Mitsubishi off-road van, outdoorsy Outlander variant planned for US market


If you haven’t been paying attention, you may be surprised to hear that Mitsubishi has been doing fairly well in the United States over the last several years. Once a mid-major (to borrow a college athletics term) program here in the States, the automaker’s stagnating lineup and lack of vehicles with clear desirability — once you got past the hardcore Lancer Evolution series, at least — led to declining sales figures through the 2000s. The brand’s more recent resurgence, led by the latest Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander PHEV, which it co-developed with fellow Japanese partner Nissan, first began around the year 2018, says Mitsubishi North America President and CEO Mark Chaffin. “Momentum 2030 will build on that, setting the stage for new powertrains and vehicles being introduced, new dealerships being opened, and new technologies being developed to make the shopping and ownership experience faster, easier and more enjoyable.”

“New powertrains and new vehicles” are always keywords that pique the ears of automotive enthusiasts, and Mitsubishi seemingly has some solid stepping stones in the works to continue gaining momentum in the crucial American market, with trucks, crossovers and multi-purpose vehicles that could offer some truly interesting entries into segments the automaker hasn’t dipped its toes in decades. One particular potential vehicle of interest is, oddly enough, a passenger van, which appears to be shown in the middle of the line-up preview photo below. But we’re not talking about a run-of-the-mill minivan. According to dealership employees present at Mitsubishi’s Momentum 2030 program cited by Automotive News, the van would take inspiration from the D:X Concept that we openly loved after its introduction in Tokyo last year.

Preview of upcoming Mitsubishi models

The van would reportedly maintain its rugged credentials — perfect for the growing number of Americans who embrace off-road lifestyles like camping and overlanding — and feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain. We can’t imagine some of the concept’s far-out features like a front glass panel to see the ground ahead or a dashboard and steering wheel setup that moves with the driver’s door making it into production. The three-row, six-passenger seating arrangement and true off-road tuning on the other hand are likely items for the final product.

Another vehicle that’s said to be under development would mimic the highly successful Subaru Outback philosophy of taking a passenger car platform, adding a small lift, off-road-suitable wheels, tires, roof racks and styling, and selling it as a standalone model. The outdoorsy model would be based on the Outlander crossover that we think is highly competitive in its segment. This one seems like a slam dunk, and we’d hope it would get the PHEV powertrain as well.

And finally, Mitsubishi sells some popular pickup truck models in other markets around the world, but hasn’t sold a proper truck in the States since its partnered with Dodge for the ill-fated Dakota-based Raider. But, according to reports from Automotive News, Mitsubishi may instead be looking into the future at electrified pickups. We’ll just have to wait and see if anything comes of that idea, but we’d suspect if any electric trucks from Mitsu do make it into production, it won’t be any time soon.

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