2015 Mitsubishi Outlander review: Lags behind rivals

The Mitsubishi Outlander has been on the fringes of the SUV market for many years, but suddenly hit the big time with the release of the plug-in, petrol-electric hybrid PHEV model. It comes with five- and seven-seat options with a choice of hybrid and diesel drivetrains and takes on rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008.

Did you know? The plug-in hybrid Outlander PHEV qualifies for a government grant of lb2500 towards its purchase price

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The Mitsubishi Outlander falls short of what you’d expect in this class. Its plug-in-hybrid powertrain is a first in the class and makes it worth consideration if you’re a company car user or fleet buyer. But its interior and infotainment system feel quite cheap, refinement is poor on the hybrid as well as the diesel, and it doesn’t handle as well as the alternatives, either. With newer rivals offering far superior dynamics, interior finish, re-sale value and infotainment, the Outlander feels like it needs more than a facelift to make it competitive despite the hybrid powertrain option.
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Comfortable seats
Great on the motorway
Broad spread of technology
We Don’t Like
Poor ride quality
Interior materials
Lack of driving engagement

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The Outlander makes no effort to be svelte or pretty in the same way that many modern SUVs try, but its exterior styling bridges the gap between Japanese and European trends pretty well. It looks dated compared to many of the newer designs out there, but it holds its own in the style stakes.
There’s not a lot going on that’s particularly remarkable, but the silver trim at the front adds a distinctive touch that makes the Outlander more recognisable. Otherwise, the boxy shape looks a little too far towards the utilitarian side so it needs a high trim grade to give it the visual flair it needs. In the higher reaches of the range, the exterior design does improve and starts to make the car look more upmarket and desirable, but the Peugeot 5008 has far more design flair and even the Skoda Kodiaq has a much cleaner, modern look to it.

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The dashboard and centre console look absolutely fine in isolation. There’s nothing wrong with the way it presents its buttons, dials and its main screen. The main instruments, in particular, are clear, attractive and easy to read at a glance. But compared to other interior designs in the class, the Outlander’s lacks a little imagination and style.
Seating arrangements are well taken care of by broad, chunky seats with plenty of adjustment and support in the right places. There’s an armrest but no real lateral support, indicating that the Outlander is designed more for straight-line and long-distance comfort than carving along country roads. The high driving position, which is easy to personalise to taste, is more evidence of the same.
The boot is big whichever version you choose, but the five-seat PHEV loses some space because of the batteries beneath the boot floor. In seven-seat non-PHEV versions, the space behind the third seat row is tiny, big enough only for a couple of small suitcases and some soft bags, but they fold down flat to create a much larger space. Even so, a seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq or Peugeot 5008 will offer slightly more comfortable rear seat space, and more luggage space with seven seats in place.
The PHEV is a practical short-distance commuter. A round trip of 30 miles or less should be possible on electric power alone, potentially reducing fuel bills to nothing during the working week. The Outlander is a popular tow car, too, although you’ll likely want the diesel if you do regular caravanning weekends, as it’ll tow 2000kg compared to the hyrbid’s 1500kg maximum braked towing weight.
Four-wheel drive is a handy feature for country-dwellers, helping to pull the big Mitsubishi across fields even in slippery conditions, and even when towing.
Boot space

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Technology & Connectivity
The Outlander disappoints in a number of areas, but none more so than its infotainment. Base spec Outlander 2 cars don’t get a colour screen – just a radio, CD player and USB input, no Bluetooth or digital radio, which is all a bit ’90s. Step up to Outlander 3 and you get Bluetooth and a colour readout, but you have to go all the way to Outlander 4 to get digital radio, a 7-inch colour touchscreen and sat-nav. And even then, the system is really quite dated compared to the one you’ll find complete with all of those features in a mid-spec Peugeot 5008.
As the trim grades rise, smaller features like electrically-folding mirrors come in, along with rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, a powered tailgate, a heated steering wheel, and LED headlights. Automatic brake hold, an electronic parking brake and the 360-degree camera are all only available on automatic models, curiously.

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Performance & Handling
The four-cylinder diesels, advertised as 2.2-litre engines but actually closer to 2.3, are torque-rich units built for hauling weights without breaking a sweat, and they’re offered with a manual or automatic gearbox. The big pistons by today’s standards do create a fair bit of noise and a little vibration to boot, and the clatter never quite goes away.
They do well with a boot full of luggage and a car full of people, but even when empty apart from the driver they don’t especially like to be revved, quickly getting louder and coarser than the engines you’d enjoy in a Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq, both of which offer a much broader array of engines to choose from.
The Outlander’s refinement is slightly better in the PHEV, which is of course eerily quiet in electric mode, but that only lasts around 20 miles at best before the coarse petrol engine kicks in, and the CVT automatic transmission forces the revs right up to an unpleasantly noisy level if you go for a burst of acceleration. There’s noticeable assistance from the electric motors, delivering instant torque, but it’s not fast. In fact, the manual diesel is faster. Ultimately, the PHEV offers a more satisfying experience overall given the smug-inducing quiet and cost-effectiveness it delivers but the Outlander is a way off the class standards for performance whichever of the engines you consider.
The ride quality leaves occupants wanting, though. On smooth surfaces it ebbs and flows very well with the road, but problems arise when it hits larger bumps, of which the UK has many, like potholes or raised/sunken ironworks. The suspension isn’t soft enough to absorb the impact and it sends big thumps through the cabin via the seats and steering wheel. In terms of handling, the Outlander suffers from quite a lot of body roll, but it is fit for purpose and feels secure and predictable.
Recommended engine: 2.0 MIVEC Hybrid (PHEV)
0-62 MPH
11.0 seconds
Fuel economy
166.1 mpg

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As all PHEV models are automatic, they gain advantages like an electronic handbrake and auto-hold on hill-starts. Anti-lock brakes are standard with Electronic Brake-force Distribution to find maximum purchase on the road surface under emergency-stop conditions.
Automatic windscreen wipers and headlights – standard on every model – could easily be considered a safety feature, and the reversing camera available on PHEV models certainly is. The 360-degree camera on Outlander 4, 4h and 4hs models is even better. There are also seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag across the range, and those range-topping models add useful active driver aids like Forward Collision Mitigation, which is autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and, on the 4hs, parking sensors at the front as well It’s a decent spectrum of equipment, but it’s disappointing to see it reserved for the top-spec cars.
However, it’s standard fare these days to have AEB and lane departure warning on every model as standard, not to mention traffic sign recognition, tiredness warning, distance alert, and front parking sensors.

