- Generous 60 kilometre electric range
- Near silent battery-powered motoring
- More practical than most hybrids
- Efficiency suffers if you tap into petrol power
- No seven-seat option
- Expensive to purchase
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV shows just how little you have to compromise with a modern electric vehicle.
Mitsubishi produces Outlanders with a variety of powertrains: there are petrol and diesel options that are competent, and not offensively inefficient. The conventional engines are now joined by the Outlander PHEV, a petrol-electric hybrid version. The Outlander PHEV sets itself apart from the few other hybrid SUVs on the market, such as the Lexus RX450h, by offering a large battery, chargeable through the household grid, and capable of driving the Outlander for 60 gentle kilometres. The Outlander PHEV is exceptional in its ability to provide compromise-free, green family motoring, with cheaper running costs, and greater style, than the Toyota Prius V.
ChasingCars.com.au borrowed this vehicle for our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review:
- 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Aspire (top-trim), with the 2.0-litre aspirated four-cylinder and electric-hybrid motor and continuously-variable automatic, in Starlight White with black leather, priced at $52,490 before on-road costs.
What is the Outlander PHEV like to drive? Well, under electric power, it’s a fairly normal experience. The electric motor produces a rather otherworldly whirring noise as it accelerates, but apart from expected wind and road noise, it is a virtually silent experience for the first sixty kilometres. After that, the petrol engine acts as a generator and supplement to the electric motor, and that engine is actually quite noisy—and it’s an anaemic noise, that will encourage you to stay within the limits of the electric motor where possible. The PHEV’s powertrain, like most electric motors, is very refined compared to the petrols and the diesel. It can be hesitant off the line, but it offers surprising power in the midrange, because electric motors produce all of their torque instantly—a very unique and fun sensation. The PHEV is exclusively available with an automatic gearbox that works like a conventionally-variable transmission, and it’s unobtrusive. To accommodate the electric motors and battery pack, the Outlander PHEV is nearly 300 kilograms heavier than its siblings—and this burden blunts the handling—although the steering remains pleasingly direct. The suspension sits more comfortably in the electric model, with the added heft lowering the centre of gravity and allowing the Outlander to be more composed over rougher surfaces.
The cabin of the Outlander PHEV, like that in the traditional powertrains, is simple but comfortable. The front seats are on the larger side. They lack adequate side bolstering for more active cornering, but they are supportive on longer journeys. There is plenty of adjustment in the seats, and in the steering wheel, so most drivers will find a satisfying position. The squared-off dash isn’t particularly stylish, but it is laid out in a way that is easy to understand. It is focussed around the central, 6.1-inch touchscreen, which on the basic trim supports the audio, while the Aspire flagship bundles satellite navigation through this system. Most of the quality issues in the traditional Outlanders are also present here—such as misaligned trims and a slightly loose-fitting driver’s seat. However, most of the materials feel soft but solid to the touch. Rear passengers will also be comfortable, with adequate headroom and generous legroom. The Outlander PHEV does not offer seven seats like the petrol and diesel, as the position they would be placed in is utilised for the battery pack.
The biggest impediment to practicality in a plug-in hybrid is the ease of charging the car. This is not a problem in the PHEV—a five-metre charging cable is stowed under the boot floor, and it plugs into a household outlet—so, if your garage or carport has one of these, you won’t find it difficult to keep the PHEV running on electric power. If you, like us, park the vehicle on the street, that’s a different story—and charging will become a chore. As the Outlander PHEV is not available with seven seats, the remaining five are accommodated in a cabin that feels more spacious. The Aspire’s sunroof means the cabin is filled with light, and the shallow dash creates generous space for the driver and front passenger. Legroom and headroom are also very good for the rear passengers, and the second-row bench is comfortable for adults or children. A boot capacity of 463 litres is around the middle of the SUV pack and adequate for a big shopping run or the kids’ school bags. The PHEV ditches the odd seat-folding mechanism of the petrol and diesel for a simple setup that doubles space to 888 litres. When the seats are folded, the floor isn’t flat, though, which can make loading long, heavy objects a pain. That said, the PHEV could still accommodate a generous amount of flat-pack furniture.
RELIABILITY & RUNNING COSTS
The quality of Mitsubishi’s Japanese-built models is usually good, but it is worth remembering that the Outlander PHEV is a first-generation product. The electric-hybrid system used in the PHEV is much greater in scale to those used in, say, the tried-and-tested Toyota Prius. But, the reliability of smaller-scale Japanese hybrids has been relatively trouble-free. In any case, Mitsubishi’s servicing arrangements for the Outlander PHEV are generous. The first four years of servicing have a capped price, with just one service a year—the first one is $360, and the last three are $470. Most parts of the PHEV, like the other Outlanders, feel well-built—but some concerns do exist. The door trim does not line up with the dash, and in two Outlanders Chasing Cars tested (both Aspires in petrol and PHEV powertrains), the drivers’ seat was not bolted strongly enough to the floor, with a tendency to rock slightly under acceleration. A five-star ANCAP safety rating is complemented by seven airbags, and the usual suite of active safety features. The Aspire gains radar-based cruise control and a city-safety auto-brake function. Running costs generated by fuel use are wildly variable, based on how far you drive the Outlander PHEV between charges. If you run it exclusively on electric power, this is a deeply inexpensive car to run—a 60 kilometre charge would cost an average Australian $2-$3. Drive beyond this, though, and the small petrol motor has to work quite hard to keep up, driving fuel consumption towards 10 litres / 100 km.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The PHEV is offered in two trims: an unnamed, basic trim that sells for around $50,000, and the flagship $55,000 Aspire that mirrors other range-topping Outlanders for equipment. All PHEVs are well-equipped with satellite navigation, attractive 18-inch wheels, and push-button start. The Aspire is the best value, though, because an additional $5,000 adds leather seats, a sunroof, sophisticated safety technology, and a remarkable smartphone application that allows you to monitor the Outlander’s charge state, and operate the climate control, from afar. Of course, the biggest decision is whether to purchase the Outlander PHEV in the first place—and that will require a few calculations. A PHEV Aspire is $5,000 more expensive than an equivalent diesel, but if your daily driving falls within its electric range, running costs are very low. If you regularly drive long distances, though, the PHEV’s petrol motor is relatively inefficient, and you will likely be better off with the diesel.
Holden Volt ($59,990 RRP) – far more expensive than the Outlander PHEV, and less practical. The Volt is the closest alternative to the PHEV on the market, with a similar range on electric power, similar levels of equipment, and a similarly easy charging routine. The Volt is an older product, though, when the technology was more expensive, and with a price tag pushing into the seventies, the Outlander is a more attractive proposition.
Honda CR-V DTi-L ($45,340 RRP) – equipped with a 2.2-litre diesel four, Honda’s flagship CR-V is an enticing proposition, with fuel economy in the sub-sevens. For short runs about town, it can’t touch the Outlander PHEV’s low running costs—but Honda’s famous reliability and strong build quality, though, might be worth more.
Volvo XC60 D4 Kinetic ($59,890 RRP) – more expensive, but the difference is quality is night-and-day. The XC60 D4 is also much more engaging to drive than the Outlander PHEV, with an authoritative diesel and excellent handling. The Outlander is far more generous with standard equipment, but the XC60 is worth a look if you have aspirations of European ownership.
|Fueltype||Electric + petrol|
|Induction||Electric + naturally aspirated|
|Power||87kW @ 4500rpm|
|Torque||186Nm @ 4500rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||49kW / tonne|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||1.9L / 100km|
Transmission and Drivetrain
|Configuration||Single gear transaxle|
|Drivetrain||All wheel drive|
Dimensions and Weights
|Cargo space (seats up)||~400L|
|Cargo space (seats down)||888L|