Car Reviews

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review

IN A NUTSHELL: Not much has changed visibly for the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV but there are additions elsewhere that add substance to what is the only – and by default the best – plug-in hybrid electric SUV under $50k.

What is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

When it launched here in 2014 the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the most affordable plug-in electric SUV money could buy. Five years later, it still wears that crown.

Despite a decade passing we’re left waiting for alternatives such as the Ford Escape PHEV to arrive, Toyota Australia says it won’t take the overseas RAV4 plug-in and Mazda has nothing to compete with. True, the Hyundai Kona (fully) electric isn’t priced far off the top-spec Outlander PHEV, but it’s much smaller, and if you run out of electricity, you’ll need to wait a while to charge back up rather than drive on traditional fuel.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV rear

That’s where the Outlander offers an appealing balance for many customers. It claims it can drive for 54km using the electric motors only, but also has a petrol engine that can drive around Australia without having to charge once. Or, you might run the setup like a hybrid, minimising fuel economy and balancing both petrol and electric power.

Despite changes to the powertrain in 2020 – a larger battery and different engine – economy creeps slightly up and the electric-only range stays the same. The rest of the changes are noticeably positive.

What does the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV cost and what do you get?

Three trims models are available – ES, ES + ADAS and Exceed.

Pricing for the base ES is $46,990 plus on-road costs or $50,990 drive-away. It comes with 18-inch alloys, fabric trim seats, LED headlights, 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, AEB, automatic headlights and wipers and push-button ignition.

The ADAS pack adds $1000 and brings driver assistance aids such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic highbeams.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 badge

The top-level Exceed is priced at $55,990 plus on-roads or $59,990 drive-away. It has everything the ES + ADAS has plus leather trim seats, sunroof, electric tailgate and sat nav.

What’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV interior like?

The aging model it is, the Outlander doesn’t offer anything special from its interior design or layout. It is, however, very functional and non-offensive. There are also some nice material highlights in the top model Exceed.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 interior

The fabric trim on the base model’s seats is appealing if you don’t want leather because of the quality of the finish and stitching on the pews. They’re also comfortable with changes to include lumbar support with 22.5mm movement, a key feature for fleet and long-distance drivers. And for rear-seat passengers, the foam has been upgraded so it’s more resilient, plus there’s an air vent for heating and cooling back there. The leather in the Exceed is equally nice and convenience is bolstered by heated front cushions with electric adjustment. 

Some other changes include a larger 8.0-inch infotainment system and a small digital driver’s instrument cluster. 

How much space is there in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

In the mid-size SUV segment, the Outlander has always offered a reasonably spacious cabin with good separation between the front and rear seats. This liberates legroom so that it isn’t crampy, even for adults, and the boot is a decent 463-litres large, though compromised somewhat by the battery pack and electric motor underneath. And while most non-PHEV models have the option for seven seats these electric models don’t.

What’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV infotainment like?

A larges display screen only brings a better infotainment experience, now measuring 8.0-inches wide. Standard connectivity options are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth. Sat nav is also standard in the system in Exceed, so you don’t need to hook up a phone via CarPlay or Auto to navigate.

The new 510W six-speaker sound system is pretty punchy too, and volume can be cranked without distortion. Mitsubishi tells us this is because of the use of titanium and glass fibre speakers. 

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 infotainment

Also available to PHEV drivers is a free app for Android and Apple iOS phones. With that, you can do things like check the car’s charge status, set a charging schedule (say, for off-peak charging) and turn the parking lights on and off.

And the driver’s EV dial in the binnacle has been updated to be easier to read. A small change but an important one nonetheless.

What’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV engine like?

