2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC review by Ben Lewis

Have you ever met someone, and new immediately that you were going to be great friends?  Well, that happens with cars, too. Last year we tested the then all-new 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander and loved it.

The only thing missing – the popular PHEV (plug-in hybrid) model remained on the previous chassis. But now for 2023 you can get the PHEV model with all the goodies. So, is it still love at first sight? Let’s find out!

Same Great Looks – Can you say I Fu Do Do?

We were super happy to see that the PHEV has inherited the same gorgeous lines the rest of the model did last year.  Mitsu says the Outlander was crafted under the design language of “I-Fu-Do-Do” which means “authentic” and “majestic” in Japanese. To our eyes, the Outlander looks like a Range Rover – not bad company! 

Up front, you get the massive “Dynamic Shield” grille, with OUTLANDER spelled out in big, epic lettering – that alone feels very Rangey Rovery! Slim LED headlights hover above massive driving lights that give it a signature look. Add in some chrome bling and a contrasting metal tone fascia and you have a front end with loads of presence.

The massive wrap-around lights add to the sporty profile, while bulgy fender flares and cut-outs in the doors give a muscular vibe. The windows are a bit smaller than on some other SUVs, and it gives a coupe-like look profile that we like. Adding to that, our tester had a black roof that visually makes the tall SUV look even more hunkered down. For those looking for giveaways that you’re in the PHEV, large chrome “EV” letters (with “Plug-in Hybrid above them) boldly adorn both flanks. You’ll also find the EV filler door above the right rear wheel.

Our favorite part of the side-view are the drop-dead gorgeous 20-inch alloys that fill up the wheel wells and create a rugged, trail-ready look.

Out back the PHEV remains the doppelganger of the other models, with slim wrap-around LED taillights that look clean and elegant. The rear hatch features a scooped-in line, plus a blacked-out above-window rear spoiler adds even more sport. A PHEV badge on the rear is your only give away that this is the most tech-advanced Outlander.

Talk about twins– our tester was even the same White Diamond color as last year’s model. We will say the two-tone of the PHEV does give an added upscale look, and the black and white color scheme is gorgeous. And it’s not just us, we got plenty of compliments wherever we went. The Outlander is changing a lot of perceptions of the Mitsubishi brand!

You Say Omotenashi, We Say Wow!

Again, the PHEV echoes the all-new upgrade from last year, and that’s another big win. Mitsubishi says the Outlander’s interior was designed with “Omotenashi” – Japanese hospitality in mind. Like the exterior, we think you’ll find interior feels more upscale British than Japanese. But no matter what language you speak, the eyes will love the design language.

Open the door and you get wowed by high end materials and a rich two-tone interior. A good part of this is thanks to the optional SEL Premium Package, that dresses the interior to the nines in an elegant black and saddle tan color scheme that looks primo.

It smells and feels as good as it looks, thanks to semi-aniline leather seats, while synthetic leather door inserts with quilting echo the pattern.  Mitsu puts luxury in your hands with a fat leather-wrapped steering feel, and a mouse-like fly by wire shift lever that’s easy and intuitive to use. And tons better than the pushbutton stuff we’re finding on luxury competitors like Acura. Bold tan saddle trim along the dash, door handles and center console cover along with machined aluminum trim make the Outlander one of the nicest SUVs to spend time in.

Well, except for the third-row seats. They are vestigial, barely usable for the smallest of kids, but the good news is they fold easily to create a flat load floor behind the second-row seats. The second-row seats are very comfortable for adults, and fold flat easily for an impressive cargo hold.

Back in the driver’s seat, you get a full 12.3-inch digital driver display, with analog-looking gauges, plus specialized info for the PHEV system that’s quick and easy to understand. The 9-inch info-tainment display sits tablet-style on the center of the dash, and we commend Mitsubishi for providing both volume and tuning knobs!

The latest tech comes along for the ride, including standard Wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless charging. Adding to the goodness was the SEL Premium Package upgrade that included a 10.8-inch head up display, 9-speaker BOSE premium audio system, and lovely stuff like a panorama sunroof, heated steering wheel and massage function for the driver and passenger front seats. Call us spoiled!

Ready for the Electric Glide?

Driving the PHEV model is what sets it apart from the other Outlanders. Already an advanced system – the previous plug-in model made the Outlander the world’s best-selling PHEV SUV – Mitsubishi has added more power to give better acceleration and range.

Up front is a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine. Fun fact – most Outlanders actually use a Nissan-built engine and CVT transmission, but the PHEV employs a unique Mitsu-built one. Paired with twin electric motors, you get loads of flexibility and economy.


f you drive in pure EV mode, you can get up to 38 miles of range – perfect for shorter commutes. Going for a longer drive? With a combined range of 420 miles, you’ll probably need a pit stop before the Outlander does!

Charging is easy too, if you can find a CHAdeMO DC Fastcharge, you can get up to 80% in just 38 minutes. A 240V system will take 6.5 hours for a full charge, and if all you have is a 120V connection, that will take 16 hours. But unlike a pure EV, you still have a gas motor to get you around. You can even select a drive mode to help charge the battery as you drive.

This is a great driving system, too – the switchover between EV and gas modes is seamless, and the big 4-cylinder is powerful and smooth. Put the Drive Mode selector in Power and you get extra low-end punch that makes the big SUV pull off the line with authority and makes passing easy.

You can also press a button on the console and experience “one pedal” driving – push on the gas to accelerate, back off and regenerative braking slows you down. You’ll only have to touch the brake pedal to come to a complete stop below 5 mph or so. Fun.

The Outlander also features the advanced S-AWD all-wheel drive system, and it works great, letting you dial up Eco, Normal and Sport modes, as well as Tarmac, Gravel, Snow or Mud. And with a nod to the fabulous EVO sport sedans, the system also helps the big Mitsu feel surprisingly fun to toss around on a twisty road.

From the daily commute to the long road trip, you get the feeling there’s nothing the Outlander PHEV can’t handle!

Outlandish Price?

Mitsubishi remains a value-friendly brand, even in their top-of-the-line SUV. You can get into an Outlander ES S-AWC model starting at just $39,845. Considering the technology, the room, the style and the eco-friendliness that’s a bargain in a big plug-in SUV.

Our SELS-AWC was the whole PHEV enchilada and started at $45,445. That beautiful two-tone paint job added $995, the plush SEL Premium Package was $2,700, a Tonneau Cover and Welcome kit added $395. Add in $1,345 for Destination and we rang the bell at $50,880.

Competitors would include the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV at $49,455 – a pretty vehicle, but noticeably smaller, with a little less range (33 miles EV) and a 1.6-liter, turbo 4-cylinder. The Toyota RAV Prime is excellent and very quick, but it is also notably smaller, and priced at $50,930 proves what an exceptional value the Outlander is.

Luxury SUV looks, a gorgeous interior, and a great drive with advanced plug-in hybrid tech, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a win-win-win!