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Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV offers fuel-saving tech in a family friendly package


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24 Jun 2014

HYBRID cars have come a long way since Toyota's first-generation, Echo-based Prius and the rocketship-styled Honda Insight wooed environmentally conscious buyers into showrooms.

Once bordering on expensive curiosities, they’ve become more mainstream to the point where they are starting to blend into the background.

But there’s a new generation of hybrid that is just starting to trickle into Australia, marking what is likely to be a turning point in the technology’s development – the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV.

Holden introduced us to the concept with the Volt, a petrol-electric hybrid hatchback with a four-cylinder engine under the bonnet and an all-electric range of about 60km from its bank of batteries hidden under the transmission tunnel and rear seats.

Expensive and compromised in terms of interior space, the out-there Volt has struggled to attract a new breed of cashed-up, Earth-aware buyers in significant volumes.

Then in steps Mitsubishi with a similar idea. However, instead of creating a unique brand with the technology, the Japanese car-maker has taken its Outlander SUV and given it a PHEV makeover, complete with two electric motors and a petrol engine.

Imagine that: a family SUV with a non-confronting design and loads of interior space, the fuel-saving option of all-electric drive, and all for a significant cost saving over the somewhat flawed, but still brilliant in its execution experiment known as the Volt.

Yes, there are still a few compromises with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, but the sum is better than the parts.

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