Better Late Than Never
Europe’s top-selling plug-in hybrid, Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, has been coming to the U.S. for years, but has been postponed more than five times. All sorts of things were blamed like battery shortages and meeting U.S. safety standards. The real reason was financial woes which were amended last fall with a tie-up with Nissan. Now, the automaker says the plug-in SUV will arrive at U.S. dealers in March 2018. Since Mitsubishi’s U.S. website now has a dedicated page for it, we assume a sixth promise won’t be broken.
Mitsubishi previewed its coming plug-in SUV at the LA Auto Show Photo: Lex Adams
When it arrives, the Outlander PHEV will be available in two trim levels that largely match those of the gasoline Outlander. The base SEL S-AWC model will start at $34,595 plus destination charges. The Outlander PHEV GT S-AW has the same standard equipment as the gasoline Outlander GT Touring Package and will be priced at $40,295. If the federal tax credit is still in place next March, the Outlander PHEV is eligible for a $5,836 in federal tax credit according to the fueleconomy.gov website, and state programs are available in many states as well.
Mitsubishi says the all-electric range will be 22 miles for the PHEV using the EPA cycle. Total fuel economy is expected to be 25 mpg EPA rated for gasoline only operation, but this can be improved if the driver utilizes the all-electric drive function and keeps the gas engine off, boosting it to a 74 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).
An affordable plug-in SUV is just over the horizon
Motivation comes via a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine churning 117 horses and 137 pounds-feet torque that is merged with front and rear electric motors. Both electric motors provide 60 horsepower, with the front turning out 137 pounds-feet of torque while the rear has a hefty 195 pounds-feet.
The two motors offer all-wheel drive, something unique for a mainstream PHEV (the luxury plug-ins from BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Volvo offer this as well, but at quite a premium),. The battery that supplies the electricity for the motors is a high-capacity 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack developed specifically for the PHEV system. The battery is positioned beneath the passenger compartment subfloor between the front and rear axles with no intrusion into the passenger compartment
Similar to Other Plug-ins
Like all plug-in vehicles, regenerative braking is used to generate electricity for the battery pack. The level of regenerative braking can be selected by the driver at any time using steering wheel paddle shifters.
The Outlander PHEV can operate in all-electric mode, use the gasoline engine as a generator to power the electric motors, or use both electric and gasoline power for propulsion.
We’ve been waiting, but it looks like it’s almost here
Mitsubishi covers all the bases when it comes to recharging the battery pack. The company is including a CHAdeMO fast charging port which can fill the 12-kWh battery from empty to full in 20 minutes. That’s in addition to the now standard Level 2 240-volt charging that will fill the battery in 3.5 hours and Level 1 120-volt charging that juices the battery in eight hours.
A bonus for buyers is a 1,500-watt AC power inverter that draws power from the battery pack. That’s enough to run a coffee pot, TV or electric grille for a picnic or tailgate party.
The Outlander PHEV is a fairly handsome, if conservatively styled vehicle. Small changes—such as a gloss black front fascia and different wheels differentiate plug-in hybrid models from their gasoline-only siblings.
On the safety front the 2018 Outlander PHEV crosses all the Ts and dots all of the Is with blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist and surround view camera. Available are adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights and forward collision mitigation.
The Outlander PHEV has been a long time in coming, but it’s better late than never.
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A Walk Through an Affordable Plug-in SUV
Hybrids are all the rage these days. Every car manufacturer is jumping on the bandwagon. One of the more affordable plug-in SUVs is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
What Does PHEV Mean?
PHEV stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. It’s a general industry term for any vehicle that plugs in, but also has a normal combustion engine alongside it.
Coming soon–the most affordable plug-in hybrid SUV
Plug-in hybrids offer a better electric-only range than normal self-charging hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius or Lexus offerings.
The Outlander will run for up to 33 miles in electric silence. Most commutes are less than that range, meaning you can get to and from work on electric power only. When running low on battery power, plug the PHEV in, or the gas engine will charge the battery up as you drive.
