Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2021 review: GSR
Published 3 December 2020
Mitsubishi took a bold step in 2014, launching a ‘Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle’ (PHEV) version of its mainstream Outlander SUV.
Toyota had broken a lot of ground with its hybrid Prius variants, and others were getting hybrid and full-electric models into market. But the ‘foot-in-both-camps’ plug-in concept was (and still is) relatively rare.
The advantage is greater range running on battery electric power, balanced by the need to plug the car in regularly to maintain the ability to run with zero tailpipe emissions.
After a mid-life upgrade in 2015, the Outlander PHEV recently received another tszuj up with the introduction of this new mid-range GSR model, featuring a Bilstein-enhanced suspension tune, and added safety.
An all-new Outlander (including PHEV models) is due here in the first half of 2021. So, is it worth snapping up a deal on this sporty-ish newcomer, or keeping your financial powder dry until the next-gen arrives?
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The Outlander PHEV GSR stands alone in the Australian new car market as a mainstream, five-seat SUV with plug-in hybrid drive capability.
At $52,490, before on-road costs ($56,490 drive-away at time of writing), The only other options are more than double the price, in the shape of BMW’s X5 xDrive45e PHEV ($133,900), and the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge PHEV ($114,990).
In reality, at around that $50K+ price-point, you’re looking at purely internal-combustion powered SUVs.
But you didn’t come here to respect convention. The Outlander PHEV’s dual power personality has caught your attention. So, beside the tricky powertrain, what does this GSR cough up with in terms of standard features?
Aside from an impressive array of active and passive safety tech (covered later in the Safety section), standard equipment includes:
- dual-zone climate control air
- rain-sensing wipers
- a reversing camera
- auto headlights
- adaptive cruise control
- an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- microsuede seat trim with synthetic leather bolster (and silver contrast stitching).
Also included are:
- a four-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (with power lumbar support)
- heated front seats (two-stage)
- keyless entry and start
- eight-speaker audio with digital radio
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Bluetooth connectivity
- leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift
- Bilstein premium suspension
- rear privacy glass
- heated exterior mirrors (with turn lamp and fold control)
- roof rails (gloss black)
- an electric tailgate
Is there anything interesting about its design?
There’s nothing flashy or extravagant in the Mitsubishi Outlander’s design, with a relatively plain exterior form following the car’s load and people hauling function. Our test car’s ‘Red Diamond’ finish with ‘Black mica’ roof panel did dial up the premium feel, though.
On the GSR, the black mica extends from the roof to the roof rails and rear spoiler, as well as accent elements like the window surrounds and mirror caps.Locate a dealer
It might sound like flowery PR-speak, but the idea that the current Outlander’s ‘face’ echoes the shape of a samurai’s kabuto (helmet) is all my own work. Let me know in the comments if I’m onto something, or… not.
A hard character line running along the side of the car, just under the side windows, combines with a distinct recess in the lower part of the doors to add weight to the wheelarches, highlighting the 18-inch alloys underneath.
Design at the rear is inoffensive and uneventful, the only touch of flair delivered by angular tail-lights housing LED brake lights.
The interior displays a similar reserve, with a simple dash design housing the 8.0-inch multimedia screen and ventilation controls within a gloss black central fascia, defined by a neat brushed metal-effect border.
Conventional analogue instruments, with a small digital readout between the main dials is an indicator of the car’s age (there’s no digital speedo), but the GSR’s ribbed microsuede seat trim inserts add a cool, borderline racy, appearance.
How practical is the space inside?
At just under 4.7m long, 1.8m wide, and a little over 1.7m tall, the Outlander PHEV is a substantial, rather than huge, five-seat SUV. Space efficiency is impressive, though, and there’s plenty of room for the driver and front passenger.
The back seat is equally spacious, with enough leg and headroom for me (at 183cm/6’0”) to sit comfortably behind the driver’s seat set for my position. Shoulder room is great for two adults, marginal for three.
For storage, there’s a fold-down armrest with two cupholders, small bins in the doors with room for medium-size bottles, and a single map pocket on the back of the front passenger seat. Adjustable air vents in the rear of the front console are a big plus.
