2011 Mitsubishi RVR Road Test Review

Holly Reich - CAP staff
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What do Mitsubishi, sexy dancers performing fire stunts and a hip resort on the Sea of Cortez have in common? Well, plenty if you were one of a handful of fortunate journalists taken along to test drive the 2011 Mitsubishi RVR in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. For this event, the surroundings fit the product.

Mitsubishi, you ask? Yes, the company is striving to go beyond its current fan base of tuners by positioning its new compact crossover – a smaller version of the 7-passenger Outlander – towards Gen Y as a fun, expressive, affordable and eco-friendly vehicle. A few months prior to launching the crossover last year, Mitsubishi's Facebook fans had doubled, and that was before launching Mitsubishi Live Drive, the world's first online test drive, using an actual RVR (known alternatively as the Outlander Sport in the U.S.).

With a base price of $21,998, the RVR is coming into a very competitive market. Poised to compete with the Nissan Juke, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and VW Tiguan, Mitsubishi is pitching its newly designed Outlander Sport as the best value. The claim – it comes equipped with more content for less money.

On design, the front end is an attention grabber with a shape inspired by jet fighter air intakes – same as on the Lancer Evolution – the company's high-performance sports sedan. The body is lean, muscular and low, buffed with 18" wheels and available HID headlamps that cast an 80 degree (over the typical 60 degree) spread and achieve 35% greater luminosity than normal HID lamps. Engineered to be nimble for the city and quick on the highways, the RVR also has a class-leading .33 drag coefficient.

The RVR drove with lots of punch and personality. The normally-aspirated, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine features the same architecture as the Lancer sedan and high-performance turbocharged Lancer Evolution and produces 148 hp at 6,000 rpm and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm.

The RVR models are offered in two trims – SE and GT. The base SE is a FWD model with either a 5-speed manual or CVT. Moving up to 4WD means your only transmission choice is the CVT, whether it's the SE 4WD or 4WD-only GT models. Fuel consumption ranges from 7.6-7.7 l/100km in combined driving, depending on drivetrain.

Another standard and a first for Mitsubishi is electric power steering along with a brake regeneration system, an additional fuel saver that captures energy during deceleration.

Weight reducing factors include front fenders made from recycled plastic that flex under light contact. The RVR is also two decibels quieter thanks to a sound-deadening spray on the floor and a sound-absorbing material in the headliner, plus low noise tires.

Inside, the RVR is all about simplicity, ergonomics and symmetry – a nice change from vehicles that have gone overboard on technology. No doubt about it – the RVR comes well equipped with standards that include a leather shift knob, the FUSE Hands free Link system to access phone and iPod with voice control, air conditioning with pollen filter, cruise control with steering wheel mounted controls, tilt & telescopic steering wheel, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry and a 4 speaker 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with steering wheel controls.

The GT model's standard panoramic glass roof has LED mood lighting to frame the sky at night, one-touch start/stop button, cool to the touch magnesium-alloy paddle shifters and an ECO drive light to show you how to get the best fuel economy.

And what about our destination of Cabo San Lucas? Cabo has a history. It has evolved from a sleepy fishing village and a hangout for pirates to a posh landing spot for private yacht owners and these days, a cross between a high-end resort area and a destination for Spring Break. Situated on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, with an average year-round temperature of 25.5 degrees, Cabo offers world-class fishing, golf, horseback riding, windsurfing and water sports. And there's also great loafing, sunning, eating and drinking potential.

The ME Cabo resort is stretched along a sweet beach on the Sea of Cortez that faces the awesome Land's End rocks (natural arches) and an adjoining sandy cove called Lover's Beach. The view is something postcards are made of. ME Cabo has 155 rooms and suites, a duo of free-form shaped pools surrounded by Bali Beds and gardens, plenty of comfortable outdoor lounging areas with plump pillowed couches and translucent curtains that sway in the breeze.

Inside, it's all about high ceilings and a groovy bar and disco. Outside, there's the Nikki Beach outdoor bar and grille with more lounges to sit on and watch the turquoise coloured surf. Described as having a cool hypnotic groove, a DJ concert was happening during our stay with mind-mashing electronic disco played at high decibels and gorgeous bodies dancing everywhere. No, this is not a family resort – it's geared for the Gen Y set, buyers of the new RVR.

And should you decide to pull yourself away from ME Cabo, downtown is just a walk away. Clubs, shopping centers, shots of tequila (Cabo Wabo by Van Halen's Sammy Hagar) and lobster tacos are all within a few blocks. And if you want the true Mexican experience, visit Mi Casa, a vast restaurant decorated to the hilt with colorful art, outdoor patios and a mega-menu of local food that will blow your socks off.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Mitsubishi, 2011, RVR, Outlander Sport, $20,000 - $29,999,

Organizations: Mitsubishi

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