Last Call: Has Mitsubishi lost its way?

Now I know that this title is like beating the dead horse. We know this. But Mitsubishi’s newest Twitter post refers to the riveted silver gas cap as a “beauty mark”. That’s not necessarily what I would call it if you ask me but to each their own I guess.

Mitsubishi follows this up with, “new looks on the way,” but they need to realize that people don’t really want that. I feel like the only way that this company survives is if it brings back the Evo (and not that crossover tease) or comes up with some cool alternative. There really isn’t any justifiable reason to buy any of their newer cars when every other Japanese brand is better. Yes, even Nissan.

I miss the days when they were making the 3000GT and the Evo V, but I’m afraid that era is long gone.

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26 responses to “Last Call: Has Mitsubishi lost its way?”

  1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    Since Kia does a better job of “we finance anyone with a pulse” I think the only US market Mitsubishi products worth it right now are Fuso trucks. I’m sure they do better elsewhere but also ran crossovers don’t cut it. Either an Evo or a Montero that gives Toyota a serious competitor are the only things that could save them.

  2. Zentropy Avatar

    Did you type this question 15 years ago and just now decide to hit “send”?

  3. kogashiwa Avatar

    Mitsubishi lost their way when the last Eclipse, the hippo-shaped one, was effectively a Buick coupe.

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    Turn the question around and make it sound like fun: What was Mitsubishi’s coolest car? If you consider that Honda was starting to get the “is it dead yet?”-question, but then the e came and they affirmed they can do cool – not retro, but quoting themselves in an updated way. Suzuki did the same with the Ignis. What should Mitsubishi do to show the public they are not just a four wheeled bargain bin?

    The Evo and the Pajero are probably the most iconic cars. But the Evo needs to be based on a useful compact, and they’re lacking like a pirate without an eye patch. I have seen 70s Mitsu’s with plaid seats and brown interiors that were off the cool scale. Their cars always looked a bit serious, but there must be some that work for good design clues?

    Being fully aware that my taste would bankcrupt any and all automakers, I’ll throw in the ’65 Debonair that looks smashing in green:

    Technology-wise they were among the first PHEV-offers. The Outlander sells well because it is a correct-size SUV with ok tech at a low price point. It’s boring and won’t make enthusiasts go ‘yay’, but they should probably keep them up-to-date. “Drive@Earth” sounds horrible, but at least in Urop, showing that they have a fuel efficient lineup is part of surviving. Also, tell the public you now make transmissions that last longer than 150k kms.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      For all the talk of their awesome heritage models, it’s mostly product in segments people don’t buy much. But it’s the same here – if any model is keeping the lights on at Mitsubishi, it’s been the Outlander PZEV. They need to figure out how to translate that to a full lineup…so they can then give us updated variants of their awesome heritage models because they have the money to do so.

      Hell, if they did a Debonair PZEV to break into the black car market, that could be another market they’d have relatively little competition in. Working near an airport, there’s plenty of black Lexus ES hybrids with airport limo plates running around. I’m sure you could transition a few of those driver’s into something plug-in with a little more headroom (and if it had a bit of retro style, all the better).

    2. Zentropy Avatar

      The fact that you reached back 55 years for the “coolest car” speaks volumes about Mitsubishi’s history. That’s admittedly a tidy-looking baby Lincoln, though.

    3. Vairship Avatar

      They would absolutely have to keep the name Debonair though. That’s non-negotiable.

    4. Troggy Avatar

      My personal list of Mitsubishi’s coolest cars: The HSR concepts of the ’90’s, GT3000, any of the EVO’s.

      And I have to mention the 3.5 Magna that was in the Australian market. This one I have driven as a work car. It went like a dog shot up the arse. It had a very advanced automatic for the day, and came as a station wagon as well.
      They could surprise V8’s at the lights. I had mine through water up to the windscreen, down roads it was never designed for, and it never missed a beat.

    5. kogashiwa Avatar

      While the EVO is of course the icon, the coolest car Mitsubishi made might be the FTO. A very weird Integra-alternative with a 2.0 litre 8000 rpm V6? Sign me up. (Apparently the interior is terrible and it’s actually kind of slow but … 8000rpm V6!)

      (from )

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        How…I didn’t even know these existed, even though they made 37000 of them. It looks like a weird “all the japanese sports cars”-mashup. And the name…FTO stands for “Fresh Touring Origination”, apparently, which is perfect Janglish.

  5. outback_ute Avatar

    Their lineup is basic but seems to be fairly decent for the price. Probably appeals to people who don’t want some of the over-complicated alternatives on offer.

  6. Smaglik Avatar

    They apparently have found out how to sell to rental agencies, as I now see these almost daily in flag… The SUV, that is.

  7. salguod Avatar

    I never understood the appeal of the bolt on fuel door on a street car. I suppose it’s to look like a race car, but race cars look cool exactly because they are not trying to look cool. They are trying to go fast, be safe and be relatively simple. The cool comes from purity of purpose.

    The R&D team spent a lot of time developing a fuel door that blended in and did not call attention to itself. Then someone wants to make it chrome with fake bolts around it.

    I feel the same way about all the aftermarket chrome trim doodads – pillar trim, edge guards, wheel lip trim. In the 90s it was neon double wiper blades. All calling attention to things the designers and engineers worked hard to blend in.

    1. Smaglik Avatar

      I had neon blades in the 90s, not double though. Too good for me…

    2. Smaglik Avatar

      I had neon blades in the 90s, not double though. Too good for me…

  8. MattC Avatar

    I will be the contrarian here and suggest that Mitsubishi is doing exactly the right thing, right now. They have an efficient lineup of small SUV/CUVs that are reliable, priced to sell and are generally decent cars with great warranties. They are not best in class but sell on value. My In-Laws bought a loaded Outlander Sport with plenty of cash on the hood. They were longtime Honda owners and couldn’t be happier with their purchase. (I also readily admit I have a soft spot for the Mirage Hatchback with a 5speed. To me it is the perfect entry point for a new driver. Want to learn to change your own oil/spark plugs/ filters. There is no easier engine bay to work on that an inline (NA) 3 cylinder. The Mirage gets almost hybrid numbers, parks anywhere, can get new out the door for <10K with a full warranty and will probably last through the apocalypse) . Last time I checked they keep increasing sales in the US despite a small model lineup.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      You’re not wrong, but maybe the initial question is. They lack a halo car, or something that generates emotions, maybe? That can be interpreted as one of two things: A pricey venture for executives and engineers to show off (think Phaeton) or something that is necessary to generate interest for their more mundane lineup (think about everything that has more than 4 cylinders).

      1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

        Well, to be fair, it wouldn’t even need to have more than 4 cylinders. Pretty much all of Mitsubishi’s halo cars of yore were four bangers. The Starion, Eclipse, Galant VR-4, Mirage Turbo, Lancer Evo, etc.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Very valid point in Mitsubishi’s case, true that.

          1. MattC Avatar

            You do make some valid points. The problem is that the Halo cars of Mitsubishi’s heyday happened when they (and I for that matter) were 20 +years younger. These cars were etched in our collective psyche back then but we aged out. I desperately wanted a Chrysler Conquest TSI in Electric Blue in my high school days I do not pine for an that or an Evo now). As enthusiasts we want manufacturers to make sporty cars but in practice we aren’t buying them. Toyota partnered with BMW for the Supra revival and Subaru for the BRZ/FRS twins and yet they are having a hard time moving them. The stark reality is that SUV’s/CUV’s are the sellers and Mitsubishi realistically saw that wave and tailored their small NA lineup to reflect that. We enthusiasts want manuals, cool wagons, sports cars and cheap sporty cars but we also represent a smaller portion of the market. We don’t buy these new in numbers to move the needle.

      2. outback_ute Avatar

        Now they are part of the FCA/Renault-Nissan ‘universe’ it may be possible to replace some of their line-up that aged out, eg Lancer and Pajero. It would seem that otherwise they are just hanging on by their fingernails and in a spiral.

      3. Wayne Moyer Avatar
        Wayne Moyer

        Traded a Mazda CX-9 for an Outlander. This was to lower our monthly bills. It’s my wife’s daily and it’s not as nice as the CX-9 especially considering that the Outlander isn’t a GT. It’s very basic transportation compared to the midlevel CX-9 but it gets far better gas mileage than the Mazda. The fit and finish is comparable. The all wheel drive has handled the weather. The used price was great thanks to people’s attitude to Mitsubishi. It was so bad that the cost of her ’16 Outlander was the same as my ’15 base Soul that I bought three months earlier. Showing that Kia has a better reputation. I don’t mind the CVT at all when I drive it and I haven’t heard her complain either. I am also surprised by how well that CVT handles that minimal amount of power that the four puts out.
        Sure I knew that Mitsubishi might go away at any point but it was a worthwhile purchase and I’d do it again.

  9. Troggy Avatar

    I practically drooled over the HSR concepts back in the late ’80’s and ’90’s. I would have loved a GT3000. If it came to a choice, I would have taken an EVOxxx over a WRX. Thanks to the interesting things that they were doing with technology and in competition, I paid a lot of attention to Mitsubishi and would have looked more closely at their range when picking a car.

    When it came to buying an SUV recently, I didn’t even think to look closely at the Outlander/Challengers. I briefly stuck my head in a Pajero and that was as far as it went. I While I have not heard anything against them, the market for this type is saturated and they aren’t doing anything that stands out.

  10. Batshitbox Avatar

    It really ought to work this way.

    Rule of Thumb from Andy Lambert on Vimeo.

  11. neight428 Avatar

    Mitsubishi should be flattered that anyone remembered it ever having a way.

    In former brand alliance other news, did anyone realize that Chrysler is down to just one model, the Pacifica? They evidently stopped the 300 with the 2019 MY, though maybe they’re just idling the plant that makes the more baroque trim bits for the LX platform until inventory on lots sell down whereupon they’ll spool back up for a couple of months. FCA is down to Ram Trucks and maybe half of Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler are Detroit’s Mitsubishi. I guess they sell all brands at one store these days.

  12. William Byrd Avatar


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