Road Test: 2011 Mitsubishi RVR

24 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Road Test: 2011 Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR

Road Test: 2011 Mitsubishi RVR

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By Shari Prymak

There is something I find conflicting about small crossover SUV#8217;s. On the one hand, they are one of the fasting growing, hottest car segments on the market. But on the other, they make little to no logical sense whatsoever.

It doesn#8217;’t matter whether you get a CR-V, Rav4, Escape, or whatever. Essentially, what you are buying is a taller, more expensive, more gas thirsty, yet no more practical, version of the family station wagon. It doesn#8217;’t matter though because everyone has been convinced that crossover#8217;’s are cool, safe, and rational, and the market has responded to that in a big way.

Certainly Mitsubishi has taken advantage of the hype, because, despite being a small to the point of non-existent car company, they now have two small crossovers: the compact Outlander and the new, even compacterer, RVR.

Being a compact crossover, the new RVR will compete against the likes of the Hyundai Tuscan, Kia Sportage, and the sales leading Ford Escape.

The base MSRP is only $19,998, making it one of the cheapest Japanese crossovers on the market. Even when you add popular options such as all-wheel drive, CVT automatic transmission, and comforts such as Bluetooth, auxiliary/USB jack, heated seats, and alloy wheels, the MSRP still doesn#8217;t top 25 grand. Another nice touch is that Mitsubishi’#8217;s come standard with a 5 year/100,000km comprehensive and 10 year/160,000km powertrain warranty.

I#8217;’m not much for crossovers, but I must admit, the RVR does have a pretty cool aggressive look going on. It isn#8217;’t as bland as a Honda CR-V, nor is it over the top like the Nissan Juke. It just looks right.

With its relatively low door sills, stepping into the RVR’#8217;s driver seat is an easy task. Yet, once seated, you get the high ride height that crossover buyer#8217;s clamor for. The cabin is also airy, spacious, and can easily accommodate four people plus cargo in a snap.

And despite being a five-seater, the RVR is loaded with no less than seven cup holders. Yup, the RVR#8217;’s what North Americans want alright.

Mitsubishi RVR

The RVR uses the same 148hp, 145lb-ft of torque, 2.0L 4-cylinder engine from the Lancer, mated to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or, in the case of my top-level GT tester, a CVT automatic. I was expecting this modest drivetrain to be a bit crude and lackluster in a crossover, but that wasn’#8217;t the case at all. Both the engine and transmission felt well suited to the vehicle.

And as far as I#8217;’m concerned, Mitsubishi has nicked the common CVT complaints. This transmission felt perfectly smooth and well calibrated. It was a fine match for the adequately refined and peppy engine.

The added bonus was excellent fuel economy. The RVR easily managed 10.0 #8211;- 11.0 L/100km in city driving, and around 8.0 L/100km on the highway. According to the RVR#8217;’s trip computer, I averaged 9.3 L/100km over my 500km road test, terrific for a crossover.

It#8217;’s worth noting that, due to good weather conditions, my RVR was kept in the more frugal 2WD mode, rather than the available 4WD and 4WD lock modes. It is nice though to see that kind of all-wheel drive flexibility on a small crossover.

Over my one week test period, I drove the RVR through all sorts of typical driving scenarios, and they were some of the most pleasurable I had ever experienced in a crossover. The RVR has the feel of a well optimized sedan. The steering feels appropriately quick and weighted.

The brakes feel strong and linear. And thanks to its relatively small size and good outward visibility, the RVR seems to shrink around the driver, giving you a pleasing sense of control.

If there is any area where the RVR could use improvement, it would have to be cornering and road-holding performance. It exhibits a fair amount of body-roll through fast corners. And while it is a nice driver in most scenarios, it can feel a bit wondery and jiggly at highway speeds, making it feel as though the RVR lacks plantedness.

I#8217;’m also not too sure about the value of my $28,498 top-level GT model. Aside from the fantastic xenon headlights, it seems to offer nothing else extra of real value. The giant glass roof disappointingly doesn’#8217;t open, the subwoofer of the Rockford Fosgate sound system infringes on trunk space, and the large 18#8221; wheels stiffen what would otherwise likely be considered outstanding ride quality (though it is still perfectly acceptable).

In short, stick with the mid-range SE model.

These are all fairly minor niggles, however, because, as it surprisingly turns out, I really like the RVR. I like how it looks. I like how it drives. I like that it#8217;’s Japanese.

And I like the price. As a family vehicle, the roomier and more practical Mazda 5 is a better all-around alternative. But if the compact crossover thing fits your lifestyle, the RVR is a great choice.

Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi RVR
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