Doing what SUVs do

Doing what SUVs do

IMG_0253As evidenced by our previous long-term experience in a Holden Volt, the team here at Auto Media Group are big funs of cars with plugs. Or more precisely cars that plug-in.

And so we are undertaking the experiment again, spending a month with Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle – to get an idea about life with a lot less petrol.

Starting from $59,990 – ours is the better specified VRX at $66,990 – the PHEV gets two electric motors, one front and one rear to provide an all-wheel-drive system, a 2.0 litre petrol motor up front and a drive motor in the middle.

The company expects a rough 52km range on electric only, and an off peak charge to cost around $1.40 – that is cheap motoring.

We will get to the electric capabilities of the PHEV next time, but we figured, or at least our calendars forced us to, try the car doing something a normal SUV would do – the weekend road-trip.

We needed to make a quick dash from Auckland to Napier, which would put the cars range-extender system to the test, as before we even hit the Bombay’s our battery was reading —-, rather then 0, and with a little under 400km left in the trip, the range on petrol was reading a little over 500.

While petrol was being used, the PHEV still runs in a hybrid mode, using the engine to provide charge, unless accelerating quickly or at highway speeds, and so gives that lovely, torquey-feeling electrics provide – and feeling far sprightlier than a large SUV with a relatively small engine would suggest.

The Outlander overall is a comfortable cruiser, and in the VRX model radar-cruise makes for a relaxed drive. It feels planted and surprisingly neutral despite an additional 230kg on board over a non-hybrid model.

It is efficient, but for this kind of work hardly amazing. We saw 7.4km a litre for a lightly loaded run down – more on a heavily loaded trip back.

But the key is to a vehicle like this is that it can be different things in different situations – the fact it can do a long trip at all and then switch modes for the city is its beauty.

Next week we will discuss operating it more in its home environment.

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