PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Take a look at the front end of the new Mitsubishi Outlander GT, which began reaching showrooms in late November. It symbolizes what's going on inside Mitsubishi these days, as well as what's happening around the industry.
Automakers from General Motors Co. to Nissan Motor Co. are adding smaller models as consumers seek better fuel economy. They also have been inching away from products that resemble the big SUVs and vans of the cheap-gas days of the past decade.
For its major freshening, the new Outlander GT gets a racy black snout that looks unmistakably like Mitsubishi's hottest product of the moment: the Lancer Evolution X.
The Evo X is one of a string of variations for Mitsubishi's Lancer small-car platform. For half a decade, Mitsubishi has struggled with slow-selling products. But company executives think they have struck pay dirt with the current Lancer, which has made a name for itself in rally racing circles.
Dealers now sell Lancers that range from entry level -- about $15,000 at retail -- to the MR Touring package of the Evo X for more than $40,000. There are other variations in between.