What is it?
Mitsubishi is one of a very select group of car makers that offer a PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
It works on the same basis as a “normal” hybrid, but adds the convenience of an electric car’s plug-in capability.
The Outlander first arrived in 2015 with a PHEV option, but came with a bit of a hiccup.
That hiccup was supplying a home-charge cable to suit only 15A supplies — not the standard 10A available throughout Australia.
Thankfully, all cars now have the appropriate cable and charge plugs built into the vehicle itself.
For the 2020 range, there are three grades — ES, ES with safety pack, and Exceed.
There has been an increase in battery power and a change of petrol engine.
What’s it cost?
The extra technology comes at a premium.
The ES starts from $51,390 drive-away, $52,390 drive-away for the ADAS (adds automatic high beam, active cruise control and lane departure warning), and a hefty $60,390 for the top Exceed.
Exceed has leather, heated seats (but not cooled), and five pews rather than seven.
The reason it gets only five seats is because of the extra height of the cargo floor.
This covers the rear axle that has one of two electric motors fitted.
The seats themselves need more padding as it feels like you sit on them, rather than sink into them.
The exterior and interior designs are still fresh, but in comparison to Mitsubishi’s own vehicles and immediate competition, it’s beginning to fade.
Although the nose has the “shield grille” elementals, it lacks the sharper edges of ASX or Pajero Sport.
The overall shape is still the more organic, rounded look that Outlander has had for some time.
The dash is flat, slabby, and lacking the more integrated look of the rest of the family.
In the Exceed there is grey coloured faux carbon-fibre trim on the dash and centre console. It’s a little chintzy but suits the older dash styling.
The cargo area has a 463-litre capacity, but there is no spare tyre, only a bottle of inflatagoo.
There’s a 12V socket here and another up front, and for audio there is DAB plus Apple and Android, with a touchscreen that fails to show DAB info sporadically.
The screen also has a sub-menu that shows the operation of the electric part of the drive-train, with charging, range, and fuel consumption.
Underneath, multi-spoke alloys shine and Toyo supplies the 225/55/18 Proxes rubber.
On each rear quarter are the ports for petrol (left) and electricity (right).
Safety is sorted with seven airbags and the Ultrasonic mis-acceleration Mitigation System as standard in Exceed, along with Blind Sport Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Adaptive Cruise Control with a simple push button to adjust, and a 360 degree camera system are also fitted.
What’s it go like?
The petrol engine produces 94kW and 199Nm, with the electric engine adding its own 60kW and 70kW via the front and rear mounted motors.
Consumption is rated as 1.9L/100km and the tank size is 45 litres. Our overall figure finished on a creditable 5.8L/100km, and most of that was from charging on the go.
The battery itself is of a Lithium-ion mix, with a 13.8kWh capacity, voltage of 300, and 80kW maximum output for the generator. Charging time to 80 per cent on a DC fast charger is is 25 minutes, but this blows out to seven hours on a home charge.
Expected range is just north of 50km and it is possible. Find a long, straight, flat road, and don’t get heaviliy intimate with the go pedal.
Anything other than that, or a real press of the accelerator, has the petrol engine switch in quietly and unobtrusively.
It’s not quick either, weighing 1900kg dry. Acceleration flat out is more a leisurely progression, with reports of a 0-100 times hovering around the 9.0 second mark.
Heading up hill sees the petrol engine kick in, or if desiring a charge on the go, a console mounted button does the same thing.
What this equates to is an ideal around suburbia machine, and nearly as decent for a suburban freeway cruise.
Gentle throttle application will see the EV icon appear and of course regenerative braking sees the dial swing around to the eight o’clock position to show power is being fed back in.
There is a Sport mode and a tab for the dual motors to switch to a snow mode if needs be.
Sport brings a zippier and more urgent response, and is the preferred mode for uphill runs.
Ride quality is indifferent and the suspension settings could be too taut for some.
Most normal road irregularities are absorbed by the tyre sidewalls but obstacles such as shopping centre speed humps bring forth a bang crash.
The steering is numb, heavy, and lacks any real feedback. What there is hints very strongly at a front wheel drive orientation, however as the displays don’t show drive split — it can’t be confirmed.
What we like?
- Versatile drive manners
- Still a good looker . . . just
- Economy was okay
What we don’t like?
- Looks are verging on the beginning of the fade cycle
- Suspension is not an all-rounder
The bottom line?
Mitsubishi could be considered a leader in plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) tech.
PHEV is regarded as potentially a better option than strict hybrid. The drawback, like electric cars, is a lack of infrastructure to back it up.
The Outlander itself should, hopefully, get a real refresh soon, bringing it into line with the rest of the family. Until then, it’s a gracefully ageing trendsetter.
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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed, priced from $60,390 driveaway