Review: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014)
Cheap to run if you can charge at home and don't do many miles. Masses of space. Significantly improved for 2019.
Very heavy. Real mpg user average 62.6 mpg. Uncultured cabin and driving experience. Loses sixth and seventh seats of diesel Outlander.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £34,305, brokers can source from £24,147
- Contract hire deals from £257.81 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 22–27
- On average it achieves 43% of the official MPG figure
When it launched in 2013, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV held the honour of being the world’s only plug-in hybrid SUV. It was also the first plug-in vehicle that could genuinely fit in with day-to-day life... the boot was big enough for families to go on holiday and, being a plug-in hybrid, you could just fill it up with petrol rather than stopping to charge it up with electricity all of the time.
There was a long list of perks, too: free VED tax, a £5,000 Government electric car grant, London congestion charge exemption and very low company car tax. Combine that with incredible economy figures (166mpg and 41g/km CO2) and no wonder electric car charging companies struggled to keep up with the sudden demand from Outlander PHEV drivers.
Those advantages have diminished over time. While first year VED remains free, you'll pay £130 in subsequent years. The plug-in car grant has been reduced to £2,500 and company car drivers will now pay more in tax.
Mitsubishi's made various upgrades over the years in an attempt to keep the Outlander PHEV looking fresh, with the current model boasting a higher quality cabin than the original, improved performance and better ride quality.
Journey carefully for fewer than 20-25 miles per day, and always keep your PHEV plugged in at home, and in theory you’ll never delve into your fuel tank. But once you begin to task the four-cylinder petrol engine with work things go downhill rapidly – unless you’re literally going down a hill. You can expect 30-40mpg from the PHEV if the battery is flat, because the engine is not only moving this two-tonne car about, but charging the massive battery too.
And it does so in noisy fashion generally, although conversely when running on electric power alone the PHEV is a model of quiet comfort and refinement – and surprisingly good at going around corners, too.
Despite the cabin improvements brought about with the facelift, the interior of the Outlander is hardly inspiring. It’s well put together and feels durable, but the design is bland, the switchgear incoherent, and the infotainment system old-school. The driving position conspires to perch you too high in the car, while some practicality is lost compared to the diesel Outlander because the rearmost seats (six and seven) make way for an electric motor and the boot is smaller.
Ultimately, Mitsubishi has found a very useful niche with the Outlander PHEV by offering this much space in such tax-friendly fashion, which could well be enough for plenty of company car buyers – those with company fuel cards, especially. However, those advantages are declining and the Outlander lacks charm and flair, and remains very much a purchase for the head rather than the heart.
What does a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014) cost?
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of five stars
The main thing to note about the interior of the Outlander PHEV, as opposed to the diesel, is that the two rearmost seats have been sacrificed for the rear electric motor. For many that won’t be a problem – the seats are really only good for ‘occasional use’ anyway – but boot space has also been hit. It's down from 591 litres to 463 litres because the floor is raised. However, the advantage of a high, flat loading bay goes some way to cushion the blow - it's a very easy boot to load and unload.
Forward of the load space the Outlander is as large and accommodating as you’d hope for, with loads of head and legroom. And for rear seat passengers, the plug-in system means there’s no big transmission tunnel to cut into foot space.
Moving further forward the surplus of space continues, but the cabin is hardly a design inspiration. The 2015 facelift improved the dashboard - there's a bit more wood now - but it’s still something of an odyssey in black plastic. The switchgear is all over the place (the heated steering wheel switch is in front of the gear lever, of course), while even in top spec models there are blank buttons throughout. Why?
But, in another Japanese car norm, the specification sheet is very generous. The trim hierarchy comprises GX3h, 4h and 5h, with the addition of an ‘S’ at the end denoting extra safety and comfort equipment like lane departure warning, automatic braking and rear parking sensors.
Even a GX3 car comes with climate control, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, front parking sensors, and rain sensing wipers, while a GX4 car gets an electric tailgate, navigation and leather sets – some of the very softest leather you’ll find, it’s worth saying.
GX5 specification is Mitsubishi’s attempt at making the Outlander appeal to the Range Rover wannabe set, so much so that the company has even made this the only version with ‘OUTLANDER’ written across the bonnet in big letters. Hmm.
The problem with that, of course, is that the Outlander’s cabin ambience is more 1990s budget hatchback than the fat limo vibe that a Range Rover proper has – or even the Volvo XC90, for that matter.
