For model-year 2020, Mitsubishi has updated the small crossover segment’s oldest and most proven offering — the RVR.
It’s been around for a decade, largely unchanged aside from a few updates to cosmetics and electronics.
In fact, as you see it in 2020, much of the RVR’s driveline, electronics, parts and components have been built over a million times.
On one hand, this means it’s not the most cutting-edge, up-to-date way to spend the money. On the other, RVR has a tremendous appeal with fans of leaving well enough alone, for long-term reliability’s sake.
Put another way, if the RVR had any bugs, they’d be long ironed out by now — and some shoppers love that idea. And you get a 10-year powertrain warranty, just in case.
So, 2020 brings a strong new fascia for a stronger on-road presence, a bigger central touch-screen interface with enhanced connectivity for your favourite Smartphone, new colours, new wheels, new seat materials, and some reconfiguration of trim grades and equipment levels.
Elsewhere, it’s the type of vehicle that most of us Canadians are buying: a small and thrifty AWD crossover with good ground clearance, and flexible room for some people and things.
Four grown-ups may feel cramped, though two adults and two kids should have adequate room. Cargo volume is also adequate and more is available with the rear seats folded. Entry and exit are mostly handled via effortless lateral butt slide with minimal drama.
Some controls are a bit dated. Everything is logical and easy to find and operate, though many a competitor just has a more modern feel on board, which is important to some folks. Others may focus instead on the RVR’s uniquely-textured surfaces, or slick-looking seats with red accent stitching.
From the front of these seats, headroom is adequate for average adults, though taller folk may be left wanting. Notably, the seat cushions may feel a tad too short for anyone approaching above-average legginess.
My tester included a well-lit and tidy instrument cluster with a slick little driver computer screen, and the driving position is alert and upright, slightly elevated but not towering.
The ride is set about midway between stiff and squishy, and imparts a durable feel without crashing into bumps. Even on worst-case scenario roads, it works hard to keep the ride from degrading into chaos, and usually succeeds.
Drivers after a comfortable ride that’s soft, but not too soft, will like what’s going on.
On the highway, it’s mostly smooth and sturdy sailing, even in sidewinds. The steering has enough heft to keep you feeling locked into your lane, and other than the odd lick of wind noise, it’s pretty much a laid back place to be. Performance from the LED headlights is also pretty top-notch for the money.
Brakes have a decent bite, but you’ll need a hearty smash, deep into the pedal, to get them working their hardest. Ditto the throttle, with the optional 168-horsepower engine, my tester scoots along just fine, but you’ll need a good hard stomp on the throttle to get things rolling.
Two other notables:
First, you’ll want to fire up Android Auto or Apple CarPlay for the touch-screen. If not, it’s strip-mall ATM graphics from the factory interface, which isn’t pretty, but is very easy to read.
Second, AWD fanatics can take note of the RVR’s all-wheel control system, complete with tap-to-toggle access to fully-automatic traction, a lock mode for getting unstuck, and a fuel-saving, two-wheel drive mode. You are the boss of the Mitsubishi RVR’s traction.
after a compact crossover with a slick AWD system, solid all-around road manners, and a proven track record should consider a test drive, but interior styling and touch-screen aficionados have better options.
Model: 2020 Mitsubishi RVR SEL
Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, 168 horsepower
Features: Blind-spot monitoring, automatic climate control, full smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth, heated seats, push-button ignition, smart key, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel
What’s hot: Good manners, good mileage, good power, slick AWD system, great headlights
What’s not: may feel small for four adults, some dated controls and interfaces, brake pedal feel is disappointing
As tested: $29,798