It is not easy to come up with a unique proposition in a market where all manufacturers tried every combination. Whether it is a 3-row, or 2-row, big, small, off-road worthy or family-oriented, each brand has several different SUVs and Crossovers in their model lineup. On the other hand, Mitsubishi currently has four different models, and three of them are crossover, which shows how important they are for the brand.
Here we have the updated Mitsubishi Outlander. In typical Mitsubishi fashion, the previous Outlander was on the market with small tweaks for almost a decade, but they were one of the early inventors when it comes to a plug-in hybrid option. This year, it has been completely updated, but it still keeps its unique value proposition of a 7-seater with compact SUV dimensions, and a plug-in hybrid.
The new Outlander shares its platform with the Nissan Rogue, which is one of the end results of having a corporate partnership, it allowed Mitsubishi to share the engineering and R&D resources to come up with a better product. However, the most impressive part is that the Outlander looks completely different than the Rogue. They also took different routes when it comes to the technical details, especially the drivetrain choices.
Even by just walking around the new Outlander, it is not hard to see that Mitsubishi is trying to step up its game. The two-tone colour makes the Outlander looks very upscale in general. The front fascia looks undoubtedly Mitsubishi, with a huge chrome front grille with small daytime running lights that look almost like they are a part of the front grille. You will find the LED headlights located on each side of the front bumper, and fog lights located right underneath. The front bumper also has a fake skid plate mainly for looks.
The side profile has similarities with its corporate cousin, the Nissan Rogue, but there aren’t any common parts or body panels. Other than the Plug-in EV badges located on the driver and passenger doors, there are no indicators that this is an electric vehicle. If you know where are you looking at, you will find the “gas” cap on each side, and the right cap has the EV charging port. You will find sharp body lines go all the way to the back. However, I wish it didn’t have fake exhaust vents and a skid plate, it would have been a cleaner and gimmick-free design choice.
Just like the exterior, the dashboard design is also completely different than the current generation Nissan Rogue. I think it is the right choice, as Mitsubishi isn’t trying to be a copycat or budget version of its corporate cousin. That said, it is not a completely different experience, as they used the same infotainment screen, the digital instrument cluster, and some physical buttons all around the dashboard. The interior has surprisingly good build quality and nice materials for the price range.
The most impressive part about the interior is the diamond-stitched seats, they feel exceptionally comfortable. Although they don’t publicly advertise, we wonder if they share the “Zero Gravity” design used by Nissan. Unfortunately, there are no ventilated seats even with the top trim, but you will find massage seats for the front seat passengers, which is an interesting choice.
The rear seats are also quite comfortable with fewer adjustment options, but you have plenty of legroom and headroom even for taller adults. There are decent creature comforts for the rear seat passengers, including the 3rd climate zone, air vents, USB ports, sunshades, and small pockets behind the front seats. Getting in and out is very easy mainly due to the ride height, and a generous amount of headroom, and the rear door opens almost 90 degrees, which makes your life easier if you are planning to install rear-facing child seats. However, when it comes to the third row, it is not the ideal place to spend extra time, as you have a very limited space even for smaller adults. It is not easy to get in and out to the third row. Although it is technically a 7-seater, the 3rd row is only for emergency situations.
If you are planning to use the third row a lot, you should be mindful about the items that you are planning to carry, because you are not getting a huge storage space behind the third row. The updated Outlander PHEV offers 10 cubic feet (283 L) behind the third row, 33.5 cubic feet (948 L) of storage behind the second row, and a total of 78.5 cubic feet (2223 L) with the second and third rows folded down. For a Plug-in Hybrid, I think the numbers are respectable and there are no significant compromises when it comes to the overall interior space.
The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the few compact plug-in hybrids available, and it is the only one that allows you to have the middle row in the second-row seat, meaning that you can carry up to 7-passengers whereas the competition can only carry 5 or 6 passengers in total. However, the third row feels more like an afterthought not just because of limited space, but because the way to operate is not very user-friendly. You have to remove everything in the trunk to lift up the third row, which can be inconvenient for families that carry a lot of small items.
The updated Outlander has two different engine options, but the Plug-in Hybrid version only comes with the 2.4L naturally aspirated engine that generates a combined output of 248 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The Outlander PHEV comes with a relatively large 20.0 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located underneath the car, offering up to 62 kilometres of pure electric range. Also, it allows you to choose if you want to save the battery juice, use it, or just recharge it through the gas engine manually.
The Outlander PHEV is slightly ahead of the game when it comes to the overall EV range, but it suffers from a slow onboard charging system. Even with the Level 2 charging at home, it takes about 7.5 hours to fully charge the battery pack. If you are just using a regular 110v power outlet, it takes approximately 27 hours to fully charge, which is not acceptable by today’s standards. It also comes with a DC fast-charging system, but the CHAdeMo charging port is not very popular at least here in North America.
Driving the Outlander PHEV feels very similar to Nissan Rogue, as it shares a very similar driving position. However, the drivetrain and direct drive continuously variable transmission is focused on fuel economy, so whenever you need extra power to pass someone on the highway, the engine feels quite buzzy. For the most part, it offers a very comfortable ride thanks to its very soft suspension setup.
The Outlander PHEV shines when it comes to AWD capability. There are seven different driving modes based on the terrain, and the Super All-Wheel-Control system (S-AWC) works exceptionally well. Despite having a soft suspension setup, you can throw the Outlander into the corners in confidence, and the rear end swings around with the throttle input in a very predictable manner. Technically, it is a front-biased AWD system, but the S-AWC system sends power to the outer rear wheel for a more dynamic feeling, and that was the most surprising part of the driving experience.
Driving the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was a lot more than driving just another boring SUV in a positive way. Unlike the previous generation, it does not feel outdated right off the dealer lot. It is very impressive that Mitsubishi came up with a totally unique product using Nissan’s platform that has already proven itself. It not only provides a 7-seater option in a compact SUV segment, but also combines it with a Plug-in Hybrid drivetrain, and a great all-wheel-drive system.
|Transmission & Drivetrain||Continuously variable automatic – direct-drive|
|Max power||248 hp|
|Max torque||332 lb-ft|
|0-100 km/h||8.3 sec|
|Curb Weight||3864 lbs – 1752 kg|
|Fuel Economy (Combined)||64 MPGe – 3.7 l/100 km|
|Starting at (MSRP)||$68,507 CAD|