2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is paired with 2-liter gasoline
It was an
offer too good to refuse: Take a helicopter ride and spend the day
driving the unpaved back roads of Santa Catalina Island in an SUV.
matter that the exploring would be done in a Mitsubishi. With an
invitation to explore some of the "no cars allowed" dirt
roads of Catalina, just off the Southern California coast, I’d
have shown up for a Ford Pinto.
pleasantly surprised. Mitsubishi’s new plug-in hybrid Outlander is
a competent, comfortable compact sport utility vehicle.
the Japanese car company call the Outlander PHEV a "halo
car" — a vehicle that will create buzz and attract new buyers
to the brand. They boast that it’s the first plug-in hybrid
crossover in this class of vehicles, and the only one with all-wheel
looks like a conventional Outlander on the outside, the PHEV model
is missing the 2-liter, 2.4-liter or 3.0-liter engines that drive
the gas-powered Outlanders.
PHEV is powered by a 12kwh lithium battery that drives two 60kw
electric motors — one on the front axle, one on the rear —
resulting in what Mitsubishi calls "super all-wheel
control." It’s paired with 2-liter gasoline engine.
battery-only range, not yet certified by the EPA, is expected to be
comparable to luxury hybrid crossovers made by Volvo, BMW and other
companies — around 14 miles between charges.
Outlander is also one of only a few plug-in hybrids that come
standard with the hardware that allows Level 2 charging. Mitsubishi
claims the SUV’s onboard lithium-ion battery can be charged to
full capacity in four hours or less on this type of charger — or
about twice that long on a standard household 120-volt system.
a hybrid and not a pure electric vehicle, there is no range anxiety.
The Outlander PHEV is fitted with a 2-liter gasoline-burning
internal combustion engine that can provide propulsion to the
vehicle or generate electricity to charge the battery.
executives said they believed the fuel economy would be about 54
miles per gallon equivalent.
buyers won’t care about those mpg or mpg-e numbers. They’ll be
more interested in knowing the PHEV status qualifies the Outlander
for HOV access.
On the road,
at the low speeds allowable on Catalina Island’s few paved roads,
the Outlander felt solid and planted. The "super all-wheel
control" creates the feel and maneuverability of a smaller car
— allowing for a very tight turning radius and nimble feel while
steep dirt roads, the five-seater was smooth and quiet. The
suspension smoothed out the washboard and potholes. It was often
difficult to tell when the gasoline engine was engaged and when we
were in all-electric mode.
One of the
Mitsubishi guides had told us that Catalina, beyond the little
harbor town of Avalon, was completely uninhabited, and that we could
expect to see bison, foxes and possibly deer running free.
We did. One
great shaggy buffalo was loitering by a shimmering water hole, like
a paid background artist abandoned by the movie company that brought
the bison to the island in the first place.
We caught a
more fleeting glance of a furtive island fox — scientific name
Urocyon littoralis — representative of a species native to
Catalina and the surrounding Channel Islands.
scanned the cactus-dotted hills for more wildlife, we saw only the
occasional hiker or cyclist until we were nearly back into Avalon. I
spotted a broad-antlered deer taking the shade behind the city’s
stately hillside bell tower.
By then, we
had been exposed to more of the PHEV’s attributes. At a photo stop
at scenic Shark Harbor, the Mitsubishi people were demonstrating the
PHEV’s ability to use its battery pack to run a plug-in appliance
— such as sound systems, entertainment systems or, in this case, a
blender for making roadside smoothies.
set the suggested retail price low on the two trim levels for the
Outlander PHEV, hoping to draw car shoppers looking at the more
expensive BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GLE or Porsche Cayenne.
shoppers in the future may be looking at the just-announced 2019
Range Rover P400e Plug-in Hybrid, too).
version will start at $35,530. The GT version will start at $41,235.
executives noted that the plug-in hybrid price is not much higher
than the gasoline Outlander equivalent, and is much lower after
federal and state rebates and tax incentives are factored in. Those
credits could amount to $7,000 or more for California residents.
company has a challenge. Mitsubishi, which currently offers only the
Mirage and Lancer sedans in its vehicle lineup — though it will
soon introduce its Eclipse Cross for the 2018 model year — is
generally last-to-mind among car shoppers whose awareness of
Japanese companies may be limited to Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan
senior director of marketing, Francine Harsini, said, "We have
a great product but not enough people know who we are or what we
have to offer."
That may be
why Mitsubishi expects to sell fewer than 4,000 Outlander PHEVs a
year in the U.S., though about 100,000 units have been sold in Japan
and Europe since the model was introduced in 2014.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Capable SUV with plug-in technology
Lows: Do many
people want a plug-in SUV?
Four-door, five-passenger crossover
Twin 60kw electric motors paired with 2-liter gasoline engine
Single speed, all-wheel drive
pound-feet front, 144 rear
economy rating: Not yet available