Which are the best and worst Mitsubishi Outlander years [ANSWERED]

Which are the best and worst Mitsubishi Outlander years? [ANSWERED]

Making crossover SUVs is a favorite pastime of Mitsubishi, just as how driving the Japanese manufacturer’s Outlander model has been a delight for many satisfied owners.

If you’re reading this, then you probably want to be a satisfied owner of one in the near future as well, but it’s going to take more than just placing your bet on any cheap model you can find on eBay.

As with any other vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander has had its ups and downs over the years, and this is why we’ve come up with a list of all its best and worst model years to guide you in making the best purchase possible!

What are the best and worst Mitsubishi Outlander model years?

The best Mitsubishi Outlander years are 2006, 2008, 2012, 2020, and 2023, while the worst years are 2003, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2022.

The best and worst Mitsubishi Outlander years are based on consumer/expert ratings, reliability reviews, and the number of reported problems per year. 

Mitsubishi is known for its SUVs and crossovers, and the popular Outlander model is a good example of both that has been on offer in North America since 2003.

Now in its 4th generation, the Japanese compact crossover SUV remains a considerably sought-after model in the secondhand market that’s comparable to the Toyota RAV4 and the Kia Sportage.

But with over 20 years of being out in the market, not every Mitsubishi Outlander model year is identical even to the one that came directly before or after it, which now poses the question of which years are the best and worst.

Based on our data-backed research, the best Outlander model years are the 2006 1st-gen model, the 2008 and 2012 2nd-gen models, the 2020 3rd-gen model, and the 2023 4th-gen model.

In the same vein, the model years to be avoided are the 2003 1st-gen model, the 2013 2nd-gen model, the 2014, 2015, and 2016 3rd-gen models, and the 2022 4th-gen model.

Notice how we include at least one best or worst model year per generation just to give each one a fighting chance. However, we’ll also reveal the facts and stats of each year to give you the full picture as to why you should buy or avoid them below! 

What are the best Mitsubishi Outlander model years?

The best Mitsubishi Outlander years include 2006, 2008, 2012, 2020, and 2023 owing to higher consumer/expert ratings on average, better reliability reviews, and fewer reported complaints.

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander

2023 Mitsubishi Outlander

We like to include any particular vehicle’s newest generation when there is enough data to go around, and luckily, the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander is the best year of the outgoing 4th-gen model we have so far.

As you would expect, the 2023 model will come with the most updated tech among all the years listed here, making, by default, the best year when it comes to satisfying tech-savvy buyers. However, this also makes it the most expensive.

Features such as an 8-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a 6-speaker sound system, and LED headlights with auto high-beam all come standard in even the base ES trim.

A naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4 making 181 horsepower is the sole powerplant for all eight trims of the 2023 model. While it gets decent combined ratings of 26 to 27 mpg, acceleration is mediocre at best compared to its competitors.

Consumer and expert ratings are a bit mixed for a model year this new, with KBB giving it a 4.1/5, Edmunds a 3.5/5, Car and Driver an 8/10, and J.D. Power an 83/100. Nonetheless, it’s still mainly above average.

Compared to the previous 2022 model year, which already received hundreds of reliability complaints, the 2023 Outlander is a big improvement in overall reliability. However, this is still highly subject to change due to how recent the model is.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Despite being a generation notorious for having several problematic model years, the 2020 model proves to be one of the 3rd-gen Mitsubishi Outlander’s best and most reliable iterations.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is a great balance between noteworthy reliability and impressively modern features, and it’s nowhere near as expensive as a 4th-gen model that’s only a few years newer either.

This model year benefits from several tweaks to its all-wheel-drive system, standard three-row seating arrangement, and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option to allow better fuel economy over the base I4 and, even more so, the power-focused V6.

Once again, ratings for the 2020 model are also mixed, even more than those of the 2023 model. Consumers gave it a 4.6/5 on KBB, 4/5 on Edmunds, and 82/100 on J.D. Power, whereas Car and Driver experts gave it a 5/10.

But while it doesn’t have the highest ratings among 3rd-gen models, it still displayed better reliability by having one of the fewest reported complaints, especially when compared to the earlier 2015 and 2016 years.

2012 Mitsubishi Outlander

2012 Mitsubishi Outlander

If owning a 2nd-generation Mitsubishi Outlander is on your bucket list, then you can easily tick that off by opting for a well-maintained 2012 model.

Outlander models released for the 2012 model year feature the Lancer-looking facelift, which can be off-putting for some people, but still a good way to distinguish this later year from the earlier ones that were more problem-prone.

