2014 Mitsubishi RVR
2014 Mitsubishi RVR
2014 Mitsubishi RVR
2014 Mitsubishi RVR. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

Mini-crossovers are something of a booming segment in Canada right now, enjoying a 120 percent jump from 2012 to 2013. Leading that charge (according to goodcarbadcar.net) is the Mitsubishi RVR.

Mitsubishi sold 7,653 RVRs last year – about 600 more than the Trax and 1,500 more than the Subaru XV Crosstrek. The Nissan Juke, Buick Encore and Mini Countryman brought up the rear.

And it is evident out on the road, where I have seen the cute little CUV piloted by everyone from new drivers to retirees, young women to old men. Like the Trax for Chevrolet, the RVR is a success for Mitsubishi – in fact it’s Mitsubishi’s bestselling car.

And to their credit, Mitsubishi has supplied we of the unwashed press with a genuine reflection of their sales leaders, the SE AWC (All-Wheel Control, or as the rest of us call it all-wheel drive)… well, kind of. This one is the Limited Edition, essentially an upgrade package of the mid-level SE trim. The Limited Edition enhances the already good-looking RVR by including 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome grille surround and exhaust tip, roof rails, and a rear spoiler. It also gets paddle shifters for the CVT transmission, automatic climate control and illuminated vanity mirrors. According to the press material that’s about $5,000 worth of options, and the Limited Edition is only $800 more than the base SE AWC – which is pretty solid value.

Regardless of trim, the Mitsubishi RVR is powered by a 2.0L inline-four producing 148 hp at 6,000 rpm and 145 lb-ft of torque at at 4,200 rpm. The base model ES 2WD is available only with a five-speed manual, the next-level SE 2WD can be had with an optional CVT, but the AWD models are all available only with a Sportronic CVT.

148 hp is not a spectacular number but it does pull this 1,470 kg crossover around smartly enough in the city. On the highway, overtaking involves some patience, some pre-planning and a lot of revs. You can achieve your goal, but without much enjoyment. That the 145 lb-ft is also not available until high in the rev range is a mild disappointment; but again it is adequate for most urban/suburban driving.

2014 Mitsubishi RVR engine2014 Mitsubishi RVR dashboard
2014 Mitsubishi RVR engine & dashboard. Click image to enlarge

The CVT is, well, a CVT. It is noisy and feels strange but helps deliver solid fuel economy – in this case an EPA-rated 9.8/8.1/9.0 L/100 km city/highway/combined. For what it’s worth, I spent the week in traffic jams and ended with a 9.7 L/100 km. This CVT did come with paddle shifters as mentioned, and they did a solid job of simulating the stepped gears of a traditional gearbox.

2014 Mitsubishi RVR wheel
2014 Mitsubishi RVR. Click image to enlarge

Suspension is taken care of with MacPherson struts up the front and multi-link suspension at the rear. Both ends have a stabilizer bar and disc brakes – though the fronts are ventilated and the rears solid. Steering is electrically assisted. As a car enthusiast it was overboosted. As an actual human being who enjoys driving easy-to-drive cars with effortless steering it was just about perfect. The centre of the wheel has a little bit of play, which meant driving in crosswinds got busy but in corners the RVR is well-planted and doesn’t suffer from body roll the way you might expect from a top-heavy CUV, especially one this short of wheelbase and tall of height.

Communication with the front wheels and brakes was good – benefitting from Mitsubishi’s strong racing history. That’s what I like to refer to as the “trickle down”. It was certainly a nicer car to drive than the Chevrolet Trax I briefly sampled last year.  Personally, I find that with its interesting headlights, Lancer-esque front nose and sculpted flanks, the RVR is prettier too.

The all-wheel-drive system is FWD based but comes three modes – FWD, AWD and an electric AWD lock. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the system to break traction so there is a lot of confidence to be found here.

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