More sophisticated, especially when it comes to the well-appointed Aspire PHEV version – that’s a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle – Mitsubishi’s Outlander delivers most of the fruit.
There have been PHEV Outlanders before, machines that use both petrol and electric engines plus the ability to power the battery pack from the household mains.
Mitsubishi has long been a champion of this particular genre – where other green offerings may be full plug-in electric or straight hybrid with two power sources – and the Outlander is reportedly world champion PHEV in terms of outright sales.
And this 2023 version should keep the sales flowing.
There are obvious advantages to a PHEV in Australia where fair distances, and availability of roadside chargers, brings on serious range anxiety if out back of beyond in a full-on electric vehicle. Or even out back of Brisbane.
With a PHEV there are the options of charging up at home, running on battery until the petrol motor needs to kick in, playing the re-gen game by braking, or coasting to re-charge on the go and, for hoots and giggles, using both powerplants for some real go-go when accelerating.
PHEV Outlanders run with a 2.4 litre petrol engine plus an 85kW electric motor on the front axle and a 100kW electric motor for the rear with a 20kWh battery pack. Mitsubishi reckons the wagon should get around 80km on a full battery and between 1.5 litres and 8.1 litres per 100km; depending of course on the power source.
A week around Brisbane town, mainly on electric power, saw consumption around 4 litres per 100km.
These all-wheel drive Outlanders also offer a full gamut of driving modes, including Power and Eco, Sand and Mud/Ruts, yet this SUV is best limited to dirt and gravel tracks. Clearance isn’t great and tyres and suspension more designed for bitumen.
On the road, the Aspire is one big lounge machine. (To a point; 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres tend to thump-crash through cracks and potholes.)
Yet for the most part it is quiet, with an interior tending toward upmarket and plush seats; soft steering and, generally, a smooth ride.
This is the fourth generation Outlander, now bigger than ever with good room front and back and sporting all of today’s mod-cons and safety items.
(Trickle-down economics may be a furphy but trickle-down features have long been part of the automotive business. Remember when electric windows weren’t even an option?)
It’s a wide machine at almost 2m, big panoramic windscreen and a substantial road stance. Handsome in profile, it’s tidy around the rear end, while the current Mitsubishi family face may be a little too dramatic for some tastes.
There are four trim levels for PHEV Outlanders with prices starting at $54,990 and running through to $68,490.
The Aspire version sits toward the top of the pack at a recommended retail of $60,990.
It’s not the cheapest family wagon out there but one to handsomely showcase some green credentials, and save some fossil fuel, without vaulting into a full-on electric machine.