The starting price of the Mitsubishi RVR small crossover is $23,000, in line with rivals like Toyota’s C-HR ($23,650), Honda’s HR-V ($24,250), Mazda’s CX-3 ($21,045), Kia’s all-new 2021 Seltos ($$22,995), Nissan’s Kicks ($19,298), Hyundai’s Kona ($21,249), Subaru’s Crosstrek ($23,795) and Ford’s EcoSport ($25,149).
Yes, it’s a crowded field. Andy yes, there is a bit of variation in the actual sticker prices. But given that most Canadians either stretch out payments over many years or lease a new vehicle, monthly payments across the board are relatively alike when comparing similarly equipped models, feature for feature.
Take on an RVR over seven years, sign up for Mitsu’s 2.99 per cent finance rate, and for the cheapest, purely front-drive version of this rig you’re looking at a monthly outlay of about $370 plus insurance and so on. Cost of borrowing: about $3,100.
The rest of the contenders will run you about the same per month, give or take the price of a nice lunch each month.
So, the decision to buy an RVR or something like it has little to do with dollars and cents. Sure, one manufacturer or its dealer or both might offer a slightly better interest rate or some additional sales sweetener or another, but in the end, all these car companies offer like-minded rigs for almost identical prices.
What, then, separates the RVR from the rest? I’d start with the warranty.
Mitsu Canada has 10-year powertrain coverage and five years bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance. That’s as good as it gets in Canada. And it’s a selling point because many, many buyers go with something new for comfort that comes with a manufacturer warranty. Just keep in mind, that if you opt for the longest payment plan, you’ll make a monthly outlay for 24 months after the full warranty coverage is gone.
Now the RVR, because it is by far Mitsu Canada’s cheapest offering, is also this brand’s best-seller. On a given month, Mitsu sells about twice as many RVRs at the brand’s next most-popular model, the far more expensive Outlander.
The most basic RVR runs on a pretty thrifty 2.0-litre four-banger (148 horsepower) mated to a thoroughly humdrum continuously variable tranny sending power strictly to the front wheels. This is a perfectly functional RVR for drivers who just want an affordable, tall station wagon with a very good roster of safety gear, a cloth interior, decent cargo room and room for perhaps five adults, if none of them is overly plump.
Nothing wrong here. It’s fine for hauling the kids to hockey or jogging around town doing errands. It looks very much like the priciest RVR, right down to that big, bold, two-bar grille flanked by embedded running lights and such. It’s a strong design as two-box designs go.
Mitsubishi, though, pushes its AWC system in the marketing bumph, with AWC standing for all-wheel control. The top model, of course, is the RVR GT AWC.
The latter adds a handful of safety features to the base model:
- (blind spot warning, lane departure warning and such
- a bigger engine (2.4 litre four-banger, 168 hp);
- paddle shifters;
- bigger wheels and tires;
- automatic headlamps, high beams and fog lights;
- some chrome bits, roof rails and a glass sunroof.
Inside, you get:
- leather upholstery;
- power driver’s seat;
- mirrors for the sun visors;
- a cargo cover;
- some nicer trim bits;
- keyless entry;
- a heated steering wheel;
- and even rain-sensing wipers.
The priciest RVR comes in four standard colours, with four others optional, while the base model comes in just one standard colour with one paint option.
I’ve spent the most of the time in the GT and it’s really a very tidy ride. The 168-horsepower four is more than powerful enough and despite weighting more than the front-drive RVR, fuel economy using regular fuel is almost identical (10.3 city/8.3 highway vs 9.7/7.8 for the base model). The RVR is lively enough, though even in luxury trim, it feels a little tinny – a lightweight, indeed.
As a small family car, though, it’s on the money, with very good safety scores and instruments and controls that are as simple and easy to use as anything you can buy in this class. Would I like more richly padded seats? Yes. Would I prefer less road and wind noise? Absolutely. But there is no quibbling with visibility, functionality or styling.
Of course, shoppers must be aware that Mitsubishi has considerably fewer dealers than most of its rivals. You might not have a handy retailer in your neighborhood. On the other hand, Mitsubishi Canada’s consumer web site is easier to navigate than most. Very friendly. You’ll be able to compare models, equipment and pricing in just a few minutes.
Lastly, if I have a concern, it’s reliability. In the latest Consumer Reports study, Mitsu ranks 20th out of 30 brands and J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study ranks Mitsu below average. That, of course, explains why Mitsu Canada offers such a good warranty – as a counterweight to those unremarkable reliability scores.
2020 Mitsubishi RVR GT AWC
Engine: 2.4-litre I4 (168 horsepower/167 lb-ft of torque).
Transmission: continuously variable or CVT.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.3 city/8.3 hwy using regular fuel.