In 2018, Mitsubishi broke into Canada’s plug-in hybrid marketplace with the Outlander PHEV, an electrified version of its existing Outlander crossover. The PHEV treatment breathed new life into the third-generation Outlander, which had not been significantly updated since its introduction in 2014.
Priced to start at about $43,000 in Canada, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was a good value for a plug-in vehicle, especially for buyers who factored in the government rebates for plug-in vehicles that were available in some parts of the country.
According to Mitsubishi Canada, the Outlander PHEV had racked up more than 5,000 sales by December 2018, setting a Canadian record for most plug-in hybrid sales in a calendar year.
Initially, the Outlander PHEV was powered by a 2.0L gas engine and two electric motors that combined forces for 197 hp. Mitsu’s energy consumption estimates were 3.2 Le/100 km on electric power, and 9.4/9.0 L/100 km (city/highway) when burning gasoline. Mitsu promised 35 km of electric driving range on a fully charged battery.
In 2021, Mitsubishi upgraded the Outlander PHEV’s powertrain with a 2.4L engine and a larger battery. Together, that new gear increased power output to 221 hp and brought a modest improvement in EV driving range. Energy consumption estimates for the new drivetrain were 3.2 Le/100 km on electricity, and 9.2/9.0 L/100 km (city/highway) on gas power.
As of the Outlander PHEV’s 2018 arrival in Canada, it had already been on sale in Japan and several European countries for a few years, so it was a well-proven design by the time it came here. Mitsubishi redesigned the gas-powered Outlander into its fourth generation for the 2022 model year, but the PHEV carried forward unchanged; a redesigned Outlander PHEV is expected to arrive in North America as a 2023 model.
According to Carfax Canada, Outlander PHEV pricing starts at $29,311 for a 2018 model in SE trim, while a 2020 model (the newest for which Carfax has used values) is worth $41,347 in top-end GT trim. Splitting the difference is a 2019 SE Limited model, which is valued at $32,148.
Trim levels and features
At its 2018 introduction, the Outlander PHEV’s entry-level SE trim was equipped with 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, dual-zone A/C, passive keyless entry, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a power driver’s seat, and blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. The GT upgrade added forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights with automatic high beams, a power passenger seat, leather upholstery, a sunroof, surround-view cameras, and a nine-speaker stereo.
The 2019 model was fundamentally unchanged, but gained two new trim levels that made some of the GT trim’s upscale features available at lower price points. To the base SE model, an SE Limited package added an auto-dimming rearview mirror, sunroof, heated steering wheel, and a power tailgate. The SE Touring built on SE Limited with LED headlights and fog lights, power passenger seat adjustments, and leather seating.
In 2020, the SE model got a power passenger seat as standard equipment, and the touchscreen was upgraded to an 8.0-inch display; GT trim gained quilted leather upholstery. The SE Limited and SE Touring trims were renamed LE and SEL, respectively.
The only change for 2021 was the new powertrain we detailed above. In 2022, a Black Edition package replaced the SEL trim, adding some black exterior elements.
Watch for battery degradation
Battery degradation is a fact of life with any plug-in vehicle as it ages; in this thread, Outlander PHEV owners discuss how much it has affected their cars’ electric driving range.
Here’s another discussion started by an owner who feels Mitsubishi should replace their Outlander PHEV’s battery under warranty due to excessive degradation.
How can you get the most out of the Outlander’s electric driving range?
Among the most common queries in Outlander PHEV discussion forums are those about how to get the most range out of the car’s battery. You’ll find some suggestions here and in this chat about how to make good use of the Outlander’s drive modes.
Check the charge port cover for damage
In this thread, a couple of Outlander PHEV drivers say they’ve had to repair a broken spring clip on the charge port cover that is meant to keep the cover from flapping around in the wind when the car is plugged in. Apparently, the clip tends to pop out of place over time as the cover is opened and closed. Here’s a video that shows how to pop the clip back on.
Listen for a clunk from the rear wheels when putting the transmission in park
Here, Outlander PHEV owners discuss a clunk and/or a vibration that apparently comes from the rear axle when the car is shifted from drive or reverse into park. Those who have experienced this phenomenon suggest it’s normal for this car and doesn’t indicate a fault.
What should you do if your Outlander PHEV smells like it’s burning?
While this sounds serious, several Outlander owners say a burning smell when the engine is running is common in low-kilometre cars; it’s caused by lubricants and protective coatings burning off of hot engine parts, and should go away on its own. How long that takes depends on how much you drive on electricity alone; the more you use the gas engine, the sooner the smell will go away. Read more about it here and here.
See if your phone works with the Outlander’s Bluetooth hands-free system
If you frequently make hands-free phone calls while driving, check to see whether your phone works well with Mitsubishi’s Bluetooth interface. Some owners report dropped calls and other connectivity problems in the Outlander PHEV.
Get the 12-volt battery tested
All modern cars – gas, electric, and hybrid – have a conventional 12-volt battery to power the car up and run accessories when it’s parked. And like many late-model vehicles, the Outlander PHEV is prone to running down its 12-volt battery due to the demands of its complicated electrical system. A weak battery can trigger warning lights even if it has enough power to start the car, but will eventually fail completely. If you have doubts about the 12-volt battery, just about any repair shop can test it for you; if you want to replace the battery yourself, note that it is located under the cargo floor in the rear of the car.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Safety ratings
In 2018, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Outlander PHEV the organization’s “good” rating in all of its crash tests, save for an “acceptable” grade for its front-seat head restraints.
The Outlander PHEV’s headlights are the car’s weak point, according to the IIHS: the optional LED headlights provided “acceptable” visibility in night driving, but the base model’s halogens received a “poor” grade for inadequate illumination on curves.
From the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Outlander PHEV got four stars (out of five) for occupant protection in frontal crashes, and five stars for side impact protection. The NHTSA also awarded the Outlander PHEV with four stars in the organization’s rollover resistance test.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Recalls
Transport Canada has issued four recalls for the Outlander PHEV.
Two of them dealt with flaws with the seat belt in the right-hand side second-row seat: one campaign modified a belt buckle in 2018 and 2019 models that could be damaged when the seat was folded down and prevent the belt from buckling properly.
The other addressed seatbelts in 2020 models that were assembled with an incorrect part that could prevent the belt from properly protecting its occupant in a crash.
The other two recalls dealt with faulty software controlling the 2018 Outlander PHEV’s optional forward collision mitigation system.
One recall addressed faulty software that could prevent the collision mitigation system from working properly in the event of a potential crash.
Mitsu launched the other repair campaign to address complaints that the collision mitigation system’s automatic braking function could activate unnecessarily.