Long-term test update: 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Black Edition
Diving deeper into the hybrid powertrain reveals some quirks of the ‘guess-o-meter’
If you’ve ever bought a new vehicle, you’ll know that it takes a number of weeks, even a few months, to really get a feel for how it performs, how the onboard technology operates, and how truly comfy that driver seat really is. That test drive at the dealership might sell you on the vehicle, but it’s living with it that reveals its true identity.
That is the reasoning behind our long-term test drives. We typically get a week in a new vehicle to research our reviews, and while that might seem like a long enough time, it’s only when you drive the vehicle over a couple of months, and over different routes and in different weather, do you get a true sense of its capabilities, limitations, and failings.
That’s certainly been the case for me with the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a top-selling plug-in hybrid that I’ve been driving in and around British Columbia for two months now. The only road condition I haven’t experienced in it is snow, but hopefully I will get that chance soon. And I haven’t had the opportunity to get anyone into the third row seats for a drive either, mostly because my kids are young adults now so I don’t have the opportunity to ferry about pre-teens, which is really the size of the occupants best suited to sit, and crawl into, that pop-up third row. I have had plenty of opportunities to take our Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Sherlock, for many car rides, and while he prefers a window seat — with the window rolled down — to hanging out in the rear hatch, the Outlander’s low rear deck floor is very kind to his seven-year-old joints. Instead of hesitating and needing some cajoling to ‘jump up’ as he does with most SUVs, he rarely breaks stride during his hop into the back.
My first impression of the Outlander PHEV — a very capable, very efficient, well-built and well-thought out all-wheel drive SUV — hasn’t changed over time, and if anything I’ve come to appreciate its straightforward yet sophisticated design and execution even more.
What has captured my attention as I crest the halfway point with the vehicle is that hybrid powertrain. Specifically, how the full-charge all-electric range varies, sometimes to a somewhat shocking degree.
He said the readout isn’t a true representation of what you are about to travel; rather, it is a reflection of the conditions and regen you just did in the vehicle prior to charging up. That explains the big number following our Rocky Mountain drive that saw some pretty steep and long downhills that put a lot of energy back into the battery pack. I was also driving in eco mode and manually applying the regen to eke out more energy storage.
“I’ve always called it a guess-o-meter,” Rojas said with a laugh, adding that it gives his staff the most heat from retail customers. “In the wintertime, you turn on the vehicle, and if the day before you did uneconomical driving and it was minus 10, that readout will say you have 22 kilometres in range.”
That would in fact be the range only if you drove as you did the day before and the weather conditions were similar, meaning too that you had the heat and heated seats cranked up in the vehicle.
Now, on to the save/charge button. As I mentioned in the first instalment of this long term test, one of the somewhat unique EV features is this button that allows you to save the battery charge from being used, and to charge up the battery using the gasoline engine. Pretty simple concept and one that works efficiently if you are on a journey that entails highway and city driving. Charge the batteries up while at highway speeds, then switch to pure EV mode when you are in an urban setting and run off the energy the gas engine harvested in charge mode.