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. Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:30:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Mitsubishi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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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Costs, Currency Issues Killed Mitsubishi-Renault Deal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/costs-currency-issues-killed-mitsubishi-renault-deal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/costs-currency-issues-killed-mitsubishi-renault-deal/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:09:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989674 Currency fluctuations and a lack of volume helped bring an end to a deal that would have seen Mitsubishi sell Renault-Samsung vehicles as their own in North America, according to a report by Just-Auto. While Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi will continue to share production of a kei-class minicar in Japan, proposed plans to sell a large Renault-Samsung vehicle […]

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Currency fluctuations and a lack of volume helped bring an end to a deal that would have seen Mitsubishi sell Renault-Samsung vehicles as their own in North America, according to a report by Just-Auto.

While Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi will continue to share production of a kei-class minicar in Japan, proposed plans to sell a large Renault-Samsung vehicle as a Mitsubishi in North America have been put on hold, along with the potential to export other models in the future. Currency issues and a lack of profitability for Renault-Nissan were cited as the main reasons that the deal fell through. Mitsubishi is apparently still open to searching for a new partner, while dealers are said to be growing anxious about a lack of competitive sedans in North America.

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Mitsubishi Won’t Be Getting Renault-Samsung Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-wont-getting-renault-samsung-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-wont-getting-renault-samsung-sedan/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:33:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988818 Mitsubishi dealers are in for a rush of new product, including a new Outlander PHEV and a Mirage sedan. But one vehicle that won’t be arriving is an all-new sedan based on a Renault-Samsung vehicle. The plan, which called for Renault-Samsung sedans to be sold as Mitsubishi vehicles in North America, has apparently stalled. According […]

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Mitsubishi dealers are in for a rush of new product, including a new Outlander PHEV and a Mirage sedan. But one vehicle that won’t be arriving is an all-new sedan based on a Renault-Samsung vehicle.

The plan, which called for Renault-Samsung sedans to be sold as Mitsubishi vehicles in North America, has apparently stalled. According to Automotive News, Mitsubishi’s Don Swearingen told dealers at the NADA conference that the plan had hit an unspecified roadblock.

Mitsubishi has no D-segment sedan and an aging Lancer that competes in the C-segment. The deal with Renault-Samsung was said to provide vehicles for both segments.

Earlier this month, Renault-Samsung released the SM5 Nova, an all-new sedan that was likely to become a Mitsubishi branded sedan.

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Mitsubishi Mirage Now $9,998 In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-mirage-now-9998-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-mirage-now-9998-canada/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984865 Well, looks like the Mitsubishi Mirage is now available for less than $10,000 CAD. For you Americans out there, that’s roughly $8,000 for a brand new car. And you have two other choices as well. Hat tip Darin at Mirage Forum.

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Well, looks like the Mitsubishi Mirage is now available for less than $10,000 CAD. For you Americans out there, that’s roughly $8,000 for a brand new car. And you have two other choices as well.

Hat tip Darin at Mirage Forum.

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Mitsubishi To Revive Montero? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-revive-montero/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-revive-montero/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:49:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987290   The Outlander hasn’t proved terribly popular among TTAC reviewers, but this teaser from Mitsubishi promises something more rugged.   This teaser from Mitsubishi seems to allude to a revived Montero debuting at the Chicago Auto Show next month. The Montero is more than likely some kind of PHEV concept, as Mitsubishi seems to be going all-in […]

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The Outlander hasn’t proved terribly popular among TTAC reviewers, but this teaser from Mitsubishi promises something more rugged.

 

This teaser from Mitsubishi seems to allude to a revived Montero debuting at the Chicago Auto Show next month. The Montero is more than likely some kind of PHEV concept, as Mitsubishi seems to be going all-in on their plug-in strategy – with the plug-in Outlander selling very well in world markets.

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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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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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Vive Le Quebec Special: Hyundai Accent Is Now Canada’s Cheapest New Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vive-le-quebec-special-hyundai-accent-now-canadas-cheapest-new-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vive-le-quebec-special-hyundai-accent-now-canadas-cheapest-new-car/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 18:07:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984106 The Nissan Micra has officially lost its title as “Canada’s Least Expensive New Car”. Now, the cheapest new car is now the Hyundai Accent. A new promotional program by Hyundai to celebrate the signing of a Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement has seen the base 2015 Hyundai Accent L Manual (aka the “Quebec Special, with […]

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The Nissan Micra has officially lost its title as “Canada’s Least Expensive New Car”. Now, the cheapest new car is now the Hyundai Accent.

A new promotional program by Hyundai to celebrate the signing of a Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement has seen the base 2015 Hyundai Accent L Manual (aka the “Quebec Special, with no A/C or other creature comforts) priced at $9,400, or $600 less than a base model Nissan Micra. Even the Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $12,198 in the Great White North, making the Accent, and the Elantra L Quebec Special an incredible value.

Of course, two things stand in your way.

