Tiny utes are taking over the world. Not long ago, there were almost none. Today, Buick, Subaru, Jeep, Chevrolet, Nissan, Honda, Fiat and Mitsubishi all have tiny ute models on offer, and more are in the pipeline. Shoppers after all-wheel-drive confidence, small-car maneuverability, sport-ute flexibility and space (okay, not so much space), and an elevated driving position gravitate towards these machines, primarily for flexibility without the bloat, all-weather confidence with good mileage, and driving characteristics like a small car.

Tiny utes are big business, and the Mitsubishi RVR sets itself apart in this scene in a few key ways.

First, with adventurous and tidy styling, an athletic stance, and a look that’s cohesive, focused and sharp. Probably, this is the best-looking little ute in its segment. Recent interior updates see more premium materials and upscale trim applied as well, adding a further up-level feel to the cabin.

Second is a list of warm, fuzzy and sensible attributes that many value-minded shoppers love. The RVR is top-rated in terms of crash test scores, and offers the auto industry’s lengthiest powertrain warranty, with 160,000 kilometres of coverage. And, after a check in several online owners’ forums, the RVR is looking like a reliable machine as it starts to age. If you’re a shopper who puts value on safety and peace of mind, this stuff adds appeal.

The third is the four-wheel-drive system. Running Mitsubishi’s All-Wheel Control (AWC) technology to power all fours, RVR gives drivers button-tap control over the four-wheel-drive system. Tap once for front-wheel drive if you don’t need extra traction, and tap once again for automatic four-wheel drive, which acts like an AWD system by enhancing traction on an as-needed basis. One more tap locks the front and rear axles together, preemptively engaging full grip ahead of tackling off-road situations or a two-foot snowbank at the end of your driveway.

Most competitors offer a one-mode AWD system that’s fully autonomous, and many drivers, especially those in northern climates, and those occasionally engaging in off-road activities, will appreciate the added degree of control available in the RVR’s system. There’s value in this level of four-wheel drive control for many folks, and front-wheel-drive models are available, too.

The just-right sizing that lies at the core of the little ute’s appeal is alive and well in the RVR. The driving position is elevated but remains car-like, entry and exit are handled without a step up or down and more of a sideways butt-shift into the seat, and there’s room aboard for four adults to sit with relative comfort. Storage facilities for smaller, at-hand items are generous, too.

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