2020 Mitsubishi RVR offers practicality, value, reliability

Source: The Chronicle Herald

2020 Mitsubishi RVR GT (Sabrina Giacomini)2020 Mitsubishi RVR GT (Sabrina Giacomini)

The compact SUV and crossover segments have become the most crowded of the industry over the past few years with almost every manufacturer under the sun launching their versions of what urban utility should look and feel like. The segments are so aggressive that some companies have even ditched sedans and hatches to focus entirely on SUVs. Mitsubishi is one of them.

The entry-level in Mitsubishi’s SUV lineup is the RVR, a model that’s easy to overlook since it hasn’t been the centre of Mitsubishi’s attention in a decade. Yes, you read that right. The model has remained virtually unchanged for 10 years.

Of course, it’s gone through a few rounds of updates with the latest one dating from 2019 which finally made the RVR look like it belongs in the family. Its platform, however, is the same as the one introduced at the beginning of the last decade. Despite the lack of innovation, Mitsubishi Canada confirmed the RVR was their top seller in 2018. Aged doesn’t mean bad.

So the 2020 upgrade included a new, more modern design, as well as a larger touchscreen, which in theory sounds nice, right? Once you see and interact with it, though, disappointment is quick to follow, especially if you’ve started your car shopping spree at Hyundai or even Toyota.

The infotainment system cruelly lacks pizzaz and is basic beyond belief for a 2020 model year. Considering some of Mitsubishi’s competitors seem to take pride and pleasure in designing appealing interfaces, the RVR’s system is drab at best in comparison. Mitsubishi also follows the trend of limiting the number of options to the benefit of the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems (which is optional). That means that despite driving the top-of-the-line GT, I didn’t have access to any form of navigation unless I plugged my smartphone in.

As for the dashboard, let’s call it “classic and straightforward.” It certainly won’t win any design awards since the layout is almost as old as the platform itself. But I’ll hand it to Mitsubishi: it’s efficient and user-friendly.

I also noted some quality issues in the unit I drove. For instance, my driver seat shimmied in its tracks, noticeably so while driving in the city and alternating between braking and accelerating. The cabin’s poor soundproofing emphasized road noise and road bumps caused some mild, plastic-y rattles. I wasn’t overly impressed with the experience, especially considering the $36k price tag that comes with the GT trim level.

The model isn’t all bad. It has gained an enviable reputation for being highly reliable over the years. Plus, Mitsubishi continues to offer the longest warranty in the industry with coverage on the powertrain spanning 10 years.

The 2.4L, four-cylinder engine is also relatively cooperative. It won’t win you any races but takeoffs are responsive enough and the CVT isn’t too nightmarish to deal with, which is likely due to the fact that the expectations aren’t high, to begin with.

The vehicle also features the all-wheel control system, which is the company’s part-time all-wheel drive. Simply put, that means that by default, the power is sent to the front wheels, which is easier on gas. Once you press the comically big “AWC” button located on the console, the rear wheels get looped in, and the vehicle turns into a proper, snow blasting, all-wheel drive. Considering most life situations don’t require to have the AWD activated at all times, having control where the power is sent is a plus in my opinion.

I really wanted to like the 2020 Mitsubishi RVR because I know what Mitsubishi is capable of. The Outlander — more specifically the PHEV version — is, in my opinion, one of the best plug-in hybrids currently offered on the market. The problem is that the company is working with an outdated structure with the RVR. It’s not a bad vehicle but it needs a whole lot more than a facelift to keep up with its competition.

The Specs

  • Model: 2020 Mitsubishi RVR GT AWC
  • Engine: 2.4L, I-4, 168 horsepower, 167 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Transmission: CVT, all-wheel drive
  • NRCan rating (L/100km city/highway): 10.3 / 8.3
  • Length: 4,365 mm
  • Width: 1,810 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,670 mm
  • Weight: 1,495 kg
  • Price: base, $25,015 as tested, $36,013 including freight
  • Competition: Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Crosstrek, Hyundai Kona, Kia Sportage, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Compass
  • Standard equipment: Active Stability Control, Traction Control Logic, Brake Assist System, Hill Start Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, All-Wheel Control with drive mode selector, Heated front seats, six-way power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands-free cellular phone interface, FAST-Key keyless entry with push-button start and panic alarm, SiriusXM satellite radio, Rearview Camera, Steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Heated steering wheel