Consumer ratings for this model are more consistent this time around, such as 4.6/5 on KBB, 4/5 on Edmunds, and 79/100 on J.D. Power.

Comparing these ratings to those of earlier years that received higher, it’s easy to think the 2012 model is actually worse off. However, this year had way fewer major problems reported by owners.

Since this is a 2nd-gen model, you only have three trims to choose from, two of which are powered by a 2.4-liter I4 (ES and SE), and the top-spec GT with the 3-liter V6. The fuel economy is slightly worse compared to the newer gens, but still decent for its time.

The 2012 Outlander’s standard features are also pretty respectable even for the base ES trim, which includes stability control, front and side curtain airbags, ABS (antilock brakes), a CVT transmission, 60/40 second-row seats, and rear privacy glass.

2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Another notable 2nd-gen Mitsubishi Outlander year we just can’t ignore is the 2008 model, one of the earlier years that not only offers good value for money but also long-term reliability that can rival (or even beat) newer generations.

For the 2008 model year, the Mitsubishi Outlander received exceptionally good consumer ratings of 4.6/5 on KBB and 4.7/5 on Edmunds, which is further backed by having fewer reported complaints compared to all other 2nd-gen model years.

While engine cooling issues are a recognized problem for this year, they are still at a negligible amount just like the rest of the issues reported concerning visibility and electronic equipment.

Fewer problems also mean more time to appreciate its assortment of tech, including remote keyless entry, ABS, ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control), cruise control, an optional sunroof, and optional heated seats.

Powertrain options are the same 2.4-liter I4 and 3-liter V6 found in the newer 2012 model discussed earlier, although it’s worth mentioning that the V6 in the 2008 model has 10 less horsepower since it was prior to the 2010 power bump.

2006 Mitsubishi Outlander

2006 Mitsubishi Outlander

Now for those looking for the cheapest Mitsubishi Outlander out there that still has impressive reliability and very satisfactory ratings to show, the 2006 model is your lucky year.

The 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander demonstrates reassuring trustworthiness for being the oldest “best” model on this list with superb consumer ratings of 4.6/5 on KBB, 4.7/5 on Edmunds, and 81/100 on J.D. Power.

Even though you generally expect an older model year to be more problematic due to its age, the 2006 model actually barely has any complaints compared to its predecessors, making it a very well-polished example from the 1st generation.

In addition, it’s also the last model year for this generation, and by that, you get updates to its standard lineup of features such as ABS, side airbags, and an SE (Special Edition) trim, which tacks on a few changes to its exterior appearance.

Some of the main caveats that you’ll have to make do in the 2006 Outlander include a 2.4-liter I4 that’s a bit lacking both in the power and fuel economy department and an unimpressive 60.3 cu. ft. cargo capacity than rivals.

What are the worst Mitsubishi Outlander model years?

The worst Mitsubishi Outlander years include 2003, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2022. These years received lower consumer/expert ratings and also garnered the most reliability complaints, making them worth avoiding the most.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander

At the dawn of the latest 4th-generation Mitsubishi Outlander in 2022, the compact crossover piqued a lot of interest with its wild transformation, but fast forward a few years later and things aren’t going that well for this model reliability-wise.

When it comes to consumer ratings, the 2022 Outlander scores 4.1/5 on KBB, 3.6/5 on Edmunds, and 79/100 on J.D. Power. On the other hand, Car and Driver experts give it an 8/10.

While these are very similar figures to those of the 2023 and 2024 models, the number of complaints it received online tells a completely different story.

Despite having been out for only two years, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander already amassed over 200 complaints on CarProblemZoo, with a good portion of that from the NHTSA.

The number one issue for this model year involves its hood, which is prone to shaking or fluttering at medium to high speeds, raising the concern that it can potentially fully open and cause an accident.

Furthermore, the 2022 model has also received some reports of windshield cracks, exploding moonroofs, a faulty backup camera, and a faulty forward collision mitigation system.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander comes as an unsurprising part of this “worst model years” list just because it’s one of the middle years of the 3rd-generation model.

The 3rd-gen Outlander is generally considered the most unreliable generation of the SUV, and the 2016 model is a testimony to this due to slightly mixed ratings and a myriad of reported complaints.

For this model year, consumer ratings of 4.6/5 on KBB, 4.3/5 on Edmunds, and 75/100 on J.D. Power may seem decent and promising, but it also received one of the most complaints for any Outlander model year on CarProblemZoo at 212.

