LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi will keep a seven-seat SUV in its lineup after all.
The company plans to add a seven-seat model of the Outlander SUV when the vehicle is redesigned for the 2007 model year, company and dealer sources say.
Dealers were worried because the seven-seat Montero SUV will be dropped from the lineup after the 2006 model year. That would leave product-starved Mitsubishi dealers with just the five-seat Outlander and the five-seat Endeavor in its SUV family.
Many major brands offer seven-seat SUVs.
Sources say the redesigned Outlander will be the first vehicle on the redesigned Lancer platform. They say the vehicle will be equipped with a new 3.0-liter V-6 engine making about 250 hp.
It will also have a six-speed automatic transmission. The current Outlander is widely considered underpowered with a 2.4-liter inline-four, mated to a four-speed automatic, making 160 hp.
The sources say the redesigned Outlander is not due to get the new 2.4-liter inline-four produced at Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance in Dundee, Mich.
Global Alliance is a joint venture involving Mitsubishi, Hyundai Motor Co. and the Chrysler group. Budget cutbacks prompted the decision.
But they say that may change because Mitsubishi wants to offer an entry-level Outlander along with the V-6 model.
The Outlander was introduced in March 2003. One year later the company upgraded its engine from 140 hp to 160 hp. But sales have been poor.
Through the first nine months of this year, sales were down 47.6 percent to 14,818 units.
The sources did not have prices or sales projections for the new seven-seat model.
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