  1. While these two cars are qualitatively and quantitatively superior to the Micra and Mirage, you’ll have to find them on dealer lots first. Not an easy task outside of La Belle Province, where people demand these loss leaders in real quantities.
  2. You’ll almost certainly want to upgrade to a better trim level. No A/C is a major drag in many parts of the country.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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Dispatches Do Brasil: 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/dispatches-brasil-2010-mitsubishi-pajero-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/dispatches-brasil-2010-mitsubishi-pajero-sport/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:59:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962594 Recently I went car shopping with a friend. We were looking at cars I’d rather not check out, but that struck his fancy . While crossovers were initially at the top of his list, he ended up with a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero, which you may know as the Montero. Being Brazil a Portuguese-speaking countries, Mitsubishi found […]

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Recently I went car shopping with a friend. We were looking at cars I’d rather not check out, but that struck his fancy . While crossovers were initially at the top of his list, he ended up with a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero, which you may know as the Montero. Being Brazil a Portuguese-speaking countries, Mitsubishi found it safe to use the Japanese market name – in Spanish, it means something naughty.

Looking for all the world like the SUV it is, the Pajero has been a force to be reckoned with in Brazil. Mitsubishi is a brand that survived the thinning out of Japanese brands when the Market opened up in the 90s. Back then everybody came. Mazda (unfortunately), Suzuki (though it’s trying again now), Daihatsu, among others I can’t remember, didn’t make it. The usual trio of suspects did, as did Mitsubishi.

In the case of the three diamond company they did it by going full 4×4 here. Little by little, cars ceased to be offered. In that way they became associated with off-roading and, in a cruel twist of image so common in underdeveloped countries, with luxury.

When my friend called me all enthused saying he had found the “perfect” one, I was a little hesitant. He was happy because the car he was looking at was a very common silver and had low mileage (34,000 km for a 4-year old car, now almost 5). My hesitation came from driving previous Mitsubishi products. The Pajero Io or TR, always felt like it wasn’t properly aligned at speeds above 100 km/h. The L200? So noisy and slow. Plus, like I said, many here confuse it with a luxury product. I was afraid my friend did, too.

When we arrived at the place, her owner was waiting for us. A good sign as she was a she. A woman using this car would do it for school runs and mall visiting, nothing off-roadsy. As a general view of course. Talking to her confirmed our impression. She said she was divorced and the car was titled to her name. The paint still shone, and it was easy to see the interior had been detailed. I got under the car and could see no unusual scratches or anything that’d indicate off-roading.

Took it for a spin, decided it was good. Took it to a mechanic, he declared it good. Money changed hands and that was that. As is the case for this kind of car in Brazil, it was a lot. 71,000 reais of my friend’s hard-earned money. As the exchange rate is hovering around USD$1=R$2.5, you can do the math.

Getting inside, it is the typical Japanese fair. The interior would probably look better in a 90s product, though it is well screwed together. The materials do not impress. On top of the dash is a very thin rubber finishing. Quite hard, at least it’s softer than plastic. There is some sort of plastic possibly trying to imitate wood around the instrument binnacle. There is an insert of perforated leatherette on the door breaking that vast expanse of plastic. The vanity mirrors in both sun visors are among the smallest I’ve seen, but I guess they do their job. The mouse fur on the ceiling is good enough, not too grainy and a light color, which helps the sensation of airiness. All windows have auto up and down, though only the driver’s is marked. All others, a drab slab of black plastic. At least the tactile sensation is not notchy, though not silky either.

The seats were quite comfortable too and offer a wide variety of positions. You get to these positions by manual levers of course. There is not a lot of bolstering, but as this car’s function is to confront the urban jungle, I mean the Sahara, it’s not too bad. The leather of course is false, but there is some variation and the sides have a different pattern than the middle. In the back it is not so good. The backs of the seats are very short and a very large section of metal appears. I have never seen a car with that much open space. The floor back there is quite high too, so not the best place to sit for a long drive.

Talking about good things the trunk is huge, officially rated at over 900L. Again, there is a mishap. No lid. Not a good thing in this country. The best thing in the interior is the wheel, I decide. Plastic, but with a nice texture, it is thick and decent sized, being the best place to lay your hands in the interior.

So now the drive. Inside the limitations of the segment, it is decent. The Pajero boast a 2.5 HPE diesel engine with intercooler good for a little over 150 hp. On the go, with the windows closed, vibrations are contained as is noise. This is a good thing, as outside it still sounds like a bus. At least in Brazil self-service gas stations are outlawed, so the owner will never get the stinky fuel on his hands or clothes. Torque is221 lb-ft  at a low 2000 rpm. Bellying that number and speaking from my experience, you need to rev the thing to get it moving. Most especially in this region of Brazil, Minas Gerais, which is a very mountainous state.

What is not decent is the placement of the gear levels. In my day with it I went to some places with a lot of hills to test the torque and drivability. As a result I spent a lot of time in second gear. Being this Pajero a 5-speed manual car, the position of second gear was simply unacceptable. Once engaged, it eats into my thigh, forcing me to dive with my legs straight ahead and not a little bit open like I usually do. I think this a result of a quickie changeover of the driver’s side, as in Japan they drive on the “wrong” side just like the British. Being that here we adopt the same positioning as most of the world, this would render the possibility of buying this car for myself non-existent.

