Home » The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Offers Oodles Of Range But A Confounding Third Row

The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Offers Oodles Of Range But A Confounding Third Row

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Phev Topshot
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It feels fair to say that the past few years have been full of surprises. In the first three years of the new roaring ’20s, we learned that everyone just starts baking banana bread when they’re stuck at home for an extended period of time; that the most award-winning film of all time can be edited by a small team on Adobe Premiere; and that the new Mitsubishi Outlander is secretly good.

In an era when new car inventory is rebuilding, high prices and interest rates are resulting in ever-longer loan terms, fears over energy dependence are being stoked, and the automotive industry is intent on electrification, the plug-in hybrid Outlander is an intriguing proposition.

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However, just because something sounds perfect on paper doesn’t mean it always translates to the real world. When was the last time you ate something using a spork? So, let’s find out if the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is as appealing as it seems.

[Full disclosure: Mitsubishi Canada let me borrow this Outlander PHEV for a week so long as I kept the shiny side up, returned it refueled, and wrote a review on it.]

The Basics

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Price: Starting at $41,485 USD/$49,216 CAD; $50,780 USD/$59,598 CAD as-tested.

Engine: 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated 16-valve four-cylinder engine, 131 horsepower at 5,000 rpm; 144 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,300 rpm.

Electric Motors: Twin permanent synchronous magnet motors; 114 horsepower and 188 lb.-ft. of torque from the front motor; 134 horsepower and 144 lb.-ft. of torque from the rear motor.

Combined Output: 248 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque when in power mode.

Battery Pack: Lithium-ion, 20 kWh advertised capacity.

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Charging: J1772 Level 1 and Level 2 charging, CHAdeMO DC fast charging at 50 kW.

Transmission: Single-speed.

Drive: eAWD

Curb Weight: 4,607 pounds base; 4,751 pounds as-tested.

Rated Fuel Economy: 64 MPGe combined (3.6 Le/100km combined).

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Minimum Fuel Grade: AKI 87 octane.

Rated Electric Range: 38 miles (61 km).

Body style: Compact three-row crossover.

Why Does It Exist?

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Believe it or not, the previous Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was, at one point, the world’s best-selling plug-in hybrid crossover. Imagine that, Mitsubishi having a global best-seller in the past decade.

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As such, this was a critical product for Mitsubishi to get right as it holds appeal to North Americans who aren’t seeking the cheapest vehicle on the market. We’re talking a crossover with high-margin options, baby! Plus, it serves additional two purposes: Do battle in the hot compact crossover segment and be a faster version of Mitsubishi’s current flagship model in North America. No pressure there, right?

How Does It Look?

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Upon first glance, the Outlander PHEV looks like a cyborg rhinoceros, all chunky and resplendent in sharp creases and chrome. It’s a decidedly weird aesthetic, but it’s unabashedly Mitsubishi—despite its Nissan bones. Fundamentally, the new Outlander is a Nissan Rogue that someone upscaled in Photoshop without locking the aspect ratio. It’s a tiny bit longer, but everything from the suspension hardware to the base 2.5-liter gasoline engine will be very familiar to Nissan technicians. It’s a smart way of using the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to quickly develop a new car without most consumers noticing such commonality.

While the sheer area of the fake grille is unfortunate, the saber-toothed front fascia styling works well on this boxy CUV. I’m a fan of the color-keyed lower cladding on my top-spec tester, as it really emphasizes the beefy silhouette of the Outlander PHEV while looking more upscale than unpainted plastic. Sure, it’s a magnet for stone chips, but who cares? It helps this plug-in ute stand out from all the other crossovers on the road while visually lowering the vehicle.

Granted, the blacked-out roof also plays a role in the second effect, but harmony is great. Speaking of harmony, check out how the character lines down the doors converge at a hypothetical point toward the front of the vehicle. This pinch takes some awkwardness out of the drooping greenhouse, a smart little touch.

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How About The Inside?

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The cabin of my top-trim Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV tester is unexpectedly gorgeous, from the finely-knurled metallic controls to an abundance of stitched materials. The semi-aniline leather on my tester punches above this thing’s weight class with a satiny sheen and expensive aroma, and real aluminum on the center console nicely brightens the cabin with cold tactility. Every knob and switch moves with a pleasurable sense of weight, while thoughtful touches are scattered all about the interior.

