The Outlander PHEV has been a runaway success for Mitsubishi, and recent changes have refreshed the styling, improved cabin quality and retuned the suspension for a sharper drive.

As a tow car, though, the plug-in hybrid Outlander is still a mixed bag. The 1500kg towing limit is very low for a car of this size – in fact it’s some 500kg lighter than any other car in our heaviest weight division. That means a caravan weighted to 85% doesn’t make a legal match.

Even pulling a van weighing just 1500kg, the Outlander’s acceleration is fairly steady, needing 14.4 seconds to pull from 30-60mph. We could live with that performance, but the row from the petrol engine is harder to put up with.

The suspension revisions have made the Outlander less sloppy to drive, but it’s still a long way off the stability and control of the best big 4x4s. At 60mph the Outlander felt fine, but at 70mph it was nervous and uncertain.

In the lane-change the Outlander had to be bullied to complete the first two runs, and the third and fastest attempt had to be abandoned.

The PHEV makes most sense if you are a company car driver. Because of its low emissions the benefit-in-kind tax bill is rock bottom compared with diesel 4x4s with similar price tags. However, when we tested the Mitsubishi as one of the cars shortlisted for this year’s Green Award, it achieved 16.8mpg on a 55-mile test route, even after starting with its batteries fully charged. So don’t expect the official economy figures to be reflected in outstanding fuel-efficiency while towing.

We can see why the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is so popular with business drivers, but if you tow regularly, there are better 4x4s.

(Please note the price quoted includes the £2500 deduction for a government grant.)

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