2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition Road Test

2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
Mitsubishi’s RVR includes this sportier Black Edition for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the latest trend toward special blacked out versions of new cars and SUVs, at least not normally. Fortunately, Mitsubishi didn’t go so far as to darken the new RVR SE AWC Black Edition’s signature chrome detailing up front, and left its tailpipe finisher and various emblems in bright metal as well. Instead, this Black Edition gets an all-black exterior paint treatment, the usual matte black lower body cladding, a sweet looking set of glossy black painted 18-inch multi-spoke alloys, and similarly shiny black roof rails. That, and all its protruding trim bits (a.k.a. mirror caps, door handles, rooftop antenna, and rear spoiler) painted body colour as well, and it’s a wrap, figuratively and literally.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
A large rooftop spoiler and glossy black alloys make the rear three-quarter view look sharp. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
plenty of red highlights, including stitching inside the top half of the leather-wrapped steering wheel, around the baseball-style leather shift knob, down each side of the leather-clad parking brake handle, and on the inside edge of each black woven cloth seat bolster, while the fabric seat inserts received a nice red and black pattern. On top of this, the steering wheel was dressed up with some piano black lacquered trim, as was the infotainment system surround, while the centre stack backing was detailed out in a carbon fibre-like textured composite. Tasteful amounts of chrome brightened key trim throughout, while the large metal paddle shifters were fabricated from genuine magnesium.

Continuing this upscale theme, high-quality soft-touch synthetics cover the instrument
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
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)
panel from the left side of the gauge cluster, around the centre stack and ahead of the front passenger, butting up against thick front door uppers made from the same material. The rest of the door shells are hard plastic, other than the one-piece inserts/armrests made from the same woven cloth as the seat bolsters.

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.

2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
These 18-inch alloys might be the nicest addition to the RVR Black Edition upgrade package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
It’s a fairly rudimentary looking infotainment interface just the same, but certainly served its purposes well throughout my test week. The three colours are for the radio, phone and car setup respectively, while other features are purposefully grey until connected, such as the one for media that let’s you stream content via Bluetooth from your smartphone, or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that do the same plus much more. Sync them up with your phone and voila, their respective branding lights up in trademark colours, plus you’re ready to access loads of phone features as well as your personal info right up on the RVR’s touchscreen.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
Minimalist taillights still look attractive despite a lack of LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
single-zone auto climate control system, and underneath that switchgear for the two-way heatable front seats. Hovering above, no sunroof is provided in this particular model, or for that matter much of an overhead console, the small panel allotted only including a set of incandescent reading/door entry lights.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
The RVR opens up to a fairly upscale interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
pressure monitoring, all the expected active and passive safety features including an airbag for the driver’s knees, plus more.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
Red highlights help to colourize the RVR Black Edition’s cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
ride quality as well as a particularly nimble, easy handling chassis, it’s easy to appreciate why it’s been such a strong seller for Mitsubishi over the years.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
The little multi-info display at centre gets some blue highlights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
SUV I first drove at the model’s Lunenburg, Nova Scotia launch program way back in the fall of 2010. This said I’m not complaining as it continues to be one of the best in its class, and one of the largest and most accommodating.

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.
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
The centre stack is nicely laid out for easy utilization. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
This is important, as there are no bottle holders in the rear doors. Truly, that armrest pretty well sums up the rear “luxuries,” this being a fairly spartan SUV in back.

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.

2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
More colour… the infotainment touchscreen is actually quite feature filled. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
comparison purposes the rest include the Subaru Crosstrek with 588 litres (20.7 cubic feet), the new Toyota CH-R at 538 litres (19.0 cubic feet), the Buick Encore at 532 litres (19 cubic feet), Chevrolet Trax at 529 litres (18.7 cubic feet), Jeep Renegade at 524 litres (18.5 cubic feet), Mini Countryman at 467 litres (16.5 cubic feet), Mazda CX-3 at 452 litres (15.9 cubic feet), Fiat 500X at 350 litres (12.2 cubic feet), and finally the Nissan Juke at 297 litres (10.5 cubic feet).

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
This single-zone auto HVAC interface hovers above a set of front seat heater switches. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Encore and Trax at 1,370 litres (48.4 cubic feet) apiece, Countryman at 1,170 litres (41.3 cubic feet), CH-R at 1,031 litres (36.4 cubic feet), Juke at 1,017 litres (35.9 cubic feet), and 500X at 560 litres (19.9 cubic feet). And yes, newcomers will soon add to the competitive frenzy in this segment from Ford, Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan again (the Kicks will soon replace the Juke), but we’ll start comparing their attributes when the EcoSport, Kona, Stonic and Kicks go on sale.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
The RVR uses an optional CVT gearbox, standard with the upgraded 2.4-litre four mind you. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
class, but nevertheless hiding below is a full-size spare tire plus all the tools needed to change it, as well as enough space around the edges to store small items you might want to keep away from prying eyes.

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).

2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
These seats are very comfortable, despite remedial adjustment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The RVR doesn’t come close to competing with that Evo in a straight line, mind you, its 2.4-litre four-cylinder plenty potent for the class just the same thanks to 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, while its continuously variable transmission with eight stepped “gears” (CVT8) is wonderfully smooth if not particularly sporting, although most of that can be forgiven when pulling up to the pump due to a reasonably efficient 10.3 L/100km city, 8.3 highway and 9.4 combined rating as tested.

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
2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
Rear roominess is excellent, while the seats are comfy too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
RVR can be had with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder featuring 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque that’s capable of a claimed 9.7 L/100km city, 7.8 highway and 8.8 combined rating in FWD trim, or 10.1 city, 8.2 highway and 9.2 combined with AWD.

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.

2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4 SE AWC Black Edition
The RVR provides significantly more cargo space than most of its peers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Better news is the 2018 RVR has just arrived and is mostly identical to the 2017 model, other than the replacement of this Black Edition with a new Anniversary Edition, plus a couple of other minor changes such as the elimination of the five-speed manual from the lineup, which elevates the base price to $22,998. This means you can get a 2017 model for an even bigger discount than before, which, along with Mitsubishi’s outrageously strong warranty that covers most everything for five years or 100,000 km and the powertrain for another five years or additional 60,000 km, totaling 10 years or 160,000 km, makes for an awesome value proposition.

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.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)