THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Longest all-electric range of any plug-in hybrid SUV with the functionality of a crossover.
- What Worst: Tire inflator only (no spare tire) due to underfloor battery and rear electric motor packaging.
- What’s interesting: It is the world’s largest selling plug-in hybrid SUV.
VANCOUVER, BC: By luck or by genius, Mitsubishi finds itself being in the enviable position of offering not only the world’s top selling plug-in hybrid SUV, but also being in the compact plug-in hybrid crossover segment by itself.
Sold in Europe since 2013, the 2018 Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is now coming to this country.
With the 2018 Eclipse Cross reviewed on these pages in December, Mitsubishi has effectively doubled its SUV offerings in Canada.
And it’s not just a crossover with a battery pack and electric motor.
It’s far more advanced than that — as I was to find out at the media introduction in Vancouver.
Propulsion is based on a 2.0-litre, incline four-cylinder engine with 117 hp mated to 80 hp electric motor and one-speed, direct drive to the front wheels.
At the rear is another 80 hp electric motor and in between is the 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located under the floor.
Oddly, Mitsubishi does not release combined hp/torque numbers as does most of its electric competitors.
Mitsubishi’s S-AWC (Super-All-Wheel-Control) is one of the best AWC systems on the market and it is standard.
At startup, the PHEV runs on the electric motors only but with a range of 35 km, which is much better than its competitors, the closest being the Volvo XC60 plug-in at 27 km.
After that, the engine cuts in, but you can re-charge the battery in a number of ways such as by coasting or regenerative braking.
Drive is primarily to the front wheels, but there is a torque shift to the rear depending on conditions. But the beauty is the rear motor and axles are not directly connected to the front, so there is no parasitic drag.
So in essence you have three modes, starting with EV Mode all electric. In Series Hybrid Mode, drive is by the motors with the engine acting as generator for added electricity. Parallel Hybrid Mode is where the engine supplies the power with electric motor assist as needed.
If you want to use the engine as little as possible to charge the battery, you can find one of the ever increasing number of public stations and use the charge cable stowed under the rear cargo floor.
Level 1 Charging (110-volt household outlet) takes about eight hours. Level 2 Charging (240-volt) takes about 3.5 hours and at a public Level 3 (300-volt) station an 80 per cent charge takes 25-30 minutes.
What makes the Outlander PHEV so flexible is the driver can enhance distance by activating the EV Priority button on the centre console that uses the motors only until the battery is depleted.
Then the driver can switch to the Battery Charge Mode while in motion, with the engine/generator providing up to an 80 per cent battery charge in about 40 minutes.
If the driver wants to save the battery for later, there is a Battery Save Mode that shuts it off until needed.
And to top it off, there are paddles on the steering wheel hub that can be used to increase regenerative braking over five graduated levels.
Like all these electrified vehicles I’m driving these days, it sounds so complicated, and it is. But the driver or passengers don’t feel or notice anything out of the ordinary.
Press the start button and off you go on battery first. As the battery gets lower, you can dial in the modes you want or just let the Outlander do the thinking.
That’s just what my co-driver and I did on a drive from downtown Vancouver up the coast to Squamish and back with a challenge from Mitsubishi of a prize for the crew with the best mileage.
With a combined electric equivalent of 3.0/3.4/3.2Le/100 km city/highway/combined, we thought we had a shot with a 6.1 combined, which was far better than the gasoline only fuel rating of 9.4/9.0/9.2L/100 km.
Turns out we didn’t even come close, with one team getting 3.1Le because they were clever enough to use the charging cable and find charging stations along the way.
A lot of effort, but it showed what’s possible.
Utility and cargo volume have not sacrificed because the battery and rear motor are all below the floor, providing 861 litres behind rear seat and 2,209 litres with the rear seat folded.
One amusing feature is the two, 1,500-watt AC inverter power outlets. That means you can run a coffee maker (500-watt) and toaster (800-watt) and the same time. When done, plug in a small space heater when out camping or if you just don’t feel like stopping at Tim’s.
The crossover does a lot of things and pricing is modest, starting at $42,998 for the base model not counting rebates in some provinces — such as $9,555 in Ontario, $4,000 in Quebec and $2,500 in BC.
With the growing interest in electrification coupled with the huge switch to crossovers, Mitsubishi has found a winner in the Outlander PHEV.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander S-AWC PHEV
BODY STYLE: Plug-in hybrid compact crossover
DRIVE METHOD: Front engine/motor, rear electric motor, all-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 2.0-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder engine (117 hp), two electric motors (80 hp each) one-speed direct drive transaxle
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) engine 9.4/9.0/9.2L/100 km city/highway/combined; electric, 3.0/3.4/3.2Le/100 km
CARGO CAPACITY: 861 litres behind rear seat; 2,209 litres rear seat folded
TOW RATING: 1,500 lb when properly equipped
PRICE: SE, $42,998; SE Touring, $45,998; GT, $49,998 not counting rebates in some provinces.
WEB SITE: Mitsubihi-motors.ca
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