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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS 2017 review

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Mitsubishi's plug-in hybrid Outlander is officially the best-selling electric vehicle in Australia. Though to be fair, that's like saying Blockbuster is the country's best-performing video store.

Mitsubishi's plug-in hybrid Outlander is officially the best-selling electric vehicle in Australia. Though to be fair, that's like saying Blockbuster is the country's best-performing video store. It doesn't mean much if nobody is noticing, and the Outlander PHEV isn't exactly flying off the shelves.

But that's no fault of the plug-in Outlander - it's sold more 120,000 units globally since its launch in 2014. It's just that Australia's taste for electric vehicles is lacklustre, and the absence of meaningful government support isn't helping. Or, in the words of Mitsubishi's own executives, "Sales in Australia are still in an infancy period…but we're hopeful."

MORE: Read the full Mitsubishi Outlander 2017 review

Since its launch in 2014, the hybrid Outlander has moved around 1650 units here (substantially less than the Prius, which managed almost that many last year alone, but a quirk of the official classification system ensures Mitsubishi's PHEV is classified as an EV rather than a hybrid), which is but a drop in the regular Outlander's petrol-powered ocean, with the conventional models selling more than eight times that number every single year.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

But Mitsubishi is hoping this 2017 update will go some way to changing all that, adding a pure EV mode that will allow you to waft about town using nothing but power from the twin electric motors, and tweaking the acceleration and handling for when you're in the mood to burn some fossil fuels.

So, is that enough to attract buyers to the plug-in Outlander like moths to the flicker of an electric candle?

Mitsubishi Outlander 2017: PHEV Hybrid
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeHybrid with Regular Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency1.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$25,850

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Most green-spec vehicles look, well, a little weird. And that's because they're purchased by people who smell faintly of homemade muesli and desperately want you to know they're driving an Earth-friendly vehicle.

But peel the 'hybrid' badging off the side of the Outlander P-HEV, and it looks identical to its full fuel-burning cousins, all of which are now rather handsome in an old-school and vaguely masculine fashion.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Up front, Mitsubishi's plasticky grille dominates the front end, and while it's a touch too busy for our tastes, it gives the Outlander some commanding street presence when viewed front on (or in a rear-view mirror). Elsewhere, though, it's a plain and unchallenging design, with a simple side profile and a rear view that looks skinny and tall.

Coolest of all, though, is the futuristic gear stick that makes you feel like you're shifting the Enterprise every time you select drive or reverse.

Inside the LS, the lovely leather-trimmed seats are centred with a chunky-ribbed suede. They're comfy, too, though they could use more side bolstering. The door panels are lined with quilted leather and some pretty unconvincing wood panelling, but a rock-hard plastic insert offers a tip that some cost corners have been cut.

The soft-touch dash is a quality addition and the centred 7.0-inch touchscreen is a big, clear and easy-to-use unit, even if satellite navigation is a glaring omission at this price point.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Coolest of all, though, is the futuristic gear stick that makes you feel like you're shifting the Enterprise every time you select drive or reverse. It's the only nod to that kind of gadgetry in the cabin, and it's cool.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Mitsubishi's marketing schtick for the Outlander PHEV LS is that it's the "the EV with no compromises"  - all the load lugging space of a mid-size SUV with the fuel-sipping antics of a plug-in hybrid. And to be fair, it does make sense. Provided you're happy with a five seat version (there's no seven seat model available) there is no obvious practicality sacrifices in opting for the hybrid.

Boot space is a near identical 463 litres with all the seats in place, and climbs to a near enough bang-on 1602 litres when you drop the 60/40 rear seats. Interior space is unchanged, too, so the cabin remains a bright and airy place up front, with enough room for backseat passengers to ride in comfort.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Upfront, there are two cupholders, with room in the doors for bottles. Hidden in the central storage bin you'll find twin USB points and a 12 volt power outlet. Look up, and there's a purpose designed sunglass holder mounted in the roof lining, too.

Backseat passengers share two cupholders hidden in the pulldown divider that separates the rear seats, but that's about it. The second-row vents are floor mounted, and there's nada in the way of power or USB outlets. There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each rear window seat.

Towing capacity has dropped slightly compared to the equivalent petrol-powered model, now 1500kg instead of 1600kg.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The Outlander arrives in two trim levels, the entry-level (but not cheap) LS - the car we've tested here - and the more luxurious-feeling Exceed.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The $50,490 LS arrives comprehensively equipped, with leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry and start. You can also expect 18-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights and wipers, along with an Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-equipped 7.0-inch touchscreen that partners with a six-speaker stereo. LED DRLs join LED head and tail-lights, along with roof rails, rear privacy glass and front fog lights.

