By Derek Ogden, Motoring Brand
For those who think the shift from ‘dirty’ fossil fuels to ‘clean’ electric power is too harsh. Uncharged battery ; Do not go; range anxiety? Fortunately, there is a transitional solution: hybrid energy.
Gasoline/electric hybrids have been around for years – think of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight – with the former still on the streets, leading the way, especially in the world of fleets like that of taxis.
In these vehicles, an internal combustion engine is used to charge a battery, which powers an electric motor, partially powering the car. Another source of pollution. What if the motor could be bypassed and the battery charged externally?
Enter the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, in which gasoline and battery power are used in tandem to drive the vehicle at optimal reduced emissions until the battery runs out of juice and internal combustion automatically take over. Range relief! The first sport utility vehicle to take advantage of the combined powertrain, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which made its way down a decade ago, has
sold over 300,000 units, making it the most popular plug-in in the world.
The latest generation comes in four variants: five-seater ES, five-seater aspire, 5+2-seater Exceed and 5+2-seater Exceed Tourer. Prices start at $54,590 and top out at $68,490, plus road charges. On test, the Outlander PHEV Aspire 5 sits at $60,990.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new Outlander is longer, wider, taller, heavier and has a longer wheelbase. The muscular flared fenders match his broad shoulders.
Crisp daytime running lights complement an LED headlight cluster designed to provide better visibility over long distances, while extended horizontal LED taillights with T-shaped ends highlight the Outlander PHEV’s distinctive shoulders. Machined 20-inch alloy wheels reinforce the Aspire’s impressive stance.
The cabin had a relaxed and quiet atmosphere, even when the gasoline engine was in action the only intrusion was road noise on bitumen or not too smooth concrete. The seats, however, were rather firm.
Leg and shoulder room was generous, thanks to the lack of a third row of seats, which also contributed to plenty of boot space – 485 liters with the backs up and up to 1478 liters with the second-row seatbacks folded down.
MOTORS / TRANSMISSIONS
All versions are powered by an upgraded 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, combined with a pair of electric motors on the front and rear axles, delivering 185kW and 450Nm to all four wheels.
The Outlander PHEV shares the five-star ANCAP safety rating earned by its gasoline-only sibling earlier this year. Active safety includes autonomous emergency braking (front and rear), lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control , Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Surround Camera.
Passive safety is covered by eight airbags, including in the central front position. With no engine noise, the car lets out a muffled bell sound to alert unwary pedestrians.
You meet a better class of taxi drivers at public charging stations; I’m talking about the “middle-aged” Uber driver and his Tesla Model 3. With a lazy half hour to spare in a busy schedule, we chatted while the test Outlander PHEV was charging. fast.
Forty minutes later, the Outlander’s battery at 80% (approximately 70 kilometer range on the odometer), with $4.09 paid, we parted ways. Over a series of driving tasks, the test car achieved an average power consumption of just over 20.0 kWh per 100 kilometres, compared to a manufacturer claim of 19.2 kWh/ 100km.
The petrol engine only intervenes if you increase the throttle or if the vehicle exceeds 135 km/h. It also allows the battery to be recharged, as well as braking by conversion of kinetic energy.
Mitsubishi claims, on bi-fuel, the PHEV uses 1.5 liters per 100 kilometers. Battery discharged, the engine supports the load automatically, registering in the test a fuel consumption of approximately 5 liters per 100 kilometers. System performance can be tracked visually with an animated chart on the dashboard.
Charging at home from a 240V outlet, the manufacturer claims 9.5 hours from zero to 100%, or 6.5 hours from a home wall box. Alternatively, charging to 80% can be done from the on-board generator in an hour and a half.
Despite the initial cost of ownership, with gas prices rapidly heading north, any vehicle that eases the wound on the wallet is worth looking into.
The Outlander Aspire plug-in hybrid covers all the gas/electric bases without the anxiety of its meager limited range of over 80 kilometres. The industry leading warranty is the icing on the cake.
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