The Outlander’s diesel is no fireball, but it’s keen enough at low and medium revs that driving it is a relaxed affair. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on diesel versions, but an optional six-speed automatic is available on 4 models and above. The auto ’box has slightly less pulling power, but it’s unlikely that you’ll notice it on the move.
The auto-only hybrid is brisk enough around town but can feel leisurely at higher speeds, , and the way the electric motors and petrol engine interact can sometimes result in an unpredictable power delivery. Of course, there’s a seamless stream of power in electric-only mode, although you’ll be lucky to get 20 miles of pure-electric travel even in gentle use.
All versions of the Outlander have four-wheel drive, so they never struggle to put their power down.
The diesel Outlander ride reasonably comfortably, although a Hyundai Santa Fe is better at sponging up sharp-edged bumps that can have the Outlander jolting and thumping quite a bit. Body movement isn’t especially well controlled, either, so the car can bounce around at higher speeds, and it leans a fair bit in corners.
The heavier hybrid model feels more stable in corners, although it has a firmer ride than the diesel version. Both models tend to thump loudly over potholes.
No matter which version you go for, the steering is disconcertingly light at higher speeds. Combined with the pronounced body lean in corners, the Outlander isn’t a particularly reassuring car to drive on faster roads.
It’s fine if you’re just cruising around, and the car ambles along happily enough on the motorway, but press on and it soon gets flustered. Nothing unexpected should happen, however, thanks to standard-fit stability and traction control.
The diesel engine and turbocharger are a little noisy. You don’t feel much vibration through the controls, although in the automatic version you feel a slight shimmy through the body. It’s pretty quiet on the motorway, but there’s a fair amount of wind and road noise at higher speeds, making the Outlander a little tiring on long journeys. The manual gearshift is notchy; the auto gearbox is smoother.
The hybrid is very quiet when running in electric-only mode and is still pretty hushed when the petrol engine kicks in, but the revs can surge annoyingly and the auto 'box can be hesitant.
Finding a comfortable driving position isn’t easy because the seat has limited height adjustment and can’t drop low enough for taller drivers. The steering wheel doesn’t adjust sufficiently for height or reach, either.
Most of the dashboard controls are simply laid out, but some buttons are tucked away out of sight and the touchscreen sat-nav system has complex menus and small, hard-to-hit icons. All versions come with a footrest, making the car more comfortable on longer trips.
You get a decent view from the driver’s seat, aided by large door mirrors. The high-set seating position helps visibility, too.
Rear parking sensors are standard on 3 models but can be added by a dealer to any version. Front parking sensors are also available on all models. In addition, 4 models get a reversing camera that makes it even easier to judge your parking manoeuvres.
Entry-level 2 trim features a small LCD display for radio and media functions; Bluetooth is available, but only as a dealer-fit accessory. Next-rung-up 3 trim adds Bluetooth, but upgrading to 4 brings a 7.0in colour touchscreen display, as well as sat-nav and a DAB radio.
The touchscreen system has complex menus and small, hard-to-hit icons. It feels more like an additional accessory compared with the better-integrated systems on rival cars and is a bit fiddly to use.
All versions get a small LCD vehicle and journey information display in the instrument cluster. It’s black and white on 2 trim and colour on 3 and above.
The upper surfaces of the Outlander’s interior feel pleasantly squidgy when you give them a prod, while harsher plastics are generally confined to lower areas where they are less noticeable. Fit and finish isn’t up to rivals’ standards, though.
Overall, the inside looks rather dated; and with no colour choice other than black, the interior feels drab – despite the gloss-black trim and chrome highlights on the fascia. Top-level 4 trim does add some further decoration in the form of black ash trim on the doors; while this is pleasant enough, it still doesn’t disguise the fact that the Outlander is no class leader in terms of perceived quality.
There’s an adequate amount of leg and head room, although really tall people may feel a little cramped.
Storage cubbies abound, including large door bins with integrated bottle holders, two cupholders in front of the gearlever, a useful storage tray for a phone and a front centre armrest with an integrated storage compartment.
