The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was probably the most eagerly awaited car of this year’s tests. With its combination of electric and petrol power, and the ability to complete journeys of 30 miles or so on electric power alone, everyone wanted to get their hands on the keys.
As a tow car, though, the Outlander has its limitations. The 1500kg towing weight is less than the 85% match figure, so the Mitsubishi can’t tow as much as you’d expect for a car of this size and weight. On the flat it had no trouble pulling a car weighted to the legal maximum, accelerating from 30-60mph in a brisk 12.7 seconds. Mind you, there’s a lot of noise from the petrol engine.
In a straight line, stability is good but without the solid, unshakeable feel of the very best tow cars. In the lane-change test the Outlander only started to struggle on the third and fastest run.
It’s the hill-start test that prevented the PHEV from finishing closer to the Jaguar XF and BMW 3 Series. The handbrake held with a firm pull, but the car only crept up the slope with the driver’s foot to the floor.
We shortlisted the PHEV for this year’s Green Award, so in addition to the usual tests the Outlander also tackled a route of A-roads and motorways while What Car?’s True MPG kit assessed the its economy. With a full battery the car achieved 40.6mpg. When repeating the route with the battery drained the car still achieved a reasonable 24.7mpg.
The PHEV makes most sense if you have a short commute and can run on electric power alone, in particular if you’re offered one as a tax-efficient company car. For regular towing, though, we prefer the diesel we tested last year.