For people, who are less familiar with Mitsubishi then, let’s say, Toyota or Honda, this japanese brand has a rich and deep history which is not less glorious than these global brands.
The roots of Mitsubishi goes back as far as until 1870, the foundation of Mitsubishi Keiretsu, which would later become Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of Japan’s industrial conglomerates. And in 1917, the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. introduced the Mitsubishi Model A, Japan’s first series-production automobile. Finally in 1970, Mitsubishi Motors (MM) emerged as part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
In 2011, MM was the 19th biggest automobile manufacturer worldwide.
Since 2016, Nissan owns one third (34 percent) of MM as Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan Alliance. In the last decade or so, Mitsubishi kept its presence in a hypercompetitive global automotive sector. The company focused more and more on SUV’s, following the global trends and practically halted the development of other models like the once legendary Lancer or Eclipse.
As the “Three Diamonds” (what Mitsubishi means) joined the powerful Renault-Nissan Alliance under Carlos Ghosn as CEO (by then), the expectations were higher as Mitsubishi could unleash its full potential and make utilize large scale of economics within the group. However, the Alliance itself is in a crisis in the post-Ghosn era and Mitsubishi is yet to gain advantages. These expectations aside, Mitsubishi manages to keep a model range consisting mainly of SUV’s and protects its in market share in North America. One key factor and marketing success is the class-leading warranty of 10 years.
The RVR Then And Now
The history of RVR goes back to 40 years ago. Mitsubishi had the first and second generation of RVR. The first generation was produced between 1991 and 2001 and this model was sold under the name “Space Runner” and also as; Dodge/Plymouth Colt Wagon and Eagle Summit Wagon as the result of cooperation between Mitsubishi and Chrysler. This was then a compact minivan instead of an SUV.
The second generation was manufactured between 1997 and 2002 as RVR and also under the name “Espace”.
The 2020 RVR GT AWC
Finally the current generation of RVR was introduced in 2010 as a compact crossover SUV. In the USA, it is sold as “Outlander Sport” The 2020 model is the fourth facelift, introduced prior 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Despite all these efforts, the RVR cannot conceal not only its age, but also the need for a new platform. The design reveals itself as a work of the previous decade, albeit with good build-quality with narrow panel gaps. Inside the cabin, you won’t find the high-quality soft-plastics everywhere but it is built solidly. An unexpected problem we encountered with the driver seat: It moved back and forth slighly while driving. We assume that this problem was unique to our tester.
With a panorama glass roof in the GT trim, passengers in the rear have 30 mm more headroom than the standard model. The luggage space is also generous for this class, with 566 liters with all seats in upright position and with 1.415 liters with rear seats folded flat. The leather seat coverings give a more upscale look. The metal shift paddles and the new, bigger infotainment screen give a touch of modernity.
The RVR is Mitsubishi’s second best selling vehicle (nearly 6,300 RVRs were sold in Canada last year), after the Outlander PHEV, we tested earlier.
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Despite its age and not-the-best ride quality in this class, this is a solid vehicle, supported also by a 10-year, industry leading warranty.
The RVR is the only model in the subcompact class that offers a lockable 4WD system with its GT package we tested. Most drivers will not notice its absence or even ask for it. But Mitsu’ subcompact offers this feature for instances where you need serious off-road capabilities.
Engine And Powertrain
Our tester, GT AWC has a 2.4L four cylinder engine delivering 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to Mitsubishi’s latest INVECSIII CVT transmission. This combination generates sufficient torque and passing power for your daily needs. We, as AutoandRoad drivers are not fans of CVT’s, but appreciate the fuel economy it can deliver and thus making the average driver happy. Mitsubishi rates the GT versions of the RVR at 9.4 litres per 100 kilometers. Our test, consisting of urban and highway driving almost equally delivered 9.8 L/100 km, which is quite close to “official” figure.
With MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link system in the rear, the subcompact Mitsu drives well, though more truckish than smooth urban cruising. In today’s reality that SUV’s are driven more than 90 percent in urban areas, a new chassis is due. It was apparent that Mitsubishi saved on isolation quality, as we noticed the engine and tire noise infiltrating the cabin at highway speeds.
The GT option offers a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with subwoofers. A nice feature to be found at a subcompact SUV.
The base, FWD model of the RVR starts at C$ 22,998. Our tester with GT trim and AWD has an MSRP of C$ 33,998. This price is justifiable for a well-equipped japanese SUV that offers a 10-year warranty.
Mitsubishi is on tight budget. It means that model cycles last longer, new models arrive later and the latest technology may wait. The upside is that you buy a reliable and robust japanese product from from an old manufacturer with a warranty that gives you peace of mind and confidence
Article by Varol McKars
Photos by Dan Gunay
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