What's the used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4 like?
Being in the right place at the right time can make you look like a hero. The uncanny knack of knowing exactly what is needed at a particular moment will earn you the admiration of many and do wonders for your reputation. Back in 2014, Mitsubishi found itself in just that situation with the Outlander PHEV, which quickly found favour with company car buyers thanks to its low CO2 output and minimal tax liability.
The ordinary Outlander was a rather dull large SUV, but the addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain meant the PHEV version stood out in its segment. But that was then. Over the subsequent years, until its withdrawal from sale in 2021, many newer and fresher rivals have come along to shake the Mitsubishi tree, many with ranges equal to or sometimes superior to the Outlander PHEV's. The latest Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is perhaps still the closest competitor, in terms of its rugged feel, followed by more premium SUV offerings such as the Lexus NX and RX – both of which cost considerably more.
Under the bonnet of the earlier Outlander is a 2.0-litre petrol engine (2.4-litre on the later models), but it is supplemented by a hybrid system with two electric motors – one for each axle. The engine can either drive the wheels with the help of the batteries, or it can charge the batteries to keep them topped up, or it can be switched off entirely and run in electric mode for 30 miles (less in winter), for driving in town, for example. Charging the battery takes five hours from a conventional plug or about three hours from a dedicated EV charging point.
GX3h kicked off the range and came with 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors. GX4h added heated leather seats, sat-nav, a reversing camera (but removed rear parking sensors) and xenon headlights.
Higher-spec GX5h was added after the 2016 facelift and gets Nappa leather and an uprated Alpine sound system. GX4hs and GX5hs models have additional safety tech such as lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
After the 2019 model revisions, GX3h became Verve with the addition of heated front seats; GX4h was renamed Design but the infotainment screen was increased to 8in; a new trim level called Dynamic was added that got blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, while GX5h became Exceed. Dynamic Safety and Exceed Safety models are much like the previous GX4hs and GX5hs Outlanders in that these have additional safety features.
Early Outlander PHEVs suffered from a poor ride, but this was improved as part of the 2015 facelift. Regardless, this isn't a particularly enjoyable car to drive, but it can be peaceful in EV mode. The steering is light and uncommunicative, and the nose generally washes wide sooner in corners than is the case with most of its rivals. Road and wind noise are an ever-present part of travelling in the Outlander, so it’s not the best for long journeys. A tight turning circle helps you out when parking, though.
Unfortunately, the PHEV misses out on the option of a third row of seats that the regular Outlander can be had with, due to the extra batteries required for the hybrid system. While that might not be too much of an issue, considering that those rearmost seats are tight even for children, you might notice that the overall boot volume is smaller than the regular car's, because the floor has had to be raised to make room for the batteries. The wheel arches also intrude quite a lot. It’s still big enough for four bags of golf clubs or five people's holiday luggage, though.
Space for those in the second row is good and people in the front have enough room too. A tall driver might like a bit more head room, though, and some might like a bit more adjustment in the steering wheel. Sadly, the dashboard is a bit of a mess, with various controls dotted around, and it can take some getting used to.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4?
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is proving to be a very robust car, so your main checks should centre on whether it has been well cared for. Look under the bonnet and boot carpet for signs of repaired crash damage.
If the car has been used for towing, check for any unusual noises from the four-wheel drive system. Another point worth considering is that Mitsubishi increased its standard warranty in 2015 from the original three years to five years (and eight years on the battery).
Some PHEV drivers have noticed that their battery range, according to the display, has seemingly reduced over time, but Mitsubishi’s answer to such claims is that it is most likely the car learning how they drive and adapting the predicted range accordingly.
While not a reliability issue, it’s worth pointing out that the Outlander makes an unusual amount of annoying beeps and buzzes from its various warning systems, and the infotainment system on higher-spec models is far from intuitive to use. Some owners have also reported a fault with connecting iPhones to the system via Bluetooth, but upgrading to Apple’s latest iOS software should resolve this.
The large flap covering the charging sockets has also been known to bend, or for clips to fall off, meaning it doesn’t close easily.
What are the most common problems with a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4?
The door latching mechanism can malfunction in hot weather on cars built between 6 May 2015 and 14 March 2016 that could allow doors to open while the vehicle is being driven. Find out if your car is affected by speaking with a Mitsubishi dealer because new latches will need to be installed if it is.
A relay for the ECU might overheat and could cause the engine to stall on examples made between 5 December 2014 and 31 March 2016. Any affected Outlander will need to have the relay replaced to fix the issue.