Once on the move and up to speed it can go quite fast and will keep speed rather effortlessly. I was a bit hesitant to push it over 140 km/h though as at those speeds the car is weaving and bobbing. I slowed down for curves, quite a bit, making it necessary to step on it to make it recoup lost speed. Then, the engine does get intrusive. Spacious enough for a family of 4, the noise and spongy suspension do not make it my kind of car for a sortie to the beach.

This Pajero uses Mitsubishi’s Easy Select transfer case. This means you can go from 2 High to 4 High at speeds of up to 100 km/h. Engaging 4 Low does require almost a full stop. This is where Mitsubishi has built its reputation in Brazil. Off-roaders love them and deem it competent. For normal city use, this system requires compromises that most seem willing to make. Heavy, the 4 wheel drive system takes that much more out of the enjoyment of the car but within the limits of its BOF construction, again, decent.

Due to its slab sides and ample windows, sight lines are good. Again, a good thing, as this is a big car for the spaces available in Brazilian cities. The steering is light and numb, which is what most owners would like anyway. Under normal conditions the car doesn’t threaten to roll over off course, but it is not made for speed. It is much better handling than 90s era SUVs in this sense, but most drivers, as they are not going off-road anyway, would be better served by a crossover. A Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont has this beast beat in the handling department as possibly has Mitsubishi’s own ASX.

When talking of these cars, people like me who don’t get them always ask: Why? So I asked the happy owner. I know he doesn’t have a farm and has never expressed an interest in off-roading. He said he couldn’t exactly pinpoint it, but it gave him a feeling of satisfaction. After many years of hard work, he got a car that told him he’d made it. Also, it was not a Mercedes so he didn’t feel too uneasy about potential violence or kidnapping. I get the sensation this a prime reason for this kind of car in Brazil. It’s big, it’s imposing, it’s “imported”, but it’s not a BMW. People will look, but won’t necessarily put you on their kidnap list.

For 70,000 thousand reais there are much better cars out there. Big cars, medium cars (talking real cars here), which will all give you more performance, a better ride and even possibly lower running costs as the high cost of insuring diesel trucks in Brazil all but guarantee the fuel savings will be annulled. In our world though none of them give you the presence of a big SUV or CUV and I can respect that. As I saw him pulling up and away from my garage, wheels squealing at the incline and sharp turn, I realized once again, it takes all kinds.

 

 

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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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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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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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takata-corp

While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932394 A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing. Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along […]

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Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Plymouth Champ, with Twin-Stick! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1979-plymouth-champ-twin-stick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1979-plymouth-champ-twin-stick/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931106 The tales of the many flavors of rebadged Chrysler Europe and Mitsubishi products sold as Plymouths and Dodges remain perennially fascinating for me, what with all the Chryslerized Simcas and Hillmans and so forth, and one example of this breed that appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth is the Plymouth Champ. […]

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19 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe tales of the many flavors of rebadged Chrysler Europe and Mitsubishi products sold as Plymouths and Dodges remain perennially fascinating for me, what with all the Chryslerized Simcas and Hillmans and so forth, and one example of this breed that appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth is the Plymouth Champ. The Champ was a fourth-generation Mitsubishi Mirage, a gas-sipping front-driver that received Colt nameplates for the Dodge side of the showroom floor, and I found one a few days ago at a Denver-area self-service yard.
20 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Champ name existed for just the 1979 through 1982 model years, after which Chrysler must have decided that marketing confusion could be reduced and money saved on emblem production by selling both Plymouth- and Dodge-badged Colts.
12 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is a particularly ghastly shade of Malaise Green, which is set off nicely by the tape stripes.
05 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car features the super-cool Twin-Stick aka Super Shift transmission, which had a high-low range selector that multiplied the four forward gears into eight gears. Essentially, it was an overdrive box built into the transaxle. In practice, just about nobody drove the Twin-Stick by going through all eight gear ranges in sequence— mostly, you just left it in one range or the other and drove it like a regular four-speed.
06 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut still, the Twin-Stick was cool.
13 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the “big-block” 1.6 liter 4G32 Saturn engine, which made a mighty 80 horsepower.
07 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was very tempted to buy this POWER/ECONOMY indicator light for my collection of weird Japanese instrument-panel parts, but did not do so.
24 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt looks to be an original Colorado car.
01 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCars don’t tend to rust much here in the dry High Plains climate, but Japanese cars of the 1970s could find a way to rust in a vacuum.
04 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s worn out, but essentially complete. How many Champs are left in the wild?

Chuck Woolery says the ’79 Champ is the Southern California mileage champ.

Another little mileage car from Japan, right?


Just don’t crash your Champ!

01 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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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-Outlander-PHEV-Concept-S-2

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.

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Diamond Star Redux: FCA’s Getting A New Mid-Size Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/diamond-star-redux-fcas-getting-new-mid-size-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/diamond-star-redux-fcas-getting-new-mid-size-truck/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:11:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916402 The Chrysler/Mitsubishi pairing that brought us the turbocharged DSM twins and the Colt cars is being resurrected in a roundabout way. A new mid-size truck for Fiat’s commercial vehicle lineup will be sourced from Mitsubishi, which will lend FCA the use of its upcoming L200 truck. Automotive News is reporting that the new truck will, […]

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The Chrysler/Mitsubishi pairing that brought us the turbocharged DSM twins and the Colt cars is being resurrected in a roundabout way. A new mid-size truck for Fiat’s commercial vehicle lineup will be sourced from Mitsubishi, which will lend FCA the use of its upcoming L200 truck.

