Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV review
“The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a popular plug-in hybrid SUV with a 30-mile electric driving range. It can be very cheap to run, but is also starting to feel a bit dated”
- Plenty of standard equipment
- Excellent fuel economy
- Affordable for a plug-in hybrid
- Batteries reduce boot space
- Starting to show its age
- Only average to drive
When it was launched, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was something of a pioneer because it was the first plug-in hybrid SUV. A combination of its high-riding stance, lower running costs, green image and congestion charge exemption meant that it found success here in the UK.
Competition eventually arrived in the form of the Kia Niro plug-in, MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 and Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine. However, those are all either more expensive or smaller, so the Outlander PHEV is still popular. The latest rivals include the similarly sized Ford Kuga PHEV and Peugeot 3008 Hybrid.
One thing to bear in mind is Mitsubishi’s announcement in the summer of 2020 that it would be withdrawing from the European market. That means the Outlander PHEV is now only available from stock, so if you really want one, you’ll have more choice the sooner you buy. The Outlander will no longer be available new once stocks run out or emissions regulations effectively put it off the road.
The Outlander PHEV was updated in the summer of 2018, receiving just a light exterior facelift. It was underneath where the improvements to the Outlander PHEV took place. The old 2.0-litre petrol engine was replaced by a new 2.4-litre unit and a new battery pack and electric motor were fitted, all to boost fuel economy and electric range.
The battery capacity was increased, too, and its 13.8kWh is claimed to provide an all-electric range of up to 28 miles in normal driving. Driven normally, the Outlander can act as a hybrid, but to get close to its impressive 140mpg (WLTP) claimed fuel-economy figure, you’ll need to top up the battery pack from your home electricity supply, or at a public charging point, and adopt a very leisurely approach to driving.
As with any plug-in hybrid, the technology suits some owner’s lifestyles better than others. If you mostly drive in the city, have a charger readily available and your usual daily round trip doesn't exceed that 28-mile range, you may hardly use a drop of petrol. If you spend most of your time driving big miles on the motorway, you won’t see much of an improvement over the petrol Mitsubishi Outlander. Owners can also benefit from perks such as the ‘Cleaner Vehicle Discount’ allowing free entry to the London Congestion Charge zone thanks to the Outlander PHEVs 46g/km CO2 emissions, and this could prove even handier in future, as more towns and cities plan to introduce similar measures.
Factors such as these have spurred on the Outlander PHEV’s success, with company-car drivers especially appreciative of its low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band. Private buyers have also been drawn by its relatively low forecourt price, especially when the only other plug-in hybrid large SUVs have so far been much more expensive models like the Audi Q7 e-tron and Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine. The Outlander’s pricing is much closer to family SUVs like the Skoda Kodiaq, Nissan X-Trail and Kia Sorento.
Considerable savings thanks to government grants and old road-tax rates have changed somewhat in recent times, though. The PHEV’s case was weakened by the government axing its plug-in car grant (PiCG) for plug-in hybrids and road tax changes increasing tax from £0 to £140 a year.
There are now four trim levels, and it seems that Mitsubishi has made the list of standard equipment a little less generous. The entry-level Verve does come with (a rather basic-looking) digital radio, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control, but you’ve got to step up to Design to get a touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a reversing camera and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Dynamic adds leather upholstery, blind-spot warning and a powered driver’s seat, while top-spec Exceed features quilted leather, LED headlights, sat nav, a heated steering wheel and a powered tailgate. Both of these trim levels can have a safety pack added on, with tech like lane-departure warning and auto high beam.
The interior is straightforward, but not especially interesting to look at. In fact, it looks quite dated in places, yet it's roomy and comfortable. It’s not as versatile as the standard car’s, though, because the need to accommodate the batteries means there’s no seven-seat option. At least the boot is only a little smaller.
Visibility is good and even with the petrol engine running, the PHEV is quiet and free of vibration – especially with the larger 2.4-litre engine fitted. It’s a little slow, though, because the batteries are so heavy. This extra weight means it leans excessively in corners and overwhelms the suspension, making the ride uncomfortable.
Fortunately, thanks to four-wheel drive and traction control, the Outlander PHEV is reassuring on poor or slippery road surfaces, which makes it an appealing all-year-round proposition. Families will also appreciate the fact that Euro NCAP awarded the Outlander PHEV the full five stars for crash protection.
See how this car scored on our sister site Driving Electric