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Spec & Trim Levels
The diesels and the PHEVs each have their own unique colour; pearlescent Tanzanite Blue for the former and ‘premium pearlescent’ Ruby Black for the latter. They otherwise share a list of seven further shades, of which silver and white should be avoided – they look too utilitarian on the Outlander.
That leaves Orient Red, Atlantic Grey, Amethyst Black and Granite Brown as the best colours for the car, but red-tinged Ruby Black is worth a look as well, as it looks great in strong sunlight.
Trim Levels
Mitsubishi’s trim level structure is hugely confusing at a glance. As well as the logical 2, 3 and 4 models in diesel guise there’s an Outlander Commercial, Outlander PHEV 3h, 4h and 4hs, 5h and 5hs, a PHEV Juro, a PHEV Juro Commercial and a PHEV Kotu.
The Commercial models are VAT-exclusive, making them look cheaper than they really are but suitable for businesses who can claim tax back. On the retail side of things, the Outlander 2 is easily distinguished by its steel wheels and generally dowdy appearance, while the 3 and 4 are outwardly smarter.
Juro models – PHEV only – add an extra layer of smartphone integration as well as more aesthetic appeal, with two-tone alloy wheels identical to those on the top-spec PHEV 5hs.
The other oddball, the stylish Keiko, looks almost identical in style and spec to the Juro, which won’t help customers. It has sat-nav, DAB and Bluetooth, as well as leather, and overall it looks like good value.
Size and Dimensions
One thing you’ll notice about the Outlander’s dimensions is that it’s not as big as it looks. It’s modestly tall, but not tall enough to cause problems, and its length and width are similar to a mid-sized family car. Its size should pose no problems anywhere.
4695 mm
1800 mm (2120 mm w/mirrors)
1710 mm
Max towing weight without brake

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Fuel Economy
One of the key factors in the Outlander PHEV’s appeal, taking it way out in front as the UK’s most popular plug-in car by sales volume, is its unique tax advantages. As a plug-in vehicle it makes a lot of sense for businesses, and it’s big and practical as well. There are plenty of plug-in hybrid vehicles available now, but not so many SUVs, and the two together proved a big hit.
The PHEV can be incredibly cheap to run if it’s mainly used over short distances where the benefits of the electric drivetrain can be best felt. It needs a home-based charging station to work properly, but in an urban lifestyle the PHEV can cost less per mile than any supermini. That’s excluding finance and depreciation, of course, which are both weights around the Outlander’s neck versus a smaller, cheaper car, and newer rivals such as the Mini Countryman plug-in-hybrid or are likely to start stealing sales.
Reliability and servicing
Mitsubishi can’t match the reliability records of Skoda, Honda, Toyota or Lexus, and unfortunately for Mitsubishi those three companies all make SUVs that rival the Outlander. The Outlander itself is mid-table when it comes to reliability.
12 months or 12,500 miles – lb200 est
24 months or 25,000 miles – lb350 est

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The entry-level diesel model has a few niceties on its kit list, but lb25,000 is a lot to pay for a car with steel wheels. It’s a bad option. On the other hand the high-spec PHEVs are much more competitive against large, conventionally-fuelled SUVs. But although it’s expensive, arguably the best value comes with the lb38,999 PHEV 4hs, which is packed with kit but falls below the threshold for the additional annual road tax charge.
Also good value are the PHEV Juro and diesel Kotu special editions, which both have lots of equipment but bring the PHEV’s price right down to around lb35k (post government grant) and lb31k respectively. These are the versions that bring the best of the Outlander’s talents together for the most attractive price, but that sort of money can still get you a better equipped and generally more enjoyable alternative – one that’ll likely hold its value better, too.
Ultimately, the Outlander only makes sense in PHEV form as a company car, when it costs less than lb5500 in BIK tax (for a 40 percent tax payer) over three years – if you go for the Juro model. No other seven-seat SUV is that cheap for company car tax, so the Outlander’s appeal to business users is clear, even before you factor in the savings its pure electric range can bring. It’s just a shame that it makes so little sense to retail buyers.

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Cost Conscious
PHEV Juro – the drivetrain enables running cost savings and the overall package is great value
Green Car Buyer
PHEV 4h – very attractive for its low emissions and balanced value for money, it also looks the part
Tech Junkie
PHEV 5hs – the outright top model is the place to go for all the active electronics and gadgets
Volkswagen Golf GTE
A compromise-free regular hatchback with all the benefits of plug-in hybrid drive and the Volkswagen badge
Mini Countryman PHEV

This petrol-electric plug-in Mini Countryman is smaller than the Outlander, but much more fun and better equipped for similar money
Superb for business users, the i3 has the right badge and top-drawer environmental credentials
Skoda Kodiaq
Conventionally-fuelled SUV is hugely spacious and great value for money for families
Peugeot 5008
No hybrid option or four-wheel drive, but way more practical and better equipped. A great seven-seat family car.


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