Automotive News is reporting that the new truck will, of course, not be sold in North America, and will be built in Thailand for the European and Latin American markets. Mitsubishi and Chrysler have already agreed to sell a rebadged version of the Mirage sedan in Mexico, for sale as a Chrysler product.

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Vellum Venom: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-2014-mitsubishi-mirage-es/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-2014-mitsubishi-mirage-es/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:04:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=898658   Design School forces considerations outside of a student’s artistic comfort zone: a unique price, demographic, or geography for starters. Just don’t present a pragmatic design based in sociocultural fact: a conventional sedan for the Indian market–isolating the wealthy from their hired help and their untouchable luggage—was a fantastically stupid mistake. Cultural and profit-minded relevance […]

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Design School forces considerations outside of a student’s artistic comfort zone: a unique price, demographic, or geography for starters. Just don’t present a pragmatic design based in sociocultural fact: a conventional sedan for the Indian market–isolating the wealthy from their hired help and their untouchable luggage—was a fantastically stupid mistake. Cultural and profit-minded relevance aside, that’s the not-so-secret secret I’ve mentioned before in this series. Cars are made under a litany of profit-minded constraints, no matter what they may teach in design school.

And some thrive in their design constraints.

1

A slot. Just a slot: no big stupid Audi-esque maw, no poseur Aston Martin grin, no bullshit. The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES is a snub-nosed hatchback working hard to reduce frontal area, with a .28 drag coefficient to boot. It took an unappealing template and made it work with a modicum of functional style and elegant interplay between elements and cut lines.

If only there was an ever-so-slight curve (down into the bumper) to the hood+fascia cut line.

2

Respect the slot…as it slices into the lower bumper.

3

No love for the badge so big that the hood cut line must bend to clear it. This is one excruciating element in modern automotive design, a Britches-Busting Badge dominating many an automotive face for no reason.

Not necessarily Mitsubishi’s fault, but the natural contours of the body must come first.

3_aventador

Oh Lamborghini, why must you bring credence to this abomination of a branding exercise?

5

Several harmonious elements, all with a “flow” that (attempts to) draw your eyes to a long and sleek form. Like how the grille slot’s earth-bound vanishing points are shared with the lower grille. The Mirage’s lower bumper has devil horns at each corner, arcing to the wheels. Then the fog light’s recess with upward slash into the Mirage’s side.   And finally, hood bulges that mimic the headlight’s contours as it flows to the windshield.

6

Transition to the fender: where’d the flow go? Small and cheap cars wind up with bug-eyed headlights on a stump-like face. All the flowy goodness from the last photo is gone in the name of compact car proportioning.

7

After experiencing these in my 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia in dawn/dusk conditions, the gentle glow of the headlight assembly when in parking light only mode is cool. Glad this bulb made it into the US-spec Mirage.

8

There’s a fake bezel and a fake(?) cylindrical housing inside the bumper’s fog light insert. Looked better before I said that, right?

 

9

The lower grille needs a Prancing Horse emblem à la Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Mostly to be preposterous, but also to reward the clean integration worthy of more expensive metal: a nice contrast to the uber-subtle slot just north.

10

Too bad there isn’t one texture, instead of false teeth, small rectangles and larger rectangles. A dark-colored bolt would be nice too.

11

Here’s where the small car headlights really stand out. Even with the dimensional constraints, kudos to Mitsubishi for stamping out a reasonably bullet-nosed schnoz for such a short (length) and tall (height) machine.

12

Here’s a tidy cowl area, with the requisite windshield-to-fender modesty panel in black plastic. If only the hood extended further back to (presumably) reduce that panel’s size…and still actually open.

12_1

Large gaps around the windshield somewhat disappoint, but the metal work and paint quality remain respectable.

12_2

I used the term “honest” quite often in my review of this machine, no better proof than this antenna.

13

The repeater light and its subtle curve can’t take your eyes away from the DLO FAIL for long. Too bad the fender to A-pillar line can’t merge with the door to A-pillar line without losing the Mirage’s faux-sleekosity. (i.e. push the door cut line forward, making it rather boxy)

13_1

Gray rocker covers are unexpected when exposed unibody metal construction are acceptable for a cheap car. I was expecting blue-painted folds, creases and spot welds! Nice.

14

There’s a reassuring linearity and solidarity in these fast yet upright lines. The B-pillar’s black paint is a nice touch, since the belt line rubber demands a harsh transition from window to door frame. Compare this to something zany like the Nissan Cube.

14_1

A dash of tumblehome evident when opening the door: not bad for a small car that’s surprisingly roomy inside.

15_1

Tighter and more uniform panel gaps wouldn’t hurt.

16

The Mirage’s DLO FAIL free rear doors and fixed window free glass was a nice touch at this price. Also note the window’s outline empathizes with the door cut line and the hatchback’s outline.

