The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the first affordable full size SUV plug-in hybrid from Mitsubishi and is an ambitious car that moves the game forward in the electric power stakes.
In combination with a 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that acts primarily as a generator, two electric motors propel the Mitsubishi, mostly in silence and with reasonable urgency.
Electric only range is limited to around 50km, but with some planning, it is possible to carry out most of your day-to-day activities with out the need to engage the petrol motor.
Priced at $52,490 plus on road costs it’s not exactly cheap. It does however posses a full suite of bells and whistles in addition to the advanced hybrid drive train.
To put it to the test I loaded up the fully charged Outlander with kids, dogs and luggage and headed to the picturesque Mornington Peninsula for a few days.
It was a silent run out of the city but within 30km the battery level indicator began to flash low and it was time to hit the charge button located on the centre console.
The charge button does exactly that…it fires up the coarse four-cylinder petrol engine to charge the batteries. Mitsubishi claim a full charge can be achieved using 3.0 litres of standard unleaded.
By the time we reached our destination the trip computer was reading 11 litres per 100km – far from impressive. The petrol engine was at times called on to help power the front wheels. Under full throttle load, on high speed overtaking maneuvers for instance, the combustion engine assists the electric motors to send the full combined power of 87kw to the driving wheels. So with the extra power assistance and the charging of the batteries the petrol engine was a constant companion for about 100km of the 130km trip.
Once at our destination it was time to plug the Outlander in via an adapter to convert regular 10-amp household power into the 15-amp power the Mitsubishi likes. Done this way a full charge could take up to 20 hours, however 80% of the charge happens in under a couple of hours.
If you were to buy an Outlander PHEV I’d suggest factoring in the cost of installing a 15-amp power supply at home, which provides a full charge in less than 8 hours.
Once the battery levels were a bit over three quarters full, a trip to the beach and the pub, then home again saw the batteries as the only power source.
Back in the garage, the Outlander was plugged in again; a routine kept up over four days…when the Outlander wasn’t on the road it was hooked up to the power grid. With no trips over 40km, it was four days of completely silent motoring – the petrol engine wasn’t required and the performance of the electric only drivetrain was impressive with full torque available instantly.
A coasting mode helps convert the energy generated under braking or coasting down hills into power that is fed back into the batteries.
With the battery pack in the floor, the handling characteristics of the Outlander PHEV are far superior to that of the combustion only Mitsubishi SUV’s thanks to a low centre of gravity, although don’t expect sports car like dynamics, this is after all a high riding SUV.
The return trip back to the city saw identical performance as the trip to the beach, and once home the routine of keeping the Mitsubishi plugged in while not on the road produced exceptional results.
Over two weeks and 750km the total fuel consumption was 3.1 litres per 100km, and days would go by where the petrol engine was never heard.
If you lived within 20km of your daily work destination, it is entirely possible to expect to get away with electric only motoring…only the big trips highlight the weaknesses of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV limited range.
In every other way the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV performs just like a regular SUV. Unlike the other Outlanders in Mitsubishi’s range no seven-seat option is available, that’s it though, everything else is just the same.
Blind spot monitoring, reverse camera, radar controlled cruise control, satellite navigation, a decent sound system and electric drivers seat, along with a full leather interior and plenty of space for passengers and cargo alike make the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a very useable family vehicle with virtually no option boxes left to tick.
Read more: BehindTheWheel.com.au