With many Australians still wary of going all-in on a pricey and unfamiliar electric vehicle, is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV actually a strike of brilliance?

It’s taken years for Australians to sit up and take notice of plug-in hybrids, which are prolific in Europe and other parts of the world, and this is despite a seemingly insatiable demand for self-charging or series-parallel hybrid vehicles.

Yes, for many Aussies there is just something about plugging the damn thing in that makes it all seem a bit like hard work. But our slack nature isn’t all to blame, as PHEVs have historically had small batteries with equally small ranges that doesn’t always bode well for big-country living. 

The outlier in this situation has long been the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which not only proved to be genuinely efficient in the real world but also presents a tantalising ownership proposition overall, a combination that made the last (and first) generation the best-selling plug-in anywhere in the world.

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Just as the old Outlander was beginning to look a bit tired, a new generation was thrust upon in late 2021, offering a modernised take on the midsize SUV that doubled down on what made the breed great and even brought something special back to the Mitsubishi brand. And the PHEV version arrived more recently, in August this year. 

Most notably, the latter’s battery size grew from 13.8kWh to 20kWh and the electric motors became more efficient, a combination that Mitsubishi says allowed the electric driving range to grow substantially from 54km to 84km.

Engineers also set about making the Outlander PHEV quite a bit more powerful, with the 85kW front and 100kW rear motors offering a significant step up from the old 60kW/70kW duo. 

Working in conjunction with a 98kW 2.4-litre petrol engine, the trio produces a potent 185kW and 450Nm – that’s near hot hatch levels of grunt.

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But why is it here, in the Chasing Cars garage, and for a six-month tenure? 

Electric vehicles are rapidly growing in popularity here in Australia but their appeal remains limited due to a lack of long-distance driving chops, the high price of entry and sheer unfamiliarity to most buyers. All of which is improving, if slowly.

So if EVs are the car of tomorrow, then is the Outlander PHEV the car of today? The form guide suggests that it has enough electric driving range to easily tackle the urban work run without using a drop of fuel and it appears affordable enough for many families to buy and run.

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More importantly, the assistance of the petrol engine means it still has the legs – around 800km worth, says Mitsubishi – for serious and potentially hassle-free grand touring, which is a big lure for weekend adventurers like me. 

The Outlander PHEV is one of a few plug-in hybrids on sale, with the significantly more expensive Peugeot 3008 and incoming Mazda CX-60 joining it for company in its midsize SUV segment. That said, it’s really the likes of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that will keep Mitsubishi up at night.

A recent price increase of between $1000 and $1500 for in-bound MY23-badged models has raised the price of entry up to $55,490 (before on-road costs) for the entry-level ES but we’ve opted for the Aspire in Red Diamond ( a $940 extra), which represents a bit of a sweet spot in the range given its long list of features and $61,990 ask – though as ours in an MY22 model it comes in slightly cheaper at $60,990.

These include:

  • 12.3-inch digital driver’s display
  • 9.0-inch touchscreen
  • Head-up display
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Six-speaker stereo
  • Synthetic leather and suede-appointed seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • 360-degree camera
  • 20-inch wheels
  • Power tailgate
  • Vehicle-to-load capability
  • Two 240-volt standard sockets

For those wanting a bit extra they can opt for the Exceed at ($67,490), which throws in two extra seats to become a seven-seater and brings quilted-leather upholstery, pull-up sunshades and three-zone climate control.

However, the flagship remains the Exceed Tourer which is slightly more expensive ($69,990) but offers some seriously luxurious features such as massage seats, high-grade leather upholstery, heated seats in the second row and a two-tone paint job.

As the Outlander PHEV features the handy ability of running on either petrol or electricity, running costs when charging at home will be calculated at the rate of $0.25/kWh, while public chargers and fuel will be logged at the purchased rate.

Stay tuned for more

For the next six months and 10,000km production manager Tom Place will be putting ‘his’ Outlander PHEV Aspire to the test to discover what it’s really like to live with day to day. 

We plan to test every aspect of this Outlander PHEV during this time and are keen to hear any ideas you may have, so feel free to reach out to us via email or on social media.

Update 1: Welcome to the family

The Place family is getting broader and our needs more varied; so is the oddball Outlander PHEV actually a strike of brilliance for the modern family?

Earlier this year I embarked on a weekend away in our previous GWM Ute long-termer on a trip that sadly required it be filled upon return, and as the pump’s numbers rolled on by $120 all I could do was shake my head. It wasn’t even a full bloody tank.

It’s the small moments like these that make you look inwards to ways you can get through life on just a little bit less; a dim reality not helped by the fact that inflation has since spiked, the cost of rent is up and my partner and I have just welcomed a baby into our lives.

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So when editor Tom Baker threw me the keys to my Outlander Aspire and I learned it was ‘the hybrid one’, you can bet I was excited. But to say this new model is just about saving money is really doing it a disservice.

Mitsubishi has really gone all-in on the styling of the fourth-gen Outlander and while I personally haven’t been able to determine if I like it or not, it’s a commendably bold design similar to the likes of the Kia Sportage. Neither will melt into traffic quite so easily.

That modernised design has carried through to an interior that features a design and a sense of quality I wasn’t expecting. The door tops are finished with soft leather, the touchscreen is a handy 9.0-inches in size and the intuitive controls feel solid and fall nicely to hand.

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It also took me some time to find a feature this mid-spec Aspire didn’t have. However, my partner was quick to point out the lack of power adjustment on the front passenger side and the sweat-collecting nature of the combination suede and synthetic leather seats.

Most bizarre is the lack of wireless connectivity for Android phones when wireless Apple CarPlay is fitted as standard, making the wireless charger a bit redundant when I have to leave a cable plugged in anyway.

Though once I was plugged in and settled into those surprisingly comfortable seats, I confess I was quite surprised at how quick the Outlander PHEV is to drive – though with 185kW/450Nm and the benefit of instant torque from those electric motors, perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

While the non-hybrid Outlander I’d sampled prior felt controlled but quite harsh over bumps, the PHEV feels much softer in ride if more wayward in its body control, a fact not helped by the distinct lack of steering feel.

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That’s a slightly disconcerting combination when you have all that grunt at your toe-tips, though the Outlander PHEV does claw back some handling points thanks to its Super All-Wheel-Control that uses torque vectoring by braking front and rear to tighten your driving line.

I plan to spend more time investigating the driving dynamics of the Outlander but for the most part, this big red bus will mostly serve in hauling my family around town while we tackle the daily challenges of life.

Among these is my bi-annual trip back home from Sydney to Adelaide, which will see my family venture into terrain not partial to EV chargers. It will be interesting to see how the fuel economy stacks up over the 14-15 hour trip in the summer heat.

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Day to day, though, I plan to keep the Outlander’s 20kWh battery topped up as much as possible to see how long it can go without using a drop of petrol.

Mitsubishi has also made much of the fact that the Outlander PHEV’s battery can be used as a mobile power supply, a claim I will put to the test during camping trips with friends and by using it as a mobile office when on the road.

All this and much more is on the way and if you have any questions or ideas feel free to reach out to us, but for now stay tuned as we’ll have another monthly instalment soon.

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