Mitsubishi is on something of a high at the moment. Although it doesn’t seem that way, they’ve recorded record sales in 2017 with 23,000 new car deliveries. It’s no secret that showrooms are scarcely populated with new products, and people. Yet, consumers seem drawn to this brand that now relies solely on CUVs. I mean what I wrote…
The two latest additions to the line-up will do nothing if not increase foot traffic and annual sales. The Eclipse Cross is promising but the one we’ve all been waiting for is the new 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This new flagship CUV combines Mitsubishi’s best in technology and design, all in the name of fuel economy and versatility.
The “A” game
The breakthroughs and firsts on this vehicle are numerous. It is currently the only such vehicle to offer EV AWD operation and that is a hybrid. As AWD has landed high on consumers’ consideration lists when shopping, the puck stops here (the Tesla Model X is kind of pricier…) And about 100% electric driving, the Outlander PHEV will give you up to 35 km of autonomy for your urban commutes. What’s more, and perhaps what is most brilliant about this CUV, is that it can run as a series Hybrid, using the gasoline engine as a generator to maintain and charge the batteries. It can also transform into a typical parallel Hybrid vehicle, relying on the internal combustion engine with assistance from the electric motors to get around.
If you like to get involved in the goings on of your PHEV, the Mitsubishi’s multiple centre console controls will allow you to save your charge or activate the gasoline engine to top up the battery while in EV. You can also meddle with the amount of regeneration produced through the system. By moving the Toyota Prius-like shifter straight down and toggling the paddles on the steering column, you’ll be able to select one of six regen intensities.
The weight of the range
These various modes enable the Outlander to cover just shy of 500 km with 43 liters of fuel in the tank. For techies, the PHEV has everything one could want. If your commutes remain at or around the 35-40 km mark, you may only have to fill up every other week, which is amazing. Be warned however if the intended use for the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is as a regular soccer-mom, go everywhere and do everything people hauler.
In order to enable the Outlander to cover 35 km in EV, a 12-kWh battery pack is added to the vehicle and it is located below the floor. Said battery pack explains in part why there is not 3-row option in the PHEV and, more importantly, adds a not inconsiderable 285 kg (627 lbs.) over the 3-row, V6, SE AWD petrol powered version, for a total of 1,895 kg (4,178 lbs.) Once the battery pack is depleted, you’ll still be lugging the extra weight around. The direct result of it and the fact that the 117-horsepower 2,0-litre 4-cylinder with an electric motor up front integrated into the single gear transaxle, and a second electric motor on the rear axle end up consuming a rated and combined 9.2L/100km.
The good news is that in the city, the Outlander PHEV can be fun. The instant swell of torque and AWD traction shoot you forward from a stoplight. The total system output is 197 horsepower and it struggles with speed. Merging onto a highway, passing manoeuvres or accelerations from 80 km/h are laboured and this was with only two passengers (180 kg (400 lbs.)) added to the tally. I can scarcely imagine what it will be like when loaded with a few kids, gear and, if someone decides to make use the vehicle’s 1,500 lbs towing capacity. You can now possibly understand why the PHEV’s fuel rating is so comparatively poor. For example, a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 7.3L/100km. It is also AWD and has a larger boot.
Traversing the lovely city of Vancouver revealed no particular issues with chassis tuning. The ride is adequately dampened however it feels soft as the dampers work to handle the weight. Steering is vague at best – this edition of the Outlander is far less responsive and sporty that the regular one.
It’s an Outlander
Let’s touch on the inside for a moment. There are few distinctive elements onboard as it’s mostly standard Outlander fare. As noted, the center console features specific switchgear and shifter. A quick tour is all that will be needed to assimilate what’s what.
The seats are comfortable in both rows even if the rear bench does not seem to be. The majority of the plastics on board feel and look very cheap however fit and finish are fine. At most times, the cabin remains fairly quiet.
Plugging-in has more than just a price
My misgivings with the new 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV mostly relate to the fact that it is a PHEV, or the principal reason why one should buy it. As it is, I think you should buy it as long as the vast majority of your commutes are brief and that it can be plugged in at every opportunity (Charge time is 8 hours at 12 amps. 13 hours at 8 amps. Level 2 takes 3.5 hours.)
With a base price of $42,998, the PHEV SE S-AWC can help pay for itself in EV mode. Should the conditions be met, I’d opt for the better equipped SE Touring at $45,998. The $49,998 GT lacks a few features, namely on-board navigation, for the price.
Depending on your Province of residence, incentives ranging from $2,500 to $9,555 can be applied to the price of the vehicle. In Ontario, with the big rebate, I have no further arguments against the Mitsubishi. In all other Provinces, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is not only $8k to $9k less expensive with equal or better amounts of important features but is once more fuel efficient and has a larger trunk.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a worthy vehicle. Its major assets are that it is unique in the segment, offers an excellent 10-year battery warranty and is nearly unmatched as an EV. What will happen when the PHEV CUV arrives?