17

The roofline has a Prius-like, teardrop fall. If it wasn’t for the DLO fail, there’d be an elegant flow from door to roof, to B-pillar. The strong bend above the door handle along with its softer partner below adds visual excitement to an otherwise plump and forgettable form.

18

While not as pretty as the close up you saw two photos ago, the upward belt line matches the trajectory of the two sheet metal bends below. The door cut line is on point with the B-pillar, elegantly encasing the rear door.

19

Step back and it’s still a cheap 5-door subcompact. No matter what!

20

Wait…are those flush mounted, non pull-lever type door handles? My design pet peeve hurdle cleared, the replacement of a conventional key lock for the ES-grade Mirage’s keyless system is logical, ergonomic and cost-effective.

21

A cheap car gets away with this: plus the passenger’s key lock makes sense if the transmitter fails harder than the DLO on a Chevy Cruze.

22

Man, that’s a huge gas door. Except it’s a normal-sized door on a small car with a seriously short overhang. If only there was a more elegant attachment point for the wraparound rear bumper. Considering this car’s intended market (crowded streets in third-world nations) the wraparound bumpers are more than mandatory.

23

The Mirage’s 14” wheels are static and uninspiring, except not: wheels this small are a treat if you’re sick of rubber band side walls from ill-proportioned mad-tite rims.

24

Another pet peeve: those fake slots do no favors to the wheel’s design. Either have real negative area, or make a flat casting.

25

Much like the Dodge Viper coupe’s helmet friendly roof design, the Mirage has little dimples for the hinges. It’s acceptable when viewed with spoiler’s speed bumps. The huge panel gaps, however…

26

It’s a rare occasion when a car actually needs a spoiler to complete the look, and the Mirage needs it more than a Plymouth Superbird!

27

Too many static elements: strong and steady cut line, downward sloping wedge from the quarter panel to the bumper and another lump that expands toward the bumper’s center section. These lumps aren’t structurally relevant, get a rounder bumper cover to mimic the front end’s bullet look instead.

27_1

Yup, round it off. (EDIT: enlightened reader SamTheGeek mentioned this is for aero, contributing to the Mirage’s fantastic numbers. So nevermind.)

28

The Fallout Shelter reflector logo in the deeply sunken housing brings a smile to one’s face.

29

The Venn Diagram worthy tail light cluster looks outdated by today’s standards. But compare the Mirage’s eyes to the cyborg (no pun intended) look of a Chevy Spark, maybe old and boring ain’t so bad.

29_1

The plasti-chrome emblem was unexpected: no cheapie vinyl-jelly decal? While the bumper’s transition to the hatchback is pleasant enough, the hatchback itself could benefit from pushing the tail light “back” to create an uninterrupted flow from the base of the door to the crest of the tail light.

What was that phrase about the shortest distance between two points? Or just a gentle curve instead. Don’t fight the flow!

29_2

Oh wow, another unconventional handle! And that cute little button again! Replicating a design saves money, and these bits are far from offensive the third time ‘round.

29_3

Imagine if the hatchback did indeed move in a solid, singular sweep from its base to the top of the tail light. No matter, console yourself with the clean lines introduced in the wiper arm.

29_4

The spoiler sure has a well-integrated CHMSL, too bad it isn’t red like the tail lights.

30

Again, problems emblematic with the brand: the logo is too big. Uncomfortably close to the handle and the transition to the rear glass, logos must stop dominating vehicle design. And imagine if the hatchback had a smoother line so it wouldn’t play second fiddle to the tail lights!

Yet here’s proof that fundamentally good, honest design lies in the most unexpected places. While the Mirage’s sins are unacceptable at a higher price, these are white lies and not all out deceit. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine liking the Mirage to this extent. But whatever, life is full of contrasts.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer, Wait, I Mean Plymouth Colt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1989-mitsubishi-lancer-wait-mean-plymouth-colt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1989-mitsubishi-lancer-wait-mean-plymouth-colt/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889946 At the same time Chrysler was selling heavily evolved— if that’s the word— Simcas, you could walk into the same showrooms that sold Turismos and Omnis and buy yourself a badge-engineered Mitsubishi Lancer. By the late 1980s, Mitsubishi itself was selling these cars (badged as Mirages), which meant that car shoppers could choose between three […]

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08 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAt the same time Chrysler was selling heavily evolved— if that’s the word— Simcas, you could walk into the same showrooms that sold Turismos and Omnis and buy yourself a badge-engineered Mitsubishi Lancer. By the late 1980s, Mitsubishi itself was selling these cars (badged as Mirages), which meant that car shoppers could choose between three more or less identical versions of the same car, all priced within it-doesn’t-matter distance of one another: Dodge Colt, Plymouth Colt, and Mitsubishi Mirage. The owner of this Plymouth Colt, however, decided that he or she wanted to go all JDM and convert this car into a Lancer (on a shoestring budget).
19 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis would make more sense if you wanted to turn your Q45 into a President or even your Tercel wagon into a Sprinter Carib. Perhaps the association with the Lancer Evolution was the main motivator for the Colt-Lancer switch.
06 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.
12 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAlmost made it to 100,000 miles.
18 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s pretty easy to get the correct badges if you’re motivated.

Future project: convert a Colt into a Cyborg!

