A few months in, and we're getting to know the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV pretty well...
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been with the CarAdvice team for several months now, and in that time it has become part of the furniture.
We’ve recently put it through its paces against the diesel version (read our Outlander PHEV v diesel comparison), and seen whether the most practical plug-in hybrid on sale in Australia can match it against other vehicles that rely on powerpoints (read our EV and hybrid comparison test here).
In between making EV-unfriendly trips from North Sydney to Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains (where the fuel use hovers around 6.0L/100km), the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has also been a stable pool car for the CarAdvice staff over the time it has been with us.
A number of team members in the Sydney CarAdvice offices have been keen to test out the car’s claimed 52 kilometres of battery range – and not just those in the editorial ranks.
On a number of occasions our senior software architect, Zeh Ferrari (yeah, he has the coolest name in the world), took the Outlander PHEV home to his place near Dee Why and returned to the office the next day without having made the four-cylinder petrol engine turn over.
His round trip is roughly 32km – easily slipping under that theoretical maximum battery range.
“That is awesome,” Zeh told me in his typically chilled manner. “I love it. I love that I can drive home and back and not use any petrol ... and that I don’t have to catch the bus.”
He said he could happily live with the Outlander PHEV if all he did was drive between work and home. However, he wasn’t so happy about the fact that he couldn’t recharge the car at home.
“Who has a 15-amp plug at home? Nobody!” he said, referring to the fact the PHEV requires a higher amperage charge point than the standard 10-amp, 240-volt plug you use in your household.
Indeed, I found this out myself in my first report, where I had to have a 15-amp powerpoint installed outside my house at a cost of about $600. And this has been an issue on numerous occasions (including when Dan struggled to find chargepoints at the snow in long-term update 2). It is frustrating because it can undermine the fact the car can run on electricity.
Still, Zeh – and plenty of other CarAdvice staff – have had the chance to use the car in its intended environment, as we’ve got a 15-amp powerpoint in the garage.
One of our video guys, Christian Barbeitos, also lives in Dee Why and he’s found he can do the trip without using any petrol, either. He doesn’t much like the way it drives – and he’s not alone in that regard.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t using any petrol.
Forget to charge? It’ll suck down some juice. Leave the charge cable in the office before driving your 150km loop home and back? Yep. Same story.
But it has also been noted by some of our drivers that the charge time is a bit too long for the amount of range on offer. Depending on an average EV range of less than 40km (not the 52km Mitsubishi claim), you’re gaining about eight k’s an hour.
Some of our less experienced testers have made mention of the PHEV’s ride comfort, which can be quite lumpy over bumpy roads. Others have remarked that its steering is sloppy, and that’s a fair assessment when you drive an Outlander after something like a Volkswagen Tiguan or even a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Christian Clark, our commercial director, and Benn Sykes, our national sales director, have both called on the PHEV for running around town, taking the car to meetings and returning with an average fuel consumption figure of 0.0L/100km.
It is an enticing feeling, knowing that you’re not using any fossil fuels to fill your car. Well, not directly using any, as we all know that coal-fired power is hardly a responsible way of getting go-go juice.
So, with that in mind, our next long-term update will see the PHEV use the sun as its main source of power. Stay tuned for that.
While some may not care where the energy comes from, a seemingly constant concern of those who have been in the driver’s seat of the Outlander PHEV is the media system.
Almost every driver so far has found the on-screen and button menu system confusing – namely the way you put a location in to the satellite navigation system.
You don’t press the Map button on the screen, nor do you use the menu that shows on the map screen. Nor would you be right in thinking the Navi Menu button on the border of the display unit, which hosts enticing options Route Menu and Guidance, will help you get to where you’re going.
Nope, you’ve got to hit the little flag icon to input a location.
A passenger can’t do the map work on the move, either, as addresses must be logged in when the car is stationary.
There’s a voice control system that is supposed to help you use navigation on the move, but, as we’ve found, the system isn’t great.
And the graphics of the navigation system are also below average, not to mention trying to connect a phone via Bluetooth (thankfully, owners will likely only have to do this once or twice).
Other little grimace-enablers include the beeps and bongs that seem to accompany every little aspect of daily life with the Outlander.
It beeps twice when you unlock it. It’ll be again when you get in the driver’s seat. Dare to try and start the car without buckling up? Prepare to get beeped.
It also beeps when you try to open the boot. Or close the boot. Or get out with the key still inside the car. Or if you’ve got the adaptive cruise control on, and there’s a car in front of you (yep, it beeps even if the car in front speeds up and then comes back into radar range).
In short, it’s beeping annoying.
So, after three (or so) months on fleet, how’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV faring?
Well, it’s still here, and it is finding its place as a go-to car for necessary trips from the office - but it’s fair to say the novelty is starting to wear off a little. Still, there's no denying this Outlander is one with a certain amount of badge cache - and more than a pinch of technological trickery - and as such it still feels a bit special.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Date acquired: August 2014
Odometer reading: 9716km
Travel this month: 3046km
Consumption this month: 5.6L/100km
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Christian Barbeitos.