handling) are still present and accounted for.

But for a $2500 premium, the Exceed Tourer adds a black roof, higher-grade leather upholstery and massage seats for both front passengers.

The massage seats are a touch lame and don’t deliver the same effect offered by other manufacturers, but the softer leather is something I appreciate every time I slip behind the wheel (even the leather on the steering wheel itself is of higher quality) and I like how the black roof offsets the White Diamond exterior paint.

I questioned the value of the Tourer trim during my time in the petrol-powered Exceed given the pair share 99 per cent of their spec but now I can see why someone would spend the extra.

More importantly, the PHEV feels like a more luxurious and premium SUV to drive. Petrol-powered Outlanders use a Nissan-sourced 2.5-litre four pot and while it’s an adequate unit, it can sound and feel breathless. Propulsion in the PHEV, by comparison, is silky smooth and effortless.

There’s an electric motor on each axle and although the 2.4-litre petrol engine (Mitsubishi’s own unit this time) can directly drive the front axle in certain situations, the system favours electricity to turn the wheels wherever possible.

It’s proving to be more economical too, which is obviously a huge part of a PHEV’s appeal. Where our petrol Outlander was drinking between 8-10L/100km, the PHEV is so far returning 6.7L/100km, which is bang on Mitsubishi’s claim.

And that’s without regularly plugging it in due to a hectic schedule and limited access to a plug. Expect that figure to drop once I settle into a rhythm of regular recharging.

So far so good, then, but I’ve already noted a few misses. The boot might technically be the same litreage as other Outlanders, for example, but you lose a deep storage cubby on either side of the floor which we previously used to house loose items like dog leads and nappies. There’s no spare tyre, either, just a can of goop, and the AC and DC charging cables take up a surprising amount of boot space when packaged into their black carry cases.

Still, it’s an intriguing thing this new Outlander PHEV. Not just for the complexity of its powertrain and how it drives its axles but for the broader questions it asks about the value and place of plug-ins in 2022. I feel like we’re only just starting to scratch the surface…

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Big distance, no juice

Is a PHEV worth it if you can’t plug it in regularly? Let’s find out

  • Price as tested: $68,490
  • Km this month: 1695km @ 8.4L/100km
  • Overall: 2276km @ 8.3L/100km

Admission time: I’ve been a rubbish PHEV owner so far. Almost to the day since this Diamond White Outlander PHEV arrived in the Wheels Garage, my life has been a whirlwind of interstate trips, airport carparks and multi-car comparison tests mostly held in the boonies outside of Melbourne.

All of this has made plugging the Outlander in quite tricky, at least on a regular basis. And then I packed up the family for a holiday in the sticks and that made plugging in it virtually impossible. A plug-in vehicle that I’ve hardly plugged in? Told you I’ve been rubbish…

Still, risk of having my ‘plug in card’ revoked aside, it has been an instructive study in the use case of a PHEV. After all, surely a key attraction to a plug-in over a full EV is that you don’t always have to be close to a socket. Free yourself from the shackles of range anxiety and all that.

So what have I found? Well, let’s start with the positives. One of the key criticisms levelled at most plug-ins is that once your battery is depleted, you’re effectively lugging about 350kg of deadweight and forcing a small internal combustion engine to strain and struggle as it lugs about a family SUV that’s heavier than it ought to be.

That’s not the case in the Outlander. It’s engineered to prioritise electricity to turn the axles wherever possible and uses the combustion engine mostly as a generator to feed the battery and power the electric motors. Plus, Mitsubishi is actually a little cheeky when it says the 20kWh battery is ‘flat’.

To ensure there’s always some juice in the system, the Outlander retains around 20 per cent of the battery’s capacity in reserve even when the gauge says zero. The upshot is that while I haven’t plugged it in for weeks, the driving experience has hardly changed.

There’s still the same instant electric response at low speed, the same silky step-off away from the lights and the same swift and silent progress around town. Mitsubishi has also done a good job of isolating the 2.0-litre petrol engine so that when it does kick in to feed the battery there’s no unwelcome jolt as the powertrain switches from electrons to dino juice.