01 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Utilities, Automakers Collaborate On Smart PHEV Charging Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877810 A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs. Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric […]

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A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs.

Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a demand charging platform where the PHEV and the utility exchange information that would reduce the former’s charging during peak hours, then boost it back up during off-peak.

In turn, such a system would allow for increased service reliability for all customers “by helping to mitigate the impact of strain on the grid during peak periods and could contribute to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.” Further, utilities would better be able to manage usage without needing to upgrade their infrastructure, with the savings passed on to their customer base.

As for when this project would get off the ground, no timeline was given as of this time.

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Mitsubishi Vans Are A Delica-te Matter In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-vans-are-a-delica-te-matter-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-vans-are-a-delica-te-matter-in-canada/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:17:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874665 For the first and possibly last time ever, the Mitsubishi Delica was a front page story in a national newspaper, with The Globe and Mail reporting on the “backlash” resulting from these “quirky” cars. The Globe, which is widely regarded as Canada’s paper of record, chose to put the venerable van on page A1, ahead of […]

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For the first and possibly last time ever, the Mitsubishi Delica was a front page story in a national newspaper, with The Globe and Mail reporting on the “backlash” resulting from these “quirky” cars.

The Globe, which is widely regarded as Canada’s paper of record, chose to put the venerable van on page A1, ahead of stories about Syria, ISIS, Boko Haram, Libya and the lack of new manual station wagons.

According to the paper, the Mitsubishi Delica is raising ire, to the point where

“…various provinces and organizations across the country mobilizing to prevent even more of the vehicles from washing up on Canada’s shores…Concerned by the rising number of right-wheel-drive imports, ICBC analyzed crashes involving vehicles like the Delica. In 2009, the agency published its alarming findings: Right-wheel drive vehicles were 40 per cent more likely to be in a crash, and 56 per cent more likely to cause one, than left-wheel-drive vehicles. The driver’s position is believed to make everyday manoeuvres – such as pulling away from a curb or making a left-hand turn – much more dangerous.”

Granted, there are legitimate safety concerns regarding right-hand drive vehicles. For one, the positioning of the headlights must be modified. If they aren’t, then they tend to be angled right into oncoming traffic, which presents an obvious safety hazard.

But there’s also the unspoken fact that many right-hand drive vehicles are performance models like the Nissan Skyline GT-R and Toyota Celica GT-Four. They tend to be purchased by young, testosterone-addled males who are likely to drive them at dangerous speeds on public roads. This is likely to contribute to the alarming crash rates, and a reason why Quebec and Prince Edward Island moved to ban right-hand drive cars earlier in the decade.

There is also pressure from dealer groups and other parties who stand to lose out economically. Although BC’s government-regulated insurer has asked for changes in the rules, they don’t appear to be coming any time soon

Mark Francis, an ICBC manager of provincial vehicle registration who is on a national working group on the issue, says they asked Transport Canada to increase the number of years before a vehicle can be imported from 15 to 25. That number – which would be in line with the United States – would effectively kill the importation of modern Delicas by making it no longer economic for Japanese exporters to warehouse them.

“We’re taking their junk, as we view it,” Mr. Francis says. He adds, however, that the lack of any high-profile crashes involving these vehicles means there’s little incentive to act. “We’re not expecting them to do anything in the near future.”

Surely, the government has a whole host of priorities that are far higher than restricting what a niche group of enthusiasts can import into the country, right?

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Mitsubishi Motors: And Then There Were… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-motors-and-then-there-were/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-motors-and-then-there-were/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:51:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873330     In April, when they released their FY2013 annual results, MMC (Mitsubishi Motors Corp) reported record profits; see Reuters and Automotive News for stories. Don’t get too excited. Mitsubishi Motors’ North American operations are struggling; MMC sells far less than any other Asian car company in North America. The next smallest, Mazda, sold almost […]

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In April, when they released their FY2013 annual results, MMC (Mitsubishi Motors Corp) reported record profits; see Reuters and Automotive News for stories.

Don’t get too excited.

Mitsubishi Motors’ North American operations are struggling; MMC sells far less than any other Asian car company in North America. The next smallest, Mazda, sold almost three and a half times as many vehicles in April 2014. Only six firms sold fewer cars, and of those only Volvo is not a niche luxury marque. (The other five, in decline order of sales, are Jaguar/Land-Rover, Porsche, Tesla, Maserati and Ferrari.)

There are positive signs, with April sales up 46.6% over 2013 and year to date sales up 29%. Only Maserati had a larger increase, but they sold 753 vehicles last year, so that shift represents only a few additional cars. On the other hand, among manufacturers building cars for mainstream customers, Mitsubishi sells the least, so its percentage increase likewise represents only a modest absolute change. Nevertheless Mitsubishi has been improving its North American operation, with net sales up 53% from 2012 to 2013.

Such sales however mean that MMC’s Illinois plant – begun in 1988 as Diamond-Star during the era when Chrysler was a major shareholder – continues to operate in the red. Whether or not Mitsubishi will be able to mount a comeback from the brink of essentially complete failure in North America will depend heavily on the continued expansion of their share and the overall vehicle market. Summer sales are expected to be substantial enough to grow the car market in 2014 over 2013, but that increase won’t be enough to float MMC. Mitsubishi will likely see its sales cannibalized by the other automakers and go the way Suzuki, Isuzu and Daihatsu, Japanese firms that have completely withdrawn from North America. Ultimately it may prove a Saab story.

