Another week, another compact SUV. The truth is, many manufacturers are getting in on the compact SUV market simply because it’s a very popular market. I had the opportunity to test the Subaru XV Crosstrek a few weeks back and at first glance, the 2013 Mitsubishi RVR GT seems to be a direct competitor. They both take styling cues from their younger rally-inspired siblings, the Impreza and Lancer. However, the RVR is actually based on the current Outlander, though utilizing a two-row five-seat layout and being significantly shorter. Mitsubishi expects the RVR to be a strong seller, along with the Lancer and Outlander. Personally, I really like the Lancer’s aggressive look, and hence I think the RVR is a pretty handsome vehicle. The HID headlights, fog lights, and 18” alloy wheels were all nice touches to the overall package.
The RVR is available in 4 trim levels; two models in 2WD, and two more in 4WD configurations. My 2013 tester is the top of the line model, the GT 4WD with the optional Premium Package. All RVR’s are equipped with a 2.0L MIVEC four-cylinder engine that produces 148 hp and 145 ft-lbs of torque, almost exactly the same as the Subaru XV Crosstrek. One of the best selling points of a compact SUV is that, well, it’s compact. In addition to a nimble and lightweight layout, the small engine allows the RVR to deliver impressive fuel economy. It’s rated to achieve approximately 8.5L/100km city, and 6.6L/100km highway. That’s very respectable for a 4WD car, and best in class. On a recent trip with 4 adults and cold temperatures, I was able to achieve 8.4L/100km all highway driving, which is quite impressive (especially compared to the XV Crosstrek). Part of the fuel economy is the CVT transmission. Yes, I’ve never been a big fan of CVT transmissions but for this type of car, equipped with magnesium paddle shifters, the fuel savings it undoubtedly forces me to give credit where it’s due. It is worth mentioning though that there is a lot of engine noise in the cabin at speed.
Mitsubishi has rarely ever come up short in the handling department, and I’m delighted to say that the RVR is a very competent drive. Although it doesn’t pack much power, the lightweight design and an intelligent suspension setup allows it to be a joy on the open roads. It really does feel like a small sedan to drive, and thanks to very short overhangs and a small turning radius, it’s very easy to park and drive through urban settings. I had lots of fun driving this thing around town; dare I say, even moreso than I did with the Subaru XV Crosstrek.
Although the RVR has relatively small dimensions, the interior feels very spacious. As I mentioned earlier, on a short trip loaded with 4 adults and baggage, at no point did anyone feel as though the vehicle was too small. Part of this spacious feel is the panoramic sunroof. Mated with some slightly gimmicky LED accent lighting, it’s a great companion both during the day as well as at night. Everything is power-operated as one would expect, even the driver’s side seat for our tester. The heated leather seats were supportive and comfortable and the overall feel of the cabin is that of true quality.
My RVR GT tester came equipped with an impressive 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, complete with 9 speakers and a rather large subwoofer in the trunk. As you can imagine, coupled with Mitsubishi’s MMCS interface, the RVR packs a powerful entertainment experience. Although the screen and buttons felt a bit like a cheap aftermarket interface, the USB/iPod/Bluetooth connectivity worked well. A GPS navigation system with real-time traffic information, rearview parking camera, and a 40GB hard drive music server are included as part of the Premium Package and they are indeed fantastic features.
Now, let’s talk price. My 2013 RVR GT 4WD “Premium” has an as-tested MSRP of $34,108. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of money, namely entry-level luxury car money. It does indeed offer a very comprehensive package, with features and options that match more premium cars, but it’s still hard to justify paying premium car money for a car that doesn’t feel very premium. If you can do without some of the features on the RVR’s option list, I’d suggest choosing a less-expensive trim level. That being said, let’s not forget that Mitsubishi vehicles don’t exactly go for MSRP around these parts.
All in all, I’m very impressed with the 2013 Mitsubishi RVR. With it’s handsome looks, nimble handling, a long list of features and options, and a virtually unbeatable 10-year 160,000km powertrain warranty, it’s a pretty comprehensive package. If you’re in the market for a compact SUV, I’d definitely recommend a test drive at the very least.
2013 Mitsubishi RVR GT Gallery