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The remote releases in the cargo area for the second-row seatbacks are particularly helpful, while a smattering of USB-C charging ports should keep occupants occupied with their digital devices. A programmed stop in the panoramic sunroof shade lets you automatically expose an area roughly the size of a standard sunroof so you don’t bake your kids, and the easily-accessible third-row seat belt stays to prevent jangling buckles with the seat folded should be on every vehicle.

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However, look closely and you’ll find a few places where Mitsubishi cut corners. The door cards are a weird mix of plush, luxurious stitched materials and coarse-grained plastics befitting a Mirage. The electronic shifter is surrounded by the same sort of ribbed plastic you’d find around the automatic gear level of a mid-aughts Toyota Corolla. The third-row seat does a neat reverse flip to provide a flat cargo floor.

Still, there’s nothing actually latching it into the well and it’s not particularly heavy, so you’ll hear a nice thump from the cargo area if you encounter a particularly nasty expansion joint. Speaking of the third row, it has another fundamental problem that’s officially recognized in this diagram:

Mitsubishi Outlander Phev Seating Chart

Yep. Shall we see what third-row legroom actually looks like with the second row all the way back on its sliders?

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Oh, there isn’t any. Forget in-laws, I reckon it’s not even fit for outlaws. Thankfully, comfort in all other rows is segment-competitive, and Mitsubishi even provided a buttock scan in the press kit to show how the front seat foam takes some pressure off of the driver. I didn’t find the driver’s perch quite as comfortable as the seat in the Volkswagen Tiguan, but you can’t plug a U.S.-spec Tiguan into the mains.

How Does It Drive?

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The Outlander PHEV is a series-parallel hybrid, but far more series than parallel. Taking off from a stop, the gasoline engine won’t power the wheels directly. You can try brake-torquing it if you must, but all you’ll get is motor cogging. That’s because the gasoline engine is attached to two gearsets, one optimized for the generator and one providing a direct connection with the front axles. (If you’ve ever driven a Chevrolet Volt, the Outlander PHEV should feel like it has a familiar powertrain.)

If that isn’t interesting enough, the rear electric motor makes 20 more peak horsepower than the front electric motor, so you can feel a tiny bit of rear-biased rotation powering out of higher-speed corners. Speaking of high-speed cornering, the steering is sharp and accurate when you push it, while the series-parallel hybrid setup doles out speed with incredible smoothness to whisk you down on-ramps.

This Outlander isn’t as quick as a Toyota RAV4 Prime – figure zero-to-60 in the mid-to-upper six-second range – but it’ll show remarkable refinement if you ever want to get spirited.

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Right, silly stuff over, let’s talk electric range. The Outlander PHEV is officially rated for 38 miles of EV range, but that figure’s surprisingly easy to beat. In real-world highway driving, I saw 44 miles of electric range before the gas engine kicked in. No wonder this thing comes with CHAdeMO DC fast charging capability, it needs it.

However, given the slow phase-out of CHAdeMO as the industry switches to the more modern and widely used CCS (or Tesla’s standard), this port will only be useful for so long. While I don’t expect CHAdeMO fast chargers to disappear overnight, I’d be surprised if many stick around through the end of the decade. Just something to think about if you want to own an Outlander long-term and are banking on fast-charging.

In case you don’t want to use all your EV range up in one go, Mitsubishi has two solutions called “hold” and “charge.” Hold mode fires up the gasoline engine to maintain your current state of charge, while charge mode runs the gasoline engine a little bit harder to pump juice into the battery pack at a relatively quick rate.

Frustratingly, the rest of the driving experience goes downhill from there. The light, quick steering is a boon for scything through city traffic, but when combined with on-center vagueness, it imbues the Outlander PHEV with a darty feel on the freeway. Although low-speed damping is good, this plug-in CUV needs stiffer high-speed damping as pothole strikes and expansion joints can trigger some epically exaggerated body motions.

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Oh, and then there’s the brake pedal feel, which ought to turn you pale as a ghost. As with most electrified vehicles, the first few centimeters of travel work the regenerative braking rather than the friction brakes, but the pedal is so resistance-free that it feels like a brake line blew out.

