Mitsubishi Outlander (2015-2017)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

5DR SUV 2.2 DI-D / PLUG-IN HYBRID (3H, 4H, 4HS, 5H, 5HS)


You’re looking here at the first mainstream family car developed from scratch around both conventional combustion and Plug-in hybrid power. Few expected Mitsubishi to be first to market with such a thing but with this third generation Outlander ‘D’-segment SUV model, the brand stole a march on many of its rivals and in 2015, aimed to consolidate its advantage by introducing improved versions of this car in both diesel and PHEV guises. Both are spacious and practical, the diesel variant is reasonably capable off road and the PHEV Plug-in model can even make its own kind of eco statement with supermini-style running costs. You can’t ask much more from family transport than that.

The History

The third generation Outlander SUV was the car that rejuvenated Mitsubishi’s sales in this country. The reason why can be explained with four simple letters – ‘PHEV’. Industry-leading Plug-in hybrid technology gave the Japanese brand an advantage over most of its rivals in this segment, in the 21st century’s second decade giving the Mitsubishi marque a degree of notoriety in our market it hadn’t had for years. After considerable initial sales success, this model was significantly revised in 2015. For those who didn’t want to connect in to petrol/electric power - or wanted a car of this kind to have seven seats - then Mitsubishi continued to offer a conventional 2.2-litre diesel version.

In the 2015-2017 period though, that diesel version was out-sold three-to-one by its more sophisticated Plug-in PHEV stablemate. Either way, the 2015-era revisions brought sharper styling, greater refinement, improved handling dynamics and a smarter cabin. Both these Outlander derivatives sold in this form until mid-2018. Then, the diesel engine was deleted from the range and replaced by a 150PS conventional petrol variant. And the PHEV derivative was substantially revised and given a gutsier 2.4-litre engine and more sophisticated electronics.

What To Look For

Many Outlander owners in our survey were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there were a few issues, most of which referenced the PHEV variant. One customer had his car continually off the road for a problem eventually traced to an issue with the ‘connectors’ in the battery compartment. Other complaints related to rattling front head rests and an alarm prone to go off for no reason. More seriously, one owner found that after a safety recall, his car was failing to discharge the battery as its primary power source, meaning that the powertrain continually reverted to petrol power when there was still available battery charge.

It’s extremely unlikely that this Outlander will have been seriously used on really rough surfaces (particularly if it has a higher-spec trim level), but just in case, check the underside of the car for dents and scrapes. It’s more likely that you’ll find scratches on the alloy wheels caused through ham-fisted parking. Check out the rear seat for scratches caused by unruly children. And of course, insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

On The Road

There are two very distinct kinds of Outlander driving experience available from 2015-2017-era models. One gives you the gruff but urgent note of 2.2-litre DI-D diesel power. The other delivers the potential for silent all-electric PHEV Plug-in hybrid motoring that beyond commuting distances can be extended by automatic activation of a refined 2.0-litre four cylinder powerplant. The vast majority of Outlander buyers go the PHEV route, so that’s what we’re going to focus on here.

The Plug-in Outlander’s ‘Twin Motor 4WD’ system combines petrol power with the output from two electric motors, one to drive each axle, both being fed by a 12kWh battery mounted between the axles. The whole set-up develops a combined output of 200bhp and gives willing performance, along with some astonishing efficiency figures.

These were further improved with this post-2015-era model, claimed at 156.9mpg on the combined cycle and just 42g/km of CO2. Drive the car hard and of course, you won’t achieve anything like these returns. Keep the car charged up and only use it for short distances though and you’ll actually better them by driving in an all-electric ‘EV Drive Mode’, a setting in which Mitsubishi reckons you’ll be able to travel up to 32.5miles. Push on a little and your Outlander PHEV will switch into its second ‘Series Hybrid Mode’ where the engine generates extra power for the electric motors. Beyond that, there’s a third ‘Parallel Hybrid Mode’, which adds the resources of the petrol engine driving the front wheels for maximum performance.


You can see why Mitsubishi did so well with this Outlander in our market in the 2015-2107 period. Some of the technology here is genuinely forward-thinking, even if you don't opt for a Plug-in hybrid variant that set standards in its time, not only for Crossovers and SUVs of this kind but also for family cars as a whole.

Which is worth knowing, for if you’re looking at a used family-sized SUV of this kind, then this might not be one of the first ones you’d initially consider. Perhaps it should be though. The diesel variant offers capable off road traction, impressive towing capability and space for seven at pricing able to undercut obvious rivals. The petrol/electric PHEV version meanwhile, delivers all the advantages of Plug-in hybrid technology – not least that if you only use it for commuting distances, you’ll never have to fuel the thing. In summary, this could be an ideal product for style-conscious folk with kids and active lifestyles. It’s unexpectedly clever, unexpectedly effective and unexpectedly….. Mitsubishi.