One of the more interesting – futuristic looking – concepts shown last week at the Chicago Auto Show was the Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV or Grand Cruiser next-generation full-size crossover hybrid SUV. For those familiar with Mitsubishi, the Grand Cruiser concept is the rumored possible replacement for the venerable Mitsubishi Montero full-size SUV that was pulled from the US market in 2006. But, maybe, not just yet.
The Mitsubishi GC-PHEV was shown in an earlier iteration at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show and was considered to be a probable upscale plug-in (PHEV) successor to Montero in the U.S. The Mitsubishi Outlander mid-size crossover SUV gasoline models have continued on sale in the U.S. and it was expected that they would also be offered as a PHEV by 2015 or early 2016. That transition has been delayed and, on that basis, speculation was that the concept shown last week might still be that new Montero, but in a gasoline version. That was not the case.
Now that the Grand Cruiser concept is showing at Chicago as a PHEV, the discussion begins anew as to when Mitsubishi will offer a full-size crossover SUV in the U.S. and if it will be called Montero or Grand Cruiser – but it can be assumed that will it be the PHEV version after all.
Grand Cruiser Concept
The Mitsubishi Grand Cruiser Concept shown at Chicago stands out with a rugged, yet futuristic look both inside and out. At first look, the sharp yet refined angles of the exterior sheet metal give it a distinctive look that differentiates it from the competition.
Inside you’ll find a even more futuristic look designed for both comfort and convenience using an array of existing technologies plus some next-generation elements still in development. Technology includes Mitsubishi’s signature augmented reality technology AR Windshield and touchscreen-based Tactical Table connected car information system.
And, of course, the Grand Cruiser offers a power and drive train with a supercharged V-6 engine paired with a high-output electric motor/high-capacity lithium-ion battery, a sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission along with Mitsubishi Motors’ advanced full-time Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive for dealing effectively with off-road terrains
Exterior Design Elements
The exterior design of the Concept GC-PHEV is highlighted by carefully placed angular creases in the sheetmetal that, when combined with the overall imposing dimensions and muscular silhouette of this vehicle, present an image of performance and capability. Mitsubishi says that, though the exterior looks like it was hand chiseled by a master craftsman, all of the angles add to the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle.
But it has other functionality as well, such as the sleek, narrow headlights just above the daytime running lamps having been positioned high for maximum effectiveness and visibility. Inside the front grille that flows down from the hood to the front fascia, are active variable louvers that enhance engine cooling necessary. And, the rear of the vehicle, the large tailgate with its crisp and contemporary lines, provides excellent rearward visibility for the driver.
Interior and Tactical Table
Due to its new reinforced body construction, the Concept GC-PHEV continues the angular futuristic look with the removal of the traditional B-pillar – making entry to the vehicle very easy for all four occupants. Once inside, each occupant rides in advanced and ergonomically-designed bucket seats that also provide access to the new Tactical Table system.
The Tactical Table is a new vehicle technology in the Concept GC-PHEV that is located in the center of the cabin between the four seating positions. The innovative touch-screen Tactical Table makes the car technology an interactive experience available to everyone inside the vehicle. It provides an advanced two-way communication between the vehicle’s occupants by using smartphones placed on the table top to gather or assimilate information or access an array of advanced infotainment features expected to be available.
The PHEV drivetrain powering the Concept GC-PHEV consists of a gasoline-powered supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine paired with a lightweight, compact and high-output electric motor that together produce a maximum of 335 horsepower and a main drive lithium-ion battery pack with storage capacity of 12 kWh. The battery is located behind the rear axle and beneath the rear cargo area floor.
When driving, the PHEV system automatically switches operation between pure EV mode (all-electric) and hybrid mode (engine and electric motor) depending upon driving conditions, the remaining charge within the lithium-ion main drive battery pack, and other factors. In EV mode, the transmission allows the engine’s output efficiency to be maximized at all vehicle speeds. When driving in hybrid mode, the 8-speed automatic transmission manages power from the engine while the high-output electric motor kicks in to provide additional power, if required.
For sure footed road handling and off-road performance, the Concept GC-PHEV is equipped with the rugged and reliable Mitsubishi Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. It includes electronically-controlled front and center limited-slip differentials along with a proprietary Electronic-powered Active Yaw Control (E-AYC) system that more precisely controls left/right torque vectoring of the wheels by using a differential motor. This helps the E-AYC system to more efficiently recover energy when the vehicle is decelerating – generating more “free” energy to feed into the lithium-ion main drive battery pack.
Innovative Mobile Power System
An innovative feature of the Concept GC-PHEV’s advanced plug-in electric vehicle drivetrain is that the system’s high-capacity main drive lithium-ion battery pack can act as a mobile power source. The 100 volt AC onboard electrical outlet is capable of delivering an external power supply of up to 1500 watts of electrical energy, which would be sufficient for operating home appliances in the event of a power outage.
Using the fully charged lithium-ion battery pack alone, the Concept GC-PHEV can supply the equivalent of a day’s worth of electrical power consumption to the average household, says Mitsubishi. And, with a fully charged battery pack plus a full tank of gas to recharge the battery when necessary, this advanced PHEV drivetrain could provide nearly two weeks (13 days) of emergency power to an average household.
Connected Car Technology
Still in early stages of development, the Concept GC-PHEV has been equipped with Mitsubishi Motors’ advanced “connected car” technology. The connected car system has several features including the potential to reduce the risk of accidents involving other vehicles or pedestrians/cyclists through real time information on traffic conditions and the status of other vehicles and objects nearby.
Another feature of the connected car technology is ability to perform and report on a range of vehicle diagnostics. Mitsubishi is looking to include their new AR Windshield system as a feature of the connected car technology. The AR Windshield is essentially a very comprehensive and high tech heads up display that allows the driver to collect and process data more safely and efficiently without having to take their eyes off of the road ahead.
Some of that Information projected onto the windshield would include:
- Satellite navigation-based drive route guidance
- Distance to vehicle ahead
- Lane Departure Warning alerts
- Vehicles/pedestrians in blind spots
- Tracking information that includes vehicle-to-vehicle communications
Elsewhere in the world, a full-size gasoline powered SUV is available from Mitsubishi. It is called the Shogun, however, for now, Mitsubishi fans in the U.S. will have to remain content with the 7-passenger Outlander and the 5-passenger Outlander Sport which are very good choices in a mid-size crossover SUV – in anticipation of the arrival of a new and more innovative full-size SUV – the Grand Cruiser PHEV.