Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV


The arrival of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was a long time coming. Announced and even publicly previewed as far back as 2016, things only came to showroom fruition when it was finally launched this year. In the four years since, a lot has happened, including the arrival of other PHEVs as well as full EVs. With that in mind, where does the world’s best-selling plug-in hybrid fit in the local market?

With a larger electric motor and battery pack compared to conventional hybrids, the Outlander PHEV can run exclusively on electrons for up to 55 kilometers—that’s more than double the average Filipino motorists’ 13.2-kilometer commute. Hypothetically, as long as you remember to juice it up every night, you’ll never need to visit a gasoline station ever again. This is where it hits a snag.



For some reason, Mitsubishi opted to spec the Outlander PHEV with a higher amperage CEE Commando Plug as opposed to a the typical three-prong household socket that’s available for other ASEAN markets like Indonesia. This may cut down the typical charging time at home, making it look good in brochures, but it also requires would-be owners to re-wire their garage just to maximize their PHEV experience. Given that this SUV doesn’t cost chump change (it’s P 2.998-miilion), this is a missed opportunity to gain a bigger audience (myself included).

Because there’s no way to plug it in for this test drive, I was left with no choice but to keep the internal combustion engine running to charge the on-board battery to see what sort of range I could muster (the corresponding trip meters and fuel consumption read outs were reset after). Truth be told, this completely negates the advantage of opting for a PHEV which is to reduce tailpipe emissions. With a fully-charged battery, the Outlander PHEV did close to 50 kilometers, which is good for a day and a half for my usage. All this time, the fuel consumption read zero liters consumed. Call me impressed.



As the charge withered down (you can see it via the Outlander PHEV’s peculiar twin fuel-meter readout), the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine would kick to life either acting as a generator to keep the batteries charged, or assisting the electric motor to give you some added push. Either way, it’s remarkably normal to drive. With the exception of a power flow display in the instrument cluster which shows you what the motors are doing, things are pretty transparent based on feel. For those who plan to geek out, there are switches on the center console that allow you to make decisions for yourself; you can dictate when to recharge the battery, when to use electric drive only, and when to ensure all four wheels are being driven. There’s even a battery-save mode to save whatever’s left of your on-board charge.

Refinement is impressive at low speeds, though put your foot down and the 2.4-liter engine does make itself heard. Thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor and directness of the unique Multi-Mode eTransmission (it’s not a CVT), it feels fast subjectively; it even drives better than the standard of hybrids—Toyota (except for the Corolla Cross which I’ve yet to try). Objectively though, the century mark takes 10.5 seconds—sluggish for a PHEV. And relegated to a conventional hybrid for an entire week, the fuel economy adds up to just 12.65 km/L—comparable to a conventional diesel-powered SUV, and below what a Corolla Altis Hybrid or Prius could muster.



In terms of handling, the Outlander PHEV has great brakes. EVs and hybrids typically have artificial-feeling brakes due to their power regeneration quirk, but Mitsubishi’s done their homework to make it feel natural. The rest of the package though is best for wafting along at a relaxed, comfortable pace. Sharp abrasions such as expansion joints or corrugated surfaces do make their way into the cabin at low speeds, but build up pace, and so does the suspension’s ability to deal with them. Road noise is well controlled, and there’s surprisingly little wind noise, too. Through the twisty bits, it behaves like a much larger car with noticeable lean and body roll.

For all of its high-tech powertrain, the Outlander PHEV is a wallflower in terms of design. Though it’s been given the corporate Dynamic Shield face, it doesn’t look as slick or futuristic as even the Outlander or Montero Sport. The same goes for its interior which is plain and simple. However, despite the dated look, at least interior quality is pleasant with soft-topped plastics in areas frequently touched or poked by the driver or passengers.



Most of the dashboard controls are simply laid out, but like in the Montero Sport and Strada, the grouping of some buttons don’t make sense. Also, the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment feels archaic with its low-res graphics and hard-to-hit icons. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard so it’s easy to avoid using the native user interface.

Getting the right seating position is easy enough, and the resulting one gives a good, commanding view of traffic in all directions. It even has sensors all around and even a 360-degree camera to prevent any unwanted scrapes or bumps during parking. Space at the back is even more impressive. The flat floor and wide bench mean it can easily accommodate three adults. In terms of cargo capacity, it looks big enough at the beginning, but the high lip (the battery’s stored under there) can make loading heavy items tricky. Also, close the retractable tonneau cover, and you’ll start to wonder where all that space went.



Undeniably, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is impressive as tech goes. It’s perfect for those who want to jump to the electrified bandwagon, because it provides a true EV experience without the range anxiety. However, its appeal is limited. Condo dwellers or those who can’t retrofit the special charging plug may find their needs best served by either conventional hybrids or diesel-powered SUVs. For those who can spend extra for that special plug though, it could be a great all-rounder. Capped at short trips mean not having to visit a gasoline station ever again, and even when the charge is depleted, there’s a gasoline engine to back you up.



2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

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Ownership 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Compact SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basic
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.4
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI, Atkinson Cycle
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 128 @ 4,500
190 (combined)
Nm @ rpm 199 @ 4,500
332 (combined)
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission Multi-Mode eTransmission
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 12.65 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,695
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,710
Wheelbase (mm) 2,670
Curb Weight (kg) 1,880
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Dunlop SP Sport 5000 225/55 R 18 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear, w/ 360-dgree Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Misacceleration Preventing System
Blindspot Warning
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Lane Change Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, LED (front), Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
USB
Bluetooth
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 8
Steering Controls Yes

2 comments:

  1. An all-new version of the Outlander (based on the new X-Trail) has already been leaked. It looks a lot like the Engelberg Tourer concept. Mitsubishi PH launched this generation of the Outlander PHEV too late considering a new one is right around the corner, though I might still consider getting this (just need to get that special charging plug)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This Mitsubishi Outlander is the best Selling Hybrid SUV in Europe. Just couldn't Launch it on time a few years back because of price issue. But better Late than never.

    ReplyDelete

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