What's the used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4 like?
Being in the right place at the right time can make you look like a hero. The uncanny knack of knowing exactly what is needed at a particular moment will earn you the admiration of many and do wonders for your reputation. Back in 2014, Mitsubishi found itself in just that situation with the Outlander PHEV, which quickly found favour with company car buyers thanks to its low CO2 output and minimal tax liability.
The ordinary Outlander was a rather dull large SUV, but the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain meant the PHEV version stood out in its segment. Even after all these years, the Outlander PHEV has few direct rivals apart from more traditional hybrids, which don’t offer anything like the Outlander’s electric-only driving range. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the closest competitor, followed by more premium SUV offerings such as the Lexus NX and RX – both of which cost considerably more.
Under the bonnet of the Outlander is a 2.0-litre petrol engine, but it is supplemented by a hybrid system with two electric motors – one for each axle. The engine can either drive the wheels with the help of the batteries, or it can charge the batteries to keep them topped up, or it can be switched off entirely and run in electric mode for 30 miles (less in winter), for driving in town, for example. Charging the battery takes five hours from a conventional plug or about three hours from a dedicated EV charging point.
GX3h kicked off the range and came with 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors. GX4h added heated leather seats, sat-nav, a reversing camera (but removed rear parking sensors) and xenon headlights.
Higher-spec GX5h was added after the 2016 facelift and gets Nappa leather and an uprated Alpine sound system. GX4hs and GX5hs models have additional safety tech such as lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
After the 2019 model revisions, GX3h became Verve with the addition of heated front seats; GX4h was renamed Design but the infotainment screen was increased to 8in; a new trim level called Dynamic was added that got blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, while GX5h became Exceed. Dynamic Safety and Exceed Safety models are much like the previous GX4hs and GX5hs Outlanders in that these have additional safety features.
Early Outlander PHEVs suffered from a poor ride, but this was improved as part of the 2015 facelift. Regardless, this isn't a particularly enjoyable car to drive, but it can be peaceful in EV mode. The steering is light and uncommunicative, and the nose generally washes wide sooner in corners than is the case with most of its rivals. Road and wind noise are an ever-present part of travelling in the Outlander, so it’s not the best for long journeys. A tight turning circle helps you out when parking, though.
Unfortunately, the PHEV misses out on the option of a third row of seats that the regular Outlander can be had with, due to the extra batteries required for the hybrid system. While that might not be too much of an issue, considering that those rearmost seats are tight even for children, you might notice that the overall boot volume is smaller than the regular car's, because the floor has had to be raised to make room for the batteries. The wheel arches also intrude quite a lot. It’s still big enough for four bags of golf clubs or five people's holiday luggage, though.
Space for those in the second row is good and people in the front have enough room too. A tall driver might like a bit more head room, though, and some might like a bit more adjustment in the steering wheel. Sadly, the dashboard is a bit of a mess, with various controls dotted around, and it can take some getting used to.
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