Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed

Mike Boyd - February 28, 2020

I have to admit, I was perplexed in the lead-up to driving this week’s car and writing this review. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed was the second PHEV vehicle I had driven in two weeks. Déjà vu was kicking in hard as I hopped into the very comfortable front seats of the Outlander. “Remain objective…” I kept telling myself.

After about an hour behind the wheel I realised that I had very little to be worried about. The Outlander had its own identity and was in no way trying to be something it wasn’t, which was my greatest concern on reflection, because the previous week’s PHEV absolutely stole my heart.

I came away from my week with the Outlander PHEV Exceed completely convinced of two things. Firstly, that the mid-to-large sized SUV market is absolutely perfect for PHEV technology. The ideal blend of practicality and lifestyle – let’s face it, nothing in the PHEV market is going to do any proper off-roading, which is probably a good thing.

The second was that the concept of a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) means very different things to every manufacturer. That ensures that we as the car-buying public, have the ability to choose the right PHEV for the way we live and most importantly, the way we drive.

Highlights

PriceFuel EfficiencyLooksComfort
$56,390 plus
on-road costs
~6.5 L/100km
(City Driving)
6/108/10
Life StyleLife StageSafetyOn The Road
Luxurious City DrivingFamilies⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
ANCAP
7.5/10

Interior

I loved the tv show Dr Who as a child and always marvelled at The Tardis. How could a Police Box be such a facade to the Dr’s world? Well Tom Baker (the best Dr) would feel right at home in the Outlander. The roominess inside the cabin is brilliant front to back. The lack of a driveline to the back wheels means that the centre console running from the dash to the back seats is really low giving a very pleasant sense of height in the cabin.

Unfortunately there’s a garish faux carbon-fibre weave dressing that adorns the centre console. Thankfully a large drink holder/storage area can be opened breaking it up a little.

The seats front and back are very comfortable with plenty of electronic adjustment available for the front passengers including 2-stage heating for the cooler months.

Speaking of heating, the Outlander PHEV uses an old-school radiator set up to heat the cabin. Normal petrol/diesel cars use the engine to heat the cabin. With an electric motor that’s not as easy. The electric heater pumps hot water around the car to keep it warm. How clever is that!

Once behind the wheel of the Outlander the build quality becomes very apparent with a very strong and reassuring thud of the doors as they close.

Important things first with plenty of 12V charging sockets and a USB socket to connect Apple Car Play and Android Auto. A 12V/120W socket in boot came in very handy to run the air-compressor to pump up the tyres on my daughter’s bike.

Steering wheels really are a window to the level of importance designers place on the enjoyment of driving. Thin, hard steering wheels with very little function are still quite common. Thankfully, the Outlander PHEV Exceed has a really chunky wheel with a lovely blend of leather and spongy plastic that is really nice to hold. In terms of function there is an adequate array of buttons to control the DAB ready 8 speaker Power Sound System audio, phone calls via Bluetooth, and the Adaptive Cruise Control.

Leg and headroom are plentiful throughout the cabin with a surprising amount of room in the back seats with someone tall in either front seat.

The large 8″ touchscreen is the brain of the Outlander and gives great control to every function on the car, from power consumption data to navigation and understanding how the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) engine and transmission technology is moving power to all four wheels.

The power tail-gate – pretty much standard on all SUVs today – was very slow and pedantic about the car being in Park before you could think about opening it. Not great for the school-run when seconds count.

A load of cameras ensure very good visibility when parking and sensors front and rear ensure you make the most of even the tightest spots. Whilst we had the Outlander PHEV Exceed, Sydney copped an utter drenching and I did notice on a couple of occasions that the exterior cameras would be over-run with droplets of rain which inhibited vision. This was especially annoying at night.

The lack of an auto-dipping left exterior mirror boggles the mind. I cannot believe this is not a standard feature on any vehicle that has parking sensors.

Exterior

From the outside, the Outlander PHEV is quite tricky to tell from the regular petrol or diesel Outlander. The PHEV models have different wheels and that’s pretty much where the differences end with the exception of some different chrome trim at the front.

The track and wheelbase proportions are spot on as are the doors and the overhang front and rear. Our test car was finished in a Red Diamond premium paint finish which looked great.

The PHEV connection point is at the rear and includes multiple connection points for every eventuality. Ground clearance is also very good with very little risk of doing too much damage should you venture off-road in 4×4 mode with the clever twin-motor set-up.

On The Road

Once you work out the gear selector (which trapped me for a few minutes) you realise that Mitsubishi really know what they are doing in the trick-transmission and PHEV department.

The Outlander is pretty much standard in its setup of the hardware. A load of Lithium-ion batteries in the floor power the rear wheels and a regular petrol engine up-front powering the front wheels. That’s where we the standard set-up ends.

Depending on which driving mode you are in, the electric motor can put up to 70kW to the back wheels and 60kW to the front wheels. In parallel the 2.4 litre 4 cylinder MiVEC engine up front can put 94kW to the front wheels via a single fixed transmission – much like you would find on a scooter.

The really impressive show is the way in which the two motors work together to give a very comfortable and seamless drive experience. The single speed gearbox on the petrol engine is a little gutless down low, but the electric motor is good for 50km+ and fills in the initial launch gaps very well.

The other feature on the Outlander that I loved, was the ease with which I could set the electric motor to recover the braking energy and store it for use later. I spent a few trips one afternoon running the kids around and was able to increase the electric battery level to almost 50%. I found this very easy to find and enable via the switches next to the gear selector.

Charging the battery from a standard wall socket will take up to 7 hours which means overnight you’re ready to go for another 50km tomorrow. We found a Fast Charger at a Westfield Shopping Centre that gave us almost 75% charge in just over half an hour.

As a driver, you very much notice the bulk of hauling all those batteries around. Like the Volvo XC60 we tested a few weeks ago, the Outlander tips the scales at 2.3 tonnes.

It’s an impressive list of safety features on the Outlander. Lane Departure Warning (LDW) as well as Lane Change Assist (LCA) and a trio of cameras and sensors provide a very robust view of any potential front-on collisions with the Forward Collision Mitigation system. As you would also expect the Outlander has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

All in all, the Outlander is a great city electric run-about for families and out on the open road, the single speed gearbox takes a little getting used to, but you will eventually find its sweet-spot and enjoy it.

For & Against

✅ Very clever electric motor and battery system. Seamlessly blends with the petrol motor for a very pleasant ride.

✅ Feel very luxurious for its price-point.

✅ Safety and drive enhancement features are impressive.

 Transmission makes the engine rev hard to get momentum.

 Sunroof too small. Rather not have one at all.

 Tailgate very slow.

Who Will Love This Car?

This is the perfect family car for families looking for loads of space, some very clever PHEV technology to help the wallet, and a vehicle that will still look good in a few years when it comes time to upgrade.

Pricing

$56,390 plus on-road costs. Red Diamond paint +$550.

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