Posts from ‘Mitsubishi’
In the last five years, many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have come and gone in the U.S. retail landscape. Many made indelible impressions. Others slipped softly from our consciousness. It’s the latter that I wish to celebrate. Here are five vehicles from the last five years that you either forgot were sold in the U.S. or never knew existed.
2009-2011 BMW 335d
This entry from BMW kept its talents hidden very well. On the outside, it looked like any other 3-Series sedan. Under the hood, though, was a rocket ship waiting to be unleashed. The 335d employed a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 265 horsepower and a massive 425 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the V8 engine found in the BMW M3 manages “just” 295 pound-feet at a much higher engine speed, 3900 rpm versus the 335d’s comparatively paltry 1750. We put that power to good use during our test drives, yet the cars returned nearly 33 mpg. Though no hard data is available, it’s been said that BMW sold fewer than 2,000 of the 335d during its brief run. A diesel 3-Series will return to the U.S. for the 2014 model year: a 4-cylinder with a less-impressive, but still meaty, 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Mitsubishi is following its former corporate partner, Chrysler, in resurrecting a name from the past to power a new-generation small car. Dodge has the 2013 Dart; Mitsubishi has the 2014 Mirage.
The Mirage name has a long and convoluted history. Part of the complication comes from Mitsubishi’s ties with Chrysler. A car based on the Mirage was sold through Dodge and Plymouth dealers as the Colt and through the short-lived Eagle brand as the Summit. From 2002 to 2012, a car that was technically a Mirage was sold in markets outside the U.S. as the Colt. Confused yet?
The 2014 model that will be offered for sale in the U.S. is a 4-door subcompact hatchback that slots between the Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit in size. It derives some of its basic design from a car manufactured in Thailand and sold to that market, Japan, and Australia.
Powering the U.S.-spec Mirage is a 74-horsepower 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). The company is projecting fuel economy of 37 mpg city/44 mpg highway.
In calendar 2012, the Mitsubishi Outlander ranked second to last in sales in the compact-SUV class, trailing its smaller, younger brother, the Outlander Sport, and beating out only the doomed Suzuki Grand Vitara. The 2013 Outlander wasn’t the worst student in its class; it scored good grades for handling and for the performance of its V6 GT models, and it earned extra credit for being the only 2013 vehicle in its segment to offer a 3rd row.
However, the previous-generation Outlander (2007-2013) suffered from an austere interior, a sluggish 4-cylinder engine, mediocre fuel economy, and a general lack of pizzazz.
With its 2014 redesign, Outlander may finally start to turn heads. Recently, we were among the first to test drive the 2014 Outlander at a press event in Bend, Oregon. Though the new, sleeker design didn’t bowl us over, some of the newly available features did, particularly the high-tech safety items. Forward-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, and—groundbreaking for this class—adaptive cruise are all available in the optional Touring Package.
We’re heading into the home stretch of our yearlong evaluation of a 2012 Mitsubishi i electric car. It’s arguably the most challenging time because it now has to survive a Chicago winter.
As of this writing, this area has largely been spared of any major snowfall, but frigid temperatures are becoming the norm. Since December 20, the i has been in my care. While it stayed garaged for two road trips to central Illinois, I used the car rather extensively for going back and forth to the office and running errands around my northwest suburban home.
During this comparatively extended test drive, I came to learn a lot about how the i deals with freezing temperatures. Based on that experience, here are some “top tips” that current and potential buyers of this little electric car might want to keep in mind.
1) Prepare for Low Range
Cold temperatures and the use of the car’s heater noticeably reduces the car’s driving range. While I’ve been able to push the i to a range of up to 80 miles in the spring and summer, I was lucky to see 50 in December. And that was with very conservative use of the heater.
Occasionally, the ebb and flow of our Consumer Guide test-car fleet provides us with some interesting opportunities for side-by-side comparisons. Such was the case a couple weeks ago, when we had a 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT and its hot-rod sibling, the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR, in for testing at the same time.
Few cars that share the same basic platform are as different as these two. The Lancer GT is a mainstream sporty compact car that, frankly, is a bit of an also-ran among stellar competitors such as the Ford Focus and Mazda 3. The Evolution MR is a highly specialized, uncompromising rally car for the street that boasts one of the most sophisticated high-performance all-wheel-drive systems on the market. Evolutions have a cult-like following of hardcore enthusiasts who are willing to forgo comfort and refinement for all-out, all-weather driving thrills.
