One of the strongest markets in Canada is the compact SUV….so-called “cute utes”….largely dominated by offerings from Honda, Toyota, Kia/Hyundai, GM, Ford, and Nissan.
But among all the HRVs, Sportages, Jukes, Traxes, and CX-3s, there is the Mitsubishi RVR, a quietly able compact ute with one of the lowest base prices and highest warranties in the industry. Mitsubishi keeps a fairly low profile in Canada – for a variety of reasons – but the RVR is a surprisingly brisk seller.
Just to spice things up a bit, the company recently released its Black Edition, which is a limited run, Canada-only model and comes with a few extras you won’t find in the garden variety RVR. Like its paler stablemates, the RVR “Black” is a stoutly built, very driveable compact SUV, with a base price under $30,000.
A few specs. The RVR Black Edition comes with a 2.4 litre four cylinder that develops 168 hp. A “SporTronic” CVT is the only choice, and standard equipment includes a skid plate, heated front seats, steering wheel mounted audio controls, block heater, paddle shifters, and, of course, Mitsubishi’s all-wheel-drive system. Other things distinguishing the Black Edition from the rest of the herd is include the “Labrador” black paint job, 18-inch alloy “GT” wheels, and a discreet little badge on the rear deck. It also comes with red leather stitching, and a Smartphone link Audio display.
I think what appeals to me the most about the RVR, regardless of its paint job, is that it’s kind of like half a generation behind its chief competitors in terms of modcons, comfort goodies and overall “feel”. For example, it doesn’t have a push button start button….just an old-fashioned key….remember those? That alone gives it a leg up, as far as I’m concerned. Push button start is unnecessary and annoying, IMO, yet the majority of manufacturers seem to feel that buyers want it.
With seating for five…..although things would be a little snug…..the RVR Black Edition has some 1400 litres of cargo space behind the front seats. By way of comparison, a Tucson will give you about 1700 litres, while a Kia Sportage is good for just over 1500 litres….so the RVR has a little less elbow room inside.
But in terms of road manners and handling/braking, the RVR is more than adequate…..not a hot rod, agreed, but around town, it’s just fine, thank you. Most buyers in this market aren’t looking for road-scalding performance or nosebleed-inducing braking and cornering abilities. They want reliability, comfort, and decent fuel economy. The RVR satisfies most of these needs, and my tester is rated at 9.6 L/100 km combined fuel rating. Again, comparing it to the competition, a Honda HR-V delivers a purported combined rating of 7.7 L/100 km.
A few nits to pick. First up, the CVT tends to “creep and snatch” during bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic….this is annoying and doesn’t bode well for long-term longevity. Second…. and this is pretty picayune….the heater fan makes ‘way too much noise…..even at its lowest setting.
But if that’s all there is to complain about, that isn’t much at all.
AT A GLANCE
Engine: 2.4 litre four cylinder
Horsepower: 168 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 167 ft. lb @ 4100 rpm
Price: $28, 698
Fuel Economy: 10.5 L /100 km (city) & 8.6 (hwy.) Regular fuel.
Alternatives: Honda HR-V, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, Chev Trax, Buick Encore.
Manufacturer’s Site: Mitsubishi
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist Of The Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).