Mitsubishi now offers its spacious Outlander SUV with conventional petrol power - and seven seats. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Think of a Mitsubishi Outlander SUV and you tend to think of Plug-in Hybrid power. The brand also though, offers a conventional 2.0-litre 150PS petrol version, which is much more affordable and will be a better bet if you regularly tow or drive off road. Plus it gives you the third seating row that PHEV variant buyers can't have. And it undercuts most of its 'D'-segment SUV rivals on price. For sure, you get old-school virtues here, but there's certainly still a place for this Mitsubishi in this form.
We first saw this third generation Outlander design back in 2013, when it was launched with a 2.2-litre DI-D diesel engine. The PHEV version followed in 2014 and instantly transformed the Plug-in hybrid market segment across Europe, racking up over 115,000 sales in the following four years. By 2018 though, the Outlander was facing greater challenges: not only the age of its design but also the abolition of the UK government Plug-in Car Grant that had previously done much to promote sales of the PHEV version. Mitsubishi's response was delivered in two parts. Firstly, the brand introduced significant changes to the Outlander PHEV, including a fresh 2.4-litre petrol engine mated to improved electrical technology, plus there was a classier cabin. The idea was to reassure buyers that this variant really could justify premium pricing. For those unable to stretch to the required asking figures but still wanting an Outlander, the brand changed its approach with regard to its range of conventionally-engined models, deleting the 2.2-litre diesel option and offering instead the more affordable 150PS 2.0-litre petrol powerplant we look at here.
If you're of the opinion that many family SUVs have just become estate cars with a little more ground clearance and a largely redundant all-wheel drive system, you might well like the conventional 2.0-litre 150PS petrol-powered version of this Outlander. Despite its modern styling, there's something quite old school in the way that it drives, and I mean that as a compliment. Set off down the road and the feeling you get is that of being in a 'proper' SUV, rather than some sort of ineffectual crossover vehicle. You sense the meatiness of the steering and the gutsiness of the 2.0-litre petrol engine and realise that this is a vehicle you'll be able to rely on, a car that'll work with you, even in a tight spot. 62mph from rest in this entry-level Outlander model occupies 13.3s en route to a maximum of 118mph. And there's 195Nm of torque, enough pulling power to facilitate a 2.0-tonned braked towing capacity that's half a tonne more than the alternative hybrid derivative can manage. Like the PHEV, this 2.0-litre petrol variant can only be had with an automatic gearbox, but it's a very different one, a more conventional INVECS-II transmission that's tuned to help with towing and off roading. There are three driving modes provided: '4WD ECO' is the setting you'll need to get anywhere near the quoted fuel returns - 37.7mpg on the combined cycle and 171g/km of CO2. Here, the car is powered through the front wheels nearly all the time, only sending drive to the rear when a loss of traction is sensed. There might not be too many occasions when you'd bother to switch to the second 4x4 setting, '4WD Auto', a mode which duplicates much the same functionality but operates the car less economically. Finally, there's a '4WD LOCK' mode that you'll only need if your Outlander ends up somewhere you really shouldn't have ventured with it in the first place.
This isn't an SUV you'd buy to make a driveway statement but in its own way, it's smartly functional. The key recent updates apply at the front, which gets a redesigned grille, a restyled bumper extension and smarter fog lamp bezels. Inside, the brand's has standardised its 'SDA' 'Smartphone Link Display Audio' system, which gives you a 7-inch high-definition centre dashboard colour infotainment screen framed in a gloss black panel above the climate control switchgear. From here, you access the usual navigation, DAB audio, Media and Bluetooth 'phone features. In the second row, there's reasonable space for two adults - or three at a squash, with the third person's cause aided by the way that the central transmission tunnel has been kept usefully low. You can slide this bench back and forth in a way you can't on the alternative PHEV variant, which is limited by the battery pack situated beneath the seat. And in this conventional petrol variant, behind the second row bench, you get a couple of fold-out boot-mounted chairs that can't be offered by the PHEV Outlander model. There's decent boot space too - 1,608-litres, with all the seats folded.
If you like the idea of an Outlander but aren't really wedded to the idea - or the price - of Plug-in hybrid technology, then this conventional 2.0-litre petrol model with 150PS offers a decent alternative, priced much more affordably in the £28,000 to £30,000 bracket. Should you happen to be wondering about the diesel power this third generation Outlander model was originally launched with, well Mitsubishi no longer offers that with this car in the UK. How things have changed. All Outlanders come with 4WD and automatic transmission and if you go for the conventional petrol model, you'll get a third seating row as standard too. The petrol variant offers a choice of either 'Juro' or plusher '4'-spec trim levels. Even with base 'Juro' trim, this car comes very well equipped. At this level, you get 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, rear privacy glass, power-folding mirrors, front fog lamps, headlamp washers, auto headlamps and wipers and a Thatcham category 1 alarm. Standard interior features across the range include air conditioning with dual-zone climate control, an auto-diming rear view mirror, cruise control, a heated windscreen, heated front seats, Bluetooth 'phone connectivity and leather for the steering wheel and gearstick. Rear parking sensors are missing at this level, but you do get a reversing camera. Infotainment is covered off by the brand's 'SDA' 'Smartphone Link Display Audio' system, which gives you a 7-inch high-definition centre dashboard colour infotainment screen with 'Apple CarPlay/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring and a DAB radio.
There's a simple reason why Mitsubishi has kept the output of its conventional petrol-engined Outlander model relatively low: namely, to keep running costs in check. You can't expect the figures delivered here to match those of more modern rivals: this is, after all, a tougher, more capable SUV than many of its competitors. Still, it doesn't do too badly, with a standard engine start/stop system enabling this variant to return 37.7mpg on the combined cycle and 171g/km of CO2. What else might you need to know? Well there's reasonably affordable insurance rated at group 19E for the base 'Juro' model and group 20E for the plusher '4'-spec variant. Another thing you might be encouraged by as a potential buyer is the decently long five year warranty - though that's slightly spoiled by the brand's insistence on limiting it to 62,500 miles. As you'd expect in this day and age, there's a 12-year anti-perforation warranty. And three years of pan-European roadside assistance and homestart are included in the price. Servicing is required every year or 12,500 miles (whichever comes first) and you can keep maintenance costs down by purchasing a decent value pre-paid servicing pack which takes care of the cost of garage visits for three years or 36,000 miles. The pack costs £450 and Mitsubishi says that over 90% of its customers purchase it.
Sales of this third generation Outlander design have primarily been focused on this car in its PHEV guise, but in its final few years of production, the more conventional petrol version may well grow in significance. Whatever your choice of powertrain, there's no doubt that this strong-selling Mitsubishi still has something to offer to family buyers in the tightly-fought SUV 'D'-segment. Other family SUV rivals may be able to offer more power, sharper handling and fancier cabins, but they struggle to match many aspects of this Mitsubishi's all-round ownership proposition. It's a thoughtful buyer's choice. And we can see why you might make it.
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