It seems like we’ve been on the verge of the electric-car revolution for a few years now. Ever since the Nissan Leaf arrived in showrooms in 2011, complete with its then-stunning 160 kilometres of all-electric range, it appeared as though the internal combustion engine was on its way out.
Well, the revolution has been slow in coming; electric cars still represent just over one per cent of all vehicles sold in Canada. But their numbers are on the rise, and more manufacturers are embracing the battery. This includes Mitsubishi, which, earlier this year, released the Outlander PHEV, a rare hybrid-powered SUV. (PHEV stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.) Its only real competition among plug-in people movers is the Chrysler Pacifica, a minivan—unless you want to move into a pricey luxury brand.
The Outlander can travel about 35 kilometres on battery power alone before a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder gas engine kicks in. That’s less than the Pacifica, which can go 53 kilometres, and just a fraction of what all-electric compacts, like the Tesla Model 3 or the Chevy Bolt, can do. Still, it’s an impressive feat in a category dominated by gas-guzzlers.
Mitsubishi is calling the vehicle revolutionary. We put that claim to the test earlier this year when we drove the Outlander through the mountains of southern British Columbia.
It returned 7.1 litres/100 km, a great number for a mid-sized SUV. (The median commute for Canadians is about 15 kilometres a day, so in less demanding city driving, owners could go through the workweek without ever filling up.)
That’s definitely an impressive stat. But with battery power seemingly growing by the day, it’s not going to be long before batteries alone will be able to efficiently propel SUVs—no fallback engine necessary. (After all, Tesla is working on the all-electric semi.)
The Outlander might not be revolutionary. But for an SUV-obsessed country like ours, it’s an important step forward.