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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed 2019 review


Daily driver score

3.3/5

Urban score

3.3/5

On the face of it, the Audi Q7 and Mitsubishi Outlander have few things in common. They're both (mostly) seven seat SUVs and that's pretty much where they part company. Except if you have a poke around the spec sheets of both ranges, you'll find something quite interesting.

Both are offered as five seat plug-in hybrids because the batteries take up the space of the third row.

But, once again, here is where they depart because the cheapest PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) starts at an absurdly reasonable (for a PHEV) $45,990.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The $53,990 PHEV Exceed, the car I had for a week, recently came in for a price cut, a very handy $1500. If you don't need or want what the top-of-the-range has to offer, you can start with the ES at $45,990, the ES ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assist Systems) at $47,490 and the LS at $50,490.

The Exceed rolls quietly off the line with 18-inch alloys, a six-speaker sound system, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, active cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, partial leather interior with micro-suede inserts, electric front seats, heated and folding power mirrors and electrochromatic rear vision mirror.

Entertainment comes from Mitsubishi's new 7.0-inch touchscreen from the ASX and, truth be told, it's fairly ordinary. But it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is very welcome indeed given the absence of sat nav.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Outlander's fresh nose from a year or so back is leaps and bounds from when the car first landed in 2012. While there is a bit more chrome than I consider strictly necessary, the PHEV's face is no different to other cars in the range.

What is different is idiotic, over-sized PHEV badges on the car's flanks. They look crooked, too, which is a bit disheartening. But at least onlookers will know you care.

The dinky wheels have too many spokes and belong on a Toyota Crown and there's little in the way of flair. (image: Peter Anderson) The dinky wheels have too many spokes and belong on a Toyota Crown and there's little in the way of flair. (image: Peter Anderson)

The car is otherwise quite conventional to look at. The dinky wheels have too many spokes and belong on a Toyota Crown and there's little in the way of flair. But this car is not about flair, so that's fine.

Inside is also fairly dull, but does the job. The new touchscreen integrates nicely, though and everything seems to fit. Some of the switches look like they're from Jaycar - the heated seat switches for example - but it all seems solid enough.

Entertainment comes from Mitsubishi's new 7.0-inch touchscreen from the ASX and, truth be told, it's fairly ordinary. (image: Peter Anderson) Entertainment comes from Mitsubishi's new 7.0-inch touchscreen from the ASX and, truth be told, it's fairly ordinary. (image: Peter Anderson)

Every time I drive an Outlander, I think the interior will take a pretty good hammering, which is reassuring. The flimsy-feeling action on the door handles is less so.

Oddly, the full leather of the Exceed isn't as nice as the leather/micro-suede of the LS.

How practical is the space inside?

One of the Outlander's few outstanding features has been its status as a bargain seven-seater. That's out the window with the PHEV, but given it needs a (big) battery, that's fair enough.

Every time I drive an Outlander, I think the interior will take a pretty good hammering, which is reassuring. (image: Peter Anderson) Every time I drive an Outlander, I think the interior will take a pretty good hammering, which is reassuring. (image: Peter Anderson)

The boot is a handy 477 litres with the rear seats in place and if you put them down, you have an impressive 1608 litres. Front and rear rows score a pair of cupholders each and there's a bottle holder in each door.

Passenger space is good for four but given it's slightly narrower than similar cars its size, the middle rear passengers feels the squeeze.

  • The boot is a handy 477 litres with the rear seats in place. (image: Peter Anderson) The boot is a handy 477 litres with the rear seats in place. (image: Peter Anderson)
  • If you put them down, you have an impressive 1608 litres. (image: Peter Anderson) If you put them down, you have an impressive 1608 litres. (image: Peter Anderson)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The PHEV has a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 87kW/186Nm and two 30kW electric motors that bring the total combined power outputs to 120kW/332Nm.

A 12kWh/40Ah battery hides under the boot floor and takes around six hours to charge from a domestic circuit and if you get a fast-charger, that comes down to an 80 percent charge from 25 minutes.

Power goes out via all four wheels and a single speed automatic.

The PHEV has a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 87kW/186Nm and two 30kW electric motors that bring the total combined power outputs to 120kW/332Nm. (image: Peter Anderson) The PHEV has a 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 87kW/186Nm and two 30kW electric motors that bring the total combined power outputs to 120kW/332Nm. (image: Peter Anderson)

How much fuel does it consume?

