You’ll buy the Mitsubishi Outlander because it’s a roomy five-seat SUV with good fuel economy and tax-friendly low CO2 emissions. But, you’ll only get close to the official figures if you can charge the battery regularly and must be prepared to put up with the drab interior
There’s a lot to like about the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (which stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle). There are the chunky looks, spacious cabin and high driving position, for a start, but the big attractions are the good fuel economy and low emissions that can lead to low running costs. They come courtesy of the car’s plug-in hybrid technology: a petrol engine combined with an electric motor and battery.
What may also attract you is that the car is eligible for a government grant that knocks up to £2,500 off the list price. That grant ends on 9 November 2018, but remember that the price can go even lower when you sign in to carwow, configure your ideal Outlander PHEV and get Mitsubishi dealers to give you their best price.
Whereas other Outlanders have just a conventional petrol engine, the battery in this Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV holds enough charge to drive the car around for 28 miles with zero emissions. Then, when the batteries are depleted or you just want to go further, the petrol engine kicks in to help.
Those batteries are under the boot floor, which leads to a couple of issues. First, the boot in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is smaller than in the petrol-engined Outlander; and, second, this model can only be a five-seater, whereas the others will take seven people inside.
That said, it’s not as if the Outlander PHEV isn’t practical. On the contrary, it’s still a spacious five-seat family car and the boot gives you more than 450 litres of space.
The main failing is that the cabin doesn’t look all that modern or stylish. The design is bland and you don’t have to look too far to find some very flimsy bits of trim. To make matters worse, the new touchscreen-based infotainment system – which is admittedly better than the one in the previous PHEV – isn’t as good as you’ll find alternatives like the Skoda Kodiaq or Hyundai Santa Fe.
However, if you’re just after space, then the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will do the job very well. There’s plenty of room for a couple of adults in the front and it’s just as good in the back. You can fit two adults in the rear seat in complete comfort – especially as you can adjust how much the rear seats recline. And, although the centre seat is set a little higher than the outer two, it still provides enough room for another adult.
Compared with the petrol-engined Outlanders, you lose about 20 per cent of the boot capacity, but it’ll still take a couple of suitcases or a set of golf clubs. There’s also a neat cubby under the floor to take the charging cable. And, when you fold down the rear seats, there’s enough room to fit a bike in without removing a wheel.
The Outlander PHEV is packed full of high-tech hybrid technology, but you’d never know it from the dated look of the cabin
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s big selling point is its hybrid powertrain, but a lot has changed in this latest version. For example, where there was once a 2.0-litre petrol engine, now there’s a 2.4-litre unit. The rear electric motor, the battery and the generator are all stronger. And, the software that controls how everything works together has been updated.
The result is not a massive change compared the old model, but everything just feels a little bit better. The engine is bit smoother and more refined, as well as more responsive and giving stronger performance.
As before, you can drive up to 28 miles using electric power alone, and up to speeds of 83mph. Plus, with separate motors driving the front and rear axles, you can also get four-wheel drive with zero emissions.
Then, once the batteries are drained, you can choose whether to drive on using just petrol power, let the engine replenish the batteries or plug the car in to recharge it. It takes just 25 minutes to return a flat battery to 80 per cent charge from a fast charger.
You’ll get the best economy around town, where you can spend almost the whole time running around without ever rousing the petrol engine. And, there are all the associated benefits of such low emissions, including exemption from the London Congestion Charge and very low rates of company car tax.
At the same time as the improvements to the engine and electric drive system, Mitsubishi also tweaked the suspension. The result, as with the other changes to the car, is a slight improvement. The car now feels the bumps less, although it’s still not perfect – especially around town.
On the other hand, there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to safety. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV scored a maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP when it was crash-tested in 2013. There’s plenty of safety kit available, too, although it’s a shame that you have to buy the more expensive models to get everything that’s available.
Overall, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s appeal centres on its ability to be an economical family SUV – but it can only do that on a diet of short journeys and regular charging. If you regularly do longer trips, however, the Skoda Kodiaq is a more practical SUV and could well work out as cheaper to run.
For a more in-depth look at this frugal family car, read the interior, driving and specifications sections of the review over the following pages or check out how much you could save by comparing Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV deals.