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Switching to i-Pedal mode using the console switch that looks like a rotating panini fixes the brake pedal feel by moving all the regen to the accelerator pedal, but it’s not a smooth experience and isn’t actually a one-pedal driving mode that lets the car come to a complete stop. Oh, and if you can’t plug it in, don’t expect particularly good fuel economy. For a few days when the city performed an unexpected drivewayectomy on my flat, I was averaging 9.2 L/100km according to the onboard computer, which works out to about 26 mpg. That’s not a whole lot better than I’ve previously averaged out of several non-electrified competitors.

Does It Have The Electronic Crap I Want?

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Trust me, this top-trim model has almost all of it, and even some gizmos you never knew you needed. For instance, when was the last time you saw massaging seats in a mass-market compact crossover? Other than in a few loaded Volkswagen Group products, this feature is a segment rarity. Okay, so the massaging programs mostly just feel like someone holding an exercise ball is slowly running into you, but relaxation mode subtly works your shoulder blades to take the edge off a long day. Sounds nice, right?

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The Outlander adopts Nissan’s approach of shoving everything important into the cluster and using the infotainment screen almost exclusively for phone mirroring. As a result, you get a gorgeous 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s immensely configurable. You can bring up a compass and the current song playing through the stereo at the same time, monitor how much torque each electric motor is generating, keep tabs on individual tire pressures, and flip between traditional and vertical gauge layouts.

Speaking of gauge layouts, the Outlander PHEV doesn’t have a tachometer, but instead a power gauge displaying how many kilowatts you’re using divided by 10. In simple terms, it’s a gauge that goes up to 10 if you plant the go pedal through the carpet. Who wouldn’t want one of those?

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As for the infotainment system, it’s basic but usable. There’s a native navigation system offered on the top trim if you really need it, but Apple CarPlay looks fantastic on this high-gloss nine-inch screen with deep black levels and excellent response. Boot time on cold start is remarkably quick, and you even get a physical tuning knob in case you’re a terrestrial radio person.

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Speaking of music, the optional Bose stereo whips a surprising amount of ass. It definitely features a v-shaped sound signature so some equalizer fiddling is necessary, but power, clarity, and staging are excellent for a vehicle in this segment. From the throbbing bass on Tiga’s Mind Dimension 2 to to the delicate intricacy on Broken Social Scene’s Pitter Patter Goes My Heart, this stereo reproduces a great range of detail. Chances are that if I’m happy with it, you’ll be over the moon.

Being a modern vehicle, the Outlander PHEV features all the safety initialisms you can throw a Smith-Corona at. This top-trim model even came with Mi-Pilot, a re-skinned version of Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist Level 2 highway advanced driver assistance system that comes with a free virtual Lancer. In practice, it did a remarkable job of slogging down Toronto’s Don Valley Parking Lot at eight in the evening, although I do wish for tighter following distances in very slow traffic so you don’t get cut off by numpties.

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However, I do have concerns about the long-term reliability of all these gadgets, and I’ve placed my money and confidence in an aged Bangle-era BMW as my personal ride. During my week with the Outlander PHEV, the forward collision warning system took a brief vacation and Apple CarPlay once went on strike mid-journey on the car’s side, necessitating cycling the ignition. Something something, five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.

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Three Things To Know About The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

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  1. It offers an astonishing abundance of electric range.
  2. The top-spec interior is genuinely pretty luxurious, with semi-aniline leather and massaging seats.
  3. You can’t actually fit adults in the third row.

Does It Fulfill Its Purpose?

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From ugly duckling to remarkable swan, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the more dramatic automotive transformations in recent history. It offers shoppers more of everything than its predecessor, from luxury to electric range, and should prove a satisfying upgrade for owners of the old one. Its powertrain programming makes it feel a bit like the Chevrolet Volt crossover we never got, and the CHAdeMO DC fast charging port is a definite time-saver for those on the go, at least for the next few years while CHAdeMO-compatible DC fast charging stations are relatively common. However, the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV falls just short of greatness.

From the brake pedal calibration to the worrying number of electrical glitches on my test car, I couldn’t help but sense that it needs more time in the oven. Then there’s the matter of price – if you load the Outlander PHEV up with all manner of optional extras, it’s only a few grand off the price of a Mazda CX-90 PHEV, which offers adult-sized third-row seating.