The official combined cycle figures are listed at 1.7L/100km. Some years ago editor Flynn managed something close to this figure but I fear it involved hazard lights and driving slowly down the hard shoulder - hyper-miling, if you will.

My esteemed colleague managed a day's motoring on 7.5L/100km which seems reasonable, but he started the day with a full battery. When I did that, I saw about the same figure, which seems a bit high. You're not necessarily going to save a lot of fuel or carbon unless you're careful on the road and diligent with the charging.

Keep it charged or it's just a heavy, quiet Outlander LS. (image: Peter Anderson) Keep it charged or it's just a heavy, quiet Outlander LS. (image: Peter Anderson)

Mitsubishi says a full battery will give you 54km but that's exceedlingly (sorry) unlikely.

What might you expect if you drive it without having charged it up? We gave that a go and the results weren't amazing - 11.3L/100km. So keep it charged or it's just a heavy, quiet Outlander LS.

A 12kWh/40Ah battery hides under the boot floor and takes around six hours to charge from a domestic circuit. (image: Peter Anderson) A 12kWh/40Ah battery hides under the boot floor and takes around six hours to charge from a domestic circuit. (image: Peter Anderson)

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Exceed has seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, reversing camera, reverse parking sensors, forward AEB, lane-departure warning, active cruise, lane-change warning, lane-change assist, around-view camera, reverse cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning and auto high beam.

Also on offer are two ISOFIX and three top-tether child seat anchor points.

The Outlander range scored five ANCAP stars in 2014.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Mitsubishi offers a five-year/100,000km warranty with four years roadside assist in the form of a motoring organisation membership.

The company also offers capped-price servicing, which amounts to $1095 over the three years of the program. It would be nice for that to extend further, but there you go. The PHEV's servicing is cheaper than the diesel but more expensive than the petrol by about 30 percent.

Your dealer expects a visit every 12 months or 15,000km.

What's it like to drive?

While the petrol and diesel Outlanders are varying levels of ho-hum, the PHEV is not too bad. The instant response of the electric motors is far preferable to the teenage whining of the petrols and grumbling of the diesel. One of the Outlanders worst features, the CVT, is absent as the engine plays no part in directly driving wheels.

When I first started driving it, I was deeply disappointed that the PHEV doesn't try very hard to recover charge when you lift off the throttle. Drive a BMW i3 and you'll find you barely need the brake. But I discovered if you nudge the nasty plastic shifter down (or pull the lovely alloy paddle), the display told me I was in B3. Lifting off created a much more agreeable drag and the dash graphic showed more enthusiastic recovery. Another nudge or pull and B5 got me closer to what I thought should be the starting point. But I was pleased nonetheless as it helps eke out further electric range.

Apart from that, the ride is crashy and bumpy - Mitsubsishi's engineers seem to have 'solved' the extra kerb weight problem by stiffening everything up, meaning the lolling body control of the other cars is firmed up a little. It just isn't all that flash at suburban speeds on suburban roads.

The near-silent whoosh of the electric motor will eventually be replaced by the daggy drone of the petrol engine. It's sharply at odds with the calm refinement of the electric propulsion and is a bit of a shame that it crashes the party so rudely.

In highway running the engine fades into the background and you can get used to the comfortable seats, pleasant cabin ambience and the good view ahead.

Like most Mitsubishi models, the base model has all the good stuff of the top-of-the-range, although I'd skip the ES and go for the ES ADAS. For all the extra cash, you don't really get that much more in the Exceed because there's not much in Mitsubishi's grab bag. There's almost nothing to commend the Exceed over the LS.

As a city car, the PHEV is quite good as long as you don't ask too much of it. The electric range is useful for school runs or shortish commutes (if you can park near a power point) and when you're flat, the engine sorts you out.

Like the rest of the Outlander range, it's honest transport and not much else. The PHEV, though, proves that when Mitsubishi puts its mind to something, it can turn out quite alright.

Is the fact it's a plug-in hybrid enough to tempt you out of a conventionally-powered car or does the extra expense make it a weird choice?

$45,990 - $47,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.3/5

Urban score

3.3/5