Shell out another $5k - lifting your total spend to $55,490 - for the Exceed model and you can expect to add full-leather seats that are heated in the front, an electric sunroof, powered boot and a cool 'EV remote' function that displays the car's electric vitals on your smartphone. Your standard safety equipment also gets an almighty boost, but we'll come back to that in the Safety section.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The conventional power is delivered via a 2.0-litre petrol engine that will produce 87kW at 4500rpm and 186Nm at 4500rpm. It's joined by two electric motors - one at each axle - which can kick in another 60kW to the total.

It's a dark art, measuring official fuel consumption in an EV vehicle.

How much power you get, though, depends on how you're using it. Leave it in pure EV mode, and 60kW is your total output. Venture into 'Series Hybrid' mode and the engine will help deliver another 60kW, bringing your total to 120kW.  Finally, drive entirely on petrol power, and you'll be using the petrol engine's 87kW. Mitsubishi claims maximum combined power at 120kW and combined torque at 320Nm.

That power is fed through a single-speed automatic gearbox and ultimately sent to all four wheels.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

It's a dark art, measuring official fuel consumption in an EV vehicle. The official claimed/combined figure is 1.7 litres per hundred kilometres on the claimed combined cycle, but we returned closer to 7.5L/100km after a long day of fairly placid driving. Combine that with a 45-litre tank and it means long-distance touring is going to require plenty of fuel stops. Official C02 emissions are pegged at 41g per kilometre.

You'll get a claimed 54 kilometre range in pure EV mode, and plugged into normal power, the battery will take 6.5 hours to charge. A fast charger will give you an 80-per cent charge in 25min.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

Mitsubishi might have cracked the code in making electric vehicles (even those with a little help from a petrol engine) interesting, and that's in handing control back to the driver. The huge paddles behind the steering wheel which would flick up and down through the gears in a conventional Outlander have been tweaked to control the level of regenerative braking, with five levels (one being not much, five being lots) that control how much power is fed back into the battery packs.

It's smooth and quiet in full EV mode, and seamless in the way it flicks between power sources.

That, paired with a gauge in the driver's binnacle that tells you when you're recharging the batteries, adds a weird sense of achievement to the whole experience. And strange as it sounds, we were glued to the dials trying to pump power back into the batteries. A long drive with plenty of downhill runs will significantly charge the batteries, too.

Elsewhere, though, sliding into the wide and comfortable driver's seat of this plug-in hybrid Outlander is a comfortingly familiar experience, whether you've driven EVs before or not. And if you keep it on surface streets in the CBD or suburbs, it's smooth and quiet in full EV mode, and seamless in the way it flicks between power sources.

The acceleration in this refreshed model has been mapped to be "more aggressive", though we suspect the words "than a marshmallow" might be missing from that statement. Pack a lunch for a flat-footed sprint from 0-100km/h, but it feels plenty perky enough when pulling away from a light, or when you're already up and running.

One issue, though, is that the Outlander PHEV's extra weight and its location makes cornering something of a mystery. The steering offers little in the way of feedback, and there's plenty of play in the wheel, so corners can require a sudden, second turn in. That, combined with soft suspension that's great at ironing out road bumps, but less so at preventing the vehicle rocking, left us feeling genuinely seasick when we tried pushing the boundaries.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS arrives with seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain, along with a driver's knee bag), which join hill start assist, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and a full suite of traction and braking systems including EBD, ABS and traction and stability control.

Stepping up to the Exceed model unlocks adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with AEB and lane departure warning, along with blind-spot monitoring and front parking sensors.

The Outlander range scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when crash tested in 2014.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Outlander PHEV range is covered by Mitsubishi's five-year/100,000km warranty, which includes the battery, and will require servicing every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.

The brand's capped-price servicing program limits maintenance costs to $250 per year for the first three years.

Verdict

If we're all to be driving plug-in vehicles in the not-too-distant future, cars like the Outlander PHEV will go some way to easing that transition.

Easy, breezy suburban cruising in full EV mode, with the ability to knock off long distances with the help of its petrol engine. Plus, there's a ton of space in the boot. If you're after a spirited and dynamic drive, look elsewhere, but if fuel-budget-friendly (and mostly green) motoring appeals, then the Outlander PHEV does it very well indeed.

It might be Australia's best-selling electric vehicle, but is it your next family SUV? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$23,725
Based on 462 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,985
Highest Price
$39,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Aspire PHEV Hybrid 2.0L, Hyb/ULP, 1 SP AUTO $29,260 – 35,200 2017 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER 2017 Aspire PHEV Hybrid Pricing and Specs
ES 5 SEAT (2WD) 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $18,260 – 23,100 2017 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER 2017 ES 5 SEAT (2WD) Pricing and Specs
ES 5 SEAT (AWD) 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $19,470 – 24,640 2017 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER 2017 ES 5 SEAT (AWD) Pricing and Specs
ES 7 SEAT (2WD) 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $19,999 – 25,990 2017 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER 2017 ES 7 SEAT (2WD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption8
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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