Differences from the 2016 model are minimal, but if nothing else that means you can still expect the same combination of high-riding SUV practicality matched with an impressive hybrid powertrain.
Push the power button and all you get is an eerie silence on start up, and moving along at low speeds it’s whisper quiet and relaxing to drive. Crank up the speed, however, and road noise becomes more noticeable, and when it’s just the petrol engine powering the car it’s noisier still.
One difference in the new model is an EV Priority mode, which means that by pushing a button on the centre console you’re able to keep the car in electric mode only, provided there's sufficient juice in the batteries. Don’t expect to be able to do this for too long, though. While Mitsubishi claims the Outlander PHEV is able to cover 33 miles on electricity alone, our range indicator was claiming it had around 20 miles left when it was nearly full on our cold test route.
Likewise, the fanciful official combined economy figure is far more likely to be less than half the claimed 166mpg in the real world. Presumably emissions of CO2 suffer the same fate, but at least the on-paper figures mean it remains a great value choice as a company car.
In electric mode the initial burst of acceleration is impressive thanks to the instant torque, but because of the sheer bulk of the car it struggles to feel quick running on battery power alone. When the 2.0-litre petrol engine kicks in it helps make progress more brisk, but overall the Outlander still feels sluggish. At least the power is delivered smoothly through a CVT transmission.
You can decide via an array of settings when to recharge the batteries, when to use electric drive only and when to ensure all four wheels are being driven. But left to its own devices the powertrain will stick itself in hybrid mode and seamlessly switch between the petrol engine and electric motors. Regenerative braking is controlled via the paddle shifters on the steering wheel to help give the battery more juice.
The suspension has been revised but it’s only a slight improvement over last year’s update. It’s still caught out by bumps at low speeds and, predictably enough, there's some body roll through corners. It doesn’t feel as agile as rival SUVs such as the Nissan X-Trail or Skoda Kodiaq, but the Outlander’s steering is well weighted and quick.
It’s relatively easy to sort yourself a good driving position, but steering wheel height and reach don’t have a great deal of adjustment. Visibility all round is very good, though, and there’s plenty of space up front.
Top spec 5h versions, as tested, get a new Nappa leather interior, an upgraded audio system and some new safety technology, including lane departure warning, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and auto high beam, while 4h models also get the new safety technology. Some of the plastics used in the dashboard don’t feel particularly high quality and the 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system is basic, but there's a lot of kit. We’d advise stickinh to the cheaper trims, which still get things like DAB, Bluetooth, a reversing camera and parking sensors.