Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by James Luckhurst

Here’s proof that a 4×4 can have reasonable running costs. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

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What is it?

A rugged-looking 4×4 with greener credentials than most. It’s a plug-in hybrid with a petrol engine, generator, twin electric motors and a battery storage pack.

How safe is it?

No worries there, the Outlander has already been tested and earned a five-star rating for its overall crash test safety. All versions come equipped with seven airbags.

Who should buy one?

Those who care about the planet and can drive electric on a short commute, but who also need to do longer journeys and would rather not worry about range anxiety, as Sue Baker finds out:

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

PHEV stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. This tall five-seater car has four-wheel-drive and is modestly capable for being driven off-road, but it is principally designed for on-road use. It is dual-fuel, with a two-litre petrol engine and twin electric motors. The car can run in pure electric mode for up to 38 miles, and like a Formula One car it recoups energy from braking regeneration. When the battery pack runs low, the engine cuts in to keep the car running and support the battery pack, which can be plugged into the mains to recharge it when the car is parked.

Performance is average, with a relatively leisurely acceleration time. It is a pleasant, mostly normal-feeling car to drive, although the regeneration system makes the brakes initially feel a bit odd. You quite quickly get used to them though.

The steering has decent feel for this type of car, some of which can feel a bit lifeless through the wheel. The handling is neutral, the Outlander is grippy and holds the bends well, with some body lean but this is well damped and never feels excessive. The overall impression is a car that is civilised and nicely engineered for mannerly behaviour.

When running in electric mode the hybrid Outlander is whisperingly quiet. Unsurprisingly it becomes a bit more vocal when the engine cuts in, but this isn’t a noisy car and remains reasonably muted on a motorway cruise.

There are switch controls to set the car up for driving on a dirt track or damp grass, when torque from the electric motors and electronic aids are used to maximise traction and control movement up and down slippery slopes.

The combined fuel economy figure of 148 mpg on the EU cycle is hugely impressive, but rather misleading. In normal driving it is virtually impossible to get anywhere near that level, and 30 to 40 mpg is much more realistic, particularly if you put your foot down in a hilly area.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

A diesel Outlander has seven seats, but the extra kit needed for the plug-in hybrid means forfeiting the two rearmost seats. That’s a pity, but there is no room for them with 200 kg of additional equipment on board. Even so, the boot is a respectable size at 463 litres. The car also has roof rails, so you could carry items on top, although the rails look more of a styling accessory than designed for practical use.

Having the electric battery pack located under the floor of the cabin means that the floor height is raised slightly, although it is not particularly noticeable. Cabin space is very reasonable, and nobody feels at all squashed in any of the seats.

In electric mode the car is almost silent, and could be a danger to unwary pedestrians, so it has an acoustic alert – an artificially created audible warning system – to ensure that people don’t endanger themselves by walking unwittingly into the car’s path.

SAFETY
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

Seven airbags, including one for the driver’s knees, are standard fitment on all versions of the car.

It has been tested for crash safety by Euro NCAP and awarded a full five-star rating. Because of its extra weight and other changes, the PHEV was crash-tested even though the diesel version was already five-star rated, and it passed just as well. Active stability and traction control are included on all versions.

EQUIPMENT
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

Equipment levels are high. The GX3h comes equipped with dual zone climate control, cruise control, auto wipers, heated door mirrors, rear parking sensors, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth hands-free phone kit and remote central locking.

The mid-range GX4h also has a powered tailgate, electric sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and satellite navigation with touch-screen control. Extra kit on the GX4hs range-topper includes lane departure warning, privacy glass and forward collision mitigation.

COSTS
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV car review

The surprising thing about the Outlander PHEV is it that, with the government grant subtracted, the GX3h base model is priced the same as the diesel version of the Outlander, at £28,249. After that same initial outlay, the running costs for the hybrid are much lower.

It qualifies for a free tax disc, and is London congestion zone exempt. All the hybrid componentry has a longer than average warranty, at five years or 100,000 miles.

WE SAY

Here’s proof that a 4×4 can have reasonable running costs.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £32,899 (after £5,000 government grant – list price £37,249)
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.0 seconds
Economy: a figure of 148mpg combined is claimed
Insurance: Group 27
Tax: Band A (£0 first year)

Figures for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4h