GX3h gets 18-inch alloy wheels. ABS with EBD Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS), Mitsubishi Active Stability and Traction Control (M-ASTC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), adjustable speed limiter, silver roof rails, chrome beltline moulding, privacy glass, automatic lights, LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps, rear parking sensors, electric folding heated door mirrors with side indicators, front and rear electric windows, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, remote central locking and alarm system. keyless operation with PHEV system start/stop button, leather steering wheel, radio/CD/MP3 player (6 speakers), Bluetooth hands-free telephone connection with music streaming, front footwell illumination, front/side/curtain/driver’s knee airbags, quick charge connection, USB connection, auto-dimming rear view mirror and a windscreen wiper rain sensor.
GX4h adds LED headlamps with auto-levelling, power tailgate, 360-degree camera, reversing camera (in lieu of rear parking sensors), black leather seats with powered driver’s seat, steering wheel heater, SD satellite navigation with HD 7-inch touchscreen and DAB radio.
GX5h comes with bonnet badge, large rear spoiler, premium nappa leather seat trim (Claret Red, Porcelain Beige or Gunmetal Grey), leather-wrapped handbrake lever, premium floor mat set colour-coded to leather, premium audio upgrade (amplifier and speakers), heated rear seats, rear twin USB ports, LED exterior lighting upgrade, LED interior lighting package (courtesy lamps, front and rear footwell, mood lighting), and front seat heater switch chrome bezel.
GX4/5hS adds Forward Collision Mitigation system, Lane Departure Warning system, Adaptive Cruise Control system, Unintended Acceleration Mitigation System plus front and rear parking sensors.
Child seats that fit a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014) like to drive?
The Outlander PHEV gets the refinement boost that all vehicles capable of electric-only drive do, which comes by virtue of near silent running. Of course, this has the effect amplifying other types of noise, mainly tyre roar, wind whistle and the odd suspension knock.
Nonetheless, in electric mode and on the right road the Outlander PHEV is about as calm as a 4x4 can be. If it weren’t for the fact that you’re surrounded by some terribly nondescript dashboard design, you could mistake this for a luxury car.
Attempt to drive the Outlander PHEV quickly and things start to fall apart slightly. For a start, it's not quick (reaching 62mph in 11.0 seconds), while the CVT gearbox provides an awful drone from the engine. The steering is light and there's a lot of body roll in bends, although there's plenty of grip on offer.
The PHEV has revised suspension compared to the diesel Outlander, mainly to cope with the weight of a hybrid setup whose battery alone weighs half a tonne, additional to the two electric motors. While the ride quality is largely soft and comfy, in the spirit of most SUVs, it cannot fully alleviate the basic tendency for all this lard to smack down into unpredictable road surfaces and potholes.
The biggest problem with the PHEV is that it’s extremely difficult to keep it using its battery alone. On paper it makes a compelling case. It will do 25 miles of electric driving at speeds up to 70mph if the battery is full – a battery that’s 80 per cent replenished within half an hour if plugged into a fast charger. However, spirited driving sees the battery go flat way before the 25-mile mark.
Its innovative four-wheel drive system places one 60kW (82PS) electric motor on the front axle and another on the rear, meaning proper off-roading is possible without spewing CO2 into the surrounding trees (where, ironically, the environment is best placed to deal with a dirty tailpipe).
The petrol engine has 121PS and can act either to power the car alone, charge the batteries, or in conjunction with the electric motors to provide a mathematically anomalous 200PS.
But as with all these setups, in practice it just feels like a very complex way of achieving average economy and lacklustre pace. And often, very poor economy indeed. As our Real MPG page for the PHEV shows, in reality drivers are achieving not even half of the car’s 166mpg claimed average.
At higher speeds, and when the engine is working to both drive the car and fill the battery, this is not a particularly pleasant experience. Equipped as it is with a CVT gearbox, it feels sluggish and makes a dreadful whine when you need a burst of acceleration.
It all just conspires to burst the bubble of the refinement you feel when the battery is full and you’re not in any hurry to get places. It means that, unless the company car tax breaks are of real importance to you, you’re better off getting a diesel Outlander – or something else entirely.
|2.0 PHEV||148 mpg||11.0 s||42–44 g/km|
|2.4 PHEV||-||10.5 s||40 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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