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2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV First Drive: A Favourite Defends its Turf

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV | Photo: D.Boshouwers
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Derek Boshouwers
Mitsubishi goes all out with the new generation of a cornerstone model
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, profile
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, profile | Photo: D.Boshouwers

•    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

•    No question, the overhauled plug-in SUV is a new and improved product in comparison with the outgoing model.

•    The bigger question is, is it better than the stiffer competition it now faces?

•    All-electric range from the Outlander PHEV is now 61 km.

Vancouver, BC - By its own admission, Mitsubishi has enjoyed success in Canada with its Outlander PHEV in part because the model benefited from a near-monopoly in its plug-in sub-segment. That’s not to discount the SUV’s significant qualities that have many Canuck motorists in particular receptive to its charms. But it’s been clear for a long time that the new generation of the Outlander PHEV would face far stiffer competition.

Because, no, this Mitsubishi is no longer the only viable, affordable option for those wanting a decent-sized SUV that can be plugged in to reduce gasoline costs (and lower emissions, of course).

No surprise, the new 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander is a superior being compared to the model it replaces. The question is, is it improved enough?

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2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, front
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, front | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The new Outlander
The plan for the new edition of the Outlander was to make its appearance stronger, and that started with widening it, and so it is, by 60 mm. The model is also a bit longer, stretching from 4695 mm to 4710 mm, and stands slightly higher.

The 2023 Outlander PHEV looks the same as the regular “new” Outlander (which debuted in 2022), with the exception of a second door for electric charging. There’s been a lot written about the design of the new SUV, some positive (nice-looking back end, a more rugged look, a bold approach overall) and some less so (a busy front end), and so we won’t dwell needlessly on that.

Same goes for the interior, which gets a number of elements taken from Nissan and its new-generation Rogue. Suffice to say that, the model having had its last major overhaul in 2014, the interior environment provides a much improved experience. No question, this is a more upscale space.

Note that the SUV comes with a standard 12.3-inch driver display and 9-inch multimedia screen (and an available 10.8-inch head-up display).

See also: 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander First Drive: Another Step in the Right Direction

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, three-quarters front
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, three-quarters front | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The new Outlander PHEV
Here’s what’s more relevant about the 2023 Outlander PHEV in particular. The new model is conceived using a new-generation PHEV system, designed to deliver increased power and more battery range on a full charge.

That system comprises a 2.4L gas engine (131 hp, 144 lb-ft of torque) and the two motors, along with a 20-kWh drive battery (up from 13.8 in the last generation). Total system output is 248 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.

From 39 to 61
Mitsubishi updated and improved several components, with a focus on delivering more drive time in all-electric mode, even when accelerating hard and moving at higher speeds. With this new system, range goes to 61 km. (A larger gas tank also means a greater total drive range than before).

Charging on a home EV charger will take around 6.5 hours, while at a quick-charging Level 3 station, you can recover 80 percent charge in just under 40 minutes.

Mitsubishi has integrated for this new generation a new ‘pedal operation mode’ that recoups energy and makes it possible to accelerate and decelerate using the accelerator pedal. Note that even with the function in its highest setting, it will not bring the vehicle to a full stop.

The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, on the road
The 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, on the road | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The new Outlander PHEV features the S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) integrated vehicle dynamics control system, based on a twin-motor 4WD system with one drive motor in front and another in the rear. There’s now a new active yaw control function for the rear wheels, which allows the system to distribute driving force to the front and rear wheels according to road and driving conditions. Torque vectoring by controlling the brakes on the left and right wheels is also possible for the front and rear wheels.

There are seven drive modes motorists can choose from to fit the conditions. You have Normal, Tarmac (for brisk acceleration response and high-cornering performance on dry paved surfaces), Gravel, Snow, Mud, Power and Eco.

All of this is constructed on a new platform that gets increased front body rigidity and steering stability, meant to ensure not just improved handling but improved safety.

A redesign of the powertrain’s components has allowed designers to create more space for that third row of seats, although we can confirm that it is a kids-only space. Cargo space for the PHEV model with those kid seats in the floor is 950 litres, or slightly less than the regular Outlander.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs, on the snow
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs, on the snow | Photo: D.Boshouwers

On the road
Our day on the road in and around Vancouver provided a mixed bag of conditions, since the area received a rare late-November dump of snow. In the city itself that meant mostly rain and slush, but at slightly higher elevations, we did ride on snow. A good opportunity to try out this S-AWC-equipped SUV in conditions many Canadians are likely to face in the coming weeks and months.

