The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander has just won accolades as a top recreational and off-roading CUV, and that may be a great shot in the arm for an automaker that has given up a lot (read: most) of its market share, but hasn’t given up offering vehicles to the North American market. Yet.
Mitsubishi leaders and others were reporting that the new 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander has won the 12th Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year award.
There isn’t a lot of information about this award online: The Carspondent web site that serves as the site for the contest doesn’t have a conventional “About” page or any orienting resource, and data on the event’s founding is unavailable in the press releases that show vehicles winning the award. But the Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year Facebook page shows that the program is actually centered toward local athletes. The ALV award was set up to recognize vehicles that meet buyers’ needs for off-roading, road trips and other active lifestyle goals, where the annual event allows auto makers to promote ride and drive programs for elite and area athletes. ALV says it serves as an “impromptu focus group for the OEMs” and an “enabler for car product planners, car designers and engineers, who seek to make their vehicles athlete friendly.”
This year’s contest was held in Chandler, Arizona. Members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association attended, as did local athletes. Testers got to try vehicles out on different types of courses simulating street and off-road environments to look at things like performance, as well as seating and cargo space, and what vehicles would best support different kinds of camping and recreation activities.
Candidates for Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year are priced under $35,000 and come with features like antilock brakes, all-wheel drive, and electronic stability control. The annual award also looks at seven different types of vehicles — categories include urban vehicles, best value on-road, best value off-road, luxury on-road and luxury off-road as well as “family” and “green” categories.
The win comes at a good time for Mitsubishi, as the company tries to continue to stay relevant with a lot less market share than it was used to years ago. For a number of years, industry experts have shown how the company is on the decline. This U.S. News report from 2013 suggests that Mitsubishi might “disappear” from the U.S. marketplace before 2014, and although the automaker has outlasted this projection, it does have a steep hill to climb in order to regain any semblance of its former glory.
This Chicago Tribune article from February 2014 shows how Mitsubishi’s overall market share decreased from 2% in 2002 to about 0.5% last year. “Mitsubishi is positioning the brand for small fuel-efficient vehicles,” says Edmunds expert Jessica Caldwell in the article. “It’s a decent strategy, but there’s not much growth in that area. It’s a one-dimensional approach that could be a major problem if larger cars take off.”
However, more recent reports show Mitsubishi’s star could be on the rise.
“We are well positioned to sustain our growth,” says Don Swearingen, Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. executive vice president, in an April 2015 Forbes article. And lots of people are citing the Outlander as a prime example of how the Japanese auto maker’s brand could be experiencing a comeback after a rocky ride. Look for more on the 2016 Outlander as top car venues start reporting ongoing sales.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.