The press-day reveals of the New York Auto Show are still nearly six weeks away, but we can already pencil in another important debut: an all-new Mitsubishi hatchback (or crossover) that might help awaken the brand from a sales slumber.
The RVR, which we previewed a few months ago, will be sold in Europe as the ASX and will arrive in the U.S. this fall as the Outlander Sport, Mitsubishi confirmed today to TheCarConnection.com.
This all-new vehicle slots into Mitsubishi's U.S. lineup just under the Outlander, according to spokesman Maurice Durand, and it will go on sale this fall.
At about 169 inches long, riding on a 105-inch wheelbase, the new 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is an all-new body style, not to be confused with the Toyota RAV4-sized Outlander, and will land right between the Suzuki SX4 Sportback and the Toyota Matrix (or roughly the size of the Dodge Caliber)—appealing to those who want a hatchback with a hint of extra crossover utility.
In Japanese-market versions, Mitsubishi is equipping the RVR with regenerative braking, HID headlamps, and a TV tuner. We'd say that extravagance is unlikely, but we do expect several other features—including a panoramic sunroof, hard-drive-based navigation system, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity, likely from the new Fuse interface that made its debut in the 2010 Outlander GT and will be installed in the Lancer line next year.
Expect a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable (CVT) automatic with six ratios on command through a manual mode; front- and all-wheel-drive versions are likely. The Outlander Sport is expected to get electric power steering, like its international counterparts, and should have fuel economy figures solidly in the 30s.
The name might be a little confusing at first, but it's part of Mitsubishi's plan to find its way again in the U.S. market. Just as Mitsubishi has a full family of Lancer vehicles in the U.S.—including the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer, Lancer GTS, Lancer Ralliart, Lancer Ralliart Sportback, and the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the automaker also plans to have multiple versions (and body styles) with the Outlander name. Just as Subaru has long sold its Outback (Legacy-based) and Outback Sport (an Impreza trim), Mitsubishi will capitalize on the name recognition of its two most critically acclaimed models.
The automaker foreshadowed this strategy this year with the introduction of the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT—a specially equipped version of the Outlander and the only one to get the Evolution's sophisticated Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC), with special Tarmac and Snow settings and the capability to vary torque delivery from left to right as well as front to back.