Used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV buying guide
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV arrived on the UK market back in 2014, and it was a textbook case of 'the right car at the right time'. It rode the wave of SUV popularity, while also attracting buyers with its low plug-in hybrid running costs and reasonable purchase price.
Rival brands took a several years to catch up and in the intervening time Mitsubishi made hay, selling many thousands of Outlander PHEVs. The result is that there are now plenty of examples available on the secondhand market for very attractive prices.
Until late 2018, those buying new Outlander PHEVs benefitted from the UK government plug-in car grant, which brought its price down to the same as the diesel version. Sub-50g/km CO2 emissions mean road-tax exemption for cars registered before April 2017, while all Outlander PHEVs get free access to the London Congestion Charge zone until October 2021.
With so many used Outlander PHEVs available at any given time, finding one in the right colour, specification and condition to suit your budget isn't difficult and you shouldn't have to travel very far to buy one.
There are some downsides to be aware of: interior quality isn't up to the best European rivals and you can't get a seven-seat Outlander PHEV, as the space used for the third row of seats in the diesel and petrol versions is taken up by the batteries for the hybrid system here. Running costs are very impressive, though, even if it's unlikely you'll get near the claimed figures of 148-166mpg on a regular basis.
Expect to see around 50mpg with ease if you can charge the Mitsubishi regularly, and even more if most of your trips are within its electric range. Depending on the exact age of the car you're looking at, this will officially be between 28 and 33 miles.
The Mk3 Mitsubishi Outlander was launched in 2013 as a diesel, and the PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) version went on sale a year later, making it the first plug-in hybrid SUV to be offered to UK buyers.
At first, it was available in GX3h and GX4h trim levels, while a GX5h version followed in 2015, a few months before a facelift that gave it a far more modern look. New GX4hs and GX5hs models and a special-edition Juro came between 2016 and 2017 as part of a wider set of revisions.
These revisions were significant, because the car gained an 'EV Priority' mode, which enables you to start the Outlander PHEV in electric mode for improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions (a claimed 166mpg and 41g/km). High-spec GX4h and GX5h models got must-have safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert to help when reversing out of parking spaces. A revised Juro version arrived in March 2017.
In June 2018, a new 2.4-litre petrol engine replaced the old 2.0-litre. Despite power increasing, efficiency was also improved. However, this coincided with the introduction of a new efficiency testing method called WLTP, so the official CO2 and fuel-economy numbers were actually worse on paper.
Still, 141mpg and emissions of just 46g/km is still impressive. Other changes introduced in June 2018 included revised suspension for an improved ride, a sport mode and more modern styling.
Which one should I buy?
With so many revisions over a fairly short period of time, knowing what you’re actually getting with any one Outlander PHEV can be slightly tricky. But all models are well equipped – even the earliest GX3h trim came with 18-inch alloy wheels, a speed limiter, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry.
Post-2017 cars offer the best balance of cost and ability, with significantly improved looks, the EV Priority mode and better rapid charging, which shaved five minutes off the replenishment time; an 80% charge can now be done in 25 minutes.
Used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV alternatives
The Outlander PHEV has relatively few rivals on the used-car market, particularly at this price. The MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid is perhaps its closest rival, but is much smaller and quite a lot more expensive, as it's a more recent model.
The same is true of the Kia Niro, a plug-in hybrid version of which was launched in 2017. There aren't as many of these available on the used market as their are Outlanders.
The Lexus RX is a similar size to the Mitsubishi, but offers a far more upmarket look and feel. Unlike the Outlander, it's a "self-charging" hybrid, so only has very limited pure-electric range. The Toyota C-HR is a stylish alternative, although its looks come at the expense of practicality and it's not available as a plug-in hybrid, either.
If you can stretch to it, the Volvo XC60 T8 is probably the most talented all-rounder of the PHEV SUV pack, but its upmarket nature and high list price means it’s also the priciest option on the used market.
What to look for
Economy: Mitsubishi claims the Outlander PHEV is capable of up to 166mpg, depending on model, but few will ever see such figures. But reports of 50-65mpg aren’t uncommon and still impressive.
Battery: A frequent concern for the used electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid car buyer is the longevity and cost of battery replacement. The Outlander PHEV has an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty to cover any unforeseen circumstances. Like all electric cars, the Outlander's range is governed by how much you use equipment like air-conditioning.
Seats: While the diesel Outlander has seven seats – albeit with a pretty cramped third row – the PHEV has just five, due to the location of the batteries.
Gearbox: Like many hybrids and plug-in hybrids, the Outlander PHEV has a CVT automatic gearbox. These have a tendency to rev hard as the car accelerates and produce a slurring sound. Try before you buy, as they’re not to everyone's taste.
Ride comfort: Despite its high-riding stance, the Outlander PHEV doesn’t ride over bumps particularly smoothly. Again, take a test drive over some poor road surfaces to see if it’s still the car for you.
Official fuel economy and emissions figures for the Mitsubishi vary slightly over the years, but all manage 140-166mpg and emit less than 50g/km of CO2. The variation in fuel-economy figures is rather irrelevant as you’ll rarely – if ever – come close to them. Plenty of Outlander PHEV drivers report economy in the 50-65mpg range, which is still excellent.
Like all plug-in hybrid cars, economy depends entirely on how often you’re able to charge it. Drive less than 25 miles a day, and it’s conceivable you’d never use a drop of petrol. Take long motorway trips every day, and watch the economy tumble as the petrol engine hauls the flat batteries around.
While that also impacts your actual CO2 emissions at the tailpipe, the official ratings of between 41 and 46g/km still stand. That means you won't pay any road tax on an Outlander PHEV registered before April 2017. Those registered after this date cost £135 a year.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been the subject of surprisingly few recalls. Just under 1,100 were recalled in 2015, affecting cars built between 21 July and 12 September that year, due to a possible fuel leak.
The Mitsubishi Outlander – either in PHEV or diesel guise – isn't often found in the Driver Power owner survey, but in 2020 it finished 67th out of 100 cars. However, the brand finished 16th out of 30 manufacturers in the 2020 survey.