Our cars: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - July

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  •  Month three with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  •  Plug-in hybrid offers 44g/km and promises triple-digit MPG 
  •  Run by digital editor Nigel Donnelly
  • Not many plug-in cars look so comfortable in the countryside

    Not many plug-in cars look so comfortable in the countryside

  • Outlander is happy when being made to work hard

    Outlander is happy when being made to work hard

  • 32 miles is the maximum range

    32 miles is the maximum range

  • Unusually for a hybrid, it can tow a useful-sized trailer

    Unusually for a hybrid, it can tow a useful-sized trailer

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Mitsubishi Outlander GX4hs 2.0 PHEV

See the full What Car? review of the Mitsubishi Outlander

Week ending July 25
Mileage 7740
Miles driven 90

Despite the stereotypes suggesting that summer in the UK is more of a myth than a reality, there has definitely been some sticky weather in my corner of west London recently. As a hybrid owner, this leaves me with something of a conundrum.

If I hop into the fully-charged PHEV on a warm day, start the car and stare at the dashboard, I have the promise of 32 miles of electric motoring available to me. That is enough to get me home and back to the sanctuary of my office charging point the following day without sipping any fossil fuels at all.

That all changes if the air-conditioning is fired up, however. Using it reduces the available electric range by around seven miles. That is the difference between me making my commute on electric, and not.

As a result, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the joys of having the windows and the electric sunroof open and in truth, I’ve found it quite pleasant. A trip in to central London where I was sat choking on soot recently had me reaching for the air-con, but as a general rule I am tending to use Mitsubishi’s heating and ventilation rather less than I am using Mother Nature’s.

This in turn made me wonder how many miles I’ve done over the years with the air-conditioning running, how much fuel I needlessly burned and whether or not simply winding down the windows could have kept me equally comfortable.

By Nigel Donnelly

Week ending July 18
Mileage 7650
Miles driven 410

The charging socket door on the PHEV is absolutely enormous.

The reason for its generous proportions is because it has to cover a fast-charge CHAdeMO socket and the Type-1 standard socket. It does mean, however, that the charging door sticks out a long way, and it catches people out as they walk past, particularly when the car is parked in parallel bays.

I think someone must have clouted it recently because, following a period of fast charging, I disconnected the cable and pushed the door shut, only to find it no longer fitted correctly. In fact, it hit the surrounding bodywork below the charge socket aperture.

A quick examination showed the door was not damaged, but it was obvious that the hinge had moved or deformed slightly. I opened the door, nudged the bottom of the door upwards with a couple of bumps from the flat of my hand and normal fit was resumed.

I worry this will be a reasonably common occurrence, though, due to the fact the door cannot be closed when charging takes place.

Nigel Donnelly


Week ending July 10

Mileage 7240
Miles driven 480

The majority of hybrid cars are not really geared up for towing duties, but the Outlander is both an SUV and a Mitsubishi. As a result, it is not adverse to a spell on towcar duty.

For years, Mitsubishi SUVs like the Shogun were considered a byword for tough towing chores. The large SUV is still on the market but these days, motorists who tow things, like everyone else, want a car that does plenty to the gallon, is cheap to tax and painless to own. These are things promised by more modern SUVs, of which the Outlander PHEV is one of the most interesting.

I hooked up a 2014 Swift Lifestyle 2 with the PHEV for a weekend away, but seeing as it was my first time towing with the Mitsubishi, I stayed pretty local. The 1200kg Swift is comfortably within the PHEV’s 1500kg towing limit, and keeping inside the 75kg tow ball (or noseweight) limit was very easy, too.

I fitted a pair of Milenco Aero 2 towing mirrors to ensure I could see clearly behind me before setting off, although I had to disable the automatic folding mirrors to ensure that the mirror extensions didn’t clatter the side of the car when stowed.

As a towcar, it is fair to say that the Outlander is a little short of puff to really impress. Although my towing sojourn was not very far, with relatively little battery power to call on, I was relying heavily on the 119bhp petrol engine to motivate the outfit.

That is adequate on level roads, and progress was steady on the southern stretches of the M25 with the adaptive cruise control engaged, but when confronted with a steep B-road on the approach to the campsite, progress was very laboured indeed. This agrees with the findings of the recent Tow Car Awards 2014 where, among otherwise acceptable performance, the PHEV was criticised for not coping well with hill starts when towing.

For towing a caravan a few times a year, the PHEV is fine, but you may find yourself driving around some of the powertrain limitations. For more frequent towing adventures, opting for a diesel Outlander makes a lot more sense.

Our cars: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - June

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