If you don’t need a third row or mega EV range, the Hyundai Tucson Plug-In rides and brakes better than the Outlander PHEV, and if you like that powertrain but need a third row, there’s always the Kia Sorento PHEV. The bottom line? This segment’s getting crowded, and Mitsubishi isn’t the clear leader anymore.

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What’s The Punctum Of The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

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Attention PHEV crossovers: Your new electric range king has arrived.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal, Mitsubishi)

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- O S G O -
- O S G O -
3 months ago

Why does the grille/face of this vehicle remind me of the “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” in Chevy Chase’s ‘Vacation’ movies?

Wait, it is the “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” reborn as a PZEV!!

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
3 months ago

FWIW most of these infotainment systems can be rebooted mid-journey with some kind of keystroke. For example on my cars, you flip the nav and radio buttons up while pressing the rotary controller down. Good for when AA/CP decide to freeze up or whatever.

Andrew Bugenis
Andrew Bugenis
3 months ago

Two things I wish: That they offered this drivetrain in the Outlander Sport, and that they used CCS instead of CHAdeMO. Otherwise, this is a really solid vehicle, and frankly you’re more than fine charging at level 1 or 2 anyway so you can disregard the outdated port anyway.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
3 months ago

This sort of third row is for other people’s children. Not necessarily literally, but so your two can each bring a friend.

If you regularly carry adults in the third row, or teens, or people who will become teens in the time you plan to own the car, Just Buy The Damn Minivan.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
3 months ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

I’m actually ok with this sort of concept; the compact crossover with a third row. Because for people who know they’re going to use it on occasion, it can make sense to go with a vehicle that’s a foot and a half shorter than a modern minivan. Would I prefer that there be an option for a smaller-scale minivan? Sure, but those don’t exist right now.

Once you get into the need for frequent use of third row, it’s van time for sure.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
3 months ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

Or Uber XLs. More than once I’ve been with a group that got an Outlander for an XL. Like the Journey it technically works since there’s seatbelts in every seat, but something of a letdown when you’re expecting a minivan or at least like a Highlander.

Bruno Hache
Bruno Hache
3 months ago

And it’s probably the only PHEV that seems readily available at local dealerships. At least in Toronto, anyway.

Huja Shaw
Huja Shaw
3 months ago

Dear God, that’s an ugly grill!

Tom T
Tom T
3 months ago

I am bewildered at the fact that nearly all automotive journalists are unaware of the #1 biggest flaw in PHEV’s. Ignorance? All EV’s of any type on the market now are bound by the 1000 cycles rule. Generally, your battery will start to diminish greatly after 1000 charge/discharge cycles and will not last to 2000 cycles. Not a problem if you have a full EV with 250 mile range because at 1000 full cycles you could presumably have 250,000 miles on the odometer. In a PHEV with 38 mile electric range the total number of EV miles you will ever do ilimited to somewhere between 38,000 miles and 60,000 miles (and that’s being generous). You get this by multiplying the range by 1000. Unless PEVS’s are built with magical batteries with new chemistry that are far superior than what is in most EV’s (spoiler: they’re not) then it is physically impossible for them to last longer. Add to that the fact that the battery cooling systems in PHEVs are inferior (often times just a fan blowing air – Ford Energi) and you can see where this is going. How do I know, my ford PHEV started throwing check engine codes (HV battery voltage unstable) at 90,000km (54,000 miles) and ultimately needed the battery to be replaced under warranty but at a cost of 16,000$ to Ford Canada. I was wondering what went wrong until I realized that my driving strategy was to prioritize EV driving and out of that 54,000 miles I probably did 60% or 70% all electric so I did about 38,000 miles in EV mode when the battery failed. My car has a 32 mile all EV range so it all adds up. I estimate that I ran between 1200 and 1500 charge cycles. I saw range reduction 2 years before the check engine codes so I know now that the battery died because it had simply reached its lifetime limit. What’s worse about the FORD PHEV (toyota as well) is that the E-CVT is not actually a transmission but a planetary gear system that needs the input of at least 2 power sources to end up with the final gear drive. When the EV system fails you cannot even drive it in gas mode properly. It falls into a type of limp mode where the idle speed is always 1200, the engine is always on even at red lights, and the acceleration and braking is jerkey because regenative braking no longer works and the EV motor cannot add power/take power(charging) to properly adjust the final gear ratio. Moral of the story: do not buy a PHEV if you plan on keeping it long term. My driving strategy with the new battery is to never use it for highway driving over 50MPH or 100kph and to reduce the frequency of charging because I know the new battery will also only be good for just over 32,000 EV miles.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom T

respectfully, this seems like a lot of conjecture. I got 80k electric miles out of the Volt I drove for ~8 years, and on the forums saw most have a similar experience. Maybe only had a ~10% reduction of battery range in that time.

