2011 Mitsubishi RVR
2011 Mitsubishi RVR. Click image to enlarge

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Mitsubishi Motors Canada

Review and photos by Haney Louka

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2011 Mitsubishi RVR

Mitsubishi has chosen a challenging time to introduce its new RVR cute ute, just as the Koreans are launching a full-scale assault on the compact crossover segment in the form of the popular Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage fraternal twins. To say the rules of this segment have changed in the last twelve months is a wee understatement. And there are currently more choices than ever for those budget-conscious buyers who also care about style: witness the Nissan Juke.

But Mitsu is hoping family ties with its successful Lancer and Outlander models will give RVR the edge over its competitors. But the real question is: does the RVR have the true rally-inspired DNA of its siblings, or is it a pumped-up econobox that struggles to fill big shoes?

2011 Mitsubishi RVR
2011 Mitsubishi RVR. Click image to enlarge

Pricing for the RVR starts down at the all-important $19,998 mark for an ES 2WD, or $1 less than a Hyundai Tucson L (it should be noted, though, that the Mits’ destination charge undercuts that of the Hyundai by more than $300). That sum includes a five-speed manual transmission, heated front seats, keyless entry, A/C, heated exterior mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, tilt and telescoping wheel, wheel-mounted cruise control, a rear cargo cover, and a 140-watt audio system. The RVR is also fully equipped on the safety front: side and curtain air bags, a knee airbag, hill-start assist, and electronic stability control top the list of standard features. The entry Hyundai’s lack of cruise control, heated seats, and keyless entry give the RVR a leg up on bang-for-the-buck.

The RVR SE 2WD bumps the price of entry up to $21,998 and increases the style factor with fog lights, tint for the windows, alloy wheels, a centre armrest, and leather for the steering wheel and shift lever. Tech is addressed with Bluetooth connectivity, auxiliary audio input, and steering wheel mounted audio controls. While the five-speed stick is standard, buyers can opt for the “Sportronic” continuously-variable transmission for an additional $1,200.

2011 Mitsubishi RVR
2011 Mitsubishi RVR. Click image to enlarge

Move up to the $24,998 SE 4WD, the trim level of our tester, and that CVT comes standard, along with Mitsu’s “All-Wheel Control” electronic all-wheel drive.

There’s bling to be had when the $28,498 GT model is selected: HID headlights, chrome for the grille, panoramic glass roof, rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch alloys, a 710-watt audio system (yes, that’s five times the power of the standard system), and a rear seat centre armrest.

$3,500 is a big bump from the SE to GT models, especially considering that it’s exactly the same vehicle save for cosmetics and a few convenience items, but I guess that’s the price you pay to look good. Unfortunately, there’s no in between; only dealer accessories are available if one wants more customization than the four trims allow.

I’m a big fan of the larger Outlander, and at first glance the RVR looked to be simply a scaled-down version of that popular crossover, which it undercuts by $3,000 in base 4WD form. And indeed, Mitsubishi’s U.S. operations call this vehicle the Outlander Sport to capitalize on brand equity (and perhaps to lump the two vehicles’ sales together for larger numbers). But this one didn’t wow me like the Outlander did.

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