We had a grand plan to run the Outlander PHEV for zero petrol cost for six months – but that went out the door in the first week when we had to drive further than 50km in one go. Zero petrol is achievable if you live less than 25km from work and that's the only driving you do each day.
There's still the cost of electricity but it's negligible if you charge the vehicle between 10pm and 6am when the rate is around 11 cents per kilowatt hour. With solar panels on the roof, your cost will be zilch. But if you're paying, we figured it out as costing a tad more than a cent a kilometre running on electricity – which is pretty good.
PRICE / FEATURES
The $52,490 test vehicle is a fully equipped Aspire model and has plenty of kit pitched at premium car level, and there's a base-spec PHEV at $47,490. Doing a quick calculation on the value of the plug-in against a conventional Outlander, we've compared our test vehicle with the Aspire spec diesel Outlander at $46,890, which has a claimed economy of 5.8L/100km. That means that if you're doing about 15,000km per year, it would take four years of petrol-free driving to make up the difference.
The Outlander itself is a good size medium SUV which in the PHEV's case can be taken moderately off road and also tow up to 1500kg. It's sweet to drive and travel in thanks to the super quiet powertrain and plenty of kit pitched at luxury car level. It looks good too due to a recent exterior upgrade that ushered in 18-inch wheels and detail exterior changes.
The vehicle is heavy but hauls around a lot of kit to make it do what it does – battery pack, petrol engine and two electric engines all weigh plenty and contribute to the PHEV's portly 1800kg plus bottom line. It tells when you run out of charge and the petrol 2.0-litre engine kicks in, when it starts using something like 6.5-litres/100km with assistance from the electric drive train – but performance is adequate rather than strong.
The PHEV could do with more range which is problematic, given the current state of play in technology terms. And we are wondering why Mitsubishi didn't fit a small turbo diesel into the PHEV instead of the petrol engine that has been around for about a decade.
Recharging can be irritating as you need to have the vehicle garaged, a 15 amp plug and have it timed to activate in the cheap electricity period. Then when you go out to drive it, you need to unplug, wind up the cable and shut the plug lid before actually getting in the vehicle. It needs a portable docking station of some kind.
But we have to say that in the month we've had the PHEV, it's only been refuelled once and half of that is still in the tank. Maybe we are expecting too much... however not paying for petrol holds huge appeal.