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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.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GSR competes with:

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Mazda CX-9

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Toyota Prado

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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).

LED headlights, DRLs, front fog lights and brake lights are standard

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.

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Mitsubishi Outlander

Complete guide to the Mitsubishi Outlander

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The most visual interest is in the car’s nose, with the brand’s ‘Dynamic Shield’ treatment applied in full force

Mainly these large, angular (body-coloured) intrusions, defined by broad chrome bands

They follow the lower line of the headlights on either side as they push in towards the grille

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.

Storage options in the front include a medium-size centre storage box/armrest…
a generous glove box, decent door pockets with inserts for bottles…
two cupholders just ahead of the gear selector…
and a sunglasses holder in the overhead console.

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.

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Available cargo space is a handy 463 litres (to the top of the second row seat).
More than enough to accommodate a large pram…
or the CarsGuide suitcase set.

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.

It’s joined by a 60kW/137Nm electric motor on the front axle…
and a 70kW/195Nm unit at the rear.

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.

The powertrain is able to operate in three modes:
‘EV Mode’ sends battery power to the motors with zero tailpipe emissions.
‘Series Hybrid Mode’ directs power to the motors, plus engine power to charge the battery.
Then ‘Parallel Hybrid Mode‘ puts it all on the table - the engine driving the front wheels directly…
with the motors available when extra oomph is required

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.

That figure is predicated on plugging the car in for recharge on a regular basis.
Because EV-only range is set at 54km.
So, that next 46km is covered with the help of petrol power.
Let the battery sit without charge and fuel use will rise appreciably...

The engine runs happily on ‘standard’ 91 RON unleaded, but beware the tank only holds 45 litres. And a long, flat 13.8kWh Lithium-ion battery pack sits under the floor, delivering 300 volts to the motors.

Charging time to 80 per cent capacity using a DC fast charger is 25 minutes, and seven hours using a standard 240V (10A) domestic outlet; perfect for overnight or at-the-office recharging.

In the first part of the test week I kept the battery topped up, and used EV mode to consume precisely zero fuel.

Using Canstar Blue’s average rate of roughly 26 cents per kilowatt/hour (kWh) in NSW, Australia, energy per charge of the 13.8kWh battery (delivering that 54km range) will cost around $3.60. Even better if you can tap into an off-peak deal.

Using other modes in the latter part of the test, brought the engine into play and let the battery run down, resulting in an average for the week of 5.9L/100km over close to 250km of city, suburban and freeway running.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Outlander PHEV scores a maximum five-star ANCAP rating, but bear in mind that assessment was carried out way back in 2014, against less stringent criteria than the current standard. That said, the PHEV GSR features an impressive array of active and passive safety features.

As well as expected active systems like ABS, EBD, EBA, and traction and stability controls, active tech includes, ‘Forward Collision Mitigation’ (Mitsubishi-speak for AEB) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, ‘Blind Spot Warning’, lane departure warning, ‘Lane Change Assist’, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beam, and an ‘Emergency Stop Signal’ function. There are also front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

If all that isn’t enough to avoid an impact, the GSR is equipped with seven airbags (driver and front passenger front and side, full-length curtain, and driver’s knee).

There are three top-tether points for baby capsules/child restraints across the second row seat, with ISOFIX anchors in the two outer positions.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Mitsubishi came out of the clouds in October this year, jumping well clear of the new car market by offering a 10 year/200,000km warranty. The PHEV’s main power (traction) battery is warranted for eight years/160,000km.

The only caveat on the main warranty is that the car must be serviced on schedule at an authorised Mitsubishi dealer or service centre. Take your car elsewhere for maintenance and the deal drops back to five years/100,000km.

At the same time an upgraded version of Mitsubishi’s ‘Diamond Advantage’ program includes 10 year/150,000km capped-price servicing, up from the previous three-year/45,000km term.

Service intervals for the Outlander PHEV are set at 12 months/15,000km with annual costs varying from a minimum of $299, to a maximum of $799, the annual average over 10 years coming in at $489.

What's it like to drive?

The letters G, S, and R have history with Mitsubishi. Several other models in the current line-up wear them, and historically that badge has been attached to performance models, including a now iconic early ‘90s Lancer that reset bang-for-buck expectations in small performance sedans.

This time around, the Outlander PHEV GSR features a ‘Bilstein Premium Suspension’ package, consisting of front struts and rear shock absorbers from the famous German specialist, with increased front and rear spring rates, to boot.

Add the Sport mode, as well as some racy blacked-out exterior elements, and the clear inference is a lift in dynamic response.

But, after a week with the car, no matter which mode you’re in (there’s also a battery save setting) this GSR feels broadly the same as previous Outlander PHEVs. That is, decent ride comfort and impressive refinement, offset by numb, overly assisted steering.

Performance is more than adequate in the ‘burbs and on the freeway, but the most fun comes from playing with the paddle shifters to manage the regenerative braking function.

Lift off the accelerator pedal and the electric motors morph into power generators recharging the drive battery.

Six levels of regenerative braking can be selected...
via the paddles that look for all the world like gear selectors…
but aren’t.

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.

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A relatively tight 10.6m turning circle…
makes for easy maneuvering.

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.

Range and Specs

Vehicle Specs Price
Phev GSR 5 Seat (awd) 2.4L, Hyb/ULP, 1 SP AUTO $52,490
Phev Exceed 5 Seat (awd) 2.4L, Hyb/ULP, 1 SP AUTO $56,490
Phev (hybrid) Exceed 2.4L, Hyb/ULP, 1 SP AUTO $56,390

Pricing Guides

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Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

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Mitsubishi Outlander

Expert Rating

8.1 / 10

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 don't

  • Numb steering
  • Dated dash
  • Uninspiring drive
  • Price and Features

  • Design

  • Practicality

  • Engine & Trans

  • Fuel Consumption

  • Ownership

  • Safety

  • Driving

See all Mitsubishi Sport Outlander Reviews