|Mitsubishi’s RVR includes this sportier Black Edition for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Mitsubishi wouldn’t have needed to go to great measures in order to make the interior all black too, but instead followed the usual sporting theme by adding
|A large rooftop spoiler and glossy black alloys make the rear three-quarter view look sharp. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Continuing this upscale theme, high-quality soft-touch synthetics cover the instrument
|Last year Mitsubishi took a truly stylish subcompact SUV and gave it a head-turning redesign that polarizes opinions. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If you think all of this black and the limited splashes of red might come across as too austere, take refuge in the primary gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen that ante up with more colour, the former boasting a bit of blue for the digital temperature and fuel metres in its centre-mounted colour multi-information display/trip computer, while the latter combines bright red, green, blue and more.
|These 18-inch alloys might be the nicest addition to the RVR Black Edition upgrade package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of course a rearview camera is included, while the audio system shows its age by incorporating a now classic CD player, which I don’t mind one whit due to improved audio quality over other mediums. The radio only offered FM1, FM2 and AM channels, without any ability to access Sirius/XM satellite. Just below is a three-dial
|Minimalist taillights still look attractive despite a lack of LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Black Edition, priced at $28,698 before freight and fees, which incidentally is $8,700 over the base model’s entry price of $19,998, is built on the back of 2.4 SE Limited Edition 4WD trim, which along with everything already mentioned includes fog lamps, remote keyless entry, heatable powered mirrors, cruise control, aluminum sport pedals, Bluetooth with audio streaming, hill start assist, tire
|The RVR opens up to a fairly upscale interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Those seat heaters mentioned a moment ago are embedded within front cushions that were on the firm side of supportive albeit extremely comfortable thanks in part to superb lower back bolsters. They don’t offer a great deal of adjustment, but were inherently well designed so therefore not much repositioning was required to find the ideal fit. The RVR’s overall driver ergonomics are excellent too, with more telescopic reach from the steering column than most competitors in the subcompact SUV class, plus ample tilt as well. This allows most any body type to get comfortable, and as importantly leaves them in greater control.
Therefore, the RVR was good to drive all day long, and when combined with impressive
|Red highlights help to colourize the RVR Black Edition’s cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Let’s not forget the RVR was one of the subcompact SUV segment’s originators, and it really hasn’t changed all that much since it was introduced in 2010. Yes, that’s seven long years without a major redesign, not the best recipe for sales success, but this is what happens when a brand doesn’t get the investment money needed to keep upgrading. Ironically, some of that much-needed investment will soon come from new controlling owner (34 percent) Nissan (now the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance), which makes one of the RVR’s most daunting rivals, the new Qashqai.
To be clear, Mitsubishi dramatically reworked the RVR’s nose last year, with results that are at the very least polarizing, while this Black Edition is at best a variation on the theme, but in reality it’s the same
|The little multi-info display at centre gets some blue highlights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Along with comfort, the driver’s seat should provide plenty of room for all but the largest, while the rear seating area is much better than the subcompact SUV class average. When the driver’s seat was positioned for my five-foot-eight medium-build frame I found about four inches ahead of my knees when sitting in the rear seat directly behind, plus ample room for my feet, while I had in the neighbourhood of three inches from my shoulder to the door panel and two inches for my outer hip, as well as three inches of headroom. A folding centre armrest made things more comfortable when only two rear passengers were aboard, and provided dual integrated cupholders as well.
|The centre stack is nicely laid out for easy utilization. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Such trivialities may matter to those concerned about pampering their kids or parents, but most of the subcompact SUVs I see driving by only have one or two people up front with a dog and/or gear in back, which is probably one of the key reasons why the RVR has found so many owners over the years. At 614 litres (21.7 cubic feet) behind the rear seatbacks, only three subcompact SUVs are more accommodating for cargo, those being the Honda HR-V, aforementioned Nissan Qashqai, and redesigned Jeep compass that measure 657 litres (23.2 cubic feet), 648 litres (22.9 cubic feet) and 643 litres (22.7 cubic feet) respectively.
|More colour… the infotainment touchscreen is actually quite feature filled. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
What about with all seats folded flat? The RVR measures 1,402 litres (49.5 cubic feet) compared to the most accommodating Qashqai’s 1,730 litres (61.1 cubic feet), whereas the HR-V and Crosstrek arrive with equal measurements of 1,631 litres (57.5 cubic feet), the CX-3 with 1,528 litres (53.9 cubic feet), the Compass at 1,518 litres (53.6 cubic feet), the Renegade at 1,438 litres (50.8 cubic feet), the
|This single-zone auto HVAC interface hovers above a set of front seat heater switches. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Back to the RVR specifically, the rear seats fold easily via two pushbutton releases, and when laid down create a mostly flat load floor, the back half of which is removable. I wouldn’t say that load floor is as ruggedly made as others in the
|The RVR uses an optional CVT gearbox, standard with the upgraded 2.4-litre four mind you. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’ve already spoken at length about driver ergonomics, but haven’t yet commented on driving dynamics. That’s because I wanted to save best for last, the RVR a particularly enjoyable SUV to motor around town, fling through a curving back road, or cruise in on the highway. Its ride is surprisingly smooth and compliant for such a small vehicle riding on meaty 225/55R18 all-season rubber, while its agility pays respect to the same brand that brought us one of my all-time favourite performance cars, the Evo X (RIP).
|These seats are very comfortable, despite remedial adjustment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Yes, a number of rivals do better (the bestselling HR-V with its auto and AWD is rated at 8.9 L/100km city, 7.5 highway and 8.2 combined), but few deliver as much performance off the line (true for the 141 horsepower HR-V), and if fuel economy matters more to your lifestyle than getting where you’re going quickly the
|Rear roominess is excellent, while the seats are comfy too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Like that Evo mentioned a paragraph ago, the RVR can be had with a somewhat less complicated All Wheel Control drivetrain (fancy talk for all-wheel drive), which comes into play automatically if left to its own devices, or if you’ve got a big snowbank to get out of, or alternatively if the tide is coming in and you need to escape from a sandy beach after a warm summer’s day (doesn’t that sound fabulous this time of year?), just press the 4WD Lock button on the lower console and bingo, all four wheels are forced into action while the RVR’s generous 216 millimetres (8.5 inches) of ground clearance will make sure you don’t get hung up.
|The RVR provides significantly more cargo space than most of its peers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Whether you pull the trigger or pull the plug will be up to you, but the RVR is still worth a closer look despite its age. It’s arguably stylish (or at least a conversation starter), delivers an impressive interior with lots of features and loads of space, drives very well, and should be fairly reliable after all these years.
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