(Editor’s note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series called Power Trips, in which we go on a road trip in an electric vehicle to explore the pros and cons on traveling along the ever-expanding EV highway)
In the context of this story, two very important events occurred in 1888: the debut of the world’s first true electric car and the opening of one of the world’s most iconic mountain resorts. And while it’s unlikely that a Flocken Elektrowagen has ever silently rolled up to the Banff Springs Hotel, the two are forever linked by their shared date of origin, today an amazing 133 years in the rearview mirror. They have each also changed very much during that near century-and-a-half: the original five-storey wooden hotel built by the CPR burned down in 1926, only to be rebuilt in a grand style and large scale mimicking French chateaus of the Loire Valley; and Andreas Flocken’s four-wheeled electric-cart has very little in common with 21st Century electric vehicles apart from the power source.
tap here to see other videos from our team.
That latter point is a good thing, at least from the point of view of our recent road trip between North Vancouver and Banff, a distance of 850 kilometres and one that would have taken roughly 53 hours in Flocken’s EV, given the Elektrowagen’s top speed of 15 km/h. And of course, that doesn’t include time spent charging up. Instead, our 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV covered the distance in just over nine hours — including a picnic lunch stop in Revelstoke overlooking the Columbia River. And, of course, as this electric vehicle is of the plug-in hybrid variety, we didn’t have to stop once to charge.
Instead, we took full advantage of the all-wheel drive Outlander’s dual powertrain system, using the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine during the majority of the Trans-Canada Highway there and back, and the twin electric motors during daytrips in and around Banff and nearby Canmore. I say the ‘majority’ of that highway travel was using gasoline, but by using the Outlander’s clever ‘Save’ and ‘Charge’ modes, in concert with the five-stage regenerative braking that you engage using steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, we were able to harvest energy back into the 13.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack at certain points on the trip. Admittedly, that does take a little focus and concentration, but really, on a nine-hour road trip what else is there to do but geek-out on the electric powertrain?
That somewhat undivided attention also pays dividends in lowering fuel economy further, as does running in ECO Mode, and by the time we pulled into the Banff Springs Hotel, the trip display registered a stellar fuel average of 7.8 L/100km, a 19.6 kWh/100km EV average and a pretty remarkable 29 per cent EV drive ratio. For an all-wheel drive mid-size SUV lacking very few creature comforts or technologies, and loaded up with luggage and golf clubs, that is very impressive.
In addition to saving us money — fuel costs never dipped below $1.58/litre during the trip — it also confirmed the benefit of plug-in hybrid technology. And that is, you can go on a big road trip without having to route-plan charging stops, and the subsequent time involved in charging up, and also enjoy all-electric running once you’ve reached your destination. This is precisely what we experienced over the course of our three days exploring the Bow Valley.
And thankfully, particularly for that first full day in Banff, the hotel’s attentive valets proved their professionalism. When we unloaded and checked in, I’d forgotten to ask the valet to plug in the Outlander at one of the hotel’s charging stations. Only realizing this when we came out in the morning to drive up to nearby Mount Norquay for a Via Ferrata tour, I figured that as the Outlander was not a pure EV, the valets wouldn’t have even thought of plugging it in. To my surprise, when I jumped in the previously depleted battery gauge read ’81 km,’ a full charge.
Not only did that mean the Banff Springs Hotel valets were really on the ball, it also meant that we wouldn’t use a drop of gas during our day out in the Rockies. And we didn’t. Nor did we the next day on a trip to Canmore and back, as the valets were ever attentive by plugging it into a 240-volt charger, which takes about four hours to fully charge up the battery pack. On one occasion in Canmore I plugged into a FLO station when we were out for dinner there, only adding to the battery’s state of charge. I had wanted to test out the DC fast-charging capability of the Outlander at the Canmore Petro Canada station — Mitsubishi says it can charge up to 80 per cent in just 25 minutes — but every time we went by, the chargers were in use by EVs. No doubt many of them on their own power trips through the Rockies.
The highest reading during the trip was 84 km of battery range, however that is a bit misleading as that figure is based on recent driving history — the vehicle’s AI using a number of calculations when determining a full state of charge — so in reality the true range, at least according to Mitsubishi is somewhere in the mid-60 kms.
This is the last model year for this generation of the Outlander PHEV, and expect a bigger battery pack — meaning even more all-electric range — and styling cues most likely very much in line with the gas-only 2022 Outlander, which sports the next-gen appearance. I’m all for an increased battery size and range, but my preference would be for the PHEV to keep the cleaner current design rather than take on that next-gen appearance. Can’t say I’m a big fan of the new front-end, particularly the headlight treatment.
The drive home was equally impressive in terms of fuel efficiency, and in fact better than going there, which isn’t a surprise considering we went from sea level in North Vancouver to 1,414 metres above sea level at the Banff Spring Hotel. The readout when we pulled into our driveway showed a fuel average of 7.2 L/100km, a 30.6 kWh/100km EV average and a 30 per cent EV drive ratio. I’m sure I could have done better, but after a five-day trip I wasn’t as motivated to try and eek out as much efficiency by constantly monitoring and adjusting the modes and regen settings.
In fact, the only real criticism I have about the 2022 Outlander PHEV centres around this. The regen paddle shifters are a great interface, however to engage, change and set the EV-only mode and the ‘save’ and ‘charge’ modes involves two different buttons on the centre console between the front seats. And selecting the drive mode — including ECO — involves another button on the dash.
Let’s hope that the next-gen Outlander PHEV has most if not all of those functions at the very least on the steering wheel, and ideally all in one interactive control feature.