Mitsubishi to tweak design for a unified look

Mirage sedan on horizon along with new grilles

Mitsubishi will improve its U.S. lineup with some fresh design touches next year, but few all-new vehicles will be introduced stateside during the next three years.

The biggest change will occur in the 2016 model vehicles, which all will get new grilles and fascias to create a more modern and unified look for Mitsubishi's products.

A new Mirage sedan is on the table for the 2017 model year, and Mitsubishi executives also are in talks with France's Renault about a midsize sedan that would be sold in the U.S. as a Mitsubishi. According to a source, a compact car from Renault to replace the Lancer also is being considered, though it's unclear how far along those plans are.

Here's a look at what Mitsubishi has coming.

Mirage: After some minor updates for the 2015 model year, the Mirage will be re-engineered for the 2016 model year with new sheet metal from the small car's A-pillar forward and some minor design tweaks to its rear. The update will include the brand's new grille and fascia, plus a new hood design, headlights and other updates. Production for the 2016 Mirage is slated to begin in late 2015, and the first vehicles could arrive stateside before the end of the year or slip into early 2016.

Mirage sedan: The sedan variant of the Mirage should arrive in the first half of 2016 for the 2017 model year, though timing has not been set in stone. That's roughly a year later than initially planned.

Some Mitsubishi dealers have test driven the car to provide feedback to Mitsubishi executives.

An optional 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine to power higher-trim versions is under study, according to a source.

Lancer: Like the Mirage, the Lancer gets a major design update for the 2016 model year. The compact car will get new sheet metal from the A-pillar forward and the new grille and fascia. The Lancer's interior also will be freshened for the 2016 model year, which goes into production in the fourth quarter of 2015 and should go on sale before the end of the year.

Mitsubishi eventually may replace the Lancer in the U.S. with a rebadged Renault vehicle. But doing so hinges on successfully completing a similar plan to bring a Renault midsize sedan to the U.S. as a Mitsubishi, which is still being worked on.

Lancer Evolution: Fans of the high-performance Lancer Evolution should head to dealerships soon because the car will be phased out. Production of the Evolution MR trim will end in December; Evolution GSR production will wind down over the course of 2015; and Mitsubishi will drop the Evolution's Recaro racing seats. The 2015 model year will be the Evolution's last.

Before it's gone, the Evo will get a send-off in the form of a so-called Special Action Model. The car, built specifically for the U.S., will get extra horsepower and other performance improvements. About 2,000 to 2,500 will be built during the Evo's final six months of production next year.

Midsize sedan: Mitsubishi and Renault executives have been in talks since November about Renault supplying a midsize sedan to fill the hole in Mitsubishi's lineup left by the cancellation of the Galant. Talks are continuing and are likely to produce a deal, but timing remains unclear.

Outlander: A freshened Outlander went on sale in July for the 2015 model year. The 2016 Outlander will get the new grille and fascia included in Mitsubishi's new brand identity, part of 12 new pieces of sheet metal from the A-pillar forward and rear of the C-pillar included in the midsize crossover's update.

Outlander plug-in hybrid: Yet another delay has pushed back the U.S. launch of the Outlander plug-in hybrid until late 2015. After unexpectedly high demand from Europe and Japan pushed back the Outlander PHEV's U.S. introduction, this latest delay stems from a request from California regulators to equip the vehicle with a battery-life monitor that will warn drivers of possible degradation in the crossover's lithium ion battery pack, Mitsubishi has said.

Outlander Sport: Mitsubishi put a new continuously variable transmission in its compact crossover for its 2015 model year re-engineering, and a new 2.4-liter engine will be added in February as a midyear addition to the lineup.

Next fall, the Outlander Sport will receive the brand's new front-end styling updates as well as new sheet metal on the doors, fenders, hood and other areas -- the most extensive update the vehicle has received since it first went on sale in 2011. Those changes arrive in the 2016 model year.

Montero: Mitsubishi previewed the next-generation Montero, sold overseas as the Pajero, with its GC-PHEV concept SUV shown at the Tokyo auto show in 2013. If that vehicle goes into production, there's a chance it could be sold in the U.S., though timing is uncertain.

You can reach Ryan Beene at

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