Europe’s popular series/parallel hybrid is coming stateside
The UK’s bestselling hybrid is coming to America this summer in its plug-in form. Few details are available on the american-specification model, but Mitsubishi showed us a Yank version prototype at a January event in Detroit, and judging by what we saw, what we could glean from the U.S. public relations staff, and by perusing the UK specs, it looks to be a pretty interesting piece of kit.
For starters it’s a true series/parallel hybrid, meaning that the front and rear electric motors provide primary motivation and are the only source of propulsion away from a stop (when the plug-in battery is depleted, the engine generates electricity for the motors). At higher speeds, when the driver calls for full power or when climbing a steep grade, the engine can turn the wheels directly, contributing its power more efficiently. The electric motors provide direct drive to the wheels with no ratio-altering transmission, so the engine can only connect to the wheels at speeds that wouldn’t bog it through whatever final-drive ratio is at work. UK-spec models fit two 80-hp electric motors and a 119-hp 2.0-liter four cylinder, a combo good for a leisurely 0-62-mph time of 11.0 seconds and a top speed of 106 mph (171 km/h). They even rate it to tow 1,650 pounds (748 kg) over there.
UK models get a 12-kWhr 300-volt battery that basically consumes the space where the third-row seat lives, so there is no compromise at all to the second-row passenger space or the cargo area behind that seat. We’re told to expect an official EPA battery-only range of around 30 miles. Fully charging the battery is said to take 3.5 hours using 16-amp, 240-volt service. A quick-charge time to 80 percent is quoted at 30 minutes, but the latter undoubtedly relies on a CHAdeMO DC fast-charge protocol, and the U.S. model we examined has a blanking plate where such a charger would plug in.
At the press of a button you can ask the onboard engine to work extra hard and top up the battery — a good idea if you’re driving from the countryside into London, where EVs enjoy a break on congestion charges. Another unique selling point: Apparently the vehicle can be used as an emergency power generator, and it is said to be capable of powering a typical suburban house for a week on a full tank of gasâof course that may be a UK house, with smaller appliances and TVs.
PHEV models will cost considerably more than their 2.4-liter gas brethren, so the interior is spiffed up accordingly with red piping on the leather seats and unique cloth trim on the door panels. Other upgrades will be shared with the entire 2017 Outlander model line, which launches alongside the PHEV model this summer. These include electrical architecture improvements that bring adaptive cruise, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and more.
Stay tuned for more details on the PHEV and other Outlanders when they’re officially revealed at the New York International Auto Show in March.
|2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV*|
|BASE PRICE||$42,000 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/119-hp/140-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 80-hp/101-lb-ft front and 80-hp/144-lb-ft rear electric motors|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,100 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||184.8 x 70.9 x 67.3 in|
|0-62 MPH||11.0 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||Not yet rated|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Summer 2016|
|*Specifications of UK model, US specs not yet avaialble.|