WITH customers demanding more bang for their SUV buck than ever, manufacturers are offering more and more options, including greener hybrid variants, such as the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV.
Whether you’re a fan of PHEVs or EVs or not, it is the future of motoring, and even if you don’t want to go there, the options for avoiding it are getting less and less. Mitsubishi has oft sat ahead of the curve though, with the first plug-in Outlander launched back in 2013.
The Japanese car maker’s mid-sized SUV comes in a range of configurations, including two-wheel and all-wheel drive, and is available in PHEV and petrol forms. In the case of hybrids, it can be had in ES, GSR or the range topping Exceed.
The GSR is meant to be the sportier, mid-range variant, but we’re not convinced. For now let’s go along with that though. It’s worth noting that the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander has had lots of cosmetic surgery to keep it looking fashionable.
The latest result of the nip and tuck sees the Outlander PHEV sport the ‘dynamic shield’ front facia, where a huge star-shaped glossy black grille embodies the headlights with lots of chrome edging.
It’s a look that’s starting to get old across the industry (splashes of black and chrome), but if it’s executed well, it can look really attractive. On the Outlander it feels a little cheap, almost like it was an afterthought.
There are splashes of black across the middle and rear of the car too, with semi-LED taillights and some GSR specific badging too. There’s not a great deal of boasting to do about the interior, either. It’s plain to put it simply, and lacks style.
Function over form is probably the best way to explain it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as it makes it easy to use. There’s loads of storage pockets and everything is where you’d expect it to be, but it feels inferior to its rivals, particularly at this price.
Don’t even get us started on the newish 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. Yes it includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and incorporates a rear-view camera, but it is down-right terrible. Especially at night.
Where the Outlander does score some points is in the boot. It will fit 463-litres of stuff with the seats up, and expands to 1602-litres if you fold the second row down. Whether it is an illusion or not, the Outlander’s boot feels deep, which is great.
It’s also loaded with standard features including forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, distance-controlled cruise control, lane and steering assist, auto high beam, blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.
There’s also front and rear parking sensors, DAB+ digital radio, proximity keyless start, dual-zone climate control with remote start, 18-inch alloys, a powered tailgate, and synthetic leather/micro-suede seats that are heated up front.
Take a breath, because we’re still going. It gets rain-sensing wipers and Mitsubishi’s famous Super All Wheel Control all-wheel drive system. It does miss out on speed sign recognition, a digital instrument cluster and wireless phone charger.
There’s also no rearward collision mitigation or a 360-degree view camera setup. Vehicle performance is great, as long as you treat it as a proper hybrid, with the additional power from the battery units providing a welcome edition.
Under the bonnet you’ll find a standard 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 94kW, which has two two electric motors bolted on for good measure. This adds 60kW at the front and 70kW at the rear.
Together, they provide an impressive combined power output of 157kW, with torque at 332Nm. That translates to a 0-100km/h sprint in 9.2 seconds, which isn’t rocket ship fast, but when you need to give things a little squeeze, it is ready and waiting.
The two electric motors are powered by a 13.8KWh lithium-ion battery hidden within the floor of the Outlander. Charging can be done in three ways, via DC fast charger, your home 240v standard power point, or by putting the petrol engine into charge mode.
The latter lets the car almost charge itself, which does hammer the fuel economy a little, so best to use the first two methods. Mitsubishi claims 1.9-litres/100km from its Outlander PHEV. Good luck with that.
We reckon you’d have to be towing your own solar powered DC fast charger to achieve that, given the nuances in the car choosing whether to use full EV or petrol, or a combination of both in various driving situations.
During our test, it seemed happy to rely entirely on electric power at all speeds, if you didn’t provoke it, but it doesn’t last very long. We were lucky to get about 55km of driving before the battery was completely flat.
At this point, the combustion engine is more heavily used, and fuel consumption rises to an average of 9.8-litres/100km. Connected to a DC fast charger, you can reach 80 per cent of battery capacity in 25 minutes
Use the trusty 240v home power point and you’ll need several hours to reach 100 per cent. This is nothing new of course, with PHEVs. They’re the eternal conundrum. Chase range in pure EV mode, or leave the battery low on charge and use more petrol.
The right combination will strike a good balance between fuel usage, economy, and being eco-friendly in your green car. The question simply comes down to whether a PHEV or a normal hybrid provides the correct solution.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV is practical and functional, with lots of safety features and standard inclusions. It’s a seven-seat SUV that will make you feel warm on the inside, because it’s helping the environment too. Even if it does feel a little tired.
Priced from $56,490 (drive away), it can be had in three colour options; Starlight (as tested), Red Diamond or Titanium.
Our test vehicle was provided by Mitsubishi Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV, contact your local Mitsubishi dealer.