I for one, really like the more aggressive and rugged-looking aesthetics the RVR offers.
I’ve said this before- the crossover market is growing in leaps and bounds here in the GTA, and I am often asked for my thoughts on my favourites. It’s certainly not the most exciting segment, but with the competition heating up, these practical little utes are getting better and better each year. I like to keep up with them so I am ready to give a first-hand perspective the next time someone asks. For that reason, I spent a week with a top-trim 2015 Mitsubishi RVR GT with All Wheel Control (AWC) to see how it stacks up against the competition.
Firstly, the looks of the RVR have been debated amongst many colleagues in the industry. I for one, really like the more aggressive and rugged-looking aesthetics the RVR offers over others in this class. It pulls off the “angry bulldog” look very well with its flat snout, gaping grill and well-proportioned features. For 2016, the RVR features a pair of interesting L-shaped LED running lamps up front, a nice accent that went very well with the bright Octane Blue Pearl paint on my tester. Exterior dimensions are right where they should be too, making the RVR easy to maneuver and park in the city.
Its sharp exterior form helps the RVR stand out from the crowd, but its interior is clearly built with function in mind over form. Controls are clear and well placed, sight lines are great and despite the RVR’s small dimensions there is plenty of storage up front. The rear seats and cargo area are also deceivingly large; the squeeze of a handle folds the seats flat to reveal a very usable cargo hold, which easily transported our new side table home. While very practical, the interior does feel dated and rather cheap; I attribute that mostly to the liberal use of hard shiny plastics and a very basic gauge cluster that is a few years behind some of the more advanced units. Though the comfort level of seats tends to be subjective, I did find the seats in the RVR to be too flat for my tastes and after a couple of hours in the driver’s seat, I was ready for a stretch.
While the RVR’s interior doesn’t impress on fit and finish, my GT model came with a solid list of standard features, including a touch screen 6-speaker infotainment system with Sirius satellite radio and steering wheel mounted controls, heated front seats, rear view camera, proximity key entry and automatic climate control. The touch screen is easy to navigate and there is zero lag, but the graphics are a little bland. I’ve recently become one of those folks who sets the automatic climate control to one temperature and never touches it again. That strategy doesn’t seem to work with the finicky system in the RVR. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the cabin to remain a comfortable temperature so I ended up reverting back to the manual controls. Lastly, the GT AWC model does come standard with a simply massive panoramic roof complete with a power retractable sunshade; a very up-scale feature. However, during my scorching hot week with the RVR, I was a little disappointed to learn that it is a completely fixed glass panel and cannot be opened. Nonetheless, it’s a nice touch that is lit up with some dimmable orange LEDs to help set the mood.
Being the top-level trim, my RVR GT AWC came equipped with the 168 horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder attached to Mitsubishi’s latest generation of CVT transmission. Under normal conditions, power is more than adequate and the CVT does a good job at keeping the rpms low for maximum efficiency, while simulating shifts to avoid that awkward no-shift feeling CVTs are known for. Under brisk acceleration, though, the CVT tends to lag and the growly 4-cylinder begins to feel rather underpowered. On paper, 168hp sounds plenty for a small CUV, but with the added weight of the all-wheel-drive system mated up to the CVT, the RVR’s power advantage feels a little diminished. Putting myself in the shoes of a potential buyer, I suddenly care a lot less about the feeling of power and start to pay more attention to the fuel economy, which is very respectable in the RVR. In my week of rush hour commuting, my average was around 8.5L/100km. Considering that this is an AWD vehicle with a tall profile, that’s really pretty good.
The highway ride in the RVR is pleasant for a vehicle of its size, with decent noise control and a smooth ride. Like most tall short wheel based compact CUVs, it can be a little twitchy at highway speeds; the RVR requires slightly more on-center corrections than others, although I doubt most drivers would take much notice. From an enthusiast’s perspective, the steering feel is extremely vague even though the chassis does seem to perform reasonably well through some mildly taken curves
The RVR does lack a fair bit in the driving dynamics department, but again, if I put myself into the mindset of a more common compact CUV buyer, I am thinking a lot more about its practicality, efficiency and long-term reliability. That last part is where the RVR offers a bit of an edge over its competition. While no manufacturer can really guarantee the reliability of a vehicle, Mitsubishi is prepared to stand behind the RVR with an industry leading 10 year/160,000km powertrain warranty and a 5-year 100,000km limited warranty. As an added bonus, the package also includes 5-years of free roadside assistance. If I am on a budget and looking for a practical vehicle for my young family, or maybe a new first car for a son or daughter, that means a lot more to me than steering feel or throttle response.
While my test vehicle does represent the top-trim level, its $29,558 MSRP doesn’t reflect the available $1500 Premium package that adds leather, a power driver’s seat and a 710-Watt Rockford Fosgate sound system. A navigation system is also available at a staggering $2750, but I doubt it will be a popular choice. Similarly equipped offerings from competitors like Mazda and Honda can be had for a couple thousand less, meaning the RVR isn’t exactly the bargain-buy of the segment.
Simply put, the RVR isn’t a driver’s CUV. It’s not a price leader nor will its interior impress your passengers with the latest gadgets and materials. What the RVR does offer is uniquely good looks, honest practicality, the available capability of Mitsubishi’s AWC system, reasonable efficiency and a class leading warranty program. While that might not get some of our enthusiast readers excited, I suspect it’s exactly what many of the shoppers in this segment are looking for, and the relatively high number of RVRs I’ve spotted on Ontario’s roads mean my suspicions are probably right.