Used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014-2021) buying guide

October 06, 2022 by

For years, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the best-selling plug-in car in the UK. Is it a decent choice on the used market? Here’s everything you need to know.

When the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV launched in the UK in April 2014, it was in a class of its own. While plug-in hybrid SUVs are fairly common now, they were a rare beast back then, proving a shrewd business move for the Japanese firm.

These electrified SUVs flew off the shelves as buyers bought into the potential for incredibly low fuelling costs, low buying price thanks to government grants, and free road tax.

While used buyers won’t benefit from grants, and the Outlander PHEV – the acronym standing for ‘plug-in hybrid,’ by the way – is no longer exempt from the London congestion charge, those low running costs in a large, practical family car still appeal second-hand.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV pros and cons

What’s good
Cheap to run (if you can charge it)
Spacious interior
Quiet around town

What’s not so good
Poor interior quality
No seven-seater
Diesels are better over long distances
Click any of the links below to jump to the relevant section.

Is a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good car?
What body styles are available?
What are the engine options?
What trim levels are available?
How practical is it?
What’s it like to drive?
What to look out for
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recalls
Safety and security
What else should I consider?

Is a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good car?

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes for an intriguing prospect. The Japanese firm might not be the first you think of when it comes to buying a new car – it doesn’t officially sell in the UK anymore, after all – but it’s tough to argue with the value for money on offer from this plug-in hybrid SUV.

It’s a good-looking thing, particularly the later models, which are arguably sharper and more eye-catching than similarly priced alternatives such as the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.

The Outlander PHEV went on sale in the UK in April 2014, and underwent a few revisions before disappearing from the UK new car scene in 2021. Updates were introduced in 2017 and 2019, with new trim levels also being added along the way, along with a commercial version.

Its full four-wheel drive capability also makes it a good choice for those who need to head off the beaten track from time to time, meaning it’s not just an affordable, eco-friendly family SUV, but it can also go where others may not be able to.

What body styles are available?

The Outlander is only available as a large, five-door SUV. For larger families or those who, for example, regularly travel with the rest of their seven-a-side football team, one downside to the plug-in model is that it’s only available with five seats. Non-hybrid versions also have a seven-seat option.

As well as the regular SUV there is a light commercial vehicle version. This sees the rear seats removed and replaced with a large storage area, separated from the front seat passengers by a metal mesh bulkhead. The rear windows are also covered so those outside can’t see what’s inside.

What are the engine options?

There are two plug-in hybrid engine options available, depending on the age of the car you’re looking at. The first, offered between 2014 and 2019, uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with two electric motors that are powered by a 12.0kWh battery.

It’s quite a complicated system to get your head around, but don’t worry. Behind the wheel, you’re free to let the car figure out the best system for the driving you’re doing. The result is low CO2 emissions of just 44g/km of CO2, which gets you £0 vehicle excise duty on cars registered before March 31st, 2017, while the electric range when new was stated at 32 miles. Official fuel economy figures are 148mpg, though you’ll only achieve this if you can keep the batteries topped up.

In 2017 a few technical updates saw an ‘EV priority’ mode added, which allowed the driver to force the car to stay running on electric if there’s enough battery charge. On top of that, the time to charge to 80% was reduced from 30 minutes to 25, the electric range increased one mile to 33 miles, and economy and emissions figures improved slightly.

A more extensive update came in 2019, with a new 2.4-litre petrol engine paired with more powerful motors and a larger battery, now with a 13.8kWh capacity. It uses the same sometimes-electric, sometimes range extender, sometimes hybrid set-up as before, with minor performance improvements.

Its introduction coincided with the new, more strict WLTP fuel economy tests, so its figures are slightly down on before, but should be better in the real world. Headline stats are an electric range of 28 miles, fuel economy of 139mpg and CO2 emissions of 46g/km.

What trim levels are available?

At launch, there were three specifications. The first was GX3h, which included 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, dual zone air conditioning, leather steering wheel and electric folding heated mirrors.

Step up to GX4h and you additionally get a 7.0-inch sat nav system, heated front seats with leather upholstery and DAB radio. The top-spec GX4hs adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system and lane departure warning.

New high-specification trims called GX5h and GX5hs were added in 2015, bringing equipment such as Nappa leather seats, upgraded Alpine sound system, front and rear heated seats and LED fog lamps.

The Juro trim was added in 2016. It was based on mid-spec models but added a touchscreen CD and DVD infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The model update in 2017 brought a renamed trim structure, with 3h, 4h and 5h models available. The specifications are similar to the original three trims, but added some extra kit such as LED daytime running lights on the 3h, improved driver assistance tech, including a 360-degree camera, on the 4h, and Nappa leather upholstery on the 5h. Juro extras include an electronic parking brake and a reversing camera.

For 2019’s facelift, Juro became the entry-level trim, with smartphone connectivity, heated front seats, heated windscreen, dual zone climate control, and keyless operation. Next up is 4h, which adds a 360-degree camera, blind spot warning, a black leather interior, heated steering wheel and LED headlights. At the top of the line-up was 4hs, with adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and further driver assistance systems.

How practical is it?

On top of its low running costs, the Outlander’s other key selling point is its practicality. Boot space is 463 litres, which is far from class-leading but more than enough for most people, and only 14 litres down on the non-hybrid versions. The rear seats are a pain to fold flat, but once they do there’s a nice flat floor and a healthy 1,480 litres of space, and you can store the charging cables beneath the floor so they don’t intrude on cargo capacity, which is a neat touch.

It’s in the cabin where the real practicality lies, though. The Outlander is a huge vehicle and therefore there’s plenty of room for everyone on board, even if you’re carrying three adults across the second row. Those in the rear will also have decent headroom and legroom, while the rear seats recline for added comfort.

