Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has returned to Australia featuring fresh looks and more versatility
TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is something of an anomaly on the Australian market. It’s a big SUV, but it encourages drivers to plug it into a power point rather than pulling up to a petrol pump, even if you may need to occasionally do that.
Once the electricity runs out, there’s a 2.0-litre petrol engine that can double as a generator to recharge the batteries on the fly.
It’s the best-selling plug-in electric vehicle in Australia, with 1660 of the previous-generation SUVs finding buyers here.
- It can operate as an electric car. A button will force the Outlander PHEV to shut down the petrol engine and force it to stay in EV mode for distances of more than 30 kilometres depending on how it is driven.
- It has two handy new functions that weren’t part of the previous car’s repertoire. One will force the Outlander PHEV to hold the battery at its current level of charge; handy if you’re on the freeway where fuel use is generally lower and you know you’ll be doing some low-speed city driving under electric power alone a bit later on. The other will turn the engine on and tap its resources to recharge the battery.
- It’s all-wheel-drive. If you’re going somewhere like the snow, the Outlander can tap two electric motors – one attached to the front wheels, and the other the rears – to help the SUV crawl along.
- It drives a heck of a lot better. The old car used to jerk and flare when the petrol motor stepped in to help the two electric motors move the Outlander PHEV along. Engineers have ironed that crudeness out, making the Outlander better to live with in stop-start traffic and “normal” mode.
- It has five roomy seats, and a decent-sized boot. Some plug-in cars carry a lot of compromise such as rear seats that won’t fold, low-slung rooflines that make getting in and out tricky, and reduced load spaces. The Outlander loses some luggage capacity because of the big battery hidden under the boot floor, but that is it.
- It’s quieter than before. There’s more sound insulation, including thicker glass on the boot-lid, which makes the Outlander PHEV a lot more hushed on the road.
- Mitsubishi has future-proofed the Outlander PHEV. There’s a new generation of super-fast “DC” chargers slowly rolling out in Australia that reduce the time it takes to get the battery to 80 percent in about 25 minutes instead of hours. They’re not common, but even so, Mitsubishi has fitted each Outlander PHEV with DC fast charge ability.
- Plug-in cars seem to be holding their value quite well in some cities where the government charges congestion fees, but gives electric cars a free ride. If it ever happens here...
- Prices have gone up. The cheapest Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has now jumped above $50,000 for the first time.
- It’s an orphan. The plug-in drivetrain is exclusive to the Outlander, and not other models such as the smaller ASX or even the Triton trade ute.
- Other conventionally engined Outlanders have seven seats, not five like the plug-in version.
- The plug-in lifestyle may not suit everyone. If you live in an apartment, use off-street parking or the boss doesn’t want to pay for it while you’re at work, recharging the Outlander PHEV will be a problem.
- The Outlander PHEV will still use fuel, even if you want to drive it on electricity all the time. Fuel goes stale, and the plug-in Outlander will automatically burn it off to encourage you to give it a fresh splash of petrol every now and again.
- Adding all the latest safety features means you have to pay $5000 more for the Exceed-badged version. It also ads other features including a sunroof, electric tailgate and heated front seats.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
There are no direct rivals. But weigh it up against the cheaper, conventionally-engined Outlander that is cheaper and seats more people.