REVIEW: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

By: Matt Wood, Photography by: Matt Wood

Presented by

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has recently arrived on the Australian market. Matt Wood gets electric with the 4x4 hybrid.

When I saw the quoted 1.9 litre per 100km fuel economy figures for the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) I was very interested — for all of the wrong reasons.

I should be telling you it was my green environmental consciousness motivating me to take a look at the low emissions plug in electric four-wheel drive.

But, the reality is I was interested because I’m very lazy and hate stopping for fuel. I really liked the idea that if I drove a PHEV, I might go for a couple of weeks without having to front up to a servo and that someone with a fake smile trying to sell me two chocolate bars for the price of one.

 

 

CONTENTS

The Machine

Engine and Transmission

Controls

Performance 

Verdict 

Specifications

 

 

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV : THE MACHINE

1_Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

So the idea of the new PHEV SUV was very appealing. It has a claimed range of up to 52km running on purely electric power. But once the battery runs out of fizz a 2-litre petrol engine fires up and starts to charge the battery so you can keep on motoring.

My test vehicle was the top of the range Aspire model with leather trim and a sunroof, among other bits and bobs.

The Mitzi isn’t the only hybrid SUV of its type on the market but where it does stand out is price; the base PHEV starts at $47,490. This makes some others on the market look mighty expensive in comparison. It is still a medium sized five-seater SUV after all.

Back to top

 

 

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

8_Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV_engine

In general there are two different types of hybrid, the first is a parallel hybrid that where the internal combustion engine is actually mechanically connected to the driveline.

A series hybrid is where the vehicle is powered solely by electric motors and the internal combustion engine acts as a generator to top up the battery.

The Outlander PHEV is both a parallel and a series hybrid and it plugs into the wall. Two 60kW electric motors are mounted on both the front and rear axles and these push the SUV along at speeds under 120km/h this is series drive.

But plant the foot and the petrol engine will come alive, declutch and provide mechanical drive power directly to the front wheels.

The engine is both drive motor and electric generator and like all hybrids it also harvests energy from braking and stores that in the battery as well.

However, there are issues. For a start you need a 15 amp power outlet in your garage rather than the standard 10 amp household plug.

But you can also opt for a proper charging station to be hard wired into your garage which effectively halves charging time.

Secondly, as the vast majority of power in Australia comes from coal fired power stations using electricity from the wall isn’t especially green or really even cheap for that matter.

Back to top

 

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV CONTROLS

5_Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV_interior

Getting started in the PHEV is a little strange, you plant your foot on the brake and then press the power button twice.

After that the dash board lights up and you’re in business. Selecting a drive gear for the fixed ratio transmission is done via a dinky little joystick mounted on the centre console.

Then it’s just a matter of putting the foot down and motoring away in near silence.

There is also the adjustable regenerative braking which can be set at levels from one to five using steering wheel mounted paddle shifts. On the highest setting I hardly used the brake pedal in traffic and just let the power trickle into the battery under brakes.

I must confess I couldn’t stop fiddling with this car and I can honestly say I’ve never had to refer to the owner’s manual so much out of any other vehicle I’ve had in my possession.

Not because anything is particularly difficult just because I wanted to know how everything worked.

That said, the Aspire model can also be controlled via a smart phone app which lets you control charging times to take advantage of off-peak electricity and even fire up the climate control before hopping in.

Back to top

 

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV PERFORMANCE

6_Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV_on The Dirt

On-road

I had to drive the SUV across Melbourne after picking it up and it was quite a novel experience. However, by the time I had travelled 32km to get where I was going I had all but exhausted the battery.

Of course I was using the climate control and driving the PHEV pretty much like any other car on the road rather than trying to conserve battery power.

To get to the maximum range you have to be rolling along in ‘Eco’ mode without any accessories on.

Once I’d exhausted the battery, the 2-litre engine fired up to put some charge into the battery and that’s where some of the finesse wears off, it sounds like an outboard motor.

Most of the time though the PHEV does its darndest to run on electricity and once up to highway speeds whether running on petrol or electricity the Outlander is exceptionally quiet.

I was hoping that the combination of electric torque and petrol boost would make for a bit of zing off the line and at low speed. However, the electric Outlander was rather bland and did little to quicken the pulse aside from the novelty of low noise.

The ride though was rather firm and almost sporty, the low centre of gravity of the driveline and the battery pack meant the PHEV stays quite flat in the corners with little pitch and roll.

But there’s something overwhelmingly neutral about the Mitzi, both in handling and in performance, it’s almost as if the designers felt that potential hybrid buyers don’t actually enjoy driving.

In an effort to give the PHEV a bit of country credibility I headed into the bush. But before I did I switched the SUV into battery charge mode which uses the petrol engine as a generator to charge the battery pack up to 80 per cent capacity.

Using the petrol charge method isn’t especially economical however and it soon sent fuel figures into double digits.

Off-road

While the PHEV is clearly an SUV of the softer variety it does handle modest fire trails quite well and doesn’t even mind getting a bit wet or muddy.

The electric drive has excellent tractability, especially with the twin motor lock engaged, the PHEV does a surprising job of clambering through sand, mud and muck and it’s very controllable.

Unfortunately this Mitsubishi Outlander only had a 45-litre fuel tank so I spent more time rather than less refuelling.

As a country car of course the PHEV makes no sense. The PHEV is one for the city dwellers who commute within the Outlander’s electric range, the petrol engine means weekends away and road trips are still possible.

That engine will also fire up if it’s not used for long periods of time to make sure that all is still working and the petrol in the tank doesn’t deteriorate.

Back to top

 

THE VERDICT

My best fuel average for the PHEV was 7.9 litres per 100km, which is higher than the quoted economy of the diesel version and my best electric range was 32km.

Clearly at this point in time the diesel Outlander makes more sense for the country buyer and it’s a couple of grand cheaper than the hybrid.

However, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the first realistically priced vehicles of its type on the Australian market and it may well be the thin end of the wedge as far as this type of technology goes.

Batteries will only continue to evolve and vehicle range will only increase. One day I may just get to avoid the servo for more than just a couple of days.

Back to top

 

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 87kW 2-litre 16 valve MIVEC petrol engine. 2 x 60kW electric motors.

Transmission: Single speed fixed gear

Drive: All-wheel drive with twin motor 4WD lock

Electric Range: 54km (quoted); as tested: 32km

System voltage: 300 volts

Charge time: five hours (dedicated charge station 2.5 hours)

Seats: Five

Price: Starting from $47,490

Warranty: Five-year 100,000km

Back to top

 

For the full test report, grab a copy of NewFarmMachinery issue 12, on-sale August 11. Subscribe to the magazine to never miss an issue.

1 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV The Outlander is a biggish five-seat SUV. 1 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV logo The name says it all, it’s an electric 4WD with a petrol motor for back-up. 3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV logo
5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV interior The upmarket cockpit is smart and well-appointed. The unfamiliar gauges and the drive selector joystick take some getting used to. 5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV interior
6 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on the dirt The electric drive behaved quite nicely on the dirt. 6 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on the dirt
7 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV cargo area Decent sized cargo area makes for a practical wagon. 7 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV cargo area
8 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV engine Yep that’s an engine but it’s a bit rugged in the finesse department. 8 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV engine
9 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV charge socket The charge lead just plugs into this socket, a 15 amp outlet is required, though. 9 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV charge socket

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook