We have a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Phev, which is a hybrid electric / petrol SUV. We bought it as an ex-demo car in November 2015 in one of those bold decisions that you only make if you don’t think too hard about it first. I can still remember coming home from the dealers, with David and I laughing and shaking our heads saying “I can’t believe we just bought an electric car!!!”
Ferdinand, as he has been affectionately called, has attracted a lot of attention – as the first plug-in car in Katanning, and further afield as curious people like to check out the future of motoring. And many ask us – “how good is it really?”. So here is a warts and all honest review.
First, lets get a couple of things straight. The Phev is basically the very bottom of the range for electric vehicles. It’s no Telsa, or BMW i3. But it also doesn’t have the price tag of one. As an average family, $31,000 for the Phev was do-able – basically what you’d pay for an SUV anyway. We couldn’t afford an $80,000+ car.
The Phev claims to have a range of 60km on fully electric driving. Yep, that’s pretty small – about a tenth of what a Telsa can do. But you accept that with how cheap it is, and pioneering in the size and weight of the vehicle. It’s an SUV, not a tiny little Nissan Leaf. But we’ve never got 60km out of it. Realistically, with the sort of driving we do (country), it’s range is around 35km. Many peoples faces drop when they hear that.
I, like many others, have their driving dominated by short trips. Most days, I drive around 25km – from home to school / supermarket / office / library and home again. I can do this on a single charge and thus fully electric. So I’m happy. It works for me. And cumulatively, you can go a long way on electric – day after day after day.
It does recharge itself as you’re driving on petrol and automatically flicks back over to electric once it has some juice in the batteries again. We often do the 300km to Perth, and will find it flicking between petrol and electric frequently. To get to Perth takes between a quarter and half a tank of fuel (depending on the day). The tank holds 45L.
To fully charge our Ferdinand takes around 5 hours. Again – that doesn’t compete with a half-hour charge with a BMW system, but again, it’s not in the same price range. We have a 15amp socket in our garage. It’s easy as pie – pull up in the garage, plug it in and walk away. None of these detours to petrol stations, standing there holding the pump, juggling the kids while you go inside to pay. Just straight into the house and let the charger do its thing.
One of the ‘must haves’ was for the car to be able to tow my small boat trailer, and the Phev can do it comfortably – but it does sap the battery power and you end up driving on petrol. Either way, I can still get the boat to the lake. The Phev itself is really nice to drive, it handles well, is comfortable (as long as you’re not the person in the very narrow middle seat in the back), there is good visibility from the drivers seat and the automatic windscreen wipers always get a giggle out of our son. The boot space is quite small, but the car is easy to maneuver and park.
The Phev won’t be for everyone, but I noticed that I’ve adopted two ‘quotable quotes’ when people ask about our car:
- “I will never buy another fully-petrol powered car again” and
- “If this is what the bottom of the range can achieve in 2014, imagine what mid-range is going to be in 5 – 10 years time!”
Is the Phev perfect? No. Am I happy with our purchase? YES!!! Why? It works for me, as a short-distance-dominated driver who can charge the car fully on renewable solar and wind power. We have supported an industry we believe in and can help to encourage others to buy electric cars. We are saving a heap of money on fuel and are considerably reducing our emissions to the environment.
And it’s just really cool driving a silent car – like a ninja!