The 2.4-litre is whisper quiet, too, at least on a steady throttle but more on that later…

Unsurprisingly, however, my consumption hasn’t been brilliant. Officially Mitsubishi says the PHEV drinks 1.6L/100km on the combined cycle, though that number only holds water if you leave home with a full charge and don’t travel further than 100km.

The more realistic figure Mitsubishi provides is 6.7L/100km but so far I’ve been using more. After 2000km together my combined consumption is 8.3L, which is roughly about what I was getting from the 2.5-litre petrol-powered Outlander Exceed I ran for six months before the PHEV arrived.

Intriguingly, though, there is one place where the (depleted) PHEV is actually thirstier: the highway. Our interstate trip for the family holiday took exactly the same route as a drive in the petrol Outlander a month or so earlier and the side-by-side comparison was illuminating.

On the Hume and across the backroads towards Young, the petrol-powered Outlander hit its efficiency sweet spot and returned around 7.5L/100km. The best the PHEV managed on the same roads was 8.0L on the way up and 8.3L on the return leg.

Open road driving also exposed some other powertrain weak spots. While the PHEV feels more premium and muscular around town than the 2.5-litre petrol Outlander, its overtaking performance at 100km/h isn’t as strong.

You need more distance to execute a pass than you do in an ICE Outlander and a few times while overtaking trucks up hills the PHEV did feel like a heavy car with a small engine. The 2.0-litre donk, which is usually quiet and unobtrusive, also gets noisy when fully extended and the single-speed auto delivers some transmission drone at full throttle.

Are these dealbreakers? Absolutely not. Just like the petrol Outlander the PHEV is a polished and quiet family hauler on long trips. And when the road does get twisty, it's surprisingly fun to hustle, despite its additional 350kg, thanks to excellent body control and sharp steering.

But what this month did reinforce was that I’d taken a plug-in well outside its ideal operating window. To extract the best from the PHEV and to net a return on its circa-$16K additional outlay compared with its ICE equivalent, I need to start playing to its strengths – namely how it performs in the urban jungle. And more importantly, I need to start plugging it in. That starts now…

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Plugged in

Inwood taps into the Outlander’s biggest strength: its economy

  • Price as tested: $68,490
  • Km this month: 1001km @ 5.5L/100km
  • Overall: 3949km @ 7.3L

I ended the last report on our long-term Outlander PHEV by promising to start plugging it in at every available opportunity to better extract its biggest strength: how much, or actually how little, fuel it promises to use. And because I’m a man of my word, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Now, ‘every available opportunity’, is something of a subjective term and despite my best efforts to whack it on charge both at home and at work, the car’s onboard readout says my EV-to-petrol driving ratio is still only 50 per cent.

That’s down on the figure Mitsubishi says the average owner will achieve, which is 84 per cent, but it’s a huge improvement on my efforts previously. And it has returned some encouraging numbers…

Last report my fuel use was averaging 8.3L/100km and some tanks were even edging closer to the 10L mark. This time around? It’s tumbled to 5.5L/100km. That’s still well up on Mitsubishi’s official and largely unrealistic claim of 1.5L/100km although I will add there’s still ample room for improvement.

Despite plugging it in regularly, I often had to drive beyond the Outlander’s official EV-only range of 84km. So if I was using the Outlander purely for urban running it’d be relatively easy to eke out even greater savings out at the bowser.

Not that replenishing the battery is free, of course. Nor is it what I’d call fast…While the Outlander PHEV does come with a CHadeMO plug for DC fast charging that allows you to top up the 20kWh battery from 20-80 per cent in 38 minutes, the majority of plug-in owners will charge their cars at home.

On a regular 240V socket, Mitsubishi says a full charge will take around 9.5 hours and having timed it, I can report that’s bang on the money. At my house, going from completely empty to 100 per cent full takes 9h50m.

And I’m happy to report Mitsubishi isn’t telling fibs when it comes to the Outlander PHEV’s claimed EV-only range. While I’m yet to actually hit the official 84km, most full charges get close enough to call them a mulligan.

Typically I’ll travel between 75-80km before the petrol engine needs to fire up. And that’s without hypermiling or changing my driving style in any way. Switching off the aircon and treating the throttle as though it has an egg under it might yield the few extra kays I need to hit Mitsubishi’s claim.

One thing I have been doing to extend the battery charge is playing around with the regen braking. Mitsubishi says the regen braking on this generation PHEV is twice as strong as the model it replaces and there are six different levels of intensity to choose from.

You cycle through them by using the shift paddles on the steering wheel – left for more regen, right for less – and it’s surprisingly fun to use on the fly. In fact, it delivers a sensation similar to shifting down the gears in a conventional petrol car to increase engine braking as you barrel into corners.

To engage the strongest regen setting, however, you need to push a button on the centre console which delivers enough retardation to get close to ‘one pedal’ driving, says Mitsubishi.

Unlike the other five modes, the strongest setting is actually far less intuitive to use and even on a constant throttle you can feel the regen at work, as though your passenger has just eased on the handbrake. Plus, it won’t bring the car to a complete stop so you still need to use the brake pedal in heavy traffic. Level 5, which sits just below the strongest regen setting, delivers the most natural driving experience.

Still, it’s encouraging that the Outlander can deliver what it claims in terms of its EV range and recharging times. And while I’m yet to zero in on the official fuel usage claim of 1.5L/100km, reducing it to 5.5L is a respectable figure for a 7-seat two-tonne family SUV. And that’s with an EV-to-petrol ratio of 50 per cent. The challenge now is to get that up to the Outlander average of 84…

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CONCLUSION: Judgement day

Garage mainstay says “seeya”, but not before tackling some curly questions…

  • Price as tested: $68,490
  • This month: 2945km @ 8.5L/100km
  • Total: 6894km @ 7.8L/100km

It’s been a marathon stint for the Mitsubishi Outlander in the Wheels garage, hasn’t it? Mitsu’s fresh and much-improved fourth-gen Outlander first joined our fleet in February 2022 and since then we’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it.

We’ve covered 13,140km, burnt 1083L of fuel, taken it on four interstate road trips, hung photographers out it (fully harnessed of course), driven it on tarmac and dirt, and also exposed it, on a daily basis, to the greatest test any mid-size SUV can face: children.

In addition, we've explored both powertrain options having started in the 2.5-litre atmo petrol before moving into the smoother, quieter and thriftier (although more expensive) PHEV you see here.

With its departure date now looming, the time has come to answer some big questions. Namely, should you buy one? And should you, if budget allows, stretch for the plug-in hybrid?

The first question is easier: Yes, we’d absolutely recommend the Outlander. While it mightn’t be quite class-leading – it finished mid-pack out of eight contenders in our SUV megatest – that’s more a reflection of how tightly contested this segment is than any major failing on the Mitsubishi’s part.

In a lot of ways, the Outlander nails the SUV brief. The cabin is spacious and airy, the front seats are cosseting and comfortable and, despite my early doubts, its packaging compromises are pretty well judged. Sure, the third row is a touch tight on space but simply having the flexibility of 5+2 seats has been genuinely useful.

And while it mightn’t be as roomy as rivals like a Kia Sportage, the Outlander’s middle seat is big enough for adults on long journeys and the 478L boot is deceptively voluminous. We regularly loaded both Outlanders to the gunwales and the boot can swallow a pram, travel cot, three large suitcases and a multitude of softer tote and grocery bags.

No complaints about the level of cabin tech on offer, either. The 9.0-inch infotainment screen is high-res and easy to navigate, the digital dial pack is clear and ably supported by a head-up display, and wireless Apple CarPlay is a boon, although both of our Outlanders did occasionally refuse to automatically connect on vehicle start-up.

There were a few build quality niggles, too. Our petrol Outlander had some trim wriggle free around the centre console and a piece of exterior plastic trim on the trailing edge of the PHEV’s C-Pillar came loose.

We found the air-con in both SUVs also struggled to get icy cool on hot days, with the PHEV’s climate control system requiring a trip to the dealer for a software tweak. Not big issues but not exactly ideal in a brand new, high-spec family SUV either.

As for dynamics? They’re good without being great. High grip levels, strong body control and accurate steering are highlights and around town, the Outlander feels wieldy and manoeuvrable despite its size. But the dynamic goodness is undone by a ride that’s just too firm on 20-inch wheels.

The big alloys (fitted as standard on Exceed and Exceed Tourer) feel big and heavy and translate bumps and thumps too keenly into the cabin.

It’s a shame because the rest of the driving experience verges on serene. The 2.5-litre atmo petrol/CVT combo isn’t overly gutsy or engaging but it’s impressively quiet (unless fully extended when some CVT drone does intrude) and its low-down response is reassuringly muscular.

The PHEV’s powertrain is easily the pick of the two, however. It combines a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol with a 20kWh battery pack and an e-motor on each axle to deliver a driving experience that’s quieter, quicker and substantially more premium in the cut and thrust of city traffic.

Which brings us to the curlier question: is the PHEV worth it? At $68,490 for the Exceed Tourer, it’s $16K pricier than a petrol equivalent and you’ll be waiting a long time to recoup that difference in fuel bills. Our petrol Outlander averaged 8.7L/100km over 6000km while the PHEV returned 7.8L over a similar distance.

Frequent country drives made our PHEV’s figure uglier than it might have been had I driven it predominantly in the city (some tanks did return 5.0L and the 84km of claimed EV range is realistic) but it’s clear that how you plan to use your Outlander is the easiest way to decide between the two powertrains.

Yes the PHEV is markedly more expensive but providing you have regular access to a charging socket and can fully exploit its electric range, it’s the nicer, quieter and more refined SUV to drive.

Whichever way you jump, though, you’ll be scoring a well-rounded and much-improved family SUV. Is it perfect? No SUV is and although the Outlander might trail its rivals in some areas the margins are small.

And few family SUVs have slipped into our lives with such ease. We’ll miss it.

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Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling

Things we like

  • Powertrain is smooth, powerful and refined
  • Efficiency gains over petrol equivalent
  • Flagship trim adds desirable creature comforts

Not so much

  • Price jump over equivalent petrol version
  • Boot loses a few useful storage areas
  • No spare tyre

More Reviews

Mitsubishi Outlander Prices and Specifications

VariantPriceDrivetrainFuel TypeFuel Economy (city)Power
ES$37,240–$39,740front, 4x4Petrol7.5–7.8 L/100km135 kW
LS$40,740–$43,240front, 4x4Petrol7.7–8.1 L/100km135 kW
LS Black Edition$42,490frontPetrol7.7 L/100km135 kW
Aspire$44,240–$46,7404x4, frontPetrol7.7–8.1 L/100km135 kW
Exceed$51,9904x4Petrol8.1 L/100km135 kW
Exceed Tourer$54,4904x4Petrol8.1 L/100km135 kW
PHEV - ES$54,590–$62,9904x4Hybrid1.5 L/100km185 kW
PHEV - Exceed$65,9904x4Hybrid1.5 L/100kmN/A
PHEV - Exceed Tourer$70,9904x4Hybrid1.5 L/100km185 kW
PHEV - GSR Limited Edition$52,4904x4Hybrid1.9 L/100km157 kW


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About the Mitsubishi Outlander

The Mitsubishi Outlander has been the Japanese brand’s midsized SUV offering since 2003.

It competes in a class featuring other highly popular models, such as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Mitsubishi’s fourth-generation Outlander arrived in Australia in 2022, presenting as a roomier and classier offering than the third generation, and sharing a platform with the new Nissan X-Trail.

The Mitsubishi Outlander is offered in five trim levels, two powertrains (2.5L petrol and plug-in hybrid), with the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. It can also be specced as a seven-seater, if more realistically a 5+2 configuration.

Not all these combinations are available across all trim grades.

The plug-in hybrid, which combines electrification with a four-cylinder engine, is available in four trim levels and delivers an EV-only range of around 80km.

Unlike the previous Outlander, the latest PHEV is also offered as a seven-seater, giving it a strong USP in this segment.