There were other potential issues which caused me to ultimately sell, but nothing related to what you’re trying to argue above.

Also, most PHEV’s have batteries that are warrantied for 8/100k, at least. So this idea of a 32k mile limit is ridiculous.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
3 months ago

Sounds like he just had a Ford experience.

D M
D M
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom T

Calling bs man…My Volt is my commuter that gets charged twice a day (home/work) and it has 120k miles on it with no issues or range loss…

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
3 months ago

When will you ever use that CHAdeMO?

3WiperB
3WiperB
3 months ago

I’m not aware of another PHEV with fast charging. It’s a little silly, but I consider it a bonus feature. There’s no need to fast charge 40 miles of range… just put a couple of gallons of gas in the tank. The gas is probably cheaper than paying 40-45 cents per kwh at a fast charger anyway. I assume it’s CHAdeMO because that’s still the standard in Japan and it would have cost money to install a different standard for the US, so they just left it. This was certainly in the running for our PHEV earlier this year, but since we already have a truck, we don’t need anything this large, so we got the 330e instead. We are still running at about 85% electric only use on that, even with a 20 mile range, but it saves us a lot of gas because it’s used on a ton of 1-5 mile trips.

Peter d
Peter d
3 months ago

When I have driven Mitsubishis (rental cars) I have usually been pleasantly surprised. While the pricing is no longer the great bargain it was a few years ago, they do seem to be competitively priced, and their warranty is extensive, if you have a decent local dealer you can recommend them to your non-car-addicted friends.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
3 months ago

That’s the ugliest digital gauge cluster I’ve ever seen. Please tell me it has alternate configurations because I can’t get any information out of that muddled mess at a glance.

Gregg Dalbert
Gregg Dalbert
3 months ago

It is definitely configurable. The author just happened to choose the ugliest possible configuration.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
3 months ago

I had an X5 with 31″ of 3rd row legroom that wasn’t good for anything except very small children in a booster. It has to win the award for smallest 3rd row ever? This things gotta be 20″ or less for the 3rd row, maybe only good for small dogs, but most small dogs ride on the stupid drivers lap.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
3 months ago

The cheapest 7-passenger PHEV, isn’t it?

Newcarpetsmell
Newcarpetsmell
3 months ago

I want to like this car, but at the price point I’m not sure it’s a better buy than the competition. Seen a couple in person and it looks decent, despite the messy front end. If they can get the price down it might be a good entry level PHEV. Quick search shows $42k for one of these and $47k for a RAV4 Prime.

Last edited 3 months ago by Newcarpetsmell
B L
B L
3 months ago
Reply to  Newcarpetsmell

You will absolutely NOT be able to get a RAV4 prime for less than like a 5k dealer markup over MSRP though.

Hanoj Nosaer
Hanoj Nosaer
3 months ago

Hot Take:
Mitsubishi has always generally been good at making automobiles. What they’re not making those cars appeal to the masses by providing and marketing things that really don’t make a vehicle better, but people think it does.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago
Reply to  Hanoj Nosaer

Corollary: this is GM’s greatest competency.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
3 months ago
Reply to  Hanoj Nosaer

I have a real, non-virtual Lancer. It’s unkillable. I love it.

Gregg Dalbert
Gregg Dalbert
3 months ago
Reply to  Hanoj Nosaer

My previous-gen [ICE] Outlander got laughed at a lot by the press, but it has been an exceptionally reliable and well-built vehicle for going on 5 years now. Mine is fully-loaded and the electronics have been reliable too. (Although I suspect the new ones are using newer-generation electronics shared with Nissan.)

The third row has been a lifesaver when it comes to occasionally carrying one or two kids back there, which is exactly why I bought it. Obviously I never bought it with any intention of using the 3rd row for adults.

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