The point of the Outlander PHEV’s existence is that it combines a conventional petrol engine with an electric motor. In this instance, it is the 4B12 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol also used in the updated 2020 ASX. Previous Outlander PHEVs had a lesser-powered 2.0-litre motor.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 gearshift

There are two electric motors too, one at the front and one at the rear. The front produces 60kW and the rear 70kW (up by 10kW). These are powered by a 13.8kWh battery, which is 1.8kWh larger than before, however, the electric-only driving range is the same 54km.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 charging

The net result of the upgrades is that the drivetrain is more powerful. It develops 94kW and 199Nm, cutting down the 0-100km/h from 11 to 10.5 seconds. That’s not very quick, and the car doesn’t feel quick on the march to the ton, but at slower speeds, it has a quick takeoff from the line. It’s just that the huff runs out over 80km/h – but is still good enough for overtaking without much worry.

The engine is mated to a single-speed automatic, controlled from a highly stylised gearshift. There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel but these are not for ‘gears’, instead, they controll the regenerative braking from heavy to light response.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV fuel economy

Mitsubishi tells us that the larger-capacity engine is actually more efficient due to a more efficient Atkinson cycle at lower revs. Unfortunately for Mitsubishi, it would appear this is not the same rev range NEDC tests at, as the official combined fuel consumption claim grows from 1.7L to 1.9L/100km. Hardly anything to worry about, and in our day’s driving up and down a mountain and across Canberra, we managed to return figures from a low 2.4L/100km to just under 5.0L/100km without much electric assistance.

What’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV like to drive?

The transition from electric to petrol power is seamless and the Outlander PHEV is a comfortable SUV to drive. When you first hit the accelerator the car begins moving from the electric motors alone, and then the petrol kicks in to supplement power. 

You can command the electric powertrain’s assistance using the EV mode button on the centre console. It can be set so that you’re only using electric power, that the battery is maintained at its current level, or that charge is sent to the battery. And there’s even a Sport mode button now, which uses Mitsubishi’s S-AWC all-wheel traction control smarts to maximise grip levels when cornering and keep the relatively heavy SUV from ploughing nose-first across a bend. And it works well.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 driving

But most of the time it’ll be pedalled to and from work, dropping off the kids at school and cruising around the city. It’s good at this because cabin noise is well dampened and the electric range is great for lowering fuel consumption. Theoretically, if you live close enough to work, you might not need any petrol for commuting. But you will have to charge up at a public fast charger or on a normal powerpoint. The prior can charge the car in just 25 minutes, while the latter can take up to 7 hours if it’s a 10amp GPO.

How safe is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

The Mitsubishi Outlander has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating (tested 2014).

Standard safety on the base ES is thin, equipped with AEB and hill start assist. The ADAS pack adds lane departure warning, adaptive cruise and automatic highbeams. The Exceed model is equipped with the most safety assists, including misacceleration mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring and lane change assist.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2020 front

What are the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV alternatives?

If you want a mainstream mid-size SUV plug-in hybrid the Outlander PHEV is the best choice. Ford’s Escape PHEV will arrive next year, and there’s the Toyota Rav4 hybrid, which is a good hybrid but doesn’t have the electric-only range of the Outlander because the battery is small and you can’t plug it in. Beyond SUVs is the Hyundai Ioniq, which is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicle. But it’s certainly a fair bit smaller.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Pricing And Specifications

Price From $46,990+ORC Warranty Five years, 100,000km Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, two x electric motors (60kW rear, 70kW front) Power 94kW at 4500rpm Torque 199Nm at 4500rpm Transmission Single speed Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4695mm long, 1800mm wide, 1710mm high, 2670mm wheelbase Ground Clearance 190mm claimed Angles 19.5-degrees approach 21-degrees departure Boot Space 463 – 1602L Spare No Fuel Tank 45L Battery Charge Time 6.5 hours (25 minutes fast charge) Thirst 1.9L/100km claimed combined

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Editor's Rating

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If you don't care much for low fuel economy or owning an electrified vehicle the Outlander PHEV doesn't make much sense over normal petrol and diesel models. But if you have an open mind it's certainly worth test driving. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to live with and the packaging compromises - namely the boot space - are minimal. And the low cost of running one is a highlight.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae