Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV long-term test: A new charge
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Warning: Star Wars reference looming. Being a pilot in the Star Wars universe always looks busy, with lots of switches, dials and knobs to play with, normally right before an important target or take-out. And in a way, I feel that way driving our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: it’s involving.
To some extent, a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle requires (at least welcomes) a degree of driver input to make the most of the available electrical energy. It requires being plugged in to charge it, and being a proxy early adopter (part of the job of testing brand new cars), and unlike a drive-and-ignore conventional hybrid, our Outlander also offers way to maximize the conomy and km from each modest charge.
A warning, however: if your phone is always running flat because you forgot to plug it in, don’t buy an EV. But a PHEV could help train the brain. Personally, I’m always ‘grazing’… finding/plugging in my phone whenever possible: at home, in the car or at the computer. Furthermore, keeping a battery between 30-80 per cent is the best way to maintain life and longevity.
Our Outlander PHEV officially offers 55km range, but we’ve seen as high as 61km. However, this quickly depletes on a journey, 10 percent immediately if using the AC/heater.
I most feel like an X-Wing or TIE fighter pilot is when managing the power between petrol and battery, thanks to two switches for EV mode, and save/charge. Each morning, when fully charged, I switch straight to EV mode, to ensure it’s not using petrol.
Having timed the charging to finish 10 minutes after my bedside alarm sounds, it also pre-heats the cabin (while still charging), and all via the smartphone app. This charge and range is perfect for typical short trips, school runs, shops, local journeys. I’ve also found that seat heaters are better to use than the heater, as they rely on the car’s conventional 12v battery and (mostly) don’t drain the EV battery.
On longer journeys is when I start fiddling with buttons to hold off Vader. My Hamilton-Auckland work drive is 135km, broken up into (roughly) 35km of B roads, 100km of motorway, and a few km of city streets. So I consume all the battery on the Huntly bypass and 50km.
But, if I know I’d prefer to use the battery at the end of the trip, pressing the ‘Save’ button keeps the battery power for when I want it, and it’ll run like a conventional 2.4-litre petrol engine.
Also, if the battery does in fact become depleted, the Charge function gives it a boost via the petrol engine.
If all that’s just too much work, then simply leave it in ‘normal’ mode and the car decides for itself, and does quite a good job – thankfully, as pure EV mode doesn’t work with cruise control.
And of course, every downhill or braking zone is accompanied by the smart electronics charging the battery, and enduring minimal wasted energy.
At the end of the week, the fuel use is heavily dictated by actual use: around town, and less than 45-50km per day, it’s easy to use 0l/100km, but with my drive mixing one-third EV with two-third motorway/petrol, it still manages 5.9l/100km. And somewhere in the middle of those extremes is the official claim of 1.9l/100km, which is perfectly achievable.
So yes, you can play with buttons to plan for the drive, but the beauty of the Outlander PHEV is that you don’t actually “need” to. For me, it’s about any excuse to be competitive.