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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, offroad.
#1
I have seen quite a few PHEV Outlanders  on the road. The drive system is really clever, with the ability to switch how the wheels are driven.

Does anybody know how capable they are offroad? Are they suitable for green laning
 
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#2
This is an excellent question. I have indeed taken one off-road, albeit only down a single green lane for about half a kilometre and then had to return as a tree had fallen across the path! Without a winch - or the desire to scratch up the bumper - the turning around part was quite interesting. The road tyres were the weakest link and I got the car stuck a few times when turning around. It meant climbing up a steep muddy bank that had been pre-churned by a tractor. It was super rutted, but fun! Needless to say, I got out of the situation without a scratch and the reversing and 360º cameras were very helpful in avoiding random sticking out branches etc.

Rich Gooding from GreenFleet mag has an Outlander PHEV on long term test, and he has been tempted to try it off-road too, but has not done so yet to my knowledge.

Lastly, the actual experience is made all the better if running only on pure-electric power, as I did. I made sure I had as much range as possible when attempting the green lane that I did, and it was sernely peaceful and I didn't feel like I was destroying the environment in which I was there to visit - a definite bonus. I'm no off-roading expert, but the response and torque from the electric motors was more than adequate for my purposes on the short run and also much more forgiving than if it had been a manual transmission or even auto transmission combustion engine, because there was no need to pre-rev the engine to get power to climb the hill or anything like that. Instead, it just went up using the motors torque. Ideal.
 
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#3
Yesterday I accompanied Mr Gooding in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to do a spot of Green Laning. We had chosen a suitable location based on our respective homes and so landed near Great Dunmow in Essex, a stone's throw away from Stansted Airport.

We'd earmarked a couple of lanes that appeared to be short enough that we wouldn't get stuck or lost in the wilds and easy enough that we could gently initiate ourselves with the joys of off-roading.

The first green lane had been described as beginning with a "small ford" and then traversing the countryside towards a village. Having found the entry point to the lane, no more than 50 metres down it we reached the ford and our first problem. The lane had eroded away to such an extent that the road dived down a few feet towards the water and other vehicles had taken chunks out of either side of the road leaving a tall island of hard tarmac in the middle that would have grounded all but a monster truck. We decided it was too risky to attempt with the Outlander as despite having reasonable ground clearance, there was a very real risk of beaching it on the hard tarmac and damaging its underside.

So, after a meandering 50 metre reversal we aimed for the next nearest green lane that turned out to be a much more welcoming byway that passed around the edge of several fields and a few coppices. These would, in reality, have been drivable in any car, let alone a 4x4, but the Outlander's electric drive proved a bonus as not only was the ride far smoother than expected - even when the lane undulated chaotically beneath - but the silence meant we were better able to enjoy the countryside rather than scare away wildlife with a growling diesel.

Having successfully navigated this lane, we entered into our final path that initially appeared to be just as simple to traverse. However, a mile or so down the lane it transpired that the Outlander was a bit out of its depth thanks to rutted ground that again had caused an island to form in the middle of the track. Had we been better equipped with a spade or shovel, we'd have been able to hack away the central area and put the cuttings into the tyre-formed holes at either side but alas we didn't and so despite attempting to fill the hole with decaying bits of wood from the lane-side, we had to back out once more, but this time about a quarter of a mile to a turning before rejoining the main road.

So, what's the Outlander like off-road? Well, there's plenty of power and the electric drive proves an exceptionally adept and satisfying friend off-road but the car is sadly let-down by a combination of a lack of ground clearance between the wheels and the road-tyres are of course unsuitable for anything more than a gently puddled path.

The best thing to take away from the experience was the electric drive in the countryside where dog walkers, horse riders and even the local farmer all appreciated that the Outlander wasn't causing a nuisance or disturbing the environment at all. Pheasants ran out from fields as if the car wasn't there and generally there was a sense of being at one with nature, which you don't get when off-roading in a petrol or diesel vehicle. The other bonus of electric drive was because it was silent you can hear the tyres going into puddles and mud flicking off the wheels - all sensations that are usually lost to the clatter of an engine.

Would we do it again? Yes. But only with better equipment - not for the car as such, but instead a shovel/spade and possibly some tyre tracks (flat but grippy metal sheets that can be used to bridge a hole or get out of a stuck situation).

JM

               
 
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