But their problems aren’t just the US. They’ve pulled out of production in Europe, selling their Nedcar facility. They’ve just restructured debt with their four main creditors – and largest shareholders – who took an average 25% haircut on their preferred shares, to the tune of ¥95 billion (US$950 million). [This is made clear only in their Japanese-language filings.] Perhaps MMC’s shareholders want a tax writeoff and figure their last bailout won’t be recouped. But it also provides MMC with a clean ownership structure that would make a sale easier. Whether anyone would want to buy them is less clear: the company has a stormy history that includes 2 failed sales and an unenviable strategic position. They aren’t unique in this; many other small firms have failed or changed hands in the past half dozen years. But my guess is they’re more likely to provide a Saab story than any of the other Japanese bit players.

Mitsubishi Motors’ origins saddled it with an inefficient structure. During World War II Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) made munitions ranging from warships to the Zero fighter. After 1945 the US Occupation split up the firm into 3 pieces, each of which made different sorts of motor vehicles – three-wheeled cars, scooters, commercial trucks – as they struggled to find things to sell in the grim 1940s and early 1950s. After the Occupation ended MHI’s former pieces merged. The end result was the Mizushima plant in western Japan producing minicars (“kei” cars), Okazaki in central Japan making passenger cars, and Maruko in Tokyo (eastern Japan) making trucks, all within the larger MHI with its industrial machinery, shipbuilding and heavy equipment operations.

Then along came Chrysler, wanting to source small cars in Japan to provide dealers with something to compete against the VW Beetle, which in 1968 sold 600,000 units in the US. (Ford and GM did the same thing, eventually ending up with controlling stakes in Toyo Kogyo – renamed Mazda to echo its brand – and Isuzu.) In 1970 MHI bundled together the three automotive pieces into MMC and set it up as an independent company, with Chrysler to take a 35% stakeholding (which under Japanese corporate law would give them veto rights and hence de facto control). But Chrysler entered one of its periodic crises and couldn’t raise the cash, leaving it with a 15% stake in an unwieldy company. MHI and its bankers remained as the dominant shareholders. While MMC and Chrysler set up Diamond-Star, a joint venture assembly plant in Illinois that opened in 1988, by 1991 Chrysler had sold its share in MMC and various joint ventures.

[An aside: Chrysler purchased its stake in direct contravention to Japanese industrial policy of preventing foreign ownership in the industry – when push came to shove the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, now MEXT) lacked the clout to make such policies stick, cf. IBM’s operations in Japan.]

Then in 2000 DaimlerChrysler bought into MMC, eventually holding 37.5% of the company. But MMC performed poorly, not helped by Daimler’s management, and by 2004 that stake was sold off, with Daimler keeping MMC’s truck division, Fuso, the one piece that made strategic sense for its Asian production base and array of drivetrains.

In the background is a rollercoaster history of a piece with Chrysler. The initial spinoff from MHI coincided with the success of the Galant passenger car in Japan, alongside a good position in the growing “kei” market and in the heavy truck and bus market – which by the way meant that the 3 original production bases remained fiefdoms. MMC then entered the US market, as did the partners in the other Detroit Three alliances. Unlike Isuzu and Mazda, both of which ceased production in the US, MMC has yet to shutter its plant in Illinois, despite low capacity utilization and poor North American sales. Inside Japan sales did well during Japan’s bubble, with MMC introducing new brands, including the luxury Diamante. Again, given the bubble context, that didn’t go well. Next MMC rode the sport utility boom with the Pajero, its Jeep-like product. It was the first firm to do so in Japan, and until rivals entered it earned a lot of money.

Meanwhile it expanded overseas, with assembly plants not just in the US but also NedCar in Europe (from 1991), Chrysler’s old operation in Australia (from 1980), a tie-up with Proton in Malaysia, an engine and later transmission plant and CKD operation in the Philippines, and stand-alone operations with a proper assembly plant in Thailand. Finally, on an ad hoc basis MMC also exported plant and equipment to various firms, including Hyundai and Proton.

Most fared poorly. Its domestic bubble-era brands are gone, as are NedCar (closed in 2012) and Australian (2008) operations. Domestically it turned out a bit over 500,000 vehicles in 2013, but 60% of those were exported. With the yen weak (today at ¥101 per US$) exports are now profitable. Exports are also the focus of their US operations, which currently turn out 70,000 SUVs a year. But exports are an expedient, not a strategy, only grasping at a short-term profit source. Meanwhile, 60% of domestic sales are of minicars. That’s good news, because sales of that segment are rising (up 10% over the last year) but it’s also bad news, because low-priced cars cannot possibly generate the profits needed to keep the company going.

