Mitsubishi To Unveil Hybrid Crossover And 70 MPG Small Car

Mitsubishi sales in America have been sinking for some time, to the point where the small Japanese automaker has killed off most of their lineup to make room for electric and hybrid vehicles. Mitsubishi will unveil two of these vehicles, a hybrid crossover and a small car that could get up to 70 mpg on Japan’s testing cycle.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

I’ve got to give Mitsubishi credit for taking a big gamble when it comes to hybrid and electric vehicles, ending production of three of its best-known models (Galant, Eclipse, and Endeavor) to make way for a lineup of electrified, fuel-efficient vehicles. We already know that the Mitsubishi i will be America’s cheapest electric car, and now the Japanese automaker has revealed its next two vehicles; a hybrid crossover likely to be the next Outlander (currently named PX-MiEV) and a fuel-efficient Mirage that is lighter and features start-stop tech for an MPG of around 70 mpg (which is more like 40 mpg or so on the U.S. testing standard.)

Crossing Over

The PX-MiEV will actually borrow components from the Mitsubishi i, including its large lithium-ion battery pack. But due to the heavier weight and all-wheel drive system, the PX-MiEV will only achieve around 31 miles of all-electric range. After that, a 2.0 liter generator recharges the battery pack, which powers two electric motors (one up front, one in the back.)

The gas engine can also help power the wheels, should the battery already be topped off or some extra “oomph” is needed to climb a steep hill. Mitsubishi hopes to achieve a fuel economy rating of 60 km/liter (140 mpg). Again, these numbers are on the much-different Japanese testing cycle, where a standard Toyota Prius is rated at 89.4 mpg. It should also be noted that this is likely a close-to-production version of what the actual vehicle will look like, as Mitsubishi first showed off a version of the PX-MiEV back in 2009.

Goodbye Colt, Welcome Back Mirage

Which brings us to Mitsubishi’s other offering, a new Mirage model that is lighter and more fuel efficient than previous models. It’s about 10% lighter than the Colt it replaces, and is powered by a 1.0 liter 3-cylinder engine with stop-start idle technology. Better aerodynamics will also help improve fuel economy to around 70 mpg on the Japanese cycle (about 40 mpg as the EPA flies.) The Mirage and Outlander/PX-MiEV are expected to hit streets in Japan and the U.S. in 2013, and will make their world debut at the Tokyo Auto Show in the coming weeks.

Still, Mitsubishi has its work cut out for it, especially here in America. But with bold steps, like a diesel-electric hybrid Lancer Evolution and these more “pedestrian” vehicles like the Mirage and Outlander, Mitsu could stage a late-game comeback. Will Mitsubishi’s new lineup help get it back on track, or contribute to its downfall as an independent automaker?

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.