Prius V vs Outlander PHEV: test drive of a hybrid vs a plug-in hybrid

No, not the car we took for a test drive! A 1963 Toyota on display at the showroom - super-cute, but cars certainly have come a long way in features, safety and comfort.

No, not the car we took for a test drive! A 1963 Toyota on display at the showroom – super-cute, but cars certainly have come a long way in features, safety and comfort.

With my new job starting soon, I’ll have a 108 km round trip to work, rather than the 45 km I’ve done previously.  I’ve come to the sad realisation that my Nissan Leaf doesn’t have the range to make it to work and back without recharging.  So, it looks like my husband will have the pleasure of the Leaf, and I will have to take the nine-year-old Mitsubishi Grandis people mover – lots of petrol and pollution compared to Leaf driving.  We decided to start looking for a more fuel-efficient vehicle to replace the Grandis,with one specific requirement – the vehicle needs to be able to fit a 180cm long telescope.

We came up with two options:

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a plug-in petrol hybrid AWD SUV with about 40km all-electric range.  These are selling very well overseas, but much more slowly in Australia, but still have the numbers to be Australia’s best-selling electric car.

Toyota Prius V, a hybrid electric/petrol people mover.  Popular for use as taxis along with the Toyota Prius and  Camry Hybrid.  No plug – all battery charging is done by the petrol motor.  Seems a little old-fashioned in the era of pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars…

My calculations on fuel/electricity use for the two cars shows that they both would cost about half as much to run each week as the Grandis, with the Prius coming in a few dollars cheaper.

So, with measuring tape in hand, we went on a test drive of both cars over the last two days, and these were my impressions….

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First, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.  It is one of the lower, smaller SUVs, but still more chunky than a five-seater car.  With a good dash display, it offers various driving modes so that you can make adjustments and choose whether to use the petrol engine by itself, the electric engine by itself, or a combination of the two.  Mitsubishi claims a 50 km electric-only range, but I’ve been hearing it is more 40km + in real life.

Some pluses:

  • + really quiet, particularly in electric-only mode.
  • + good acceleration, but not quite as zippy as the Leaf
  • + reversing camera & sensors
  • + AWD & can be used to tow
  • + 5 year warranty with 8 years on battery
  • + currently going out cheap as the last stock is cleared, possibly priced as low as $34k.
  • + 12 kWh lithium-ion battery.

Some negatives:

  • only five very firm seats, and back middle seat quite narrow
  • limited electric-only range, and uses about 7L/100km (real-life) when in petrol-only mode
  • don’t we already have more SUVs than we need in this country, that guzzle petrol or diesel and hardly ever get off-road?!  Adam calls them “over-engineered” for what is needed in a car.
  • No fast charging capacity in the Australian model.

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Secondly, the Toyota Prius V.  More like a car than a van, and with seven seats, a handy family car.  There is a choice of four driving modes, Power/Eco/EV/Standard, with EV mode turning off once you reach 45 km/p/hr or put your foot down.

Some pluses:

  • + 245kg lighter than the Outlander PHEV, so more fuel efficient
  • + heads-up display of speedo projected onto windscreen
  • +versatile seating for seven and storage
  • + real-life fuel use, from my research, about 5L/100 km (official rating is 4.4L/100km).  Excellent for a seven-seat vehicle cf to 10L/100 km for my seven-seat Mitsubishi Grandis.

Some negatives:

  • noisier than I expected, other than in the electric mode
  • can’t tow
  • acceleration not as instant as an EV or even the Outlander PHEV.

Price comparison:

  • $34-40K for Outlander PHEV, but may not be available for long in Australia
  • $40K for Prius V 2016 refresh, and should be around for a while yet.

So, off to ponder.  While we were at Toyota today, a white Telsa Model S drove past.  Adam pointed out that his telescope would inside a Model S, with its huge boot, and it is just the six-figure price tag that is holding him back.



About EmpowerRepower

I’m a teacher, former teacher-librarian, ex-volunteer breastfeeding counsellor and mother-of-three living on the Sunshine Coast. I’m concerned about climate change, and feel that the necessary changes to prevent the worst outcomes will rely on action from all sectors of our economy. I’ll be trying to share, promote and encourage that action by finding positive examples in our local community.
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