Used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV buying guide
If ever there was a case of the right car being launched at the right time, it was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. It tapped into the explosion in popularity of the SUV, at a price that made it an easy choice to switch from diesel versions.
It really caught its rivals on the hop, and it took several years before competitors managed to catch up, but even now, it sells in very large numbers on the new car market.
It was eligible for the government’s Plug-in Car Grant, which enabled it to be sold at the same prices as the diesel version, emissions of less than 50g/km meant it was exempt from road tax and kept Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) ratings affordably low for company car drivers.
That’s great news for used buyers, because there are plenty on the market to choose from. That means finding one in the right condition, spec and colour at the right price is pretty easy. You’ll not have to travel too far to find one, either.
So far so good, but it’s not all positive as it lags behind the best of its rivals when it comes to interior quality and technology, and while the diesel offers seven seats, the PHEV is a strict five-seater. But there’s little to criticise about the car’s running costs, even if the official figure of 148 to 166mpg is unlikely to be matched – a common quirk of the way plug-in hybrid range is calculated.
Even so, you can expect an easy 50mpg if you’re able to charge it regularly, and even more if most of your journeys are less than its all-electric range, which depending on the age of the model is officially rated at between 28 and 33 miles.
The Mk3 Mitsubishi Outlander was launched in 2013 as a diesel, and the PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle – went on sale a year later, making it the first plug-in hybrid SUV to be offered to British buyers.
At first, it was available in GX3h and GX4h trims, while a GX5h version followed in 2015, a few months before a facelift which gave it a far more modern look. New GX4hs and GX5hs models and a special edition Juro model came between 2016 and 2017 as part of a wider set of revisions.
These revisions were significant because the car came fitted with a EV Priority mode, which enabled the driver to start the Outlander PHEV in EV for improved economy and emissions to a claimed 166mpg and 41g/km. High-spec GX4h and GX5h models gained must-have safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and 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 claimed to be improved. However, when tested as part of the latest WLTP economy tests, CO2 and fuel economy was worse – likely more to do with the way the tests are now conducted rather than a like for like regression.
Still, the promise of 141mpg and CO2 emissions of just 46g/km are still mightily impressive, and the car is still eligible for a tier two Plug-in Car Grant, saving £4,500 off the price of the car when new.
Other changes included revised suspension for an improved ride, a sport mode and more modern styling.
Which should I buy?
With so many revisions over a fairly short period, knowing what you’re actually getting can be slightly tricky. But all models are well equipped – even the earliest GX3h trim come with 18in alloy wheels, a speed limiter, electric folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry.
Post-2017 offer the best balance of cost and ability, with significantly improved looks, the EV Priority mode and improved rapid charging, which shaved five minutes off its charging time, with it taking 25 minutes to reach 80%.
High-spec Juro models are also worth hunting out. Post-2017 models offered Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, hill hold and the Mitsubishi PHEV app, which allows you to pre-heat the interior.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has relatively few rivals on the used car market, particularly at this price. The MINI Countryman Plug-In is perhaps the closest rival, but is much smaller, and quite a lot more expensive – not helped because it’s also a far newer car.
The same is true of the smaller Kia Niro, although a plug-in hybrid version launched in 2017. At the time of writing, there are only a handful of these to buy used.
The Lexus RX is similarly-sized, but offers a far more upmarket look and feel, but unlike the Outlander, is a regular ‘self-charging’ hybrid, so has an all-electric range of a few miles. The Toyota C-HR is a stylish alternative, although these looks come at the expense of practicality and also isn’t offered as a plug-in hybrid.
If you can stretch to it, the Volvo XC60 T8 is probably the most talented all round of the bunch, but its upmarket nature and high list price means it’s our priciest option here on the used market.
What to look for
Economy: Mitsubishi might claim the Outlander PHEV is capable of up to 166mpg, depending on model, but few will ever seen such figures. Reports of 50-65mpg aren’t uncommon though, and are still impressive.
Battery: A frequent concern of 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 PHEV’s range is governed by how much you use equipment like air-conditioning.
Seats: While the diesel Outlander has seven seats – albeit cramped ones in the rear – 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 all tastes.
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.
The official fuel economy and emissions vary slightly, but are all in the 140-166mpg range and less than 50g/km. The variation in the fuel economy figures are rather irrelevant as you’ll rarely – if ever – come close. Plenty of drivers report fuel economy in the 50-65mpg range, which is still excellent.
Like all plug-in hybrid cars, economy will depend 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’ll not pay any road tax on cars registered before April 2017. Those registered after this date cost £140 a year (unless options have pushed the original list price over £40,000, in which case you’ll pay £450 a year the first five years the car is taxed).
Company-car tax is also very affordable. It attracts a Benefit-in-Kind rating of 13%, which will cost the around half that of a diesel BMW X3 or petrol Honda CR-V.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been the subject of surprisingly few recalls. Just under 1,100 were recalled in 2015 affecting cars built between 21st July and 12th September due to a possible fuel leak.
The Mitsubishi Outlander – either in PHEV or diesel guise – didn’t feature in our 2018 Driver Power ownership satisfaction survey, and neither did Mitsubishi as a brand. That’s because too few owners reported their findings to allow us to provide robust data.
However, owners were complimentary about Mitsubishi’s dealerships. They came tenth overall, beating some far bigger names in the process.