You Also Get Four-wheel Drive
Mitsubishi have a long history when it comes to all-wheel drive cars. Starting back in their rally days with the Mitsubishi Lancer, the GSR Evolution packed a punch with trick rear differentials and a powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.
This was back in Mitsubishi’s heyday when they were in competition both on and off the World Rally Championship arena. The GSR Evo Lancer packed up to 360 horsepower in its most potent form. These days the most powerful Lancer is fitted with a 2.4-liter engine, with just 168 horsepower.
Thankfully, you get more power in the PHEV, along with four-wheel drive…of sorts. Independent motors power the front and rear wheels. Meaning there’s no need for a propeller shaft linking the engine to the back wheels.
Being electric, this means you can leverage the instant torque the motor provides, getting out of sticky situations off-road, if the need arises.
The PHEV can also “lock” the four-wheel drive. It’s a pseudo-central diff lock, which distributes torque to all four wheels at the same time. This helps give you extra traction, which is especially useful in mud or on snow.
What Range Will the PHEV Get?
You can drive for 33 miles on electric alone. Combined with the gas engine, the theoretical range on a single tank and a full charge is 542 miles. Not bad for a vehicle packing 200 horsepower and a 0-62 mph time of 10.6 seconds.
Coming to America–the most affordable plug-in SUV
Unlike many non-plug-in hybrids, the Outlander can be powered by electric-only up to 74 mph. You can also tow up to 3,306 lbs of braked cargo behind you, making the PHEV an ideal tow car.
How Long Does It Take to Charge?
Most all-electric cars have huge batteries in them, which take a long time to charge. The PHEV is a hybrid you can charge quickly.
From a standard home socket, it can be charged to 100 percent in roughly five hours. Compare that to a Tesla and you’d be looking at nearer 24 hours.
If you use a dedicated Level 2 EV charging point that supplies 16 amps, a full charge takes 3.5 hours. A DC fast charger will charge the PHEV to 80 percent in just 25 minutes. Fast chargers are more often available out and about; they charge at a higher, faster rate than your standard homeplug. Typically they provide power at roughly 50 kW as opposed to around 3kW at home.
How Do I Know When It’s Charged?
So you don’t have to sit and wait to know when your PHEV is charged, there’s an app for the car.
It’s a quick charge
It’s relatively straightforward to get the app connected. Once you’re linked, select when you want the PHEV to charge–like at night for cheaper electricity rates. Via the app, you can also preheat or precool the car, monitor its status and unlock it.
Unlike other connected car apps that connect to the mobile network, you connect to the PHEV via Wi-Fi. This can be limiting depending on your range.
The World’s First Hybrid SUV
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the first plug-in hybrid SUV to market, though it has yet to make it to America (soon, Mitsubishi says).
Since, it’s given Mitsubishi a worldwide profile boost. They have a highly competitive car in a growing segment. Something they’ve been lacking for a number of years.
The PHEV has won more awards than you can count. It remains one of the cheapest PHEV SUV offerings currently on the market.
Timeless Or Past Its Time?
Of the dozen or so compact sedans available, the Mitsubishi Lancer is by far the oldest for sale in the U.S. It was launched in 2007 and is now celebrating a remarkable 11th year. On the one hand, it could be considered obsolete. On the other, it must be so good or it wouldn’t still be here without being redesigned. The 2017 Lancer is about value, exterior styling and is also just one of the two sedans in its segment to offer all-wheel drive, with the Subaru Impreza being the other. The Lancer also boasts a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The base front-wheel-drive Lancer ES model is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and 145 pounds-feet of torque, which is in line with other compact offerings in the same price range. It can be paired with a standard six-speed manual or optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The other three Lancer models use a 168 horsepower 2.4-liter four that churns out 168 pounds-feet. It’s mated to a standard CVT and electronically variable all-wheel drive, the same system used in the Outlander Sport crossover SUV.
