How does the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed Touring drive?
Firstly, the drive modes actually make a massive difference to the driving characteristics of this car. From Power mode, delivering maximum power and torque from the electric motors to Eco mode, limiting the revs from the petrol engine, you will literally feel like you are driving two different Mitsubishi Outlanders.
My initial impression, in normal mode, was that the car was pretty responsive in traffic, with the switch from EV power to petrol power smooth due to the clever gearing that Mitsubishi is using in this PHEV lineup. When I took it on the highway, I did notice some engine noise caused by the CVT, but I was impressed by the lack of road noise and the comfort of the seats.
Without access to a charger at home, my Hybrid battery lasted about 2 days. During this time, my fuel efficiency was about 1.7L/100km. After this, it went up as high as 7L/100km, averaging about 5L/100km over my week of testing. All this, from a single charge.
I was most excited about testing its 0-100km/h launch. I managed to clock it at 7.77 seconds from a standing stop, which blew way past Mitsubishi’s claimed time of 8.2 seconds. Where the Outlander PHEV blew me away the most was on the back roads, though.
This thing handles surprisingly well for a medium-sized SUV, and I was surprised at the amount of mechanical grip I was getting from those 20-inch alloy wheels. This could be due to Mitsubishi’s “Super All-Wheel Control” for its AWD models, that essentially acts as a torque vectoring system, helping by braking the inside wheel around a corner.
This gave the car a very playful, nimble feel on the back roads, with a smooth and satisfying power delivery out of the corners. In Power mode, the torque pulls hard from the electric motors, especially in the lower speed ranges where EVs usually shine.
Then you add in that efficient inline 4-cylinder engine and you have yourself a very capable and refined power train that, for me, was a gift that kept on giving.
So what wasn’t I overly impressed with, to warrant not giving this 10 points? Well, two main areas; the suspension tuning and lane-centering assist function. Firstly, going over bumps at any sort of speed can be a little uncomfortable, with the suspension crashing hard, and then bouncing high while coming out of the hole at any high speed, with lots of vibration making its way into the cabin. I believe this could be resolved with some specific tuning on Australian roads, like other manufacturers have done in the past.
Lastly, I couldn’t get the lane centering assistance to work properly, it would only intervene well after I had departed the lane, and so was more of a lane departure warning, than anything else. This was a little frustrating on long drives but I quickly got used to it.
Overall, apart from those two minor criticisms, it is very hard to fault such an excellent drive-train on a car that is now entering its 10th year of existence. Mitsubishi have done a great job pioneering the way with plug-in Hybrid Technology and as such, it is one of the best driving Mitsubishis - and medium-sized SUVs, in general - that I have driven.