According to the official figures, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV delivers crazy fuel economy – but how does it perform in the real world?
We’ve been running a 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5hs to see if a used petrol-electric hybrid SUV stacks up from a financial perspective. It’s been tried out by various people for various duties including commuting, motorway trips, school runs and family use.
Mark, the first custodian of our PHEV, was initially less concerned about the Outlander PHEV’s headline fuel consumption figures than he was about the maddening rattle under braking and acceleration. It turned out that a previous owner’s kids had managed to get some marbles into a seat-belt anchorage point.
After our 2-year-old car was taken to Mitsubishi HQ, the problem was sorted. While it was away Mark had the use of a new-model PHEV, which he noticed seemed to have less ‘tug’ through the steering, a slightly longer electric-only range, and much more consistent DAB radio reception.
Another user, Matt, commented on the difference between our two-year-old used PHEV and the new PHEV he used to run three years ago. “On a warmish day, I used to reckon on my Outlander PHEV making it all the way along my daily 24-mile town and cross-country route to the motorway on my way to work before it ran out of battery charge. On a good day, I’d make it with about a mile to spare.
“On the same route and driven in the same way, the 2-year-old PHEV makes it to about 22 miles before starting its piston engine, which suggests it still has at least 90 per cent of the usable battery capacity it had when new.”
Matt also noticed that our two-year-old PHEV had no more squeaks or rattles than his previous car did when it was six months old, but thought that some of the Outlander’s switches and fittings were now looking rather plasticky and cheap compared to those of most modern family SUVs in 2018. Having said that he noted that the Outlander’s fixtures and fittings all worked exactly as his old long-termer’s did.
He was still impressed by the practicality too. “Knocking around in the car for a week recently with my family in tow was a reminder of how practical the Outlander is. There’s more boot space and second-row passenger room here than our Mazda CX-5 has. It’s pleasant just to run errands in and to get you from A to B. It’s quiet, relaxing and responsive around town.
“In my opinion the Outlander PHEV is one of the car market’s better-engineered and more interesting plug-in hybrids, and one not to be avoided as a second-hand buy.”
The next occupant of the driver’s seat was Neil, a man with friends and family dotted all around the North of England. “That can be both a blessing and a curse,” he said. “A curse when you’re sat for mile after mile on the perennially jammed M1, but a blessing once the traffic clears and you’re treated to some of the best country roads anywhere in the world. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was not designed to excel in either environment.
“With a thimble-sized fuel tank (45 litres to be precise) and an average fuel economy of around 27mpg on our journey up to Beverley in Yorkshire from Twickenham, we were getting around 200 miles before the fuel light flickered.
“And despite recuperating 11 miles of electrical range by using the ‘Charge’ mode on our journey north, the car appeared to lose all of its stored power overnight, showing an electric range of no miles on start up. Perhaps the sub-zero temperatures had something to do with it?
Overall Neil considered the Outlander to be an SUV designed for cities and the school run. “If your commute is less than 20 miles and you can charge the Outlander both at home and at work, you essentially have cheap motoring for five days of the week,” he said. “But if you want to venture further afield, a diesel would be a far better bet.”