The Mitsubishi RVR (Outlander Sport as it is known in the USA) was among the first of the modern-sized compact crossover SUVs back in the 2000’s. For the 2020 model year, the Mitsubishi RVR gets a new exterior look and infotainment but remains virtually the same mechanically as it did back in 2010 when it was introduced as this 3rd generation.
Engine – The standard RVR comes equipped with a 2.0L naturally aspirated engine that produces 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. This GT trimmed RVR comes with a larger 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder that produces 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. Although the Mitsubishi RVR tips the scales at just under 1,500 kg, the 2.4L engine doesn’t provide any sort of punch off the line that you’d get if it were turbocharged. The peak torque and peak horsepower figures are high up in the rpm range which means that this engine has to rev quite a bit when setting off from a stop or when overtaking on a highway.
But despite the revving, the fuel economy figures are not that bad for an AWD crossover. EnerGuide rates the 2020 Mitsubishi RVR at 10.3 L/100km (22.8 mpg) in a city and 8.3 L/100km (28.3 mpg) on a highway. Better yet, this and the 2.0L engine only require regular fuel.
Transmission – The only transmission available is a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Unlike other CVT’s, the one in this RVR doesn’t try to replicate a traditional automatic. It feels and drives like a CVT of the early years when they were first introduced. It is a little slow to react to quick stabs of the throttle pedal and it holds engine rpms until you let off the throttle. There are real aluminum paddle shifters that allow the driver to shift between six virtual gears but the CVT reacts slowly to inputs and the rpms barely change from virtual gear to virtual gear.
Braking – The brakes have no problem stopping the almost 1,500 kg body of the RVR and the brake pedal is very easy to modulate which makes for smooth stops. Automatic emergency braking is available but it is only available on this top GT trim.
Handling – All-Wheel-Drive is not standard on the Mitsubishi RVR but it can be equipped at around the $25,500 CAD mark. The system is not as advanced as the ones found in the old Lancer Evolution or Lancer Ralliart but it does give you more options than other AWD systems. With a push of a button, it can be front wheel drive only, 4WD auto (the computer sends power to the rear wheels when it detects slip), or 4WD lock which can send up to 50% of torque to the rear wheels. With these options the driver can choose between prioritizing fuel economy in FWD mode or prioritizing traction in slippery conditions with 4WD Auto or 4WD lock.
Although in America the RVR has the word “Sport” in its name, in reality this crossover is anything but sporty. The steering wheel is unbelievably light and easy to turn. You could almost park the RVR with just your pinky, that’s how heavily assisted the steering wheel is. Great for parking. Not so good for getting a feeling of what the front wheels are doing.
Ride Comfort – For the most part, the 2020 Mitsubishi RVR is a comfortable compact SUV. Small and moderate road bumps are absorbed by the suspension without transferring the impact through the seats. It’s only when driving over big potholes do you feel a jolt throughout the cabin so you may want to “play Minesweeper” if you see a particularly big pothole when driving the RVR.
Adding to the comfort are the seats. The front seats have a lot of padding and plenty of positions for both tall and short occupants to get comfortable. The rear seats are a tiny bit more firm than the front seats but long trips won’t be a problem.
Interior Space – Front occupants have a good amount of space considering the size of the RVR. However, taller drivers may want to avoid getting one with the sunroof as it eats away a bit of the headroom. The rear seats are very tight for someone of my height at 6’4”. Even passengers at around the 6-foot mark will find the rear seats lacking in space. Cargo volume is good but if you’re wanting more, avoid getting the RVR with the Rockford Fosgate audio system as the subwoofer takes up some trunk space. Behind the rear seats there are 569 L (20.1 cu-ft) with the subwoofer and 614 L (21.7 cu-ft) without the subwoofer.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This is one area where the Mitsubishi RVR does poorly. There is a lot of engine noise intruding into the cabin, particularly when accelerating from a stop or overtaking. There’s also quite a lot of wind and tire noise when driving on a highway. Granted, this particular demo vehicle came equipped with winter tires which are always louder than all-season tires but even so, it is a loud cabin.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2020 model year RVR receives a new infotainment system and 8” touchscreen as standard. Also standard is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity along with bluetooth. That’s the good. The bad is that the screen reflects a lot of the sun’s glare on a sunny day making it very difficult to see what’s on the screen. The new infotainment software is very simple to learn and is responsive to finger touches of the screen. The design of it though is something to be desired. It looks a bit too simple with graphics that look like they were made with MS Paint.
In terms of other gadgets, this GT trim is equipped with every option that is available on the RVR. There’s really nothing that’s missing in terms of gadgets for this price point. It had heated seats and steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, blind spot sensors, lane departure warning, forward collision alert with emergency braking, push button start, LED headlights, and so on.
Interior Design – The look and feel of the interior is as old as the car itself. A lot of the switches, knobs, and buttons are the exact same that were on this and other Mitsubishi models from the late 2000’s. That’s not to say that they don’t work, because they do, it’s just that it makes the RVR look and feel much older than its rivals. But on the plus side, all of the switches are where you’d expect them to be and are very simple to use. Owners of previous Mitsubishi vehicles will have a very strong sense of familiarity if they upgrade to an RVR.
Exterior Design – While the interior feels dated, the exterior is a bit more in tune with the times. The overall shape has not changed since this car was introduced a decade ago but the revised styling gives it the chunky off-road look that customers these days want in a crossover. The front end of the Mitsubishi RVR makes the whole car look like it’s raised and ready to go off-roading. The rear is a bit more conservative looking than the front but it still has a rugged look especially with the indents in the center of the lower bumper. Overall the newly redesigned 2020 Mitsubishi RVR really stands out in a crowded crossover market, especially in this Sunshine Orange paint.
So is the Mitsubishi RVR worth it? It starts at $22,998 CAD ($22,595 USD) and goes to $33,998 CAD ($26,995 USD) with 4WD available at $25,498 CAD ($24,095 USD). The base ES FWD trim does come with heated seats and the aforementioned 8” infotainment but that’s about it. The fully loaded GT trim does offer better value than other compact crossovers for the price point. Better yet, all trims of the RVR come with a 5 year / 100,000 km new vehicle warranty and 10 year / 160,000 km powertrain warranty. This is arguably the best selling point that other manufacturers don’t offer. But the RVR is more of a point A to point B type of SUV. It doesn’t excel at any one thing. It is worry-free motoring for at least the next decade without breaking the budget.
Thank you to Mitsubishi Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mitsubishi-Motors.ca