Mitsubishi is celebrating 30 years in the U.S. auto market. To help mark the occasion, the Japanese automaker introduced a limited-edition version of the 2013 Outlander Sport compact SUV—along with an all-new 2014 Outlander compact SUV—at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The big news is the redesigned 2014 Outlander that goes on sale in July 2013. It remains a 7-passenger crossover, and the new version is about 200 pounds lighter than the model it replaces. Three powertrains will be offered. Two are conventional gasoline engines: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and a 3.0-liter V6 with a 6-speed automatic.
The third powertrain option is a plug-in hybrid electric system that’s offered in the Outlander PHEV. It joins front- and rear-mounted electric motors with a conventional gasoline engine, and it offers all-wheel drive. Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV can function in an electric-only mode or in parallel- or series-hybrid modes depending on several factors related to battery charge level and vehicle speed. More details on the Outlander PHEV will be released closer to its calendar 2014 on-sale date.
Most of the editors here at Consumer Guide have long commutes. For those who can relate, you understand how the grind of slow-moving traffic past the same landmarks 10 times a week can take a toll.
To pass time that would otherwise be spent in a drone-like state, we employ the predictable tools: podcasts, music, and satellite radio. I, for one, am a fan of political punditry, right-leaning or left-wing, and hop between a number of terrestrial and SiriusXM channels during a typical drive.
But listening to stuff only occupies the ears. And yes, I agree that our eyes should always be on the road. But it is on the road that, at least for some of us, the real entertainment lies. Our guys are always on the prowl for a good Car Spotter moment.
This past week, for example, I spotted two Peugeots. What are the odds? In between taking note of the French cars, I managed a glimpse of a red Ferrari F360. That’s some noteworthy iron there.
I never quite got past the Mercury Villager Nautica. Someone funnier than me once called it “a vehicle that’s not quite a van wearing a label that’s not quite designer.” Not quite as troubling, but clearly overreaching, was the Chevrolet Venture Warner Brothers Edition. I recall that this bit of silly cobranding got Chevy into trouble when it wanted to sponsor events at Disney.
Sure, some licensing deals worked better than others. The Eddie Bauer Fords seemed reasonably appropriate, as did the L.L.Bean Subarus. But for every licensing arrangement that makes sense, there are two that perplex. Need I remind everyone of the Mercury Milan Voga? Actually, I probably do.
So, to preempt automakers from actually considering new branding arrangements, I offer the following examples. Should one of these ideas actually come to fruition, I want a cut—say, five dollars a car and all the bread sticks I can carry.
Mitsubishi Lancer Mercedes-Benz Edition
Mitsubishi knows that folks with high aspirations can’t always swing the payments on the car they really want. The Mercedes-Benz edition Lancer addresses the gap between desire and affordability with a car that looks (a little) and feels (a little) like a German luxury car, but costs little more than a base Lancer. Special features include a Mercedes-Benz “Tri-Star” grille insert, unique Mercedes-Benz rear-deck badging, and a real Mercedes-Benz key fob*.
It may look as cute as a trick-or-treater, but this car will give you the willies when you actually have to drive it. ForTwo needs 14.6 seconds to go from 0-60, which gives you just enough time to make out your will while merging onto the turnpike. (JK!) Actually, this car is solidly built (it has performed well in crash tests), but at 1,800-pounds it has the potential to be knocked around the highway like a pinball if whacked by an SUV. ForTwo is hard to keep composed at high speeds, and city drivers are cursed with a transmission that, according to Consumer Guide’s John Biel, “bogs down at every upshift as if it were a manual being driven by a beginner.”
Dodge Viper (pre-2013)
For the redesigned 2013 Viper, Chrysler’s SRT division added traction control and an antiskid system for the first time. Thank heavens, because the previous iterations were incorrigible monsters—meant for expert drivers who knew how to tame them. Our Viper test drivers prayed for dry weather; otherwise, it would have been a nightmare trying to keep this barely street-legal, 600-horsepower brute on the road. Even on dry, straight surfaces, Viper was no joy to drive. One CG editor said that the car “pitches and buckboards over every possible road surface imperfection,” while another warned that “the Viper coupe afflicts the comfortable with its tight, hot cabin; stiff clutch; and omnipresent din.”