Its main weakness is its powertrain, which happens to be a common theme for 3rd-gen Outlanders. From jerky accelerations to slipping gears, it’s the farthest from being mechanically sound and also poses a safety risk while driving.

On occasion, the 2016 model also exhibits other issues such as various illuminated warning lights, increased engine vibrations, engine stalling, reduced braking power, and non-working headlights.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander

Simply put, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is much like its 2016 counterpart, but even worse. Hence, it would be a downright miracle to own one of these things for a few thousand miles with zero mishaps.

The 2015 model has consumer ratings of 4.6/5 on KBB and 75/100 which are identical to the 2016 model, yet Edmunds rates it significantly lower at 3.8/5, and it’s not hard to see why.

At the time of this writing, this particular year ranks first in number of complaints on CarProblemZoo at 252, which may not seem that far off from its successor.

However, when we look closer at the stats, almost half of those complaints (102) relate to its powertrain, making the 2015 model the worst year in this problem category.

Apart from the typical acceleration issues, CVT failure, and engine stalling, some owners also experienced electrical problems such as faulty door locks, airbag failure, and the push start button not working.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Another 3rd-gen Mitsubishi Outlander year that’s worth avoiding is the 2014 model due to similar problems present in other years and plenty of unsatisfied owners.

Compared to the years that came after it, the 2014 Outlander has significantly fewer complaints on CarProblemZoo, which total 92.

However, much of the same problems with the 2015 and 2016 model’s powertrain and different electronics can also be started with this model year albeit to a lesser degree. On that note, airbag-related complaints are relatively common for it.

While its KBB and J.D. Power consumer ratings are tied with its successors at 4.6/5 and 75/100, respectively, Edmunds consumers give it only a 3.7/5, which is the lowest score for any given 3rd-gen model.

This low average score can be attributed to its tight third-row seats, lackluster performance from the base engine, and A/C problems among other reported electronic issues.

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander

Lots of expectations come naturally for the last model year of any car model, and unfortunately, the 2nd-gen 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander doesn’t live up to them for being way too unpolished.

Yes, it does come with extra heated mirrors, heated seats, and a FUSE voice recognition system for certain trims, but this barely offsets its generally ordinary interior; not to mention its ratings are quite mixed between experts and consumers.

Despite consumer ratings of 4.6/5 (KBB), 4/5 (Edmunds), and 74/100 (J.D. Power), KBB experts still gave it a low 2.9/5. Inconsistency is something you wouldn’t want especially coming from a model that should’ve been ironed out by now.

The 2013 model is also pummeled by numerous NHTSA recalls and complaints regarding its engine, electrical system, suspension components, airbags, and the list goes on.

2003 Mitsubishi Outlander

2003 Mitsubishi Outlander

If we were to pick out one Mitsubishi Outlander model year from the 1st generation you should skip, then it would be the 2003 model.

It isn’t exactly a terrible year in terms of ratings with it still garnering a 4.6/5 on KBB and 4.7/5 on Edmunds, though there are not enough ratings from other sources to accurately gauge consumer satisfaction for the 2003 model from this.

Rather, we turn to the number of complaints posted for this model year on CarProblemZoo, which stands at 147, easily making it the most problem-prone year of the 1st-gen Outlander.

The 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander is mostly known for having suspension issues like a corroded rear frame, uncentered steering, and squeaking noises.

Owners of this debut model year also complained of broken or cracked headlights, cooling system issues, and faulty visibility equipment such as a malfunctioning defogger.

Mitsubishi Outlander Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (2003 to 2006)20062003
2nd Generation (2007 to 2013)200820122013
3rd Generation (2013 to 2021)2020201420152016
4th Generation (2022 to 2024/Present)20232022

Consumer/Expert Ratings for All Mitsubishi Outlander Model Years

Mitsubishi Outlander Model Year
KBB Consumer Rating 
Edmunds Consumer Rating 
Car and Driver Rating
J.D. Power Consumer Rating
20214.6/5 (PHEV)4.1/5(PHEV)5/10(PHEV)N/A
20204.6/54/5 5/1082/100

What are the common problems of a Mitsubishi Outlander?

What are the common problems of a Mitsubishi Outlander

Common problems of the Mitsubishi Outlander are powertrain issues like jerky accelerations, slipping gears, and engine stalling. Electrical and suspension issues have also been common for some years.

Hood problems (shaking/fluttering) are also a common issue with the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander.

Powertrain Problems

Problems concerning the Mitsubishi Outlander’s powertrain are among the most commonly reported issues with the SUV, and this is largely because of its unreliable CVT (continuously variable transmission).