Still stylish after all these years
The 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer is offered in the base ES ($17,795 with manual, $18,795 with CVT), ES AWC ($20,295), SE ($21,095), and SEL ($22,095), with the latter three having standard all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy for the manual transmission Lancer is estimated by the EPA at 24-mpg city/33 highway/28 combined. The optional CVT results in 27-mpg city/34 hwy./30 combined. All-wheel drive models are rated at 23-mpg city/30 hwy./26 combined. All of the fuel economy numbers lag behind most competitors.
The 2017 Lancer may have been designed in another time period, but it continues to command attention in today’s market. Despite its age, the Lancer still looks sharp with its nose-down, tail-up sporty stance. Last year Mitsubishi gave the sedan a new front end that backed off some from the boy-racer look. It now has a small grille above the bumper and a larger opening below, making the nose more understated and mature. LED daytime running lights and a chrome trim strip along the window line were added for 2017.
Interior, No So Much
While the exterior still looks fresh, the cabin clearly shows its age. The steering column tilts but does not telescope, and the touchscreen icons along with the physical controls are so small that using them requires diverting too much attention from the road. While there are some soft touch materials, the majority of the cabin looks as if Mitsubishi is still using plastics that are a decade old.
A bit of the old, a bit of the new
On the bright side, a redesigned center console and an improved audio system display update the dashboard, and new seat fabrics and gloss-black trim on lower-level ES and SE models freshen the interior as well. Now standard is a 6.1-inch touch-screen display that controls audio functions and the optional navigation system. If you like the color black, you’re in luck as that’s the only interior color available.
Front bucket seats are reasonably comfortable, while comfort in the back seat is a definite plus, delivering near-midsize accommodations in a compact package. The small trunk offers a maximum of 12.3 cubic feet of space, but the rear seat folds in a 60/40-split for added cargo flexibility.
The base Lancer 2.0 ES now comes better equipped for 2017 with standard features like a 6.1-inch touch-screen audio display, rearview camera, alloy wheels, Fuse Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a four-speaker audio system with HD Radio and USB input. SE and SEL models have sport-tuned suspension, heated front seats and upgraded audio system, while topline SEL models come with leather interior, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights.
As I reached for the push button start button, I was surprised to find a black plastic grip that I had to turn like a key to start the car. As the Lancer sparked to life, I was greeted by a large speedometer and tachometer, with a display screen in the middle of the two. The deeply hooded tach and speedometer were crisp and attractive.
The 2.0-liter engine’s performance was adequate for in-town driving, but anemic when merging onto a fast-moving freeway. As I noted in my review of the Toyota Corolla iM, CVTs are not my favorite transmission. Unfortunately for the Lancer, the CVT hasn’t adopted the latest stepped functions that made the similar transmission in the Corolla less objectionable.
Good on the road, even with age
That said, the Mitsubishi Lancer has always been on the sportier side compared to more well-known competitors like the Corolla and Nissan Sentra and that remains true. In addition to sporty handling, the Lancer provides a decent ride, adequate braking feel, a somewhat vague steering feel—there are much worse—and good exterior visibility. It traveled down smooth roads just fine, but driving over potholes and broken pavement caused impact shudder to enter the cabin. Plus, interior noise levels reminded me that I was driving a dated compact car.
As for fuel economy, our Lancer matched the EPA’s estimate of 30 mpg after driving 256 miles.
The Compact Sedan for You?
Shoppers who seriously consider the 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer will be those who prioritize value-for-the-money and styling over all other factors. Choosing the 11-year-old sedan over competitors will mean giving up a quieter ride, the latest tech features and better fuel economy. But they’ll be driving a smart-looking compact sedan and have more money in their wallet.
Clean Fleet Report “Flash Drives” are concise reviews of vehicles that include the major points and are easy and quick to read. A “Flash Drive” is often followed later by a comprehensive road test review.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aggressive Electric Crossover Coupe Previews Future Products
The pure-electric, four-wheel drive Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept made its world debut at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday. Mitsubishi said the coupe-styled crossover SUV concept previews future electric powertrain technology and the ability to reach Level 4 autonomy, allowing drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel.
Not many details, but it looks like an off-road capable EV
The crossover is also a heritage play for Mitsubishi, as it leverages one of the automaker’s most notable models—the Lancer Evolution (Evo for short) high-performance sports sedan. Built for more than two decades, the rally-inspired Evo was discontinued in 2015 amid Mitsubishi’s focus on crossovers.
No Powertrain Details
Powertrain details were not released for the e-Evolution though Mitsubishi did say the concept uses three high-torque, high-performance electric motors: one at the front axle to move the front wheels, and a pair of electric motors at the rear wheels. The four-wheel drive system is complemented by a new Dual Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) system that couples two rear motors through an electronically controlled torque-vectoring unit. Batteries are integrated into the floor in the middle of the vehicle. That helps provide a low center of gravity, while stopping power gets help from electric calipers instead of conventional hydraulic ones, according to the maker. No range or power numbers were announced.
With help, all-electric e-Evolution could become a reality
Styling of the vehicle is on the wild-side aggressive and foreshadows a design theme called “Robust & Ingenious” that will be seen on future production models. The show car’s black grille is shielded under glass, which protects the cameras and sensors for autonomous driving. Large air intakes are located beneath the headlamps to cool the electric brake calipers; the air passes jet tail fins on the C-pillars before exiting on either side of the rear bumper. The back gets a large hexagon shape flanked by Y-shaped taillights that Mitsubishi said will appear on future models. It appears to have a high ground clearance, but no dimensions have been provided.
Inside, the e-Evolution features a large digital screen that runs the length of the dashboard just below the windshield. Mitsubishi wants to get in on the artificial intelligence (AI) game, so the screen can use cameras mounted on the front of the vehicle to display augmented reality over an image of the road. A “coaching function” is also designed to send relevant information to the driver, so the vehicle’s abilities in a given situation are made clear.
The concept’s design cues are headed for production
It would seem that, for a small automaker like Mitsubishi, all of this electric and AI tech promises are little more than a dream. But now that the company is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and will share its electrification efforts, some of the tech previewed on the e-Evolution could begin to appear in production Renaults, Nissans and Mitsubishis in the next few years.
Mitsubishi executive vice president Mitsuhiko Yamashita described the e-Evolution at its Tokyo unveiling as a “new evolution of the SUV” that proposes “a new direction for Mitsubishi Motors.”
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Wacky & Weird Show Gets Electrified
The Tokyo Motor Show, held once every two years, is known for its wacky and weird automotive concept car creations designed primarily for the Japanese market. But it almost always boasts a few significant world premieres from local automakers. This year is no exception with electrified cars taking center stage, reflecting the show’s theme: “Beyond the Motor.” Here’s a preview of several of the electric cars that will debut during media days at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 25 and 26, 2017.
On the heels of its electric Urban EV revealed on last month’s Frankfurt show, Honda will roll out the Sports EV Concept, a new battery-powered sports car. A teaser rendering of the Concept shows a rear-slung performance silhouette with a long hood, rounded rear fenders and square taillights having the same appearance as the hatch-styled Urban EV. The Sports EV Concept marries EV performance and artificial intelligence into a compact form and is expected to be produced for sale in China and Europe.
Honda teases its new sporty EV
For the U.S. market, Honda is rumored to debut a hybrid CR-V small crossover that will utilize the company’s new two-motor i-MMD system. It’s a little late to the game, following the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Nissan Rogue Hybrid and Kia Niro Hybrid, but will help the automaker continue as the best-selling compact crossover SUV in North America.
Lexus adds third row to its compact SUV
The Lexus RX series five-passenger luxury crossover has long been the segments top-selling model, but has lost sales to makers who offer seven-passenger seating. Lexus will no longer take that hit by introducing a seven-passenger version with both gasoline and hybrid powertrains. Named the RX 350L and RX350hL, the three-row SUVs will take on rivals BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Volvo XC90 and Range Rover.
Now part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Mitsubishi is ready to climb back up the automotive ladder with the introduction of the e-Evolution concept. No, it’s not a revival of the Lancer Evolution street racer, but rather a coupe-like designed SUV that ditches a piston engine in favor of three electric motors. One is linked to the front wheels while the other two give it a rear-wheel drive bias, with available all-wheel drive and electronically controlled torque vectoring.
Mitsubishi looks to get back in the game
The teaser photo presents the e-Evolution as a modern, futuristic-looking crossover that features an edgy, certainly polarizing, design. It’s obviously a true show car, with huge wheels, side cameras, futuristic LED lights and no conventional door handles.
Nissan will feature its Leaf Nismo Concept, a performance take of the
A performance EV from Nismo
world’s best-selling battery-electric car. It’s intended to grab the attention of younger buyers with treatment by the automaker’s Nismo subbrand. Sporty exterior tweaks improve aerodynamics and reduce lift to keep the Nismo Leaf glued to the road. It also gets a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance tires and a custom-tuned computer that delivers “instant acceleration at all speeds.” The new battery-powered model will go on sale in 2019.
The Leaf Nismo may be sexy, but Nissan’s star at the Tokyo show is likely to be a Leaf electric crossover. For the past few days Nissan has been teasing a dark silhouette of what is surely an SUV styled vehicle. Stay tuned for this one.
Suzuki take electric drive off-road
Suzuki may have left the U.S. market in 2013, but it carries on the Tokyo Motor Show’s tradition of wacky and weird automotive concept car creations with the e-Survivor Concept. As the name suggests, the e-Survivor is all-electric with an electric motor inside all four wheels, creating electric four-wheel drive. Huge ground clearance, gigantic wheel arches and almost nonexistent overhangs suggest class-leading approach and departure angles. Knobby tires cement its off-road ability.
As you might expect, Toyota will debut the most electrified vehicles at the Tokyo show. The intros begin with the Fine-Comfort Ride Concept, a new six-seat hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan. It’s barely a foot longer than the Toyota Prius, but because of the distinctive powertrain, the layout offers nearly as much interior space as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. With an estimated range of 620 miles between fill-ups, the Fine-Comfort Ride would deliver about twice the range of Toyota’s current production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, the Mirai.
A future view from Toyota
Toyota is billing the concept vehicle as “a new form of premium saloon” and says it wants passengers to feel like they are “being wrapped in comfort,” rather than simply going along for a ride. Gee, that sounds like it should be a Lexus, not a Toyota.
The Japanese auto maker goes from large size to tiny with the Concept i-Ride, a two-seat electric pod car perfect for crowded city streets with an estimated driving range of between 62-93 miles. The tiny EV is envisioned as a personal mobility option for the elderly or handicapped. Its gull-wing doors open wide to allow easy loading and unloading of wheelchairs, and it is driven by a joystick, instead of pedals.
Toyota’s FJ Cruiser has been retired, so how about a TJ Cruiser? It’s a boxy-styled concept that gets its name from the words “Toolbox” and “Joy,” and is a cross between a minivan and an SUV. Based on the company’s TNGA platform, power comes from a hybridized 2.0-liter gasoline engine. The show car can be fitted with either front or all-wheel-drive. Its SUV credentials are supported by the suspension setup and 20-inch alloy wheels with chunky Bridgestone tires.
Toyota cruising off-road with electricity
Toyota will also show its sporty side with the GR HV Sports concept. It draws heavily from the 86 sporty coupe with a couple twists. For starters, it gets a vertical array of LED headlamps and a targa top. Powering the matte black car is the Toyota Hybrid System-Racing, the electrified drivetrain technology used in the TS050 racer Toyota enters in Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship.
Toyota’s mobility machine
Last, and certainly not least, Toyota will present its latest version of the company’s other hydrogen-powered vehicle, the roomiest vehicle at the show, the Sora city bus. It uses two fuel cell stacks, two electric motors, a nickel-metal hydride battery and 10 high-pressure hydrogen tanks. Toyota aims to put 100 of the buses on the streets of Tokyo and have them in service when the Japanese capital hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics.