The Truth About Cars » Mitsubishi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Mitsubishi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/mitsubishi/ QOTD: Do You Care About Mitsubishi? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-do-you-care-about-mitsubishi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-do-you-care-about-mitsubishi/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126441 I am going to make a couple assumptions about Mitsubishi, our loyal TTAC readers, and where the two intersect. For one, I don’t think a single person who comments or reads TTAC on a regular basis owns a Mitsubishi built after 1993. Also, I am going to make an educated guess that not a single Mirage […]

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2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

I am going to make a couple assumptions about Mitsubishi, our loyal TTAC readers, and where the two intersect.

For one, I don’t think a single person who comments or reads TTAC on a regular basis owns a Mitsubishi built after 1993. Also, I am going to make an educated guess that not a single Mirage owner reads automotive websites or blogs or any information source that offers proper opinions on Mitsubishi’s smallest of offerings.

Last — but certainly not least — I am going to point out there aren’t many people who read TTAC that care about Mitsubishi in the slightest. This, my friends, isn’t just a guess.

Every morning, after sitting down with my thick-as-tar coffee and obligatory morning bagel, I check the previous day’s traffic to see what articles have done well and what ones haven’t. I was almost certain that Mitsubishi’s announcement last week would set off a shockwave of interest throughout the automotive enthusiast community, whether it be out of actual concern or pure schadenfreude.

I wasn’t the only one who thought this. Tim was certain of this, too, providing us a quick recap of Mitsubishi’s sales in the U.S. since 2002. Even Matt Hardigree at Jalopnik found the Mitsubishi situation interesting enough to spend some time behind a keyboard to smash out an excellent editorial about the state of the U.S. manufacturer-gone-importer arm of the Japanese marque. He even linked to our Mitsubishi Doomsday Clock post by the second paragraph, the good friend that he is. (It should be noted when Jalopnik posts a link in our direction, we are usually in for a fair amount of additional traffic than a typical day.)

Yet, even with those pieces in place, do you know what people found more interesting?

A crashed Mazda MX-5 Miata replaced by Mazda.

That’s right. The fact that nearly 1,200 Illinoisans will likely lose their jobs was completely supplanted in popularity by a single MX-5 being destroyed by a pickup truck.

For what it’s worth, there isn’t much to report about Mitsubishi these days other than the company has increased overall sales due in part to the Mirage, a low-margin offering built in Thailand. It’s difficult to get excited about a car that’s typically sold below MSRP since first being imported to the United States. A 20-year-old Lada would garner more intrigue from our fringe set of readers.

It’s also difficult to take Mitsubishi seriously on the surface. Its car lineup consists of the aforementioned Mirage, an eight-year-old compact Lancer (that we first saw in Tokyo as a concept 10 years ago!), a performance model based on the Lancer that’s in its last year of production, and an electric vehicle that’s been uncompetitive (and more expensive than its competitors) from day one. Even Mitsubishi’s SUV lineup has been relegated to also-ran status next to the much more modern offerings of its Japanese, Korean and American competitors.

However, if Mitsubishi played a different game, I think we would care. If Mitsubishi was more honest about the products it does offer and wasn’t hellbent on ruining the little bit of remaining goodwill it has with enthusiasts, we might actually give a shit. When a car company has virtually no exciting product in the pipeline, people don’t see the brand’s disappearance as much of a loss. Even those who’ve bought Mirages are likely not to care as there’s not a single vehicle within the Mitsubishi lineup for them up “step up” to at trade-in time once the Lancer is put out to pasture.

When Suzuki tanked, while I cared to a degree, very few other people did. Most of my positive emotion invested in Suzuki was deeply rooted in a childhood spent being driven in and learning to drive on Suzuki products. Sure, they were cheap, disposable SUVs with little to offer in the creature comfort department (our first Sidekick was completely devoid of power options, A/C and gear selection was dictated by the driver), but at least Suzuki’s offerings were unique and provided a niche choice in the market. Even toward Suzuki’s end days, the Grand Vitara was an enchanting option with rear-wheel drive and a ladder-type frame beneath its unibody coverings. Oh — and you could still get a proper manual transmission! (Let’s not talk about the Kizashi or any of the number of Korean-built Daewoo rebadges. Or the Equator.)

What does Mitsubishi have that sets it apart from any other automaker?

Unlike Suzuki, however, I think Mitsubishi will survive, whether it deserves to or not. In a marketplace where virtually anyone can get a loan, Mitsubishi will likely thrive on small vehicle sales until the financial bubble bursts. Hopefully by then, for Mitsubishi’s sake, the company will have one or two new products that elicit some amount of interest in customers besides those who’d otherwise be relegated to a “buy here, pay here” lot.

And even with all that, even if Mitsubishi survives — or even thrives — after their latest shedding of production assets and we report on a brand new Lancer or EVO-esque SUV, I don’t think a single person will care. Maybe we will have enough budget by then to crash a Miata on our own just for the page views.

What say you, B&B? Do you care about Mitsubishi in its current form? Is it even still a curiosity at this point? Or is Mitsubishi simply a lacklustre brand that’s had its clearcoat fade in the sunlight for far too long?

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Mitsubishi Doomsday Clock – When Do We Start Counting? UPDATE: Right Now. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mitsubishi-doomsday-clock-when-do-we-start-counting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mitsubishi-doomsday-clock-when-do-we-start-counting/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124761 UPDATE: Mitsubishi has officially announced they will close the Normal, Ill. plant and are looking for a “strategic buyer.” This article was originally written a couple of hours before the announcement. Our Mitsubishi Doomsday Countdown starts right now, putting Mitsubishi’s Best-Before Date at Tuesday, January 16, 2018. When Suzuki decided to stop building their last self-produced […]

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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport now Made in America

UPDATE: Mitsubishi has officially announced they will close the Normal, Ill. plant and are looking for a “strategic buyer.” This article was originally written a couple of hours before the announcement. Our Mitsubishi Doomsday Countdown starts right now, putting Mitsubishi’s Best-Before Date at Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

When Suzuki decided to stop building their last self-produced model in North America, the seven-seater XL7, in the midst of the U.S. economic crisis, it was just another nail in the coffin for that looked to be inevitable — the end of Suzuki sales in North America.

The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada — a plant that still cranks out GM products to this day — was an integral part of Suzuki’s success and ultimate demise. Much like the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi facility, the CAMI plant started as a joint venture between General Motors and its new Japanese BFF.

General Motors, like Chrysler, wanted to leverage product from Japanese automakers. Chrysler went after sports cars while GM affixed the badges of many brands — Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Geo, Passport and Asuna — to the grilles of Sidekicks and Swifts to sell on the lots of its own dealers.

The CAMI plant gave Suzuki a local presence. People bought the Sidekick and its GM-badged brethren in droves — right up until the point they didn’t.

Suzuki, too little and too late, cut its ties with CAMI on May 12, 2009. However, the Normal story is a fair bit different, as it wasn’t Mitsubishi to pull out of the joint venture. In 1991, Chrysler divested part of its share in the joint venture and plant, giving Mitsubishi overall management control. Two years later, Chrysler would sell the remainder of Diamond-Star Motors to Mitsubishi, effectively ending the formal joint-venture partnership. DSM ceased to exist in 1995 when the joint-venture company was renamed Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America.

For Suzuki, it took 907 days after the end of manufacturing before the company packed it in for good in the U.S.

During the economic crisis, I was one of the many who also predicted the end of Mitsubishi in America.

Today, I’m not so sure.

Mitsubishi is making gains in sales, even if those gains are mostly on low-margin products. Also, there is a fair amount of new product on the horizon if the rumor mill is to be believed, and it could prop up the small Japanese automaker long enough to sort out its issues before the next inevitable recession.

Maybe.

Will Mitsubishi meet the same fate as Suzuki? Are we in for a 907-day wait before its ultimate end? We will see. If/when Mitsubishi makes a formal announcement on the future of Normal, we will start the clock.

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Breaking: Mitsubishi Ending U.S. Production, According To Nikkei Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/breaking-mitsubishi-ending-u-s-production-according-to-nikkei-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/breaking-mitsubishi-ending-u-s-production-according-to-nikkei-report/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 21:40:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124313 Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Ill. is set to shut its doors for good. That’s what Japan’s Nikkei news service is reporting today, though U.S. representatives for the company declined to comment. The plant was opened by Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler, in 1988 after two years of construction. It currently builds the Outlander […]

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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Ill. is set to shut its doors for good. That’s what Japan’s Nikkei news service is reporting today, though U.S. representatives for the company declined to comment.

The plant was opened by Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler, in 1988 after two years of construction. It currently builds the Outlander Sport/RVR, but was tasked with manufacturing the Eclipse/Plymouth Laser/Eagle Talon, Mirage/Eagle Summit, Galant, and coupe versions of the Dodge Avenger, Stratus and Chrysler Sebring during its lifetime.

According to Automotive News, the closure is part of a “strategic shift to the growing Asian market.” Mitsubishi will look for a buyer for the plant, and there’s no shortage of potential companies looking for additional capacity.

After the break up of Diamond-Star Motors, Chrysler’s stake in the plant was purchased by Mitsubishi. At its peak, the Normal facility produced about 200,000 vehicles per year. Last year, the plant produced just short of 70,000 vehicles, still better than the less than 20,000 it produced in 2009.

 

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Mitsubishi Will Soon Sell the Least Powerful V6 in America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/mitsubishi-will-soon-sell-the-least-powerful-v6-in-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/mitsubishi-will-soon-sell-the-least-powerful-v6-in-america/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:37:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1102433 With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander. Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part. It’s been a […]

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2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander.

Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part.

It’s been a long time coming, but Lexus fans will likely welcome the new force-fed four-pot that ups the base output of its entry sedan to “241 horsepower and up to 258 lb-ft of torque” according to the Canadian Lexus release. While Lexus in the U.S. has not yet confirmed the new engine for the IS, it seems all but inevitable at this point.

Sadly, that puts Mitsubishi squarely in the crosshairs again for having a product that doesn’t match up to the competition. Even V6 turbodiesels on the market are producing 240 horsepower and above along with much, much more torque.

However, the worst of it comes when you put Mitsubishi’s V6 in context. It can only be had in the very top GT S-AWC trim, portraying the 3.0L V6 as the “premium” option, which starts at $30,995. It only drinks premium fuel. And, to top it all off, Mitsubishi is looking forward to being in this position for the next three to four years as the 2016 model year brings with it a refreshed Outlander. That refresh didn’t include any upgrades to the V6.

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Aikawa: Updated Mitsubishi Lancer Shelved For SUVs, Electrification http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/aikawa-updated-mitsubishi-lancer-shelved-suvs-electrification/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/aikawa-updated-mitsubishi-lancer-shelved-suvs-electrification/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023049 Get used to seeing this Mitsubishi Lancer for a long time to come, as the automaker has shelved its updates to its iconic sedan. According to CarAdvice.com.au, Mitsubishi president and COO Tetsuro Aikawa explained at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show the reasons behind the decision not to update the Lancer or its other sedans: While […]

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Get used to seeing this Mitsubishi Lancer for a long time to come, as the automaker has shelved its updates to its iconic sedan.

According to CarAdvice.com.au, Mitsubishi president and COO Tetsuro Aikawa explained at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show the reasons behind the decision not to update the Lancer or its other sedans:

While I’m the president probably no introduction of the next-generation Lancer… we will continue to sell current Lancer.

There are two reasons for that. One of the reasons is because, concerning the investment on development, we’d like to concentrate on SUV, PHEVs and EVs. That’s one reason.

The second reason is because sedan, in the world, is a very high competition at the moment and it’s very difficult to come up with a profit.

As for the Evo, the badge may be worn by a PHEV SUV with enough firepower to earn the honor to take up where the Lancer Evo will leave off this year.

The decision to freeze sedan development follows a failed attempt to partner with Renault for C- and D-segment vehicles, which Aikawa says was not “a win-win scenario” for either party.

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Chicago 2015: Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-mitsubishi-concept-gc-phev-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-mitsubishi-concept-gc-phev-revealed/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:38:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998426 A preview of things to come for a full-size crossover, the Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV bowed at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The concept not only demonstrates the design language that is expected for the production-ready full-size crossover to come, but also hints at what might be on-board when the real deal finally hits the showroom. […]

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Mitsubishi-GC-PHEV-Concept-1

A preview of things to come for a full-size crossover, the Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV bowed at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

The concept not only demonstrates the design language that is expected for the production-ready full-size crossover to come, but also hints at what might be on-board when the real deal finally hits the showroom.

Power for the Concept GC-PHEV is a supercharged 3-liter V6 mated to an eight-speed auto, and paired an electric motor powered by a 12-kWh lithium-ion pack. Total output is 355 horsepower, which is carried to all four corners via the crossover’s full-time AWD. Fuel economy is projected to be 35 mpg — the specific category wasn’t mentioned — and can go up to 25 miles on its electric motor alone.

Should a disaster not involving EMPs occur, Mitsubishi says the Concept GC-PHEV generates 1,500 watts of electricity when both battery and fuel tank are fully replenished, enough for nearly two weeks of emergency power for an average household.

Other features include: four bucket seats; a “Tactical Table” console touchscreen that allows smartphones to access its features via wireless induction; augmented-reality HUD; lane-departure; and adaptive cruise control.

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US Debut of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Delayed Until 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-debut-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-delayed-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-debut-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-delayed-2016/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991170 Those waiting for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to come to North America will need to keep holding their breath until next year. According to Automotive News Mitsubishi Motors North American executive vice president Don Swearingen announced during last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show that the crossover PHEV — already on sale in Japan and Europe […]

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Those waiting for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to come to North America will need to keep holding their breath until next year.

According to Automotive News Mitsubishi Motors North American executive vice president Don Swearingen announced during last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show that the crossover PHEV — already on sale in Japan and Europe since 2013 — will arrive in the United States around April of 2016. The delay is due in part to a shortage in battery packs, as well as a California mandate requiring the fitment of battery-degradation sensors to said packs.

Once it does hit the showrooms, the crossover will face competition from the likes of the Volvo XC90 PHEV and the equally oft-delayed Tesla Model X. The Outlander PHEV derives its power from a 2-liter gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors fore and aft, and boasts a range of 32.5 miles in electric-only mode.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-3-0-gt-s-awc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-3-0-gt-s-awc/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986962 To say that Mitsubishi has been struggling on the North American market would be an understatement. Long gone are the days of the capable Montero, hot-selling Galant, and the exotic 3000GT. For years the Outlander Sport has been the company’s bread winner and the Lancer Evolution its only icon. In order to jumpstart its sales, […]

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2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT side

To say that Mitsubishi has been struggling on the North American market would be an understatement. Long gone are the days of the capable Montero, hot-selling Galant, and the exotic 3000GT. For years the Outlander Sport has been the company’s bread winner and the Lancer Evolution its only icon. In order to jumpstart its sales, in 2014 Mitsubishi dove deep into the highest volume markets with the introduction of the inexpensive Mirage and the third generation of its three-row CUV, the Outlander.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT front

It has been said many times over that there is no such thing as a bad modern car on the North American market. Or may be there are, I don’t know anymore. The truth is that a purchase of any new car will result in a product that is safe and one that will provide years of reliable service. The new Outlander is probably not an exception, as it is a reasonably priced vehicle with a 5-year warranty and good crash test results. The question is, is it a good vehicle?

From the driver’s perspective, the dash layout is simple and rather similar to other vehicles in its class; two big gauges with a screen in-between, infotainment system with a bigger screen, two knobs and some buttons, and simple HVAC controls below. Unfortunately that middle screen does not display much information, the big screen has some small font, the Rockford-Fosgate system does not like to stream the Pandora app from my iPhone as it kept defaulting to the music stored on the phone, and there are no separate climate controls for the rear of the vehicle. Other frequently used buttons, such as the power hatch and display change button for gauge cluster screen are obscured by the steering wheel. Furthermore, the power windows, door locks, and mirror buttons are poorly illuminated and difficult to use at night.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT dash

Taking your eyes up from the dash and its mismatched piano-black and wood plastic trim, the visibility is good in all directions, certainly better than average. This is probably thanks to Mitsubishi’s liberal use of high strength steel. The Outlander is also a smaller vehicle than other three-row CUVs in just about every dimension, making it easy to maneuver. That smaller size and the use of that high strength steel translates into significantly lower curb weight than other three-row CUVs, and similar to that of many smaller CUVs, such as the Honda CR-V.

Seats are covered with a mix of fabric and hard leather. Front seats are and generally comfortable, heated, but only the driver’s seat is powered. The middle row has less legroom than other comparable vehicles and the rear doors do not open as wide or are as big, making getting kids into their seats more challenging for already tired parents. The biggest problem is with the third row seats, however, which have hardly any legroom when middle row in its native position, slid all the way to the back. Sliding the middle row forward give third row passengers more legroom, but at the expense of comfort of the people sitting in the middle row. The cargo area is also smallest in class no matter which seats are folded down and there are no visible HVAC vents anywhere in the back.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT rear seats

Lower Outlander models come with a four cylinder engine, but this GT model came with Mitsubishi’s 6B31 which has been around for some time. The 60-degree SOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V6 engine is port-injected with variable cam timing and is rated at 224hp and 215lb-ft of torque, the least in its class. It is matched up to a six-speed automatic transmission and Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC®) all-wheel drive system. This combination is rated for 20mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. In my leisurely mixed city/highway/mountain driving I observed 24mpg, which is very good for a three-row CUV.

My driving was leisurely because the Outlander never seems to be in the hurry. The transmission is conservatively programmed to always be in the lowest gear possible, which I found especially annoying in the mountains of Vermont, both on the way up and down. There are four transmission modes; eco, snow, lock, and normal. I have only used the normal mode, supplemented by the paddle shifters in the mountains. The engine does have plenty of power to move the Outlander, but requires a lot of motivation from your right foot.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT trunk

There are many new car buyers for whom nothing matters more than the bottom line. The base Outlander ES starts at $23,195. The reviewed GT model starts at $28,195. The GT Touring Package, which includes nav system, lane departure warning, forward collision migration, sunroof, leather, power tailgate, and premium audio costs $6100. With $850 destination charge, the total comes to $35,145. A quick look at TrueCar shows that actual selling price is few grand lower.

The three-row CUV market is one of the most competitive in the industry and any company with limited resources will have difficulties offering the best vehicles. It is unfortunate that in the world of good cars, there have to be some that relatively aren’t. What frustrated me the most about this vehicle was that it could have been better with some engineering changes that would have minimum impact on overall engineering costs. While the Outlander isn’t perfect it does have some good things going for it, such as five-star overall score on NHTSA crash tests, 5-year/60,000 mile warranty with 10-year/100,000 miles for the powertrain, and the price.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. provided the vehicle for this review.

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Reader Review: 1993 Mitsubishi Delica Super Exceed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-1993-mitsubishi-delica-super-exceed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-1993-mitsubishi-delica-super-exceed/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:49:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=983353 TTAC reader James Federico sends us his take on life with a Mitsubishi Delica “It’s a Mitsubishi Delica” “Japan originally, but I bought it from a dealer in London” “About 10 grand” These are the first three sentences I speak any time I exit my van within twenty feet of another human being. There are […]

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Messy (1)

TTAC reader James Federico sends us his take on life with a Mitsubishi Delica

“It’s a Mitsubishi Delica”

“Japan originally, but I bought it from a dealer in London”

“About 10 grand”

These are the first three sentences I speak any time I exit my van within twenty feet of another human being. There are other questions, depending on the age and interests of the person asking them:

“Do you go off road?”
“Is it hard to drive over there?”
“Is it hard to get parts?”

Stepping out of a seven foot tall minivan with 31” AT tires and a snorkel says to the world “Hi! I’m dying for someone to chat with. I definitely don’t have three children under the age of seven in the back of this thing who need someone to disinter them from their restraints before they deposit some type of bodily fluid and/or sticky foodstuff over 75% of the interior.” As such, I have learned to gently steer the curious party over to the sliding door while answering their follow-up questions as best as possible (In order: Yes. No. No.).

With the sliding door open I can start unbuckling while demonstrating the power covers on the Crystal Light Roof. Once three boys have been released from their bonds and hugged/climbed on/hit some part of me the questioner usually realizes that I’m just some schlub with a family on a road trip to Gramma’s and lets me get on with my life/pee stop.

And that, more or less, is what it is like to own a Mitsubishi Delica. It’s a big 4×4 box that draws more attention than Scarlett Johansson hosting a mud wrestling competition to choose a winner of a Scarlett Johansson look alike contest. It also happens to be a damned good minivan. And I know a thing or two about minivans.

1993MPVforscale

Starting with the minivan-ness (minivanity?): I own an extended wheelbase Delica with captain’s chairs in the middle row. It’s got a flat floor front to back, and the various rows do various tricks that leave me with more than a 4×8 sheet’s worth of clear space if I need it. This makes the van ridiculously flexible. It serves as the primary transport for a family of 5, with all the attendant stuff that implies, and it has never left me wanting for space. It has great seats, and is quiet enough to converse with the third row at highway speeds with minimal shouting.

Limo Mode (1)

Of course, being a Japanese import, the van is right hand drive. This hurts minivan functionality as the only sliding door exits into traffic. Not a deal breaker for me as I drive on parkways and park on driveways almost exclusively. Where I a street-parker I would want to think carefully about door position before purchasing.

From a purely driving standpoint, right hand drive in a left hand world is no big deal, especially because the van is tall enough to see over or through most traffic. In the rural part of Ontario where I live, it’s actually a bit of a plus, as I know exactly where the ditch starts when trying to squeeze past combines or fruit wagons. It’s worse for my wife. She gets to travel a lot of two lanes blacktop three feet from the yellow line without a steering wheel in her hand. She spends a lot of our trips “sleeping”.

One area that could use improvement is the engine. The Delica is powered… no, that’s too generous. The Delica is influenced by a 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine. It works, but you are trying to motivate a 5,000 lb garden shed with 125 horsepower. It can cruise at 80 mph, it can tow 5,000 lbs, it can climb a 10% grade. It just can’t do more than one of those things at a time. It’s not dangerously slow by any means, at least not until you hook it to your 12’ pop up trailer and load it up with 500 lbs of people and at least that much gear. Then you want to plan ahead and stick to the rightmost lane. Upside is that it has returned 17.2 mpg over the 70,000 kms I’ve logged. It’s not spectacular, but it’s 2 mpg better than the Pathfinder it replaced, which was smaller, lighter, and just as gutless.

On the 4×4 front, it’s a real one. High and low range, with a selectable locker in high range, all operated by a big lever next to the driver’s seat. I run 2wd most of the time, flip it into AWD when roads get messy, lock the centre diff when I’m really off road, and flip it to low range after I’m hopelessly stuck and pray that does something.

inthewoods

As for attention, at least here in Southern Ontario, nothing beats it. Highway trips are punctuated with cars doing slow flybys while passengers scramble to get pictures. I once brought it to a TTAC event where they were sharing track time with a rent-a-supercar program. Five high end luxury sports cars came off the track at once, and all of their drivers parked and headed straight for the Delica to ask What, Where, and How Much.

As a father of three, the Delica really is a luxury car. I can go where I want to go, when I want to go there, bring my family, and never have to worry about who packed what. I can fill it with stuff until I run out of stuff, drive it until the road ends, then drive it a little further. And sometimes, a little time together away from the infotainment that surrounds us is all the luxury a family needs

 

1993MPVforscale All Seats Cargo Bay inthewoods Messy (1) Limo Mode (1)

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Mitsubishi Debuting Lancer Evo ‘Final Concept’ At 2015 Tokyo Auto Salon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mitsubishi-debuting-lancer-evo-final-concept-2015-tokyo-auto-salon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mitsubishi-debuting-lancer-evo-final-concept-2015-tokyo-auto-salon/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=969825 Above is what the final Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X will likely resemble when it hits showrooms in the coming year. Per Indian Autos Blog, the last of the Japanese interceptors — dubbed the Lancer Evolution Final Concept — will begin life as a five-speed manual GSR before receiving upgrades through and through. Under the bonnet, […]

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2015-Mitsubishi-Lancer-Evolution-X-Final-Concept-front-three-quarter

Above is what the final Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X will likely resemble when it hits showrooms in the coming year.

Per Indian Autos Blog, the last of the Japanese interceptors — dubbed the Lancer Evolution Final Concept — will begin life as a five-speed manual GSR before receiving upgrades through and through.

Under the bonnet, the drivetrain will gain an HKS turbocharger, new intake and exhaust plumbing, better cooling, and a high-performance ECU. The result: the Lancer’s 2-liter four will deliver a max 473 horsepower to all four corners via its five-speed manual.

Outside, HKS height-adjustable suspension, 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum wheels wearing Yokohama Advan Neovas, and matte paint all help pull the Final Concept’s look together, allowing you to admire its glory with a White Russian in your hand.

The Final Concept will turn up at the 2015 Tokyo Auto Salon in early January.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-gt-s-awc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-gt-s-awc/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:30:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=967994 Priced at $40,538 in Canada, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT I drove around for a week in December was disturbingly overpriced. In the United States, Outlanders start at $24,050. But the GT S-AWC starts at $29,045 with all-wheel-drive, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a V6 engine in place of the 4-cylinder/CVT combo. A $6100 Touring package […]

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Mitsubishi Outlander whitePriced at $40,538 in Canada, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT I drove around for a week in December was disturbingly overpriced.

In the United States, Outlanders start at $24,050. But the GT S-AWC starts at $29,045 with all-wheel-drive, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a V6 engine in place of the 4-cylinder/CVT combo. A $6100 Touring package for buyers who want leather, sunroof, upgraded audio, a powered driver’s seat and tailgate, navigation, and a handful of active safety features takes the price up to $35,145.

(Bizarrely, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC Touring includes lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, and adaptive cruise control, but no blind spot monitoring.)

The issue isn’t the manner in which the Outlander’s MSRP compares to the price of other similarly sized two-row utility vehicles. Rather, the problem as I see it is Mitsubishi’s desire to charge the kind of money other automakers are charging for genuine three-row family crossovers.

Mitsubishi OutlanderGranted, the Outlander isn’t deserving of criticism because it fails so miserably in any one facet. In fact, the Outlander is simply mediocre in every way. It therefore quickly becomes forgettable, not worthy of mention for any reason other than the combination of tidy exterior dimensions with seven-passenger seating.

Perhaps we got off to a rough start, the Mitsubishi Canada-supplied Outlander and I. Although I’ve read multiple accounts from other publications describing the fits-all-sizes comfort of the Outlander’s driver’s seat, I spent a week failing to find the proper setup for my lanky frame. It’s a personal concern, one which may not apply to your body type, but a seat cushion lacking length and a limited amount of overall adjustment led me to a state of constant discontent.

Second row space is acceptable, however, and access into the third row isn’t as awkward as I expected in a vehicle that’s only five inches longer than a Ford Escape. Yet once back there, well, who goes back there? Who in my life is deserving of that kind of punishment? There’s a decent amount of space for a load of groceries behind the third row (it’s difficult to expect more from most three-row crossovers regardless of size), so Mitsubishi could shove the seat back a smidge. As it stands, this isn’t so much a third row for emergencies as it is a third row for emergencies in which you literally take prisoners. The same can’t be said for the third row in the Dodge Durango, which can be had for less money.

TTAC 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT wheel V6 badgeRegardless of the row you inhabit, the overall sensation delivered by the 183-inch-long Outlander’s interior does not pertain to smallness or largeness but to cheapness. This feels like 2007-grade material quality. Although all of the third-generation Outlander’s body parts are different from the second-gen’s, at its core, this feels like a lighter, updated version of a vehicle which debuted in second-gen form for MY2007. Interior controls are simple enough, but the buttons surrounding the Rockford Fosgate radio unit are tiny and chintzy. The cabin isn’t what you’d call loud, nor is it quiet. One unfortunate caress of the headliner will lead you to believe Mitsubishi sourced the fabric from the late 80s. There are hard, scuffable plastics everywhere you look and touch. This is not the interior of a Toyota Highlander, which can be had for less money.

In motion, the Outlander does redeem itself somewhat. The electrically assisted power steering is nicely weighted and promptly responsive. Ride quality isn’t reflective of the Outlander’s 105.1-inch wheelbase as the comfort-minded suspension and stiff structure don’t allow particularly harsh impacts to transfer to the Outlander’s occupants.

There’s even an initial sense of discreet sportiness, although the Outlander doesn’t possess the limits of the Mazda CX-5, for instance. Instead, when pushed only slightly, the Outlander is more composed than many of the most dynamic small crossovers, but it falls apart more quickly if you decide to drive more enthusiastically than most small crossover owners would.

Mitsubishi’s all-wheel-drive technology features special lock, snow, and eco modes. Called S-AWC for Super All-Wheel Control, the Outlander’s all-wheel-drive system is not available on the ES, it’s a $2000 (USD) option on the SE, and it’s standard on the GT. Although the Outlander’s 6-speed automatic is a willing partner, the naturally-aspirated 3.0L V6 (227 horsepower at a lofty 6250 rpm, 215 lb-ft of torque at 3750 rpm) with which it’s paired doesn’t have what it takes to match turbo four-cylinder powerplants, lacks all manner of low-end punch, and becomes coarse and unruly at higher rpm. By comparison, the 3.3L V6 in Hyundai’s three-row Santa Fe, which can be had for less money, feels like all-American muscle.

TTAC Mitsubishi Outlander GT interiorI wouldn’t bother to draw attention to much larger competition like the Durango (201 inches long), Highlander (191), or Santa Fe (193) if the Outlander lived up to its window sticker, its spec sheet, and its options list.

But at this price? For a vehicle of this size? The sunroof is small; not remotely panoramic. The LDW tended to beep when no beep was necessary and failed to beep when it should have. In complete contradiction to its intended purpose, Mitsubishi’s keyless go – they call it FAST-key – required me to remove the key from my pocket almost every time I tried to get in the Outlander. A third row this snug is not a selling feature. A V6 engine could be a key selling feature, but not when it’s the second-least powerful V6 engine on the market today. (Lexus’s 2.5L in the IS250 makes just 204 horsepower.) The Outlander’s 227-horsepower V6 drinks premium fuel at a rate of a gallon every 21 miles, just like the 340-horsepower Porsche Macan S in which we averaged 21 miles per gallon.

The Porsche can’t be had for less money.

If you can find your local Mitsubishi dealer, you’ll discover that the Outlander won’t be the slowest or the thirstiest SUV. It won’t be the smallest, nor will it be the largest. The Outlander isn’t the most overindulgent, nor is it the most under-equipped. It’s not the prettiest, nor is it the ugliest. It’s not fun to drive like some small crossovers, but it’s not annoying like some others. As a result of its failure to do any one thing particularly well, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC is thoroughly underwhelming. I’m not inclined to call it a bad vehicle – the Outlander is average in too many ways to earn such a label. Its price, however, is not average. For less money, you can do better.

Perhaps we shouldn’t expect modern results without modern kit underhood. And perhaps we shouldn’t be charged modern prices for outdated vehicles. So say the tens of thousands of small crossover buyers who reject the Outlander each month. For every Outlander sold in America over the last eleven months, its three most direct three-row competitors – Rogue, Sorento, Journey – have generated 30 sales. But can Mitsubishi do better? You bet they can, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander is coming in the near future. If nothing else, that level of technology will be something that sets the Outlander apart.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Swearingen: No Evos Planned After X, GSR 5-Speed Coming Summer 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/swearingen-evos-planned-x-gsr-5-speed-coming-summer-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/swearingen-evos-planned-x-gsr-5-speed-coming-summer-2015/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954425 Bad news: Mitsubishi’s storied Lancer Evolution will stop at 10 after the 2015 model year. Good news: It will go out with a bang. Jalopnik recently held an AMA with Mitsubishi Motors USA executive vice president Don Swearingen. There, one of the commentariat asked if there would be an Evo XI. His response: There are […]

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2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Bad news: Mitsubishi’s storied Lancer Evolution will stop at 10 after the 2015 model year. Good news: It will go out with a bang.

Jalopnik recently held an AMA with Mitsubishi Motors USA executive vice president Don Swearingen. There, one of the commentariat asked if there would be an Evo XI. His response:

There are currently no plans for an Evo XI.

We do plan on launching a special edition in June/July of next year as a going away edition. It’s a GSR 5-speed. More horsepower, some suspension tuning, and some bits pieces that are still being finalized. Around 2,000 units will be available.

Other notable statements from the AMA: Mitsubishi wants to return to the D-segment with a replacement for the Galant; is considering more electrification of its lineup, including a PHEV; says no Delicas will be sent to the United States anytime soon; and will be bringing a concept to the 2015 Chicago Auto Show heralding what the new Montero could look like.

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Mitsubishi Confirms Mirage Sedan For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mitsubishi-confirms-mirage-sedan-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mitsubishi-confirms-mirage-sedan-us-market/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951393 Looking for a cheap new car that isn’t a hatchback? Mitsubishi might just have what you need. According to Motor Trend, Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice president Don Swearingen proclaimed that the Mirage sedan — already on sale in Thailand as the Attrage — would arrive in U.S. showrooms within the next year or […]

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2014-Mitsubishi-Mirage-G4-Sedan _1_

Looking for a cheap new car that isn’t a hatchback? Mitsubishi might just have what you need.

According to Motor Trend, Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice president Don Swearingen proclaimed that the Mirage sedan — already on sale in Thailand as the Attrage — would arrive in U.S. showrooms within the next year or two.

Like the Mirage hatch (which we reviewed not too long ago), the sedan is powered by a 1.2-liter three-pot mated to either a CVT or five-speed manual.

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Paris 2014: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept-S Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-concept-s-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-concept-s-unveiled/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 19:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924377 Mitsubishi has taken its Outlander PHEV upscale with the debut of the Concept-S at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. A demonstration of what a future upscale offering will entail, the Concept-S has chrome accents, wrap-around headlamps, black woodgrain, leather seats and a center console meant to invoke traditional Japanese lacquered boxes. Aside from the premium […]

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Mitsubishi has taken its Outlander PHEV upscale with the debut of the Concept-S at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

A demonstration of what a future upscale offering will entail, the Concept-S has chrome accents, wrap-around headlamps, black woodgrain, leather seats and a center console meant to invoke traditional Japanese lacquered boxes.

Aside from the premium options, the Concept-S is like the other Outlander PHEVs with its 2-liter four-pot and twin-electric motors linked to a lithium-ion pack. Electric-only mode delivers a range of 32.5 miles, and offers 148 MPGe on the European cycle. The Outlander can also charge its battery pack while on the go.

Alas, it’ll be until 2016 at the earliest before North America finally receives its invitation to the Outlander PHEV party.

Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-2 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-1 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-5 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-3 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-4 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-6 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-7 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-10 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-11 Mitsubishi-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-13 mitsubishi-outlander-phev-concept-s-9 mitsubishi-outlander-phev-concept-s-8 mitsubishi-outlander-phev-concept-s-11 mitsubishi-outlander-phev-concept-s-1

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2014-mitsubishi-mirage-es/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/review-2014-mitsubishi-mirage-es/#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 14:55:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868922   Mitsubishi’s website claims the Mirage is a “small car for a big life.” Possible: while I haven’t done a TTAC review in over a year, know that even the rare automotive sampling of a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult possesses a modicum of engineering /styling/marketing prowess. Good cars exist everywhere, which is […]

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Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)

Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)

Mitsubishi’s website claims the Mirage is a “small car for a big life.” Possible: while I haven’t done a TTAC review in over a year, know that even the rare automotive sampling of a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult possesses a modicum of engineering /styling/marketing prowess. Good cars exist everywhere, which is worthy of someone’s “big life.”

And contrary to the rash of negative press, the Mirage is an honest machine worthy of a closer look.

DSCN5986The Made in Thailand DNA is unmistakable: the Mirage feels like an aspirational vehicle for a growing middle class in an emerging market. Living outside of the American design bubble has its perks: peep that demure, wind cheating nose bearing no pretense to corporate branding (cough, Aston Martin grilles) for starters. The low-ish DLO provides excellent visibility without resorting to the artificially large/dorky greenhouses of yesteryear’s subcompacts. The top-line ES sports cheerful 14” alloys while color-keyed fog lights add modest flair to the base model’s surprisingly subtle and cool rear spoiler. You know, for a 5-door econobox.

DSCN5990So pop inside the Mirage’s surprisingly inviting cabin: headroom galore, not uncomfortable bucket seats, dressy black lacquer center stack sporting Rothko-worthy HVAC vents, leather(ish) wrapped wheel, power everything, keyless ignition (on the left like a 911) and admirable ergonomics encased in richly grained, tightly constructed plastics that look more expensive than their fossilized demeanor suggests. That infamous road test mentioned airbag flash casting, which my test Mirage had instead on the E-brake handle. To see such cheapness on a new car under 13 grand ($15,195 as-tested) was horrifying I tell you!

DSCN6006Genuine gripes for a car this cheap? No center armrest, and the small cargo area means the (comfortable) rear seats must fold down for modest amounts of luggage. No biggie, except getting them back up without snagging the shoulder belts in the latch mechanism is a challenge. But the inability to stream audio (SoundCloud) from an iPhone 4 via the glovebox’s USB plug got on my nerves. It defaulted to iTunes, which I rarely use. And forget music when Google Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation is on: since I was denied the best Mirage-related song on the face of the earth, here it is.

Click here to view the embedded video.

DSCN6017And while bright colors add necessary excitement to a bottom rung hatchback, my Radioactive Blue Mirage fought its purple-flecked seat fabrics to no end. Cheap cars rightly show their exterior paint around interior window frames, a colorblind seat fabric is necessary. Feng Shui aside, color coding on the (power) door locks wouldn’t hurt: the lever needs a red decal to warn of threats from potential carjackers from an unlocked portal.

DSCN5997Fire up the Mirage and a pleasant (if you appreciate any mechanical sound) bellow from the three-banger mill makes it clear: this is an honest machine from another era. Even with electronics behind the 7 airbags, ABS, electric steering and active handling nanny in tow, the Mirage provides an unhindered driving joy coming from a suspension managing a mere 2051 lbs. Driving dynamics occasionally delight with its flat powerband, even with the CVT in lieu of a proper 5-speed. Bargain basement fun was a simple trick away. Check it:

Dial into the 1-ton Mirage’s occasionally communicative steering and toss it a corner (off-throttle) and the low-rolling resistance, tall profile rubber holds on with modest body roll. Now mash the throttle a good 2 seconds before hitting your intended apex. Do it right and you’ll fling out the corner with all 74 horses’ howling in passionate protest. Try to stop smiling as traffic becomes a dot in the rear-view.

DSCN5984And on the remote chance you built enough steam for a rapid stop, the vented disc/drum combination is more than adequate for the street. Even the twist-beam axle plays well on bumpy roads, further testament to the joy of a lightweight car.

DSCN6007Forcing the Mirage’s CVT into submission is moderately more infuriating than today’s auto-erratic transaxles. Yet, considering the efficiency boost, the autobox is done: the EPA’s 37/44MPG were matched and quickly surpassed. Light traffic (40-50mph) rewarded with a stunning 50.2 MPG from my house to the local Tesla gallery. And that’s with this featherweight’s (surprisingly robust and standard) automatic temperature control HVAC cranked!

As the 3-pot Mirage burbled buzzed idled next to the Tesla, I pondered if these radical electronic wonders are $85,000-ish better than a 50+ MPG hatchback. Is anything really that much better?

10372084_10152226017973269_3590992957388189892_nQuirky shit-can vibe aside, the Mirage cruises like a larger car, spanking the Smart ForTwo in both speed and stability. While acceleration is never rapid, the CVT keeps the Mirage in its powerband, hovering around 5000 revs. Mash the throttle around 70mph and the CVT revs to 6000, netting acceleration no slower than lower speeds. (In Houston, near sea level.) It’s still molasses slow with a loud engine, but with insane aerodynamics (small frontal area, 0.28 cd) it works. Witness this Easter Egg in the owner’s manual: a Highway Patrol speed warning for another journalist.

10452467_10152230027413269_1482059042706384612_nAnd upon the realization that running the Mirage at 10/10ths is a fool’s errand, one’s rewarded with a ride that soaks up both huge potholes and small pavement imperfections with precision. Impact harshness, so prevalent in modern cars with 18+ inch wheels, is literally smothered by Low Carb Panther Love.

Should you buy the Mirage over its sub-15k competition, or any “superior” used car? Maybe, but given the combo of a low asking price, $1000 rebate with 1.9% APR (this month), robust 10-year warranty and new car smell unavailable in used cars, you’d be forgiven for heading straight to a Mitsubishi dealer, using the extra monthly cash for food, gas, shelter, children, baby momma/daddy drama, medical bills, credit card debt, college debt…see where I’m going with this?

The similarly priced Chevy Spark could excel, depending on incentives. A larger, safer used car gives a fighting chance against wayward SUVs threatening a harsh lesson in the Laws of Physics. But Mitsubishi claims the Mirage meets their (modest) sales goals for good reason: it’s kinda fun and gets the job done with mad respect for your wallet.  And I appreciate that.

DSCN5995Your opinion of our society’s demand for easy credit and “need” for new car smell aside, the Mirage is a valid transportation opportunity for many Americans. If a Mitsubishi dealer is within easy reach, a cost-benefit analysis is certainly on the table.

(Mitsubishi provided the test vehicle, insurance and a full tank of gas for this review.)

 

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Mitsubishi: U.S.-Bound 2016 Outlander PHEV “Will Be Completely Different” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-u-s-bound-2016-outlander-phev-will-be-completely-different/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-u-s-bound-2016-outlander-phev-will-be-completely-different/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862137 Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR […]

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Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR boss Alex Fedorak.

Autoblog reports the SUV — now set to arrive in November 2015 — will have an interior with materials that look and feel “less value-oriented,” while its battery monitor can look each cell along with the overall pack. It will also likely take its styling cues from the GC-PHEV and XR-PHEV concepts, both debuting at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show last November.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Outlander Sport may soon possess a 2.4-liter I4 to go with its 2-liter variant as Fedorak and his employer’s dealer network discuss what needs to be done to make the bigger engine a better sell; early results point to stronger highway overtaking ability.

Finally, although Mitsubishi’s long-term goal is to evolve into “an SUV/crossover-type company,” cars will still have a role in the near-term, especially the Mirage compact. Despite most publications giving the Mirage a good thrashing — though our rising superstar managing editor had a different sort of thrashing in mind — Fedorak claims the compact is outselling both the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris; the latter is ahead of the Mitsubishi by 265 units through the end of June.

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Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858009 Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013. Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that […]

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Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Big In The UK http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-big-in-the-uk/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-big-in-the-uk/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850146 The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV may not be coming to the United States until sometime between the autumn of 2015 and early 2016, but United Kingdom customers are already lining up at their local dealerships for a test drive of the SUV that can be had for the same price as its diesel sibling. Cambridge News […]

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The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV may not be coming to the United States until sometime between the autumn of 2015 and early 2016, but United Kingdom customers are already lining up at their local dealerships for a test drive of the SUV that can be had for the same price as its diesel sibling.

Cambridge News reports one particular dealership, Duxford Motor Group, had conducted 23 test drives during the two-day launch of the PHEV earlier this month, with 40 to 50 parties rebooked for test drives due to its fiscal popularity. According to sales executive Alex Dunn, the Outlander PHEV retails for £28,250 ($48,150 USD) — which includes a government tax credit of £5,000 ($8,522 USD) — the same price as the 2.2-liter diesel variant, and comes with other benefits, as well:

100 per cent write-down in first year, which is a first for employers, and if you’re an employee it’s 5 per cent Benefit in Kind which is astonishing. This is one of very few vehicles which is congestion-charge free and it’s not a little car, it’s a five-seater four-wheel drive vehicle, so it ticks so many boxes fotr [sic] people who perhaps wouldn’t have come to our door before – fans of all the big brands are coming to see us. It’s a tough car too – rock-solid and super-reliable.

The PHEV has an all-electric range of 32 imperial miles before the 2-liter gasoline engine takes over, and delivers 148 mpg between the engine and two electric motors.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/capsule-review-2014-mitsubishi-mirage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/capsule-review-2014-mitsubishi-mirage/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 17:40:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834489 Deep within the comments of a recent luxury vehicle review, a familiar, satirical exchange takes place: Googleplex:                       The pixel-density on the new touch system is passable, but LCD screens in cars in 2014 are laughable. Have these people even heard of AMOLED? MauraudStar:                    Panther Love knows no touchscreens, my friend. MoparMalaise:                 Panther Love knows no […]

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Deep within the comments of a recent luxury vehicle review, a familiar, satirical exchange takes place:

Googleplex:                       The pixel-density on the new touch system is passable, but LCD screens in cars in 2014 are laughable. Have these people even heard of AMOLED?

MauraudStar:                    Panther Love knows no touchscreens, my friend.

MoparMalaise:                 Panther Love knows no rich Corinthian leather, either.

VivaVega:                           We lost the war against fuel injection in the 1980’s, and I’m not about to give up the rest of my control to electronic nannies. Spare me your all-wheel drive, your dual-clutch transmissions and the 30 years of weight gain! Why can’t someone build a simple, functional car anymore?

Will any manufacturer answer VivaVega’s question? Enter the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage.

This isn’t the first time Mitsubishi has sold a subcompact with the Mirage nameplate. The first generation Mirage debuted in 1978. (You might be more familiar with it as the fourth gen Dodge Colt or Plymouth Champ). Mitsubishi’s fortunes waxed and waned over the next three decades, and the Mirage was eventually discontinued in 2003. The name was revived in 2012, and North American exports started for model year 2014.

So how far have we come since 1978? Generation one was notable mostly for its fuel efficiency and price. Braking was handled by vented discs in the front and drums in the back. Seventy horses were corralled in a 1.4 liter four-cylinder engine. Overall weight ranged from just 1,700 to 1,984 pounds.

Generation six, represented by today’s 2014 specimen, is notable for fuel efficiency and price. Braking is handled by vented discs in the front and drums in the back. Seventy-four horses are corralled up in a 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine. Overall weight is just 1,973 manufacturer-stated pounds.

Wait… what?

Yup. 1,973 pounds in a street-legal 2014 with seven airbags, five seats, four wheels and a compact spare tire. A modern Mirage’s weight and power may be indistinguishable from its groovy forefathers, but the equipment list certainly isn’t – standard features include keyless entry, air conditioning, a 140 watt stereo, and powered windows, locks and mirrors. Not too shabby for $13,805 (DE trim with 5-speed manual at MSRP plus destination).

Most sales volume is expected to come from the ES trim with a CVT. Parting with $16,005 adds fog lights, 14” alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, passive entry and a push-start button that curiously resides to the left of the steering wheel.

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How are these prices accomplished? The manufacturing location certainly plays a role. Much hay has been made on TTAC about the viability of Chinese-manufactured cars in North America. Open the Mirage’s hatch (or eventual trunk in the Canadian market) and take a whiff. That ain’t wasabi, but it ain’t dim sum either. Hope you like Thai!

Most likely, the Mirage is a small start to a large trend. While just 7,200 Mirage’s are forecasted for the US market this year, Thailand is already a major regional automotive exporter. Automotive News pegged Thai automotive production at 2.45 million vehicles in 2012, and over a million were exported. Other nameplates, most notably the Ford Fiesta, will also exported to North American from Thailand over the next few years.

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Small export volume certainly helps account for the Mirage’s nondescript, global looks. Styling a vehicle 148.8 inches long and 59 inches tall is tough, but Mitsubishi could have done worse (the i-Miev comes to mind). The scant grill looks a bit odd, but it does help the Mirage achieve an impressive coefficient of drag – just 0.28. The spectrum of available colors – bright green, blue, red, even a noxious purple – is a welcome change from the white, black and grey Mitsubishi could have certainly made a business case for.

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So the exterior is cheap and maybe even a bit cheerful. Does the interior continue the theme? Unfortunately, no. Plastics are hard and drab as expected, but they are also severely straightforward. Unlike the Fiat 500, there is no playfulness or fashion in the design. The experience is aesthetically similar to Korean vehicles designed in the early 2000s. Fit and finish is similar too – a few trim pieces didn’t line up well, and exposed fasteners are easy to find.

Functionality isn’t following form, but it still isn’t flawless. Driver controls are simple, but only one cupholder is available in the rear. The roofline enables decent cargo capacity in the hatch, but the only dome light is up front near the driver. Rear leg room is surprisingly good, but the contourless rear bench forces passengers in back to brace themselves during routine urban maneuvers.

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The suspension’s constant body roll can be blamed for some of that. Ride quality was better than anticipated though, and the brakes felt decent. Still, understeer is high, tire grip is low and the electric power steering is poorly implemented. Enthusiasm just isn’t welcome here. Count me out of Derek’s spec-Mirage racing series.

The powertrain never promised fun though, just efficiency. The 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine manages 34 city/42 highway/37 combined with the five-speed manual and 37 city/44 highway/40 combined with the CVT. Mitsubishi claims the Mirage has the best combined non-hybrid efficiency in the US (Ford’s three-cylinder Fiesta scores 32/45/37). The CVT gets clunky around complete stops, but it is mostly helpful on the road. The car is never fast, but it did feel wholly adequate for use around town with occasional interstate jaunts.

Considering the physical dimensions, budget and powertrain, Mitsubishi succeeded in crafting a very efficient, mostly normal driving experience. They deserve applause for that. Unfortunately, they won’t hear it due to the Mirage’s abnormally high noise levels.

I’ll be frank – the Mirage is the loudest passenger car I can remember driving in the last five years. Only jackhammer operators and cross-country motorcycle riders could describe it as “not too bad.” At idle, the engine note varies somewhere between a warble and an unsteady growl. Rumble up to highways speeds, and the turn signals are nearly inaudible. My wife, a decidedly mainstream consumer, felt the noise levels let down the rest of the car.

Vibration will also be problematic for the average Joe. The passenger seat shook at idle, and a constant tingle could be felt through the steering wheel. The three-holer doesn’t generate Peterbilt-grade rumble, but buzz is always present. Like the 2014 Outlander I recently drove, the brand-new Mirage also had a constant interior squeak.

So where does the Mirage stand? The Chevy Spark’s fuel efficiency falls short, but the design is more upbeat. A Nissan Versa is larger and can be configured cheaper, but its warranty is bested by the Mirage’s 10-year guarantee. The used market offers myriad possibilities, but buying new is a point of pride for many consumers.

Many people say they just want something cheap that runs. Consider the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage their litmus test.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Arrives In UK Showrooms Minus Premium Price http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-arrives-in-uk-showrooms-minus-premium-price/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-arrives-in-uk-showrooms-minus-premium-price/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:04:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=787553 Already available throughout Europe, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is now just arriving in United Kingdom showrooms at a post-credit price tag of £28,249 ($47,000 USD). Autoblog Green reports the plug-in hybrid SUV without the £5,000 credit would start at £33,249 ($55,000 USD), but with the credit, the starting price is around the same level as […]

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Already available throughout Europe, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is now just arriving in United Kingdom showrooms at a post-credit price tag of £28,249 ($47,000 USD).

Autoblog Green reports the plug-in hybrid SUV without the £5,000 credit would start at £33,249 ($55,000 USD), but with the credit, the starting price is around the same level as its diesel-powered sibling, thus allowing UK consumers to pick the SUV they want without worrying too much about affordability.

As for what they will get out of their Outlander PHEV, the hybrid has a range of 32 miles in all-electric at a limited speed of 75 mph, and can tow over 3,000 lbs.

On sale now, the first SUVs will arrive in May, with the PHEV arriving in the United States in 2015, which will share a facelift with its U.S.-based gasoline-powered twin. No word on how the PHEV will be priced in the U.S.

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Mitsubishi Buys Laguna Ford Assembly Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-buys-laguna-ford-assembly-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-buys-laguna-ford-assembly-plant/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:06:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785649 In a push to expand Southeast Asia sales, Mitsubishi has purchased a Ford assembly plant in Laguna, Philippines for an undisclosed amount. Automotive News reports the plant, which last saw production in 2012, will start back up in 2015 with an initial capacity of 50,000 units per year, expanding to 100,000 annually. The plant will […]

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In a push to expand Southeast Asia sales, Mitsubishi has purchased a Ford assembly plant in Laguna, Philippines for an undisclosed amount.

Automotive News reports the plant, which last saw production in 2012, will start back up in 2015 with an initial capacity of 50,000 units per year, expanding to 100,000 annually. The plant will produce both the Adventure and L300 vans.

The second plant in the automaker’s Philippine portfolio, Laguna is key to underpinning Mitsubishi’s strength in the Southeast Asia market, especially in the emerging local auto market where the automaker is second to Toyota in annual sales.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander SE FWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/capsule-review-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-se-fwd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/capsule-review-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-se-fwd/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:55:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770034 A week ago, I asked the Best and Brightest for help in understanding my wife’s desire for a 7-seat vehicle. Uninhibited by the premise of the question, recommendations on what to buy poured in: Honda CR-V Mazda CX-5 Planned Parenthood gift certificate Cadillac XTS in Pearl White Tricoat Dodge Caravan Anything except a Dodge Caravan […]

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A week ago, I asked the Best and Brightest for help in understanding my wife’s desire for a 7-seat vehicle. Uninhibited by the premise of the question, recommendations on what to buy poured in:

  • Honda CR-V
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Planned Parenthood gift certificate
  • Cadillac XTS in Pearl White Tricoat
  • Dodge Caravan
  • Anything except a Dodge Caravan

Several readers submitted well-formulated responses, but the volume of possibilities was dizzying. Mitsubishi may have had a similar problem when redesigning the 2014 Outlander.

At most automakers, product planning is a tough job. Keep things too similar between generations and you risk falling behind. Stray too far from a successful formula and you end up with the second generation Scion xB. Every mistake is an expensive one.

But what about Mitsubishi? The previous generation Outlander was one of the cheaper, sportier rides in the segment and featured unique touches like magnesium shift paddles, a trick two-piece tailgate and an aluminum roof. Per data from TTAC contributor Timothy Cain on Good Car Bad Car, Mitsubishi’s best year for the Outlander was in 2003, with just over 34,000 sold. Crossover sales grew exponentially over the ensuing years, but only 7,750 Outlanders found homes in 2012.

With so few customers to alienate, almost any change would boost sales. So did Mitsubishi double down on sportiness or some other niche? Not really – at least not yet. A PHEV is coming, but for now we are left with a page borrowed from the 2012 Civic’s playbook – decreased MSRPs and a still-cheap interior.

Let’s start by giving credit where credit is due. Prospective buyers can make their own value propositions, but the Outlander is undeniably affordable. A base-trim ES, which includes a 166 hp 2.4 liter SOHC four-cylinder, a CVT, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and auto-off headlights, costs $23,820 including destination ($200 less than last year). For $24,620, the SE adds in 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity entry, push-button start, heated front seats, a 6.1 inch touchscreen display with a rear camera and the FUSE hands-free system. Super All-Wheel Control, better known as “all-wheel drive” to everyone outside Diamond Star forums, is optional on the mid-level SE and standard on the top-shelf GT ($28,620).

Choosing the GT also yields a 224 hp 3.0 V6, a “Sportronic” six-speed automatic transmission and enables the privilege of ordering the $6,100 Touring package. For over 25% of the base price, this package includes radar-based cruise control, leather seats, a lane departure system and other gadgets.  Apparently, no amount of money can improve the integration of these toys though. Cheap touches like a slap-dash ignition-hole cover on push-start models, left a poor impression.

Regardless of trim level, the Outlander did well in NHSTA and IIHS crash testing. The “good” score on the IIHS small overlap front test, a rarity right now, should be very marketable compared to competing 2014 models.  Fuel economy is also competitive – 25 EPA city, 31 highway, 27 combined for units with FWD, the inline four and a CVT. This efficiency is certainly aided by a curb weight as low as 3,274 pounds in the FWD ES trim.

An increased use of high-strength steel in the crash structure gets some credit for the lithe curb weight, but where did the rest of the savings come from? The recently-reviewed Cherokee weighs about 700 pounds more with just FWD, and even a Dodge Dart weighs 3,348 pounds with the 2.4 and an automatic. Both the Cherokee and Dart are lauded for being relatively quiet vehicles though. Can the Outlander make this claim?

NO. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MANY DECIBELS WE EXPERIENCED WHEN CRUISNG AT 70 MPH, BUT MY WIFE AND I HAD TO TALK LIKE THIS. Road noise is pervasive, but the inline four will likely be the bigger issue for most drivers.

Show me a raucous, performance-tuned engine, and I’ll smile.  Show me another Outlander with the 2.4, and I’ll groan – like the MIVEC. From the parking lot to the freeway, the engine constantly made itself known. More sound-deadening is a must.

Interior fit and finish also need another round of polishing. It may have just been an issue with the dealer’s specimen I drove, but a constant dash rattle was a disappointment. My wife’s car has 86,000 miles and rattles. My car has 145,000 miles and rattles. This car had 21 miles and rattled. That isn’t progress.

As expected, the 2.4 and CVT provide a driving experience best described as “imitation vanilla”. While not inappropriate for a crossover, most competitors offer more polished, anodyne experiences. Acceleration around town was acceptable, but highway passing required planning. Good visibility in all directions was a positive, and maneuverability in and out of tight spaces was good. Still, I don’t disagree with TTAC alum Michael Karesh describing the suspension as “under-damped”. I also found the electric steering to require constant adjustments on-center, even at city speeds.

Driving dynamics may not be a big deal in this segment, but aesthetics can be. I’ll leave the critical analysis to our in-house styling expert, but a schnoz this unique needs to be mentioned. The shark-nosed Outlander (2010-2013) drew neutral-to-positive responses from everyone I spoke to. The 2014 generally left those same people puzzled. Mitsubishi needs to stand out from the herd to survive, but this may not be the best way to attract attention.

The seventh inning stretch of the review has been reserved for the most important part of the car – its interior space. Don’t stretch too far though or you’ll likely strike a passenger. With 183.3 inches of length, the seven-seat Outlander is shorter than all other seven-seaters save the 2014 Nissan Rogue (182.3’’). For a point of comparison, the five-seat Chevy Equinox (187.8’’) is longer than either.

I had no issues with front seat space, though seat padding was thin and my back disagreed with the contours. I have a trim build and average height, so larger individuals might have more issues.

Tumbling the second row isn’t as smooth as some competitors, but it does slide fore and aft easily. That’s good, because you’ll need to slide those seats forward for even children to fit into the third row. A photo of me stuffed in the third row exists but did not come out well. Picture a grown man in a Cozy Coupe and you’ll get the idea.

Comparing manufacturer-calculated interior space is tricky business, but the 2014 Outlander loses space even compared to its predecessor.  Folding the second and third rows yield a flat floor with 63.3 cubes of space, but the 2013 featured 72.6. The ’14 can only hold 10.3 cubes with the seats up, so this isn’t likely to be the right car for livery duty in a large family.

For some buyers, all of these warts will be covered by the generous warranty – 10-years/100,000 miles on the powertrain. Will Mitsubishi will be here to replace recalcitrant CVTs over the coming decade? Maybe. Most companies would have already left the market rather than launching a new crossover and compact car. Perhaps the risk-averse should look elsewhere, but they likely already have.

If you want a cheap, safe crossover with a long warranty, the Outlander should be on your list. How much are you willing to overlook for as little as $23,820 though? Maybe the PHEV will quell the noise and improve interior finish, but current buyers have a lot of provisos to consider.

Mitsubishi is probably drowning in possibilities though, so what is my advice worth? In my debut article, several commenters advised to just let my wife pick whatever she wants. The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t that crossover.

When first published, this article incorrectly described the 4-cylinder engine as being a carryover from 2013. Commenter Mitsu_fan straightened me out. Displacement is unchanged, but the 2014 Outlander features a newer SOHC design relative to last year’s DOHC. My apologies for the mistake.

 

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Mitsubishi Publishing Real-World MPG Sign Of Openness With Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/mitsubishi-publishing-real-world-mpg-sign-of-openness-with-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/mitsubishi-publishing-real-world-mpg-sign-of-openness-with-customers/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766201 In a sign of openness toward its customers, Mitsubishi will begin publishing real-world MPG figures for their entire lineup, beginning with the Outlander PHEV. Auto Express reports Mitsubishi UK marketing director Lance Bradley stated the plug-in SUV was chosen because his customers, expecting the 148-mpg claimed in official tests, found the vehicle returned 90 mpg […]

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In a sign of openness toward its customers, Mitsubishi will begin publishing real-world MPG figures for their entire lineup, beginning with the Outlander PHEV.

Auto Express reports Mitsubishi UK marketing director Lance Bradley stated the plug-in SUV was chosen because his customers, expecting the 148-mpg claimed in official tests, found the vehicle returned 90 mpg instead:

It’s crazy that people think that’s bad, but it’s all relative to the official figure. We’d like to do a graph, maybe just a figure, starting with the PHEV but then rolling it out to other cars. It would come from customer information.

The move comes as the automaker plans to have an PHEV variant for every one of their models within five years’ time. With more buyers reporting what their vehicle averages in fuel economy, future owners could compare the official test results with those found in real-world driving.

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Japanese Size Queens: Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear & Toyota Hi-Ace Vans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/japanese-size-queens-mitsubishi-delica-space-gear-toyota-hi-ace-vans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/japanese-size-queens-mitsubishi-delica-space-gear-toyota-hi-ace-vans/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=499065 There are several vans that will not be among the finalists to replace the Kreutzer family’s ailing Ford Freestar and among them are the size and utility queens of the Japanese Domestic Market, the Toyota HI-Ace and the Mitsubishi Delica. Of course you already know that neither of these vans are sold here in the […]

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Mitsubishi_Delica_Spacegear_L400_top

There are several vans that will not be among the finalists to replace the Kreutzer family’s ailing Ford Freestar and among them are the size and utility queens of the Japanese Domestic Market, the Toyota HI-Ace and the Mitsubishi Delica. Of course you already know that neither of these vans are sold here in the Land of the Free, so my attempt at including them in an article about my current search may seem a bit facetious but, the truth is, I know these vans well and they come up enough in the comments that I thought they might be worth discussing in more detail. Since I have become the resident “van guy” for the time being, let’s avail ourselves of the opportunity, shall we?

Believe it or not, there is a huge difference between Kansai and Kansas. The roads in Japan are usually narrow and impossibly crowded. In most neighborhoods there are no sidewalks and buildings come right out to the edge of the street. Rows of bicycles and scooters are lined up in front of most stores, their back wheels often protruding out into the roadway, and their presence blocks pedestrians who must then compete for space with the cars in the street. Some streets are one way but have exceptions for anything on two or three wheels, so you may even find yourself avoiding oncoming scooters who are themselves maneuvering to avoid all the aforementioned obstacles as well. At night, add in flashing lights and the scene becomes a sort of twisted, impossible game where the possibility of an accident increases a million fold.

kyoto-streets-of-gion-1

Like all manner of creatures, the form of Japanese vans has evolved – or for those of you who live in the deep South, has been created by God – to perform well in the world in which they exist. They tend to be tall and narrow, generally have good all around visibility and usually have any number of mirrors or back-up cameras to help them settle into the small spaces in which they must park. Fuel efficiency is a must and some are diesels, but with increasing regulations forbidding oil burners in many major urban areas most vehicles these days tend to have smallish gasoline engines. Since speeds are usually low, large engines are generally not needed anyhow.

starwagon

Wikipedia tells me that the Mitsubishi Delica hit the market way back in 1968 as a light cab-over pickup truck. It evolved into a van that stayed in production with only minor changes until 1979 when it got a its first redesign. Another redesign came in 1986 with the introduction of the “Starwagon” and yet another came in 1994 when Mitusbishi introduced the larger “Space Gear.” In 2007, Mitsubishi introduced the 5th Generation Delica, the D-5. Although the current D-5 is a good looking van with its square, upright lines, the real high points in Delcia history ar the “Starwagon” and the “Space Gear” both of which look like lunar rovers when outfitted with the available four wheel drive and all the various nerf bars and ladders available. They are unique, funky and flamboyant. They are, however, the Rolling Stones of minivans; if you are in the right mood they rock the house but are otherwise overshadowed by the sheer excellence of their contemporaries.

Mitsubishi_Space_Gear_GLX_front

I drove a late ‘90s fourth generation “Space Gear” to and from work for two years when I lived in Osaka in ‘04 and ‘05. Because most of the people I worked with lived some distance from our job, my employer graciously provided us with a shuttle to and from work that we paid for ourselves through ticket purchases. Naturally, yours truly quickly became the designated driver and I got a lot of seat time behind the wheel. Our usual route involved a combination of major thoroughfares, small side streets, alleyways and even a dozen miles of high speed elevated expressway that soared high above the clogged city streets below so I had the opportunity to see it at its best, and worst, in every environment.

There is a lot of variety in the Delica line and I should note here that our van was not one of the heavily optioned four wheel drive models that naturally come to mind when someone outside of Japan thinks of the Delica. It was instead a simple, basic passenger van, the kind of van that plies its trade without fanfare all across the world everyday. It was cheap, rubbery and had a cloth interior that featured a second row bench with a collapsible jump seat on the end to allow access to the rather cramped third row at the back.

delic interior

Even without the four wheel drive option, our Delica was a tall, ponderous beast. On the plus side, the driver’s seat sat me up high and lots of windows ensured I had good all around visibility. It was most at home at low speeds on surface streets and least at home on the expressway where, quite frankly, it struggled. At higher speeds, the van could be downright frightening and even the slightest cross wind caused it to heave around like a ship on the ocean. Fully loaded with 8 adults in the cabin and beating into a headwind the sound of the wind tearing by the windows made you feel like the vehicle was going to fly apart at any moment and I often noted the concerned looks on the faces of my colleagues.

Despite its performance flaws, I can’t really pan the Space Gear. When looking back on an older vehicle a good reviewer needs to consider a number of things, the state of the art at the time and the actual purpose for which a vehicle was intended. The Space Gear is, I think, a product of its time and place and in that light it was probably an OK ride. In fact, I briefly toyed with the idea of finding a four wheel drive version when it looked like I might be assigned to Central Asia. Ultimately, however, I ended up with a Stateside assignment and my flirtation with the Space Gear ended there but I still wonder what my experience would have been like with the fully optioned four wheel drive Delica in a land with no expressways. I suspect that it may have been good. In a “right tool for the job” sort of way, I think I would have really enjoyed it.

If it were sold today in the United States I think the Space Gear’s good looking design and four wheel drive system would still attract a lot of interest. However, without an improved powerplant and chassis I think the Space Gear would be a dismal failure. Knowing what I know, I’d probably even pass on a used one unless someone could convince me that its shortcomings could be sorted out with a few aftermarket additions. If that were the case, the possibilities are titillating…

Toyota_Hiace_H200_501

The Toyota HI-Ace is another child of the sixties. Introduced in 1967 it has evolved steadily over the years into any number of job specific forms and includes cargo vans, ordinary and stretched passenger vans for tour and airport shuttles use, and even fairly luxurious family offerings like the Granvia which was sold in both Asia and Europe. The current boxy looking Hi-Ace is the 5th generation and I think it looks especially good for a vehicle that places sheer utility ahead of style and comfort.

The van I regularly drove was a general utility vehicle used on my job to run errands and to carry cargo, mail or supplies as needed. Like the Delica, the Hi-Ace was good around town and gives a clear, 360 degree view from the driver’s seat and enough mirrors to let you know your exact position on the road at any given moment. As is normal for my employer, ours was the least optioned model available and it was filled with hard plastics and rubberized mats. Given the vehicle’s primary role, however, these things are really a given and I can’t find fault in it just because it was built to a specific purpose.

200Hiaceinterior

Opening the driver’s door and slipping into the seat atop the right front wheel was always odd experience for me. I drove a cab over Isuzu delivery truck for several months when I was in college and the Hi-Ace took be right back to those days except this time I was more or less seated at the same height as most other traffic instead of above it. With the controls so far forward, the current Hi-Ace is long and because you are ahead of the front wheels you need to watch yourself on turns, going a little further into the intersection before swinging the wheel sharply towards your new direction. That, in combination with the bouncing that naturally comes from being out at the end of the vehicle, always gave me that same odd sense of both joy and fear that I always get from a ride on the carnival.

On the highway the Hi-Ace was generally well mannered and while not a power machine by any stretch of the imagination did not seem to struggle to keep up with traffic. Like the Delica, the Hi-Ace’s high profile made it sensitive to gusts and it would move around on you, but it never felt as tippy the Mitsubishi. One peculiar trait I noticed was the tendency for the van to buck over freeway joints and expansion joints and at certain speeds the van would just settle back onto is suspension before hitting the next joint would send it skyward again. I suspect this is part and parcel with sitting out ahead of the wheels and it was more of an odd characteristic than it was a real annoyance.

Toyota_Hiace_H200_506

Between the two vans, I think the Hi-Ace would be more at home on American streets but not as a family van or intercity transport. They would do well, I think, as cargo vans where their competition would be either much larger cargo vans that use more fuel or the much smaller Transit Connect. Although the roads in Kansas and Kansai are indeed half a world apart, the economy and utility that JDM market vans offer in an urban environment is so finely attuned that they could be a great success here and I am sure that many people would appreciate their addition to the market. I may not buy one, but I am sure there are those people who would jump at the chance.

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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