The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV slipped quietly into the Irish new car market back in 2014 as an off-beat alternative that some people might buy instead of a diesel. The Outlander PHEV was ahead of its time, diesel was still king, and Ireland just wasn’t ready for a hybrid revolution. The plug-in hybrid Outlander was also significantly more expensive to buy than the diesel model.

But public interest in electrified powertrains and hybrids has increased dramatically in the intervening years, with much of the change happening in the last 12 to 18 months. Now we are in a situation where more people will buy the Outlander PHEV because governments and car manufacturers are starting to put an expiry date on diesel.

It’s good news that this corresponds with a major technical update for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The main aim of the 2019 update has been performance and efficiency, with a few cosmetic changes also.

In Ireland the new Outlander PHEV range starts from €39,900. With SEAI grants and VRT relief of €7,500 included, the PHEV range is now priced in the region of the diesel Outlander range. Though the caveat here is that the PHEV is five seat only to accommodate a 13.8 kWh battery under the boot floor, while the diesel model gets an extra two seats in the rear.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a relatively unique car in the market at its price point. 2019 has seen the arrival of what are probably the closest competitors: the new Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. These cars straddle the same price range and are low emission SUVs. However, as a plug-in hybrid the Outlander PHEV can be driven on electric power alone for up to 45 km. This means that for buyers who regularly do short journeys and can charge on either end of that journey, there is potential to run the Outlander very cheaply indeed.

What’s new for 2019?

The 2.0-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a new 2.4-litre petrol engine that has more power (135 hp vs 121 hp), across a wider rev range. The electric powertrain has also been improved, with the rear electric motor now producing 95 hp and a battery capacity increased to 13.8 kWh.

Under the skin, the shock absorbers of the suspension have been revised to improve the low speed ride. The steering rack has been quickened and the power steering ECU re-mapped to offer more responsiveness and feel. There are also larger front brake discs for improved stopping power. A new ‘Sport’ mode gives more throttle response and grip from the all wheel drive system. With an electric motor on each axle, the Outlander PHEV can operate in 4×4 even in the electric mode. The all wheel drive system has a new ‘Snow’ mode to improve low grip launching and cornering.

Visually, the Mitsubishi has a strong road presence with a characteristic front end and redesigned grille with chrome elements and LED light signature. At the back, there is a redesigned rear bumper and a roof spoiler. The Outlander PHEV has quite a boxy and utilitarian shape, which means it’s a very spacious vehicle inside. Head and legroom are very good in the rear. The middle seat is quite narrow, but there is a flat floor. Despite housing a battery, the boot is still large and practical at 463 litres, with underfloor storage for charging cables.

The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The mid-range Instyle model I had on test (from €43,900) came very well equipped with 18” alloys, LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, rear parking camera, high beam assist, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation.

A touchscreen comes as standard and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless integration with smartphones. There are a number of menus that can be accessed from the touchscreen and the instrument panel to inform the driver of such things as power flow, energy consumption and range.

The cabin quality is generally good but it’s not the most modern or distinct cabin among this class of vehicle, with some old-fashioned switchgear and graphics.

Driving the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

On the road, the Outlander’s hybrid powertrain is pleasantly smooth and refined. It’s not sporty but it is agile for its size and comfortable for long journeys. Performance is lively enough with a 0 to 100 kmh sprinting taking 10.5 seconds. The Sport mode offers a sharper throttle but it’s not really necessary for the most part, really just giving the driver more confidence in overtaking manoeuvres.

The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to hybrid powertrain
The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to the hybrid powertrain

CO2 emissions of just 46g/km mean that motor tax is just €170 per year. The Outlander PHEV offers a number of different driving modes including a pure EV mode, a normal hybrid mode and a battery save mode where you can save your electric range until you reach a low speed, urban environment, for example. You can charge the Outlander PHEV from a domestic mains supply using a three point plug (about 5 hours) or using the public charging system, where 80% battery power can be achieved in just 25 minutes.

I managed to travel 40 km on electric power only and I got into the habit of plugging in and keeping the battery charged up. In some scenarios where the car was working mostly on electric power, I saw consumption as low as 2 l/100km! However, on longer journeys working in hybrid mode, economy plummeted once the battery power was gone. In these scenarios, I saw fuel consumption as high as 7 l/100km.

Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Would you buy it?

For the right owner, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a large SUV full of potential to run cheaply. The ability to plug in the Outlander and drive it on pure electric power gives it an edge over other hybrid SUVs and makes this car a unique proposition in its price range. However, the Outlander PHEV becomes less efficient in motorway and long distance driving. So in these scenarios, there’s no real advantage to owning an Outlander PHEV.

Yet for drivers with regular commutes within that 40 km range who can charge on both ends of the journey, this is one large 4×4 SUV that can absolutely be run very cheaply. Mitsubishi has packaged the battery extremely well to provide a spacious five seat vehicle with a boot that’s still practical and competitive for this class of vehicle.

The hybrid powertrain is smooth and refined, while the interface to control the different driving modes is user-friendly. Mitsubishi has reputation as the manufacturer of off-road vehicles and the Outlander PHEV is not compromised in that regard. The Outlander PHEV has the surprising ability to blend 4×4 off-road ability with a silent EV stealth mode! Packaged within the fashionable exterior of an SUV, the Outlander PHEV is impossible to ignore for the technology it offers in its price range. For urban dwellers who desire the image of an SUV and need the space and practicality it offers, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes particular good sense.

The Outlander PHEV is a large family SUV with potential for very low running costs
The Outlander PHEV combines 4×4 off-road ability with EV motoring!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Instyle
Price:
€43,900 (Range from €39,900)
Engine: 2.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
135hp (engine), 82hp (front electric motor), 95hp (rear electric motor)
Torque: 211 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 170 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
2.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
46 g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year