3rd-gen models from 2014 to 2016 are known to be plagued with CVT issues the most, which typically cause symptoms like jerky or hesitating acceleration, engine RPMs suddenly revving up, and slipping gears.

In some cases, the engine has been reported to stall or shut down completely while driving. Additionally, some owners also had the CVT fail altogether, which is a pretty costly component to repair or replace.

Electrical Problems

Electrical problems can occur in just about any vehicle including the Mitsubishi Outlander, with early to middle years of the 3rd generation exhibiting them frequently.

The 3rd-gen Outlander interior has quite a few of these issues, including faulty airbags, different warning lights turning on, and door locks that won’t lock or unlock properly.

The air conditioning or HVAC system can go out due to a bad blower motor, while the headlights can prematurely fail, which can make it very dangerous to drive at night.

Suspension Problems

Any suspension problems can affect your overall ride quality as well as your steering input, which has been the case for certain 2nd-generation Mitsubishi Outlander models.

2003 to 2005 models of the compact crossover are prone to develop corrosion on their rear suspension, which sometimes causes the control arms to break apart.

As a result, some owners experienced the steering veering to one side and all kinds of vibrations and squeaking noises from the damaged components. 

Hood Problems (2022 Model)

One particularly common problem of the Mitsubishi Outlander is its faulty hood, and the surprising thing is that it’s only known to be troublesome in the 4th-gen 2022 model.

Much to the dismay of owners of the relatively new SUV, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander’s hood tends to shake or “flutter” at different speeds, increasing in intensity as you go faster.

This obviously raises a lot of concern that the hood can potentially unlatch and cause a crash, and while a technical service bulletin has since been released to rectify this issue, the fluttering issue still persists for some owners.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most reliable year of the Mitsubishi Outlander?

Several Mitsubishi Outlander model years that are notable for their reliability include the 1st-gen 2006 model, the 2nd-gen 2008 and 2012 models, the 3rd-gen 2020 model, and the 4th-gen 2023 model.

Pretty much every Outlander generation will have its most reliable year just like any car, although some years can be still more reliable than others when comparing stats such as the number of complaints and reliability ratings.

For instance, the 2nd-gen 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander has a RepairPal reliability rating of 4/5 (Above Average) and also has only 72 complaints to its name on CarProblemZoo.

In comparison, the 3rd-gen model also has a 4/5 RepairPal reliability rating, but it only has 37 complaints on CarProblemZoo. 

What is the biggest problem with the Mitsubishi Outlander?

One of the biggest problems with the Mitsubishi Outlander is its powertrain issues, which is mostly due to the unreliable CVT (continuously variable transmission) it’s equipped with.

Mostly observed in the 3rd-gen Outlander, the faulty CVT is commonly known to cause issues such as a transmission warning light, jerky or hesitating acceleration, reduced power, engine RPMs suddenly rising, shifting issues, and engine stalling.

Other common problems of the Mitsubishi Outlander include electrical issues like defective airbags and a faulty HVAC blower motor, and suspension problems like a corroded rear frame and the steering wheel veering to the left or right.

Is the Mitsubishi Outlander expensive to maintain?

According to RepairPal’s estimates, the Mitsubishi Outlander has an annual maintenance cost of $519 on average, which is virtually identical to the $521 average for compact SUVs. However, it’s still $133 less than the $652 average for all vehicles.

It’s also important to consider the other factors that can affect your Mitsubishi Outlander’s yearly maintenance cost, such as the age or mileage of your vehicle, driving habits, your location, and the exact shop you have it serviced.  

Is the Mitsubishi Outlander fuel efficient?

The Mitsubishi Outlander is considered to have good fuel efficiency for its class, but exact ratings can depend on the generation, model year, engine option, and drivetrain you choose. 

The 4th-generation Mitsubishi Outlander can achieve EPA fuel economy ratings of 24 mpg (city) and 31 mpg (highway) with the 2.5-liter I4 option and 2WD. Opting for 4WD will drop highway ratings by just 1 at 30 mpg.

Excluding the PHEV version which has a combined rating of 74 MPGe, the ratings above are the best that you’ll get out of any non-hybrid Outlander model, which is still slightly behind current competitors in real-world settings.

To compare, a 3rd-gen Outlander with the older 2.4-liter I4 base engine and 4WD can yield ratings of 24 mpg (city) and 29 mpg (highway). These are very similar figures to the 4th-gen model, yet it’s quite average or on par with rivals of that time.