Mitsubishi has been stepping up its efforts to freshen its lineup with, well, freshened vehicles. They include new blacked-out trim levels, aggressive front fascias, updated technology, more standard features, more safety technology, and lots of other nips and tucks. That has helped in the short term to stabilize sales, but it's not the product wave the brand needs.
There's good news on the horizon for dealers desperate for a renovated brand: The product wave is coming soon. Thanks to Mitsubishi's tie-up with the Renault-Nissan Alliance three years ago, the junior member of the group is getting access to world-class automotive platforms that will transform the Mitsubishi brand, and hopefully quell any talk of it ending U.S. sales.
Fred Diaz, North American CEO, has said the entire lineup will be new or significantly freshened by the end of 2020. Aiding in that endeavor is the brand's relatively limited lineup in the U.S., comprising three crossovers and a subcompact car.
The early buzz for Mitsubishi future product is promising: a new Outlander crossover on the Nissan Rogue platform, a transformation of the Mirage subcompact on the Nissan Juke architecture and an Outlander Sport with DNA from the Rogue Sport. Only the Outlander has been formally announced.
Mitsubishi itself is reportedly taking the lead in developing a body-on-frame truck platform for pickups and SUVs for all of the alliance partners.
Mirage: The fuel-sipping subcompact sedan and hatchback mostly carry over into the 2020 model year, with some minor tweaks. Automatic climate control is now standard on all trims. The G4 sedan also receives a new front grille design. The fifth generation of the car goes back to the 2014 model year, and even then it wasn't particularly fresh. The current buzz puts the next Mirage on a Nissan Juke platform, transforming it essentially into a crossover. The reveal of the next-generation Mirage could come before the end of the year.
The redesigned Juke debuted last week in Europe to positive reviews for its styling. It likely will get a hybrid version eventually. The alternative for Mitsubishi, however, is a more mild redesign of the Mirage to keep its bargain-basement price. A new Mirage for the 2021 model year likely would get its first freshening in 2023 for the 2024 model year.
Outlander Sport: For 2020, the subcompact crossover receives a major exterior styling freshening, with the brand's new signature Dynamic Shield front grille, along with a new front bumper, hood and reshaped fenders to give it a more robust character. Mitsubishi says that styling reflects a new design language that will show up in future vehicles. Inside, the materials and even the knobs and switches have been updated for a more upscale feel. There are more standard safety features and infotainment with an 8-inch screen. Mechanically, the Sport soldiers on with a platform that goes back almost a decade.
The redesigned Outlander Sport could show up on a Nissan-Renault platform in 2021 for the 2022 model year. A hybrid model is possible, and perhaps even a plug-in hybrid since Mitsubishi wants to push electrification.
Eclipse Cross: New for the 2018 model year, the small crossover comes in the Special Edition trim for 2020 that slots in between the LE and SE trims. It includes a carbon-style grille, black badges, a bigger roof spoiler and other blacked-out elements. The Eclipse Cross hasn't been selling particularly well, falling behind all of its siblings, including the Mirage, through August of this year. It sits on an older platform and has some funky styling.
Mitsubishi has hinted that a small crossover will get a plug-in version next year. That could be the Eclipse Cross or Outlander Sport. The Eclipse Cross is likely to receive a full redesign on a Nissan-Renault platform, perhaps in 2021 for the 2022 model year. Or maybe the Eclipse and Outlander Sport become one model based on their similar size. That would leave room for a bigger crossover at the top end of the lineup.