Mitsubishi's Still Hot on Trucks, but Man, That Outlander Sport's Gonna Get Old

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

As we’ve told you before, Mitsubishi’s acceptance into the massive Renault-Nissan fold spells new opportunities for the struggling brand. Platform and technology sharing, affordably developed new models, no further risk of bankruptcy — the future looks a lot brighter than it did just a couple of years ago.

Among those potential new products is a pickup truck — a segment Mitsu’s courted in the past, with varying degrees of success. Apparently, the brand’s urge to join the growing pickup field hasn’t waned, but the timeline for another new product — a downsized Outlander Sport — now appears less urgent than it once did.

Speaking to Motor1, Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice president Don Swearingen has high hopes Nissan will one day grace his company with a truck, either through a badge swap, or via the cash to bring production of an overseas model to America.

“It’s one of the top ones on our list,” he said. “Our dealers still see that there’s an opportunity. There’s always room for one more.”

Swearingen sees the mid-size segment as a natural fit for a Mitsu truck. Overseas, the brand sells the Triton and L200 midsize trucks, but the dreaded Chicken Tax means those midsizers remain an ocean away. Nissan sells the Navara overseas, and its ancient North American-market Frontier is eventually due for a redesign.

Wishing and hoping is nice, but in the meantime there’s a small stable of existing models to manage. In its near-term crossover-focused product strategy, the 2018 Eclipse Cross (due in March) serves as the brand’s compact offering, with the compact Outlander Sport shrinking in size and reappearing in the subcompact class. We’ve already mused about how, at least for a short time, both models will compete in the same segment.

Well, forget about a short time. It was anticipated that a new Outlander Sport would appear in late 2018 as a 2019 model, but that tentative timeline now seems to be fiction. Swearingen says the downsized model won’t appear for “two to three years.”

That means the Outlander Sport (RVR in Canada, ASX in Japan), the current generation of which bowed in the U.S. in 2010, will soldier on in its slightly refreshed state for some time until a successor pushes it away from the Eclipse Cross. It looks like Mitsu’s waiting on a common platform from its new owner — one that won’t be available for a couple of years.

As brand CEO Osamu Masuko said in November, “After 2020, the impact of synergies (between the two brands) will come to life.”

Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales volume topped the six-figure mark in 2017 for the first time since 2007, making it the brand’s fifth annual sales increase. After hitting 345,111 sales in 2002, the brand sank to just 53,986 sales seven years later. Last year, some 103,686 Americans took home a Mitsubishi.

[Image: Mitsubishi]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Jan 22, 2018

    Nissan Renault Mitsubishi is working on a three truck global strategy. Basic truck compact/midsize for emerging markets, a global midsize and a full size truck. It's expected Mitsubishi will lead the development and manufacture of the pickup for emerging markets. Missed opportunity.... Assemble the Trition pickup at Normal, IL Mitsubishi plant. Can't do than anymore since Mitsubishi sold it for pennies on the dollar. Give some product to Mitsubishi to sell in North America. Duster Oroch, Logan, Sandero RS, and Duster are all value vehicles and fit into Mitsubishis current strategy.

  • Roadranger Roadranger on Jan 23, 2018

    You most certainly do not want the Triton in your market for any reason. They are pure garbage.

  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.
  • John The awesome Infiniti G series saved this company 20 years ago, but they are right back on track to obsolescence. (yawn)
  • Teddyc73 White with black wheels, I'm so sick of. Or dull grey and black wheels. Just stop.