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Mitsubishi tries to reinvent itself with SUV debut on Amazon

Mitsubishi’s emailed invitation to the Outlander debut featured a picture of an oversized Amazon shipping box sitting in a driveway. The automaker did not announce any other plans to work with Amazon to market the Outlander or any of its other models.

As part of a larger effort to revamp its lineup, Mitsubishi introduced a completely new version one of its most popular models in the US. The new Outlander is slightly bigger than before and has new grille, headlight and taillight designs that emphasize the SUV’s added width.

With traditional auto shows and other live events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, automakers have been looking for ways to make a splash when they unveil their latest products. Several automakers, including Ford (F), have introduced cars on Facebook. Honda (HMC) unveiled its redesigned Civic on Twitch, a social media platform for gamers.

Mitsubishi once had a strong brand identity based around performance and a base of enthusiasts, but that was long ago, said Akshay Anand, an auto industry analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

“The Mitsubishi of 2021 is not the Mitsubishi of 1995, when they had a little more behind the brand,” Anand said.

Teaming up with Amazon, he said, could help bring some needed attention to an important unveiling for the brand.

Mitsubishi spokesman Jeremy Barnes pointed to the new Outlander and other redesigned and upgraded models as evidence that the brand is turning around.

“We’ll have one of the most refreshed showroom lineups in the entire industry in the next couple of months,” he said.

Since 2016, Mitsubishi has been part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, a grouping in which each of the three carmakers owns a stake in others. The companies cooperate on engineering new models. The 2022 Outlander is the first Mitsubishi model designed and engineered in cooperation with the alliance.

The new SUV, which has three rows of seats, is wider and roomier than the current Outlander SUV. Interior trim options will include two-tone leather treatments and diamond-stitched leather patterns. The Outlander has a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission that’s designed to act like an eight-speed transmission in certain conditions.

The Outlander will be available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions.

The new SUV will also have a suite of driver assistance technologies, including active lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, which can read speed limit signs and display them in the vehicle, and Trailer Stability Assist which helps keep the vehicle in control when towing a trailer.

The 2022 Outlander will go on sale in April, with prices starting at around $26,000.

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