International operations look better, centered in Thailand with joint ventures in China and Russia. In terms of production they are the same order of magnitude as MMC’s domestic operations. But because most of domestic production is exported, the international-to-domestic sales mix is closer to 90:10 than 50:50. What has tided the company over domestically were one-off OEM deals with Nissan, Honda and others. But again, that’s a temporary expedient; there’s no history in the auto industry over the past century, in the US or elsewhere, of sustained interfirm trading. Much more solid are its pickups in Thailand and SUVs in other developing markets such as Russia and China.

Jan-May 2014 change
Domestic Production 273,429 +41%
Domestic Sales 62,954 +14%
Regular Cars 21,376 -19%
Kei Cars 29,708 +104%
Commercial Vehicles 11,870 -16%
Exports 147,190 +12%
Overseas Production 257,781 -5%
Total Production 531,210 +14%
Domestic Sales/Total Production 12%

In Japan, Europe and North American its dealership networks remain weak. For example, in Japan it was late to expand into urban areas, and so had poor locations and poor franchisees. In order to finance its urban presence MMC resorted to supplying cash in turn for equity stakes in dealers. It then dispatched managers from the manufacturing side, who have not proved adept at selling cars – Tesla be warned! In North America and Europe it is hampered by years of poor sales and an uncertain product strategy. (TTAC product reviews of the Mirage and Outlander are less than stellar, while noting the lack of a clear lineup.) Only repeated infusions of equity from the Mitsubishi family of companies kept it afloat, and 25% of those have now been written off.

Thus MMC is a firm with a strong presence in Southeast Asia; it’s basically a Thai firm with lots of engineering facilities and a few underutilized factories in Japan. It has modest operations in China, though as typical of late entrants its factories are scattered from Manchuria to Guangzhou. Then there’s a production base in Japan. Its product lineup is good for the developing world, but in 3 of the 4 largest markets – North America, Europe and Japan – its product mix is weak. The company is thus claiming it will ride emerging market dynamism to success. Elsewhere – in developed markets – its proclaimed focus is electric vehicles, to me a dim idea. But where will it be able to generate profits sufficient to sustain its engineering operations and factories in Japan? Exports only work while the yen remains weak. And without a steady stream of new products, all facing the expensive engineering challenges of increasing demands for fuel efficiency, low emissions, safety and connectivity, it can’t survive.

So selling the firm strikes me as their last straw. There’s a problem: for whom would a purchase make sense? Its current alliances with Nissan-Renault make that a possible option, as they can potentially use MMC’s plants (though not its dealers) in the US and Japan). Perhaps a Chinese company can be tempted, as with PSA and Volvo. But as I see it, FiatChrysler is the one global player with a footprint in North America and Europe that lacks a strong presence in China and developing Asia, the regions where MMC is least weak. If so, this would be the third attempt involving some iteration of Chrysler. But remember, three strikes and they’re out. And that will be MMC’s fate, if it can’t sell itself before the yen again strengthens.

To reiterate: I believe they’re more likely to be a Saab story.

 

N.B. This draws upon a post by my student, Anton Reed W&L’14 in May 2014 for Economics 244. The Prof edited it and appended the global story.

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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.)

 

923984_259630210907307_1294414854_n DSCN5982 DSCN5983 DSCN5984 DSCN5985 DSCN5986 DSCN5987 DSCN5988 DSCN5989 DSCN5990 DSCN5991 DSCN5992 DSCN5995 DSCN5996 DSCN5997 DSCN5998 DSCN6000 DSCN6001 DSCN6002 DSCN6004 DSCN6005 DSCN6006 DSCN6007 DSCN6008 DSCN6012 DSCN6014 DSCN6015 DSCN6017

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Mitsubishi’s Stay Of Evo Execution Good ‘Till 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishis-stay-of-evo-execution-good-till-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishis-stay-of-evo-execution-good-till-2015/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:33:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863025 First the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was slated to die immediately. Then, we got a reprieve. But now it appears that the Evo’s last mile is in sight. According to Jalopnik, Mitsubishi has confirmed that the Evo will stick around, but only for one more model year. Unfortunately, the Evo doesn’t seem to fit within Mitsubishi’s […]

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550x412xEvo-front-550x412.jpg.pagespeed.ic.sySVWKmhND

First the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was slated to die immediately. Then, we got a reprieve. But now it appears that the Evo’s last mile is in sight.

According to Jalopnik, Mitsubishi has confirmed that the Evo will stick around, but only for one more model year. Unfortunately, the Evo doesn’t seem to fit within Mitsubishi’s overarching vision as a maker of environmentally friendly vehicles, as evidenced by their statement below

Mitsubishi Motors does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept such as a high-performance four-wheel-drive gasoline-powered sedan. Mitsubishi Motors will explore the possibilities of high-performance models that incorporate electric vehicle technology. Moving forward, the technology honed in the Lancer evolution model will continue to be advanced and proactively incorporated into future models.

With the i-MiEV and the Outlander PHEV, Mitsubishi is making a concerted effort to pivot towards a lineup where green technology, rather than performance, is the focus of their brand. The Evo runs counter to this in nearly every way possible. The Lancer is also an ancient vehicle by auto industry standards, with the Subaru Impreza already moving on to the next generation even though both cars were all-new in 2007. If you want one, better hurry…the Evo XI is likely going to look more like today’s crop of hybrid hypercars than any rally homologation special.

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