Connectivity/power outlets run to a USB-A socket in the front, and another in the back, with 12V power available in the front and boot.Download a brochure
That volume stretches to 1602 litres (measured to the roof) with the 60/40 split-folding rear seat lowered.
Weirdly there are two cupholders on the right-hand side, and an oddments tray on the left, obviously a hangover from seven-seat versions (unavailable in PHEV Outlanders). But there are handy wells behind the wheel tubs on both sides, a couple of storage boxes under the floor (one holding the recharge cable), and four-tie-down hooks for securing loads with straps or a luggage net.
Don’t bother looking for a spare of any description, a repair kit is your only option. But if you’re keen on towing, the Outlander PHEV GSR is capable of hauling a 1.5-tonne braked trailer (750kg unbraked).
What are the key stats for the engine, motors, and transmission?
The Outlander PHEV GSR is powered by an all-alloy, 2.4-litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, featuring Mitsubishi’s ‘MIVEC’ variable valve timing tech, and producing 94kW at 4500rpm and 199Nm at 4500rpm.
It’s designated ‘4B11’, and is used in other Mitsubishi models, including the Eclipse Cross. In this application, though, the variable valve timing tech is applied on the intake side only, and it’s worth noting this is a ‘square’ engine with the bore and stroke each measuring 86mm.
That strikes a good balance between low rpm torque delivery, and the ability to rev freely further up the range, although the engine is limited to a ceiling of 4500rpm to protect the motors and generator from possible damage.
Power is channelled to them via a ‘Power Drive Unit’ (PDU) at the front, and an ‘Electric Motor Control Unit’ (EMCU) at the rear. Quoted maximum (overall) outputs are 157kW/332Nm, and drive is managed by a single-speed automatic transmission.
Mitsubishi calls the twin-motor set-up ‘Super All Wheel Control’ (S-AWC) and aside from enhancing on-road stability it gives the PHEV GSR some-off-road cred. We’re not talking hardcore rock-hopping here, but it certainly helps on loose surfaces like gravel, firm sand, or snow.
A clutch on the front axle switches the system to the Parallel Hybrid set-up. Once the car is operating at the required speed any excess energy is fed back into the battery.
How much fuel does it consume?
Mitsubishi’s combined cycle fuel economy claim (ADR 81/02 urban, extra-urban) is just 1.9L/100km, emitting 43g/km of CO2 in the process.
Amazing when you think about comparable SUVs like the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel Ford Everest (6.9L/100km-178g/km), 2.5-litre turbo-petrol Mazda CX-9 (8.4L/100km-197g/km), and 2.8-litre turbo-diesel Toyota Prado (7.9L/100km-209g/km).
Even the conventional 2.0-litre petrol five-seat Outlander sits at 7.0L/100km-162g/km, but it’s important to put the PHEV’s low number in context.
The feeling behind the wheel is a lot like adjustable ‘engine braking’ in an internal combustion car, and an in-dash graphic shows when you are using the engine, motors, or both, as well as supplying energy from braking or the engine into the battery.
Apply the conventional brake pedal and the ventilated (294 mm) front, and solid (302 mm) rear discs do a good job of slowing down the roughly 2.0-tonne five-seater, with the regen function in support.
The seats are comfortable, and the cabin is well insulated from road noise, a factor amplified when running in EV mode.Book a test drive
The light steering, combined with a reversing camera, plus proximity sensors front and rear, also make parking straightforward.
For those wanting to use the Outlander PHEV’s AWD capability for mild off-highway adventuring, the car’s approach angle is 19.5 degrees, departure is 21.0 degrees, ramp over is 16.5 degrees, and minimum (unladen) ground clearance is 190mm. Three AWD settings - ‘Lock’, ‘Snow’, and ‘Normal’ - add extra capability and flexibility.
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Although some signs of age are creeping in, regular updates over a six-year run in the Australian market have helped the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV keep its head above water. This new GSR grade offers compelling value-for-money, great space-efficiency, and still unique to its segment plug-in hybrid flexibility. But if you’re after a genuinely sporty five-seat SUV experience don’t believe the Bilsteins and ‘blacked-out bits’ hype.
What we like
- Ownership package
What we don't
- Numb steering
- Dated dash
- Uninspiring drive