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The 2020 Mitsubishi RVR.

Petrina Gentile

It may not be the first vehicle that comes to mind if you’re shopping for a compact SUV, but the Mitsubishi RVR deserves a second look, especially if you’re a senior who wants to switch from a sedan to an SUV and doesn’t want to break the bank.

That’s what I discovered during my week with the RVR in Niagara, Ont., chauffeuring my 90-year-old mom to medical appointments – an eye injection in Fort Erie, a cardiologist in Niagara Falls and even an emergency visit to a hospital – something that’s unfortunately becoming more common with each passing day.

The RVR is the best-selling Mitsubishi in Canada.

Petrina Gentile

Truth be told, the RVR was off my radar. The last time I drove one was in the fall of 2010 for the Canadian media launch of the 2011 RVR in Halifax. Nowadays, it’s the best-selling Mitsubishi nameplate in Canada, selling nearly 59,000 since its launch. And globally, the RVR is the third best-selling Mitsubishi nameplate, moving 1.32 million units in 90 countries.

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One of the best features of the RVR – short for Recreational Vehicle Runner – is the accessibility of the front seats. The elderly will love it because the ingress, when you enter the vehicle, and egress, when exiting it, is nicely aligned with your hips, so it’s easy to slide in and out without any discomfort – unlike a sedan with a lower seat position or a taller SUV. The RVR’s front-seat adjustments are simplistic and manually operated. Sure, it’s a bit old-school, but the manual adjustments are easy to use, and it’s simple to find a comfortable seating position. The front passenger seat moves four ways, while the driver’s seat adjusts six ways. You can add a six-way power driver’s seat, but that requires moving up the ladder for the most expensive trim. The front seats are spacious and supportive, even on long drives – Mom never complained once about them.

The height of the front seats makes them easily accessible for elderly drivers and passengers.

Petrina Gentile

Getting into the back seat is trickier because it’s easy to bang your head on the door frame; you have to remember to duck your head each time. Once you’re inside, however, there’s ample headroom throughout. But while there’s technically space in the back for three passengers, two adults would be more comfortable or, better yet, two grandkids, two car seats or pets. My 11-month-old foster puppy, Moon, found it comfy, harnessed in the back. If you need to lug around pet crates, groceries or strollers for the grandkids, there’s ample room in the cargo area, too – 614 litres, to be exact.

The cargo space offers ample volume for any day-to-day tasks.

Petrina Gentile

Inside, the cabin is smart, clean and uncluttered, and best of all, from the driver’s seat, everything is positioned within arm’s reach. There’s a new eight-inch touch screen in the centre console that’s easy to read and use. But even better, there are conventional buttons and large dials for the volume and HVAC system, so you’re not dealing with an overwhelming amount of technology and scrolling through multiple screens to perform the simplest tasks. It’s easy to find functions quickly, even in the dark.

Traditional knobs make controlling the HVAC system a breeze.

Petrina Gentile

All-around visibility from the driver’s seat is good, aided by thin pillars at the front and a rear quarter window. The RVR’s tight, compact size makes it a cinch to park in crowded lots or underground spots, as well. Several safety features are available, such as blind-spot monitoring; lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert. None of these are standard, though – you have to move to a mid- or higher-level trim.

Safety features such as rear cross-traffic alert are available on some trim levels.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

But all models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a driver’s knee airbag, cruise control, power windows and power door locks with remote keyless entry, a rear-view camera, heated front seats and heated power side-view mirrors. The base ES front-wheel-drive model costs $24,648 ($22,998 + $1,650 destination/handling fees). That might be slightly more than some competitors. A Nissan Qashqai, for example, starts at $23,048 ($21,098 + $1,950 freight/PDI). But at this time of year, you can usually find good incentives and discounts to lower the price.

And then there’s the warranty. Mitsubishi offers the best one in the business; a 10-year or 160,000-km limited powertrain warranty, plus a five-year or 100,000-km limited new vehicle warranty. Plus, there’s five years of unlimited-mileage roadside assistance. No other car company offers all that.

After a week running errands with my mom, the RVR is no longer off my radar. The warranty, value and price make it a serious competitor in the segment. And for seniors – either drivers or passengers – it’s an ideal ride for ferrying grandkids or pets around town.

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The RVR is a solid competitor in the compact SUV market.

Petrina Gentile

Tech specs

  • Base price/as tested: $29,798/$31,89 (including $1,650 freight + PDI)
  • Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 167 lb.-ft. of torque (a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 148 hp and 145 lb.-ft. of torque is standard).
  • Transmission/drive: CVT, FWD/AWD
  • Fuel consumption (litres/100 km): 10.3 city, 8.3 highway (CVT FWD – 9.7 city, 7.8 highway).
  • Alternatives: Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Compass, Nissan Qashqai, Ford EcoSport, Toyota C-HR

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

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