By NITISH S. RELE
We have driven several versions of the Mitsubishi Outlander with the somewhat okay 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and 3.0-liter V6 power trains under the hood. But recently we test drove the five-passenger SUV with a 2.0-liter engine putting out 117 horsepower at 4,500 rpms and 137 pounds per foot of torque at 4,500 rpm. And yes, it’s a Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which adds an electric charge feature, enabling the five-passenger SUV to go up to 22 miles without using gas. The charge port, located in the passenger’s side rear fender, uses a 240-volt system that can take four hours, or at 120 volt consuming about eight hours. You can essentially go 310 miles on a tank (11.3 gallons) with its gas, hybrid and plug-in electric features. Tow capacity is satisfactory at 1,500 pounds
The 4-cylinder gasoline engine is mated to twin electric motors (each 60 kW) and a 70kW generator, which are powered by a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery. That is adequate enough to put out a total of 197 hp while paired to a single-speed transmission. The SUV does offer a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the ride is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into usable electricity for recharging the battery.
Though a plug-in hybrid, the Outlander shows off a bold look with LED headlights and fog lamps surrounding dark chrome grille accents, front bumper silver accents and roof spoiler. The cabin is spacious with a passenger volume of 101 cubic feet. The 7-inch touch navigation and display audio interface is easy to operate. The black instrument panel with silver accents conveys elegance found in high-end vehicles. Keep an eye on the rounded energy meter for fuel savings, which displays charge, eco and power readings. Several goodies are offered such as dual auto a/c, leather tilt/telescopic leather steering column and shifter, eight-way power seats, driver information center, 60/40 rear seat, power lift gate and sun roof, 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system with nine speakers, under floor cargo hold, and a rear seat armrest with two cup holders.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, active stability and traction control, hill start assist, four-wheel antilock brakes, antitheft alarm, rear camera, blind spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, lane change assist and lane departure warning, front-pedestrian impact crumple zones, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
This Outlander is an excellent gas/electric/plug-in hybrid effort from Mitsubishi. It has ample power to ensure a smooth ride with good balance and handling. Besides, there is also generous cargo/passenger space though fuel mileage could be better. That it comes with a 10-year or 100,000-mile power train and a five-year or 60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty is a plus. Lest we forget, the lithium-ion battery is also covered for 10-year/100,000 miles.
To test drive a Misubishi vehicle locally, visit Firkins Chrysler Jeep Dodge Mitsubishi at 2700 1st St., Bradenton, FL 34208, or visit www.firkinscj.com./
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Length: 184.8 inches
Weight: 4,178 pounds
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; multilink rear
Steering: electric power
Gas only: 25 mpg
Combined gas+electric: 74 MPGe
Base price: $41,495
Web site: www.mitsubishicars.com