Tall passengers in the middle row might find their heads brushing against the ceiling on models fitted with a sunroof, although the seatbacks can be reclined to improve head room a little. There’s room for three adults, but head room is tighter still for the middle passenger.
There’s sufficient leg room in the five-seat versio, and this is also the case when the rear bench fitted to seven-seat models is slid back fully. The two rearmost seats are really just for children, although average-sized adults should be fine for a short journey. These seats fold easily into the floor when not required.
Headrests are standard across the range and the second row features a built-in armrest with twin cupholders. The door pockets have bins with bottle holders, while the rear wheel arch covers in the boot have cupholders and storage trays for those in the third row.
The Outlander’s flexible seats make it an ideal choice if you’re looking for a practical SUV. The third row of seats splits 50/50, while the second row splits in a conventional 60/40 fashion. As a result, you can keep some seats in position if you’re loading longer items in the vehicle or drop all of them flat to create a huge load bay.
The rear seats recline and on seven-seat versions they slide back and forth. The front passenger seat also folds flat – this could come in handy for those longer loads. Range-topping 4 models feature a four-way electric driver’s seat.
On diesel models in five-seat mode, the boot is a decent size, offering similar levels of space to rivals. In seven-seat mode, there’s still enough space for a few shopping bags. The second and third row of seats fold completely flat and there’s a vast amount of load space with all of them folded.
The hybrid models come with five seats only and the boot area is slightly reduced owing to the packaging of the hybrid system. All versions have a high boot lip that can make loading heavy items tricky. Fortunately, the opening is wide and the boot itself is free from obstructions, making it easy to slide things in. Top-rung 4 models get a powered tailgate.
Brochure prices look high, particularly compared with the Nissan X-Trail, but substantial discounts bring the actual purchase cost down to competitive levels. Resale values aren’t as good as those of many rivals, though.
The hybrid version can travel short distances on electric power alone, so it should be cheap to fuel if you use it mainly around town but less so if you do longer trips, when it makes more use of the petrol engine. It’s also worth noting that the fuel tank is very small, so you will only get around 200 miles from a fill-up.
However, the main selling point of the PHEV is that it has extremely low company car tax bills, although the diesel should be cheaper to run day to day (unless you have an inner-city commute).
Service intervals are 12,500 miles or 12 months for both hybrid and diesel models. The Mitsubishi Servicing Plan, which fixes the price of the first three scheduled services, is worth considering but it’s not as cheap as schemes offered by many rivals.
Entry-level 2 models lack Bluetooth and have only five seats, so we’d opt for 3 or the hybrid PHEV Juro, which have dual-zone climate control, reversing sensors, Bluetooth and alloy wheels. 3 trim has seven seats, while PHEV Juro models feature neat touches such as heated seats, heated electric folding door mirrors and automatic wipers, making the car feel more upmarket.
Range-topping 4 trim comes with everything you’d ever need, including sat-nav, DAB radio, a 360deg camera, heated front seats, a powered tailgate, LED headlights and an electric glass sunroof.
The hybrid variant of the 4, called PHEV 4h, is similarly equipped, but we would recommend stepping up to PHEV 4hs because you also get lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The flagship PHEV 5h and 5hs add luxuries such as premium nappa leather, an Alpine audio system and extra safety kit. However, it costs a lot so is difficult to recommend.
In our most recent reliability survey, Mitsubishi finished second as a brand and the Outlander took the top spot in the large SUV class.
On top of this, the Outlander comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty, while hybrid versions get a comprehensive five-year/62,500-mile warranty that should quell any concerns about battery life and electric motor problems.
All versions have a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and three years’ pan-European roadside, home and accident assistance.
Thatcham Research awarded the Outlander five out of five for guarding against being stolen and three out of five for resisting being broken into.
All versions come with stability control and seven airbags, including one to protect the driver’s knees. Top models get plenty of sophisticated safety measures, including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and a collision mitigation system that applies the brakes in the event the car senses an imminent crash.
The Outlander received the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test, although it didn’t score as highly as some rivals. Security kit is comprehensive.
A space-saver spare wheel is standard on all diesel models, while hybrid models get a tyre inflation kit.
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