The parking brake caliper boot could let in water and lead to corrosion and reduced effectiveness of the parking brake on Outlanders made from the start of production until 21 January 2016. Any example affected will need to be inspected by a technician at a dealership.
Electronic stability program
The braking function used as part of the various driving assistance systems, such as the electronic stability program (ESP), could be interrupted on some examples made between 4 August 2016 and 22 January 2018. A software update will need to be performed to solve the problem.
Automatic emergency braking (AEB)
A software problem identified with some examples equipped with AEB and were built between 5 August 2016 and 6 November 2017, but it only requires an update at the dealership to sort it.
Corrosion on the airflow sensor could wreak havoc with the running of the engine and it affects early Outlanders. It should have been sorted by now, but speak with your Mitsubishi dealer to check this.
There may be a problem with a connection in the fuel system that could allow fuel to leak out of examples constructed from 21 July to 12 September 2015. This will need to be inspected by a technician at a Mitsubishi dealer.
Is a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4 reliable?
The Outlander PHEV alas finished in 13th place out of 14 cars in the hybrid cars category in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey, which is an unusually low result, while Mitsubishi as a brand managed a highly impressive seventh-place result out of 30 manufacturers.
If you would like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.
What used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4 will I get for my budget?
You can find an early 2014 or 2015 Outlander PHEV with more than 100,000 miles on the clock for around £9000, but you’d be much better off spending between £10,000 and £12,000 for something with below average mileage. The first of the facelifted Outlanders from 2016 cost at least £12,000, while examples from the second facelift in 2019 will set you back around £20,000. Spend between £20,000 and £24,000 on a 2020 or one of the last 2021 models.
Check the value of a used Mitsubishi Outlander with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4?
In terms of your yearly road tax fee, as long as you buy an Outlander PHEV registered before 1 April 2017, you won't have to pay anything. After that date, however, you’ll be paying the standard flat rate fee – unless you have a higher-spec GX5h or GX5hs version, because they would have most likely cost more than £40,000 when new. This means you’ll have to stump up an extra surcharge each year until it’s more than six years old when it reverts back to just the flat rate fee. Current fees are £155 a year for standard cars and £145 a year for hybrids, and £335 a year for the supplementary luxury car tax.
The PHEV should be inexpensive to run, considering it has official NEDC average fuel economy of 148.5mpg, or 139.7mpg under the later WLTP tests. The trick, as with any plug-in hybrid, is to make sure you drive on pure battery power for as much of the time as possible, thus minimising fuel costs. And that most likely means having a dedicated socket at home or work in order to make the most of what realistically will be an electric range of about 22 miles.
Where the PHEV makes less sense is on motorway journeys, where carrying around those heavy batteries can drag the economy down as low as 30mpg. However, by combining these two extremes, many owners report average economy of about 60mpg from their PHEVs – still impressive for a car of the Outlander’s size.
Service intervals are every 12 months, so costs are higher than average. Either way, if the car is under three years old, it will pay to check if it is already covered under a servicing plan from its previous owner.
Which used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4 should I buy?
Since the Outlander PHEV has only been available with one hybrid system – only updated as part of the 2018 facelift – there’s not much to discuss here.
There were, however, a few different trim levels. Essentially, the entry-level GX3h or Verve models will have enough goodies for most people, and even though the GX4h or Design cars have an infotainment system, it's not great to use. You might be tempted by the GX4hs, GX5hs, Dynamic Safety and Exceed Safety models for all the extra tech, but the concern with these models is how much they cost new, so even though it might sound tempting to get a highly equipped Outlander, you might end up paying dearly for it in car tax.
Our favourite Mitsubishi Outlander: 2.0 GX3h auto
What alternatives should I consider to a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4?
Although the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been a big-seller in the plug-in hybrid market, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that many rivals outperform it in most areas concerning ride comfort, handling, performance and interior quality.
The Toyota RAV4 can be found with a hybrid system that should give you diesel-rivalling economy around town. It won’t do so well at higher speeds where the petrol engine will be used most often, though.
There’s also the Lexus NX or slightly more expensive RX to consider too. They can also be had with a petrol-electric hybrid system and come stuffed with equipment as standard. Plus, the interior will be made from very high-quality materials that will be a vast step up from the Outlander's, but then so are their prices.
The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 is a newer rival (launched in 2019) and therefore there won't be as many on the used car forecourts. However, it's smart, sharp and economical, too, with a claimed electric-only range of up to 40 miles.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here