01.Plugging into the hybrid car market
Price: From $54,990
The model tested was the top-of-the-range 2L petrol hybrid with single-speed automatic, with manual selection option and five seats. A basic version is also available.
Fuel use claim vs measured per 100km
1.9L vs 6.1L
Acceleration to 100km/h
Braking distance from 60km/h
Mitsubishi markets the Mitsubishi Highlander PHEV Aspire as "the world's first plug-in SUV hybrid". CHOICE members Kim and Brett Gosschalk and their six-year-old daughter, Zoe, put up their hands to take this car out for a weekend of family domestic duties, including grocery shopping and an trip to Dural, NSW, for a family picnic.
Kim and Brett say
The Gosschalks found it easy to put Zoe in and take her out of the back seat, as there was plenty of space. The child seat anchors were very easy to locate on the back of the rear seats, and the window controls were safely out of Zoe’s reach. While they weren’t convinced the rear seat would accommodate three child seats, they thought two would be fine – and found the rear seat quite roomy.
They liked the boot space, finding it easily fits a child’s bicycle, bags and balls for a family day out. They didn't have any issues with space when the front passenger seat was pushed all the way back, as Zoe still had plenty of room.
Features that impressed the Gosschalks included the design of the seats and their range of adjustments. They thought the side mirror visibility was fantastic and liked the dash display of the interaction between the electric and petrol engines.
The overall performance and design of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Aspire, plus the size, won them over. The fuel economy was “amazing”, and it was easy to drive, had great visibility and came with useful added extras.
The only factor the Gosschalks marked against the Outlander was its relatively high price tag.
While the steering is a bit on the slow side, the leather-covered wheel is nice to hold. The leather seat is one of the nicer ones our tester has sat in, and tends to hold the driver in position when cornering due to its side bolsters.
The engine is quiet and comes on seamlessly when switching from electric to petrol. The cabin is well insulated from road noise, however there’s a slight wind noise coming from the A-pillars and the mirrors at speeds above 100 km/h. It has a reasonably pleasant interior, albeit mostly black.
The cargo hold is decent, and has a flat floor. There’s good visibility all round due to the high seat position. There is a very good range of features, and despite the fuel economy coming in below the claim, it's possible that shorter drives would give you better economy.
The fact that you need a 15A plug to recharge the car is definitely a bad point, as most people won’t have this to hand. But if you do, it’s easy to connect and it takes around five hours to recharge.
While the fully charged battery indicator starts out by saying it’ll give you around 50km on electric vehicle alone, this changes depending on your driving style and environment.
You can recharge the battery through driving purely on engine by pressing a button near the dash, which is handy if you want to use the very quiet electric engine around in a residential area.
The Gosschalks loved the Mitsubishi Highlander PHEV Aspire, although the big sticking point for them was the price. Our tester felt the Highlander shows good performance for a fairly large and heavy car, and good economy given its weight, but its failure to meet its fuel economy claims and its steep asking price aren't appealing.
For more family car reviews and information on buying cars, head to our Cars section.