I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. I'm usually the first one to point out the uselessness of most SUVs. They are big, ugly, hard to see out of, expensive, and guzzle gas. That is, until, I came across this:
(Image taken from here: http://www.caradvice.com.au/261599/mitsubi... )
It's still big and ugly, and potentially hard to see out of, but like a true Scotsman, it's under the kilt that counts. In this case, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that is able deliver some pretty serious fuel economy numbers.
For some reason, I've got it stuck in my brain that I'd like a plug-in hybrid. The majority of the driving that both my wife and I do is in town, totaling less than 50 km a day. We also do some highway driving - a 150 km round trip twice a month, and a few trips to my parent's place each year - 500 km one way. That rules out any sort of electric only car - even a Tesla. I suppose a Tesla would do everything but the long hauls, in which case we could take the other gas powered car. That being said, the Tesla Model S is out of our price range.
The Outlander PHEV (Plug-in hybrid vechile) is a vehicle I hadn't even considered until last night. I was previously very much interested in the Ford C-Max Energi, which offers a decent electric only range. The problem with the C-Max is trunk space. The larger battery pack of the plug-in hybrid really intrudes into the trunk - leaving only enough room for a few bags of groceries. There's no chance a jogging stroller would ever fit in there unless you stuffed it in the back seat - in which case you'd only be able to fit a single car seat in there. Either way, it's got less trunk space than a Ford Focus. If we were getting something new, my wife would like something with more trunk space. At one point she had also expressed interest in an SUV (gasp!). The trunk space issue has ruled out the C-Max. The Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and Honda Accord plug-in hybrid have such abysmal electric only ranges, to the point of being almost pointless. That rules them out. The Ford Fusion Energi is another option, but again, it seems like a larger sedan, and again, a bit of trunk room is taken up by the enlarged battery pack. The Chevy Volt seems not too bad either, but supposedly rear visibility isn't great. Not that I'd toss that one off the list without trying it out, though.
Either way, that doesn't leave a lot of options.
Last night I stumbled across the Outlander PHEV. An SUV.
Again, I'll state that I'm usually the first one to say that SUVs are a stupid idea. This guy seems quite a bit different. It offers an electric only range of 32 miles (with a top speed on electricity of 110 km/h) , and a gas engine that can get you much further than that - 800 km. This would work for us - enough electric range to scoot around town, a gas range that would be fine for our longest trips, and a lot of hauling capacity. Heck, it can even haul 1500 kg of stuff on a trailer. Not too shabby!
It also has a pretty nifty trick up it's sleeve - something that other PHEVs don't have: it can use the gas engine to charge the batteries. As far as I know, no other PHEV offers this. Maybe it's a bit gimmicky, but it sill seems pretty cool. It can run in electric only mode, use the gas engine to charge the batteries while driving, use the gas engine to actually drive the front wheels, or use the gas engine to charge the batteries while the vehicle is just sitting there. It also seems to offer a similar feature to the C-Max Energy - a way of selecting when to use the batteries: the option of using just battery, battery and gas in hybrid mode, or save the battery for later.
From what I've been able to read, the real world fuel economy numbers are quite positive, even when using the gas engine to charge the batteries. Mitsubishi realizes that EPA fuel economy numbers for a vehicle like this are a bit.. inaccurate. Mitsubishi states a fuel economy of 1.9L/100 km - or about 120 MPG - when using the electric range and some gas. That's definitely the kind of number you can take with a grain of salt. One review (http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/mitsu... ) showed that even with a low battery, it was still able to get ~30 mpg - not a small feat for an SUV!
Now, like anything else in life - here's the kicker. It was originally supposed to be released in the US this year. It looks like Mitsubishi is delaying this until next year. This is fine with me, as we aren't in a pressing need to get a new vehicle, so we can wait.
That being said, this is about the first SUV that I've ever been looking forward to.