Trouble was, most of the other vehicles around us were less-well-equipped (it’s a good bet many did not have winter tires), and so speeds were often reduced.

There were many observations we were still able to make, of course. The ride in this PHEV is extremely quiet when in EV mode (and even when not, frankly), grip on the road is very solid, visibility is great in the relatively stand-up SUV and comfort levels are good. Frankly the experience of driving this third-generation Outlander is much improved, compared to what we had before.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, interior
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, interior | Photo: D.Boshouwers

Owners can choose how much they want to control the usage they make of the electric power available to them, which is great. You can ‘save’ EV power for when you’re not on the highway, for instance. But I also suspect many owners will eventually settle on a mode they like and, aside from a few basic settings they might change day to day, depending on conditions, leave it as is.

And they probably won’t suffer much in terms of energy use. Prior to us setting out on our test drive, we were given recommendations on when to apply the regenerative braking, which drive modes to use when, when to apply the Power, Save and Charging settings, and so on. Recommendations that we promptly ignored, leaving the car in full regen braking mode and Normal or Eco drive modes for the duration, without bothering with the Power/Save/Charging settings.

At the conclusion of the day, our car was ranked (as part of a friendly competition Mitsubishi organized for us drivers) third-best performer in terms of energy efficiency.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, front grille
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, front grille | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The final word
To the question of whether the new Outlander PHEV is headed for continued success as it enters generation three. There’s no doubt the improvements made to a model that was aging and at risk of being by-passed by the likes of the RAV4 Prime make this SUV far superior to before. That increased EV drive range of 61 km is enough to please most PHEV shoppers in 2023, and the fact that users can control to a great extent the use they make of the electric energy available to them is a plus.

The looks of the model (especially that confounding front end) may be a hindrance, though. Although taste being so personal, maybe not. That front grille doesn’t look like all the other front grilles around it in a crowded parking lot, so…

Also, we may scoff at the cramped third-row seating and all, but there are families, notably those run by soccer moms, who will find that a pretty handy plus in an SUV that should rack up no more than 4.5L/100 km if you drive reasonably.

Here is Canadian pricing for the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (further trim details can be found here):

Outlander PHEV ES S-AWC - $46,538
Outlander PHEV LE S-AWC - $51,238
Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC - $54,048
Outlander PHEV GT S-AWC - $56,348
     *Note that the GT can be had with a two-tone exterior finish (Diamond White with Black roof), with the price then climbing to $57,948.
Outlander PHEV GT Premium S-AWC - $57,048

Specifications sheet of 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LE 

Specifications sheet of 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GT

Specifications sheet of 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ES

Specifications sheet of 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL

ee | Photo: D.Boshouwers

We like

Quiet ride
Much-improved interior
Overall fuel consumption of 4.5L/100 km is very doable if you drive mostly in the city
Mitsubishi’s new-vehicle warranty still among the best in the trade

We like less

Not as dynamic on the road as some rivals
Third-row seats not for adults or even teens

The competition

Dodge Hornet (still to come)
Ford Escape PHEV
Hyundai Tucson PHEV / Santa Fe PHEV
Kia Sportage PHEV / Sorento PHEV
Toyota RAV4 Prime

A few of your common questions:

1. What is the all-electric range of the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?
The new edition of the SUV delivers 61 km, up substantially from the 39 km possible before, and within range of the RAV4 Prime’s 68 km.

2. What kind of fuel economy can I expect from the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?
In city driving, from our limited sample, you can realistically expect to get your fuel use down to 4.5L/100 km. Overall, in mixed driving, count on around 9.0L/100 km.

3. Is the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV eligible for government incentives for EVs?
Yes it is. Buyers can claim $5,000 under the federal iZEV program, and probably an amount under their home province’s program as well, if there is one. In Quebec, for example, the Outlander SUV is eligible for an additional $5,000 discount.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, badging
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, badging | Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV pictures
Derek Boshouwers
Derek Boshouwers
Automotive expert
  • Over 5 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 50 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 30 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists