Powerful optional xenon lights, good fuel mileage, and decent performance
Launched for model-year 2011, Mitsubishi’s small crossover was targeted at urban dwellers, small families, or anyone after an SUV-like sense of capability and adventure without the big, clumsy size. Key competitors included the Toyota Matrix, Nissan Juke and Subaru Crosstrek.
Look for up-level features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a Rockford Fosgate stereo system, and full hands-free communication functionality. The RVR could also be specified with a suite of luxury features – including heated leather seats, automatic climate control, a glass-panel roof and more.
All models were covered by an impressive 10 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty with five years and unlimited kilometres of roadside assistance for maximum long-term confidence. Shoppers should have little issue finding a used unit with a generous portion of this warranty still in effect.
A 2013 or newer model is ideal where budgets allow. For that year, designers tweaked the grille opening, front fascia and bumper to give the RVR a smoother, cleaner look. In back, a new bumper with redesigned marker lamps resulted in tidier lines and a more cohesive appearance.
Slight updates were carried out across the RVR’s interior as well – including new accents, new fabrics and improved quality. Further, the suspension and CVT automatic transmission were revised to turn in a sportier driving experience.
Look for four-cylinder power on all models, with 2.0L and 2.4L options available depending on the year and model in question. Front- or all-wheel-drive models could be specified, the latter running the Mitsubishi All Wheel Control (AWC) system, which notably offered 4x4 lock, auto and 2WD settings. The latter setting allowed drivers to switch the AWD system off when it wasn’t needed, helping save fuel. A five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive were standard, and all AWD models came with a CVT automatic.
What Owners Like
Powerful optional xenon lights, good fuel mileage, and decent performance from models with the available 2.4L engine were highly rated by RVR owners, many of whom also appreciated its handsome and blocky styling. The upgraded Rockford Fosgate stereo is commonly praised by owners, too.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripes include a lackluster navigation system, some cheap interior plastics, a larger-than-expected turning circle and a rough ride on some surfaces. Further, numerous owners have noted difficulty in achieving the rated fuel economy numbers, and many wish for a quieter ride, especially at speed.
The Test Drive
By and large, the RVR looks like a fairly solid machine, sharing many components with other fairly solid-looking Mitsubishi models, like the Outlander and Lancer. There’s little data online from owners about commonly reported issues and reliability despite a decent volume of units sold, though a few checks are still advised.
Start a test drive by scrutinizing the condition of the RVR’s paint job, noting that numerous owners taking to online forums to discuss their ownership experiences have reported fragile and easily damaged paint on this (and other) models. Look closely at sensitive areas, including the edge of the hood, the rocker panels or rocker panel covers, and the area behind each wheel. Any excessive chipping or peeling of the paint should be called into pricing negotiations. Here’s a little more reading. Note that in the USA, the RVR is called the Outlander Sport.
A handful of owners have reported premature shock-absorber wear and failure, as well as premature deterioration of various suspension components, including bushings. Test drive the RVR listening and feeling for unwelcome sensations when travelling over bumps at various speeds. The machine should quietly bounce, rebound and settle – not slam, bang or crank into bumps or dips in the road. If you’re unsure of the condition of the suspension in the model you’re considering, have a mechanic take a look.
Further, from the driver’s seat while parked, turn the wheel fully from lock to lock, noting any “binding” sensation through the wheel along the way. This may be accompanied by a clicking or popping noise. If noticed, the likely culprit is worn strut mounts, which should be inspected by a mechanic. Here’s a little more reading about unwanted suspension noises.
A few notes on models with the continually variable transmission, or CVT (which is, incidentally, all models with AWD). First, be aware of a recall of several thousand units in the USA and Canada (more information here) for a problem with a switch in the CVT automatic, which could prevent the vehicle from accelerating as intended. Shoppers should also confirm that the CVT automatic is up to date on fluid changes, and that previous fluid changes have been carried out at the dealership. Reason? The flush-and-fill procedure for this transmission is fairly involved (more reading here), and the dealer is the best place to do the work, as they’ll be familiar with it.
Confirm that the all-wheel-drive (AWD) system fluid changes are all up to date as well. Having a mechanic check for signs of leaky differential and axle seals is a good idea for peace of mind, too.
An RVR that’s hard to start may be suffering from a computer-related issue, which can likely be fixed with a simple computer re-flash by a Mitsubishi technician. Some owners with this issue report success by changing to a fresh battery, too. If the model you’re considering has the intelligent key system, you’ll want to check for weak batteries first, if the push-button start system is sluggish.
If the unit you’re considering is coming up towards the end of its warranty coverage, be sure to have a Mitsubishi dealership document any issues you note, even if they don’t yet require warranty repair. This could help speed the warranty claim process, if required.
Note that Mitsubishi’s warranty has mixed reviews within the ownership community, with many owners reporting issues having dealers acknowledge problems or getting them fixed. As one frustrated owner stated, “It’s easy to offer a warranty this long if you decide nothing is covered by it.”
A used RVR that’s been properly maintained, has a clean bill of health from a mechanic, and is sold with decent factory warranty remaining, can be purchased with confidence by shoppers after a maneuverable and thrifty compact utility model.
Here’s a lengthy list of recalls.
Crash Test Ratings
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2014)
NHTSA: 4/5 Stars