Variant: GSR PHEV
Engine / Transmission: 2.4 litre petrol/Lithium-ion 13.8 KWh – CVT automatic transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 1.9L/100km combined (sort of)
Price: From $56,490 drive away
In a Nutshell: A compelling argument for your new PHEV family car.
The Outlander is a dated platform and is due for replacement in the near future. Despite this, it is a very, very good family car. This is especially so in PHEV form. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) are my favourite form of electric vehicle – full electric motion nearly all of the time, but still with the peace of mind of regular petrol power for that trip up the Coast to visit the rellies. It really is the best of both worlds.
With the Outlander, your PHEV platform is wrapped in a very competent family five seater SUV. In fact, this is exactly the type of car that Ford’s locally made Territory or Holden’s locally made Commodore should have morphed into. It is well built, comfortable, safe and produces zero emissions nearly all of the time.
The PHEV Outlander comes in three flavours: the $51990 ES, the $56490 GSR (as tested) and the $60990 Exceed. All three are loaded with twin electric motors (part of what Mitsubishi has blessed with an acronym that seems to have been lifted straight out of a brochure for an ‘87 Starion – Super All Wheel Control S-AWD), dual zone climate control, reversing camera and rear sensors, autonomous braking system, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
Spend more and you will pick up the Bilstein sports shocks, black highlights, faux suede heated seats and premium sound fitted to the GSR.
Spend even more and you will be planted on leather seats (sadly losing the excellent faux suede), ‘ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation system’ (which prevents you accidently accelerating into obstacles, say, in a carpark and you hit the wrong pedal), blind spot warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, a 360 degree camera and an EV remote smartphone app. The app allows you to monitor and manipulate things like when your charger will start charging, optimising off peak electricity, pre-heating or pre-cooling the car or activating headlights remotely. All worthwhile features, but I think the GSR is the sweet spot in the range.
Unlike Nissan’s Leaf, the PHEV platform of the Outlander does away with range anxiety. This is probably just as well because unlike BEVs (battery electric vehicles, that typically have a range of around 300km) the Outlander has a range of around 50km on battery power. With most of us commuting for far less than 50kms, there is the very real possibility that your Outlander will use zero fuel and produce zero emissions, just like a BEV. Of course, if you have to go out of town for some reason, the 45 litre tank will get you between servos – just don’t plan on an outback adventure because that’s about the same size tank as you get in a Toyota Yaris.
Putting the PHEV functionality aside for a moment, the Outlander presents as a well built, well equipped and stylish family five seater. This is especially so in GSR guise as the Bilstein shocks add a slight (very slight) improvement in chassis control, the suede looks and feels great and the premium sound is a nice touch. The boot is spacious and has some really handy nooks and crannies for storing odds and ends, the rear seat legroom is perfect for teenagers and the blacked out treatment of the GSR looks sporty and on trend. Add in PHEV and a very reasonable price (for an EV) and it is incredible that these things aren’t on every street corner.
Not So Impressive:
Limited tank size and range aside, the Outlander is still a fairly bland drive – perfectly adequate for family duties, but something like Skoda’s Octavia RS245 is far more engaging, while still providing cheaper safe, comfortable, fuel efficient, well built family wheels. While the Bilstein suspension components fitted to the GSR are a nice touch, the CVT transmission and overly assisted steering system are disappointing.
So too is the needlessly complicated gear selector. It is an electronically controlled system, so could just be a series of push buttons, but instead you move across the gate to select Drive or Reverse and push another button to select Park. When other manufacturers are including automatic engagement of the handbrake and minimalistic gear selection interfaces, this system is dated and silly.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Make sure you slip down and test drive Nissan’s Leaf. After that, you’ll be signing up for the Outlander in no time… unless, of course, you take the Skoda down a twisty road.