There are also large door bins and a useful glovebox, with other cubby holes making this a spacious and practical SUV.

Where the Outlander is let down, though, is interior design and quality. The dashboard looks dated with a characterless and uninspiring appearance. The infotainment system graphics look old school too, and while not all models get navigation, this is no bad thing because it’s much better to plug your phone in and use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto than use Mitsubishi’s system anyway. Bear in mind not all trims have this feature either, particularly earlier cars.

Quality isn’t too bad, though, with some nice soft-touch materials to be found higher on the dashboard and doors, relegating cheap, scratchy plastics to lower areas you rarely touch. It’s a shame that you can’t get it with a third row of seats in the very back like the standard Outlander, because the battery and motors sit beneath the boot floor.

What’s it like to drive?

Given its sheer size, it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that the Outlander PHEV isn’t the most nimble thing in corners. Tackle a country road with too much enthusiasm and you’ll be treated to some rather pronounced body roll that quickly encourages you to fall back into a more sedate manner of driving.

This sort of car is not built for cornering, though. What it is built for is tackling urban driving with ease, and here it’s excellent. Its upright shape, large windows and high driving position make it easy to see out of and place on the road, so it’s surprisingly relaxing to drive in busy traffic, despite its heft.

This is also helped by the powertrain, which is quiet and responsive when left to electric mode. Post-2019 models have a bit more performance from the motors, too, which can help when darting in and out of busy traffic. When the petrol motor is called upon, neither the 2.0- or 2.4-litre is too loud nor intrusive.

Real world fuel economy is difficult to gauge, because it’s totally feasible that you could almost never engage the petrol engine if you keep the battery topped up and keep journeys short. However, if the battery is drained and the engine needs to pick up the slack you can expect around 30mpg, which isn’t too unreasonable.

What to look out for

Because of the sheer popularity of these models when new, there are always loads on sale in the used market, meaning you can shop around for the one that’s right for you.

When buying second hand, the aforementioned interior quality can be a cause for concern. Because it’s not quite up to the standard of contemporary competitors, you might find that it hasn’t stood the test of time quite so well. Have a good look around damaged trim and check the buttons work as they should.

Its four-wheel drive abilities mean it could have been used off-road, too. Listen for any clunks or knocks from the transmission while out on the test drive, which could be a sign of a hard life, particularly if the car has been used for towing.

The charging socket flap is known to be susceptible to failure, so check that to make sure the latches work properly. It’s not an expensive fix if there is an issue, though. Also check the charging cables are present, as these can be about £150 to replace.

One more thing to note is that although Mitsubishi no longer officially sells cars in the UK, it still operates an aftersales business under the ownership of a third-party, meaning there are specialist dealers that will be able to fix and service your Outlander that are as close to official as you’ll get. You can, of course, still book your car in at an independent garage.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recalls

Recalls are a regular occurrence in the car industry, and typically come about because a manufacturer or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have found a problem with a vehicle that requires fixing.

These are typically preventative measures or taken out of an abundance of caution, relating to a wide range of issues such as electrical faults or weaknesses in the materials of major components. Typing your number plate into the Government website’s recall checker will tell you if there’s anything outstanding on your car.

This handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about car recalls, or you can continue below to see what recalls have been issued for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

The first recall relates to cars built between December 5th 2014 and March 31st 2016, which could see the ECU overheat. This needed replacing, because it could cause the engine to stall and not restart.

Outlander PHEVs built between August 5th 2016 and March 19th 2020 could have a safety camera system that incorrectly identifies objects ahead as pedestrians, which could activate safety systems unnecessarily.

An issue with the right side, second row seat belt assembly required a recall for a handful of cars built between July 1st and July 26th 2019.

Some models built between August 5th 2016 and November 6th 2017 have a problem with the collision avoidance technology, which can hold the brake too long.

Driver assistance programme functions to the hydraulic brake may be interrupted on some cars made between August 4th 2016 and January 22nd 2018.

A large recall across various Mitsubishi models could result in the parking brake not working properly because of rust. The Outlander PHEVs involved were built between October 1st 2013 and March 31st 2016.

Finally, the door latch could fail on some cars in hot weather, which could cause the door to open while driving. The affected cars were built between May 16th 2015 and March 14th 2016.

All of these should have been addressed by now, but make sure the work has been done ahead of purchase.

Safety and security

The Outlander PHEV was safety tested by Euro NCAP when it was launched and scored the full five stars, though the test is more stringent now. Regardless, it scored over 80% in the adult occupant, child occupant and safety assist categories.

The latter score is particularly impressive, thanks to the decent safety equipment that can be found on this model. For a start, cruise control was included as standard even on early cars, with adaptive cruise on high-spec models.

On 2014-2016 cars, the best safety kit is included on the top-spec G4hs trim, including lane departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system. In 2017, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and pedestrian detection were also added, while a 360-degree camera came with the 2019 model.

What else should I consider?

If you’re looking at the least expensive, older models, there are few direct competitors, with this being one of the first plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market. As you go up the price range, you’ll find more hybrids available that will be similarly frugal on fuel.

One of the best competitors, despite its lack of hybridisation, is the Skoda Kodiaq, which has a smart design inside and out with the Czech firm’s fantastic practicality. The Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are also enticing options for their practicality and value for money.

Dedicated to a plug-in hybrid? Well the Mini Countryman and Kia Niro could be your best bets, though they’re nowhere near as big as the Mitsubishi.

If you’re interested in buying a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, you can find the latest stock from a network of trusted dealers through carwow. You can also sell your old car quickly and easily. Tap the button below to find out more.