The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been revised for 2019 and it’s now more economical thanks to a larger battery and new petrol engine – and it’s also better to drive.
Green Car Guide ran a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on a long-term test in 2016; the Outlander PHEV was refreshed in 2017, and now it’s had another series of updates, including a larger battery and larger petrol engine. The Outlander PHEV has been a huge sales success in the UK for Mitsubishi; is it now a better car due to these changes?
The main changes for the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV include its 300V Lithium ion battery pack capacity being increased by 15% to 13.8kWh, battery output increased by 10%, electric generator output increased by 10%, rear electric motor output increased by 10% to 95hp, and a larger 2.4-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine (compared to the previous 2-litre engine), which remains mated to automatic transmission.
The petrol engine also manages to be more efficient than before because it can switch from the Otto to the Atkinson cycle – decreasing its capacity and therefore burning less fuel – under light load conditions such as motorway driving.
All these changes have been implemented to ensure the Outlander performs well on the new, more realistic, WLTP fuel economy and emissions test, which is designed to more accurately reflect real-world driving.
However as well as being more efficient, the larger capacity 2360cc petrol engine means that the engine produces more power (135ps vs 121ps) and more torque across a wider rev range (211Nm vs 190Nm). This translates to improved performance; the 0-62mph time is now 0.5 seconds quicker at 10.5 seconds, and the top speed in EV mode has also increased, from 78mph to 84mph.
Because the Outlander has an electric motor for each axle, it can offer 4×4 capability at all times – even in EV mode.
The ‘Super-All Wheel Control’ (S-AWC) system also has new snow and sport drive modes. Sport mode delivers sharper throttle responses, better weighted power steering, and more grip. Snow mode improves low-grip launching and cornering abilities on slippery surfaces, while the traction control system has been revised to improve hill climbing performance by the management of rear motor torque.
The suspension has also been revised to improve low speed ride, the steering has been tuned to offer better response and feel, and there are larger front brake discs. Finally, in addition to the more refined petrol engine, there’s more sound deadening.
On the outside, the overall body shape is still the same, but there have been a few changes. One of these is the introduction of new 18-inch alloy wheels – the one and only wheel choice. Design is a very subjective area, but in our opinion these new wheels result in the Outlander’s styling appearing more fussy.
The interior is still the same size, meaning that there’s lots of space for occupants, plus a large 463 litre boot, and a 35-litre space under the boot for the charging cable.
It’s worth noting that the Outlander PHEV has a towing capacity of 1,500kg for a braked trailer.
The headline is that the range of improvements made on the 2019 Outlander PHEV result in a vehicle that is refined, quiet, comfortable and generally excellent to drive (for a 1.9 tonne SUV). On electric power, you get the normal instant torque response, giving smooth and linear acceleration. And of course along with near silence and zero emissions.
If you venture beyond the impressive all-electric range, then the Outlander is still extremely refined when using its petrol engine. All the different tweaks to the powertrain, suspension and steering really have created a much improved overall driving experience.
You can get in the Outlander PHEV and just drive it. But there are a lot of buttons and settings that you can play with to tailor the car for your needs if you want to.
Firstly, if you’re driving locally, then you’ll probably want to select the EV button (near the gear selector) to lock the car in electric priority mode, meaning that the car is powered by the front and rear motors, resulting in zero tailpipe emissions. If you don’t do this, then the car will be in hybrid mode and will decide for itself whether to use the electric or petrol power, or both.
If you’re driving down a motorway and then into a built-up area, it may be best to press the ‘Save’ button (also near the gear selector), which saves battery charge for later. You can even press this button twice to charge the battery from the petrol engine.
There’s also an Eco button (on the dashboard), which will help the car to be as efficient as possible – probably advisable for motorway trips in particular.
Then there’s the new Sport button, between the front seats, and identified by a blue stripe. This assists if a more progressive driving style is desired. Overall this latest Outlander is much less revvy (ie. CVT-like) than previous models, but this tendency can still be evident in Sport mode.
There’s also a ‘Twin Motor 4WD’ switch. This allows you to select Normal, Snow and 4WD Lock.
Then there are the steering wheel-mounted paddles. These don’t change gear, but they give you the ability to adjust the level of regenerative braking, from 0 (no regen) to 5 (highest), ie. there are six levels. This is a useful feature if driving in different environments, such as urban v countryside v motorways. Selecting Sport mode automatically puts regen at the highest B5 level.
You may have deduced from the above that these different controls are somewhat randomly placed around the cabin, with varying appearances.
So overall the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is very competent on the road; but what about off-road? We test all cars off-road if they claim to be off-roaders, and so the Outlander had the same treatment. The verdict is that it is very capable – more so than many people might imagine a plug-in hybrid with an official economy figure of 140mpg to be. Ground clearance, at 190mm, isn’t huge, and there’s quite a lot of overhang at the front and back (if you’re interested, the approach angle is 21.0°, breakover angle is 19.0°, and departure angle is 22.5°), but if you drive within these limits, grip is good. All three drive modes can offer permanent electric 4WD.
This latest Outlander has different tyres to the previous model, now sporting Yokohama BluEarth E70 rubber. These are described as summer tyres. When we had an Outlander PHEV on long-term test, we ended up on top of a mountain in a blizzard with the car. Although the Toyo R37 tyres on that car looked as if they had hardly any tread (never mind any winter tyre tread), the Outlander performed amazingly well in the snow. We’ve also had extensive experience with Yokohama Geolander tyres, which are excellent off-road as well as in the snow and ice. During an autumn test we weren’t able to try the Yokohama BluEarth E70 tyres in the snow, but we would prefer to see all cars with 4×4 capability fitted with tyres that can translate the vehicle’s capability to delivering traction in mud and snow; we’re not convinced that the BluEarth E70 tyres would do that. We assume that we’re yet to see tyre manufacturers offering tyres that can perform well in summer, winter, off-road, and also have low rolling resistance to maximise fuel economy. Any tyre manufacturers reading this who believe they have a genuine all-round tyre that meet all these four criteria are welcome to send samples for us to test…
As well as areas such as the powertrain, the Outlander’s interior has also received ongoing improvements over recent years. The infomedia system is much better than it was on our 2017 long-term test car, now with a modern touchscreen, but there’s one thing any potential buyer should be aware of: there’s no satnav. To have satnav, you need to own a smartphone, connect it to the car via a USB lead, and display Google maps on the touchscreen. Although this offers a satnav solution, it’s a long way off being as convenient or effective as systems found on cars from manufacturers such as BMW.
And one other issue: although the steering wheel has height and reach adjustment, it doesn’t extend very far out, and the seat position doesn’t go very low. So the driving position won’t be ideal for many people.
The official combined fuel economy for the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is 159.5mpg based on the old NEDC test, or 139mpg based on the new, more realistic WLTP test. Mitsubishi is also quoting fuel consumption of 50.4mpg based on having a depleted battery. CO2 emissions are 40g/km (NEDC) or 46g/km (WLTP).
The 2019 Outlander has an electric range of 33 miles based on the NEDC test, or 28 miles under WLTP. The new WLTP test also has a ‘city driving’ figure, which is 35 miles. We achieved between 25 and 33 miles of EV range in real-world driving, which is good for a PHEV – especially an SUV PHEV weighing 1880 kg.
Mitsubishi claims that a 532 mile range can be achieved with a full battery and a full petrol tank, although we would expect around 300 miles in real-world driving (the petrol tank only has a 45-litre capacity).
So what did we achieve in terms of real-world economy? You could expect 1000mpg if you drove the Outlander almost exclusively on electric power, or a lot, lot less if you drove it only on petrol power. Over 100 miles, with 80 miles being on motorways, and running the battery from full to empty, we achieved 49.4mpg. At 70mph on the motorway on just the petrol engine we averaged 36.7mpg. At 55-60mph on A-roads on the petrol engine we averaged 37.4mpg.
Of course, like any plug-in hybrid, you need to plug in the Outlander. A full charge will take five hours if using a 3-pin plug and a domestic electricity supply, or a 0-80% charge can be done in 25 minutes using the car’s CHADeMO socket at a public rapid charger.
The Mitsubishi Outlander 19MY PHEV 4hs 2.4 Auto 4WD costs £39,100. The Outlander is available in five trims levels: Juro, 4, 4hs, 5h and 5hs, with prices starting at £34,255. These prices are after the deduction of the UK government’s plug-in car grant, which still exists at the time of writing, but is due to end in early November 2018. Mitsubishi, along with many others in the industry, see the ending of this grant as a very poor decision at a time when the government claims to be encouraging the increased adoption of plug-in cars, which are still selling in relatively low numbers.
The 2019 model year Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers zero emission driving for around 30 miles, with unlimited driving after that as long as you can refuel the engine with petrol. The overall package has been refined over recent years and it is now an excellent car to drive and to live with. It also has very good off-road capability – which could be even better with the right tyres. It’s not perfect – we’d like to see a better driving position, the option of satnav, and there’s only one wheel choice. However overall the 2019 Outlander PHEV is a car that can do pretty much everything, and even with the imminent ending of the plug-in car grant, it’s still decent value compared to some other PHEV SUVs. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is therefore awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.
But should you buy a plug-in hybrid such as the Outlander? If most of your driving is up and down the nation’s motorways, then no. But if most of your driving is less than 30 miles between charges, with occasional longer journeys, then yes. This means that you can drive on zero tailpipe emission electric power locally during the week, yet you’re still able to pack the family and all their stuff in the car at weekends and head into the mountains. For some people – ourselves included – this sounds ideal.
The launch event for the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV involved a number of laps of the Grand Tour test track, in the new Outlander, and also in some of Mitsubishi’s historic fleet, including the 3000GT and three Evos from varying generations. The 3000GT, despite being from the 1990s, felt better to drive than many brand new cars. And the Evos showed how these cars had such a rewarding direct driving experience that could also be so effective in rallying. Anyway, the point of having these cars available to drive on the track at the Outlander launch was to demonstrate that Mitsubishi has a pedigree in drivers’ cars as well as 4x4s, with the Outlander PHEV hopefully having some of these driving dynamics and off-road capability genes, as well as adding green credential to the mix.