Let me say, right off, that I love the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV that I drove around last week. In the city, I was propelled by electricity; on the highway, it was gasoline. A perfect combination and one that I think will be the future of automobile travel, once things settle down. Yes, there are some negatives, which I’ll get to later and mostly having to do with the electricity, but, overall, I’m a fan.
Mitsubishi says the Outlander is the world’s most technically-advanced four-wheel drive plug-in hybrid that, among others things, offers 100 per cent electric 4WD capability. It features a 2.0-litre gas engine (it uses regular unleaded), two electric motors and they say it has DC fast-charging capability that provides an 80 per cent charge in under 30 minutes (more about this later).
I thought the Outlander looked good on the outside and the interior was comfortable and functional. Now, when I said “looked good on the outside,” I didn’t mean that it’s a head-turner. It’s an SUV and fits in well in driveways and parking lots, but it’s not a Ferrari. Call it a nice-looking car.
Inside, everything you would want in a modern automobile is there. Some of it is standard; some extra. Most importantly, the seats are comfy — there’s room for five in the car — and they offer excellent butt-and-back support. The front seats are heated on some models, as is the steering wheel, and many of the controls (cruise, audio volume) are at your fingertips.
There’s an 18-centimetre touchscreen, Smartphone Link Display Audio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, FAST-key entry and push-button ignition system, rear-view camera, seven airbags, satellite radio (plus AM and FM for local stations), plug-ins for smartphones and so on.
I couldn’t find anything missing that I would expect to find in a new car like this one.
OK, let’s get down to business.
This Outlander PHEV is the world’s most popular plug-in hybrid — 200,000 sold since 2013, when it was introduced (a few more than 5,000 in Canada since it went on sale here in 2018) — and it starts at $42,998. Although Ontario doesn’t offer direct subsidies to consumers any longer, Ottawa announced incentives in its most recent budget that kicked in on May 1, and the Outlander qualifies for $2,500 if you buy one or sign on for a 48-month lease. If you go for a 12-month lease, the incentive drops to $625.
The Outlander PHEV boasts a 10-year or 160,000-kilometre powertrain warranty, a 10-year or 160,00- km lithium-ion battery warranty and a five-year or 100,000-km comprehensive warranty, which I would suggest is pretty spectacular.
The $42,998 (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for the basic PHEV includes blind spot warning, rear-cross traffic alert, 18-inch wheels, heated and power-folding rear-view mirrors and variable-intermittent rain-sensing front wipers with de-icer.
If you want more, the SE Touring Package ($45,998) includes a power sunroof, leather seating, power front passenger seat, LED headlights and LED fog lights. And if you’re looking for the top-of-the-line deluxe model, it will set you back $49,998, but you’ll enjoy forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection (among the greatest of inventions in the history of mankind, by the way), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, multi-view camera system, power liftgate, 71-Watt Rockford-Fosgate Audio, auto high beams and a 1,500-Watt power inverter (translation: power supply) that can deliver electricity to your house in an emergency.
Two electric motors are mounted on the front and rear axles to supply torque, each putting out 60 kW. The drive battery gets its juice from the grid, an on-board generator that converts mechanical power to electricity and regenerative braking — the level of regenerative braking can be selected by the driver using steering wheel paddle shifters.
The Outlander has three drive-system modes: EV Drive mode, Hybrid Mode and Parallel Hybrid Mode (everything is working). The car automatically selects one of the modes for performance and efficiency.
There are also three driver-selected modes — Battery-Save Mode (in which hybrid mode is utilized), ECO Mode (electricity and fuel usage are both reduced) and Battery Charge Mode, in which the driver can push a button while the car is on the road and the gasoline engine recharges the drive battery.
There’s room for about 860 litres of cargo; if you push the rear seats down, that increases to about 1,000 litres. In short, there’s plenty of room for stuff — unless you’re hauling logs, and if that’s why you need a vehicle, I suggest something more along the lines of a truck.
The Outlander PHEV has a curb weight of 1,895 kilos, has a 2,670-millimetre wheelbase, is 4,695 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,700 mm high. It has a towing capacity of 680 kilos. Oh, and it gets (are you ready?) electric/gasoline (LE/100 km/L/100 kms) 3.0/9.4 city; 3.4/9.0 highway; 3.2/9.2 highways combined.
OK, this isn’t a brochure. I think I’ve covered enough of the things that are important to give you an idea of what this vehicle provides. Let me tell you about the stuff that’s really important.
It’s easy to get into and to get out of. This is important as you get older. Backs have been thrown out trying to slide into sedans.
It has loads of pep. I got into a little “you first/me first” on the Gardiner the other day, and I tramped the throttle and it was me first. I felt good about that.
It handles really well. My friend John Bassett always says, “It’s easy to drive fast in a straight line; it’s not so easy to drive fast around a curve.” So, I was coming off the 403 westbound at Mavis Road where the road curves fairly sharply to the right and then left before you have to stop, and I made it through while going at a pretty good clip. The car was stuck to the road and didn’t lean one way or the other. Good stuff, I said to myself.
The reason I was able to talk to myself — I make notes in my head when I’m testing a car — is that the interior is quiet. No, you can’t hear a pin drop, but in what car can you do that? Little was coming in from the outside, and that’s a good thing for a guy like me who talks to himself.
I like the power liftgate — although for some strange reason (and every car has quirks), it occasionally wouldn’t open when I pushed the key fob, and I had to open it manually — and the sunroof. Even when it was dull and gloomy outside, the open sunroof brightened up my day.
And I really liked the regenerative braking. You have to get used to it, but you can feel the electricity being captured. The first couple of times I put it on to the max, it felt like I had the emergency brake on while I was driving down the road. But you get used to that.
All-in-all, a good car and a pleasant experience.
OK, this has little to do with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV directly, but has a bearing on the electric car industry — which is getting bigger and bigger all the time. Not a day goes by when one automaker or another — Ford, just last week — announces more EVs or hybrids going into production. But they are cars aimed squarely at people fortunate enough to own (or rent, I guess) their own homes, with a garage and the proper electrical setup. I live in Mississauga, and they are building a highrise city around Square One (which is now officially Mississauga’s “downtown”), and I guarantee that all those skyscrapers are being built with next-to-no electrical hookups for EVs.
I just have a standard plug in my garage, which means it took a lo-o-o-ng time to fully charge the Outlander (eight-plus hours) so I drove around on Saturday, looking for a place where I could fast-charge it. This was not easy. There were thousands — and I mean thousands — of other cars on the road in my little corner of the world and I thought, “This electric car business is a great idea, but it’s never going to work, because if all these cars on the road were EVs, where would they be able to power up?”
And how do you even find charging stations? If I want gas, I can see the Petro-Canada, Shell and/or Esso signs a kilometre away. They’re all saying, “Over here! Over here! $1.33.9! Over here!” Unless I have a smartphone and an app, good luck finding juice for an EV. And even then, the online maps are often not accurate.
My link told me, for instance, that there was a charging station at a specific address on Central Parkway. Want to bet? Or right in front of Whole Foods at Square One. I parked the car and walked over to where it was supposed to be. Uh-uh.
I found three at the Region of Peel Public Works Yard on Wolfedale Road. They have a parking lot that can hold, probably, a hundred cars and there are three charging stations there. I found two more on Mavis, and I know there are two or three up in what’s known around here as The Heartland, but, again, try finding them. They might be there, but they do not exactly stick out. How come there are all those food store parking lots everywhere and only one or two charging stations, if any? You would think Canadian Tire might install some, but not the Canadian Tire in my neighbourhood.
I’m thinking there’s something not adding up here.
In any event, I went back to the Works Yard (I’m a local taxpayer, so I figured nobody would mind if I plugged in) and it was windy and cold, so I hooked up and then got back in the car and figured I’d read the manual while I was waiting the 20 or 30 minutes for my fast charge.
Now, have you ever watched an American TV channel and seen one of those commercials for a prescription drug? The ones that say the drug is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but taking it could increase your risk of heart attack and stroke and maybe give you suicidal thoughts and if you’re thinking of slashing your wrists you should call your doctor first but otherwise this drug is a lifesaver? Well, I started reading the manual and I thought of those commercials.
Again, this is not Outlander PHEV specific, because all EVs carry these warnings, I’m sure, but one of the first things I did was jump out of the car, because the manual says that if I’m hooked up to a fast charger I should not sit in the car. Gosh, I thought. Here I am saving the planet, and I’m risking getting fried, all at the same time.
I found out I can’t use an extension cord (my son lives in a house in Riverdale in Toronto and doesn’t have a garage, but figured he could buy an EV and run an extension cord from the car on the street to his outside plug, and I called him up and told him to put that idea out of his head, pronto). And the manual warned to be really careful about charging if it’s raining. So, you have a driveway but no garage or car port, and you want to plug in your car and it’s raining hard, or it’s really windy. I just found out that if it’s any of the above, you shouldn’t plug in.
I could go on, but once you get past the shock (that’s a joke) of everything you shouldn’t do while charging your PHEV, you should be just fine.
My daily driver is a Ford F-150 pickup. I don’t haul logs, but lots of big items have found their way into the back of that vehicle, and so an SUV isn’t in the cards for me — yet.
But I really enjoyed my time in the Outlander. I could travel about — give or take — 35 km on electricity alone, and if I’m just going over to the grocery store to pick up some vittles, or driving to the GO train to pick up my beloved, that would suit me just fine.
And I didn’t have any range anxiety (unlike the time I had a full EV and was sweating with anxiety half the time), because I knew that when the juice ran out, the gasoline would kick in. I would drive around and I would go home and plug in the car for the night and have my 35 km sitting and waiting for me the next morning.
If I could afford two vehicles, I’d buy one. I can’t, so it will have to wait. But the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is now at the top of my list of possible vehicles to replace my truck.
When — and if.