Our Cars: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

16 June 2015: The Outlander’s sat nav is evil

The Details

Current mileage 2382
Claimed economy 148.6mpg
Actual economy 63.3mpg

With all its fanciful technology, it’s no surprise the Outlander has a fairly comprehensive infotainment system. There’s a large touchscreen system at the top of the centre stack which controls everything from Bluetooth and music, to monitoring your driving behaviour and battery usage.

Unfortunately, while it does have lots of useful features, it’s a bit messy and ugly. The buttons around the screen, which take you to sub menus, aren’t laid out with any kind of logic. Obviously you get used to what is where in time, but there’s always a lot of confusing clutter on screen. In fact even after a couple of months with the car I still occasionally get lost in the menus from time to time.

Our Outlander has a built-in navigation system which works fairly well. Programming in a destination is straightforward if you have the postcode, plus it shows a largely accurate ETA - but it doesn’t show traffic problems on the route very promptly. That means I tend to avoid using the built-in system and instead use Waze on a mobile phone, since it has up-to-the-minute traffic info.

The other big problem with the built-in navigation system is the voice. The woman must have been seriously angry or bored when she recorded the various directions and numbers - she sounds like a cross between an evil Disney witch and a life-wearied headmistress. I daren’t make a driving mistake in case she jumps out and strangles me.

Waze

 I prefer navigating with my phone over the built-in nav

So the built-in navigation tends to stay switched off. The rest of the infotainment isn’t too bad at all, though, once you get your head around the interface. Bluetooth works well - pairing up a phone and streaming Spotify is easy plus it usually displays artist and track information, though it does sometimes forget. Phone calls are clear through the Bluetooth system although I don’t tend to make or receive them when driving.

There are some more advanced features built in. You can tell the car to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin for ten minutes at a specific time of day. You choose a day of the week and a time in advance, so you can have the cabin warmed up on weekeday mornings before you leave for work during the winter, or having it cooled before hometime in the summer.

You can also tell the car when to start charging up from the mains in order to take advantage of cheaper electricity at certain times of day. What’s more, these functions can be controlled remotely via a mobile phone - so if you want to turn your pre-heat off because of a change in weather you can do it from the house or office, provided the car is in range.

It’s not perfect, though. Linking the phone app to the car is a fiddle and the app itself is hardly the most beautifully designed or user-friendly. It also works via WiFi, rather than Bluetooth, so you can sometimes find your phone automatically trying to connect to the internet through the car (which doesn’t work) instead of via a proper WiFi hotspot. Still - it does the job. And how many other cars can you control from your phone?

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