Recently, the spouse and I made a weekend getaway to the Monterey Peninsula in an Outlander PHEV provided by Mitsubishi Motors. This Northern California peninsula, about 120 miles south of San Francisco, is known for its beaches, unforgettable wine tastings, world-class golf courses, and exquisite restaurants. Automotive enthusiasts also make an annual pilgrimage to the Monterey Car Week events and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Our goal for the weekend, since our crossover was a plug-in hybrid EV, was to tread lightly with a tiny carbon footprint and support businesses that follow sustainable practices. Since one of the fundamental pillars of sustainability is to scale down, there was lots of leftover space after loading our minimal luggage. Mitsubishi’s compact crossover has 78 cubic feet of cargo space that could easily swallow up the weekend gear for a family of four.
After packing up the Outlander PHEV, our trip got off to a slow start mired in Friday’s late-afternoon commuter traffic. Okay, I admit 3 o’clock in the afternoon wasn’t the ideal time to leave town, but we only had 80 miles between the beautiful Monterey Peninsula and us. Sadly, it took over an hour to travel the first 20 miles.
The bright side is that we didn’t burn any fossil fuel or spew obnoxious CO2 gases from the tailpipe while creeping along with the thousands of other drivers plodding the same busy route. The Outlander PHEV has a 22-mile battery range, and we used it to our advantage.
Watching the Sunset
The Outlander PHEV has two electric motors that drive the front and rear wheels. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine assists with recharging the batteries and powers the front wheels. Unassisted, the power cells can carry the electrified crossover up to 70 mph. If more power and speed are needed, the gas-engine will seamlessly kick-in to supplement the battery.
Once we got free of the traffic congestion, I switched Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid EV crossover to charge mode in preparation for the next section of congested freeway. According to Google maps, there were another 27 miles of slow-n-go traffic on Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Castroville. Even though the Outlander’s battery system wasn’t anywhere near full capacity, our carbon emissions were dramatically less in comparison to the thousands of SUVs on the freeway sharing our misery in late Friday traffic.
It wasn’t all bad news. We detoured to Sunset Beach before dusk to witness the sun drop below the horizon in a beautiful sky aglow with shades of orange and pink.
Exploring the Monterey Peninsula
The late fall season in California is an ideal time to visit areas that are typically busy during the summer. The weather is mostly sunny and cool, fewer out-of-towners are visiting the usual tourist spots, and lodging is much more affordable.
After our morning shopping sprees at the farmer’s market, we had the remainder of the day to explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium, visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, do some wine tasting in Carmel Valley, browse the stores on the Monterey Boardwalk, a slow cruise down scenic 17-Mile Drive, and romantic strolls along Carmel Beach. A stop at Carmel Beach is mandatory since it’s Tessa’s favorite destination and an off-leash, dog heaven.
Monterey and the surrounding towns have an impressive selection of restaurants and wineries. Our best meals of the weekend were at two popular seafood restaurants that featured menus inspired by local and sustainably raised ingredients, extensive wine lists that will soothe any palate, and a commitment to organic integrity. Passion Fish in Pacific Grove and Montrio Bistro proudly serve seafood from sustainable sources and boast wines that pair perfectly with each dish on the menu.
Bringing it Home
Mission accomplished. Throughout the weekend, the Outlander PHEV lived up to the task as a weekend excursion vehicle and epic commuter shuttle in traffic. It averaged better than 29 mpg after 250 miles of driving in mixed conditions and was a savior when operated in pure EV mode. The hotel and restaurants where we dined, the organic farms and wineries where we purchased products — all were deeply rooted in sustainable living practices and sensitive of the earth’s delicate ecology balance. Plus, the downtime spent at the beach was good for the soul and our favorite stops of the trip.
Editor’s Note: Where we are right now, the weather doesn’t quite match the atmosphere of sunny weekend getaways along the coast. To that end, here’s a video of how the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV works as a (winter) camping vehicle: