Is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV the best hybrid SUV in the world?
There's no doubt that the Outlander PHEV is a popular car, sales have absolutely boomed in the last few years. But is it up to the real world test?
I'm probably not alone in seeing Outlander PHEV's everywhere, I mean every other set of lights in London - I'm pretty much guaranteed to see one. I decided it was time to find out what all the fuss was about, surely a vehicle being sold in such numbers would be good - right? With prices starting from £35,500 on the road and more standard technology than you could shake a stick at - it was time to find out just how good the Outlander PHEV was.
Aesthetically pleasing yet not overloading your senses...
Getting that fine line between a good looking car and something overly in your face can be difficult, fortunately Mitsubishi have always been rather good at making something the perfect balance. The front is totally Mitsubishi design language, sharp with curves where needed. Unlike the new L200, the Outlander finds itself to be much smoother with some nice stylistic lines. The L200 is sharp and ultra-2020, which is no bad thing by the way.
Side profile wise, whilst some changes have occurred during the current Outlander's generation, you'd be hard pressed to spot them easily. Generally it's a decent design though, offering some longer lines and bulges - implying sporty yet off-roady. The rear for me is filled with not only Mitsubishi design language but Jeep (ish) design, echoing that of the 2011-2015 Grand Cherokee. That said, the rear is a nice look with a wrap around light cluster and the end of the flowing side lines - it's a complete and nicely proportioned back end.
An interior made to stand the test of time!
How often do you look at new car interiors and think "oh wow, that won't last long"? I do it a lot, so to find an interior which is so clearly made to take a lifetime of abuse - I find it a nice change. Considering the potential off-road nature of the Outlander, the interior speaks of quality and refinement with bundles of technology. Whilst the general interior design hasn't had a redesign much over the current generation's life, Mitsubishi have made vast improvements in the technology they've updated and implemented whilst keeping the positioning and design of older vehicles.
The front seating position is comfortable and offers good visibility, most buttons are easily accessible and the infotainment is nicely designed. The only consideration of the older design is the large array of buttons / switches - it's not a bad thing by any means, however in comparison to some competitor vehicles it does at times feel a little behind - if robust at the same time. Rear legroom is relatively vast and you don't find yourself disconnected from the front of the car either. Boot wise it's more than capable for the every day, even with cable storage underneath the floor you still have a low enough entry lip and height to store all of your shopping / life needs.
In general the interior shouts capable, hard wearing and luxurious at the same time. Option a top-spec and you'll get quilted leather making the Outlander's interior even better. My only negative for it is that the front seats could be a little more holding - but they are awesomely comfortable.
Let's talk hybrid then...
Mitsubishi are pretty proud with how many people buy the Outlander PHEV, thanks to government incentives many companies have jumped onto the PHEV band waggon. In theory, the Outlander PHEV should give you over 100mpg around town and make motorway journeys considerably more frugal than a non-PHEV. In reality it can give you 140mpg+ around town and about 45-65mpg on the motorway. Most combined journeys see 70mpg, however if you spend the entire time on the motorway and don't stop to recharge you'll likely see the 45mpg figure.
My first ever journey returned 175mpg... I mean c'mon, that's insane. If you live within 15 miles of your destination and you can charge, you might never even need to turn the engine on. However the PHEV is definitely suited to those who can charge both sides, whilst it can charge on the go - do this regularly and you'll see that 2.4 petrol engine (which is more like a generator) literally drink a tank of fuel. All of that said, 200+ mile journeys can be done with decent economy figures in return, as slowing down and going down hills regenerates the battery charge which results in electric time.
Driving and performance is a nice touch which many manufacturers miss in hybrid vehicles. 0-62mph comes in at just over 10 seconds and tops out at 106mph. When you come to a corner you'd be surprised to hear it turns nicely / smoothly and offers the driver some feedback. The pedal feel is somewhat robotic but not totally disconnected. Considering it's a car made for economy, the handling and performance is more than acceptable.
Are you surprised to hear it's really blooming good?
Yep, there are a lot of PHEV rivals in the marketplace - a lot of them cost a lot more than the Outlander PHEV (£40,000 ish OTR for a good spec). What surprised me was the versatility, the pleasing aesthetics, the comfortable interior and the hugely impressive economy returns. Whilst it won't suit every lifestyle, if you don't do regular heavy miles, it will suit yours.
If you're willing to pre-plan, drive a little slower and relax in total comfort, the Outlander PHEV will return great economy. Drive a little faster, it's not as good on fuel but the drive is just as brilliant. Truly Mitsubishi are showing the rest of the industry what they're made of and making it a total 10/10. With future technologies becoming more available, I'm excited to see what the new Outlander will be like and with their new design language too!