Labrador Black paint matched by black 18-inch “GT” wheels, black grille, black skid plate, black headliner and black roof pillar.
Black, black, black, which in the cabin of the Mitsubishi RVR Black Edition compact SUV (sport-utility vehicle) is highlighted by ribbons of red stitching, chrome door handles and aluminum pedals.
This limited edition starts at $28,698 and at first glance, it’s a looker. Black is never a bad fashion choice. Even I present reasonably well in nicely trimmed formal wear, and every woman in the world looks terrific in a classic little black dress. Black is simple and timeless, suggests something sinister and hides flaws.
The big one with the RVR is the lack of a full makeover in some seven years. That said, the aged interior design is nicely camouflaged by the black treatment. You barely notice a world of hard plastic when it’s all in basic black.
Mitsu is asking for an extra $9,000 for this rig — $9,000 above the front-drive starter model ($19,998) with its slightly anemic 2.0-litre four-banger (148 hp/145 lb-ft torque). The RVR Black gets a 2.4-litre four (168 hp/167 lb-ft torque) and standard all-wheel control (AWC).
Yes, the Black Edition is tidy little marketing gimmick designed to spark interest in an aging model. I noticed it and liked its looks right away. I also noted the standard 10-year warranty.
Then I went driving. The ride quality is “sturdy” — firm and a bit truck-like. The 2.4-litre four is strong enough, but the CVT (continuously variable transmission) robs it of any charm. Call it Ninja with Sumo performance.
The standard AWC is good, though. A button on the centre console lets you toggle between front-drive, automatic 4WD, or 4WD lock. You can save a bit of fuel running just the fronts when the weather is fine, then get traction at all four wheels when the road gets slippery or pavement disappears entirely.
The cabin? Spacious. Adults can sit in the rears. The seats are not overly comfortable, but there is lots of headroom and a big cargo hold.
Electronics? Almost ancient. The infotainment system is a bit clunky, the display undersized. The only USB port is tucked away in the glove box. And satellite radio and navigation are available.
Mitsu’s answer is to offer data-sucking Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Black does have a six-speaker audio system and it’s good.
Is this the most refined rig in the class? No. But in black, it sure looks mysterious and even a little dangerous. And that’s quite something.
2017 Mitsubishi RVR Black Edition
Base price range: $28,698. Freight and PDI: $1,700
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder (168 hp/167 pound-feet of torque).
Transmission: continuously variable or CVT.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.7 city/7.8 hwy.
Comparables: Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Mini Countryman.