In An Unexpected Burst Of Good News, Mitsubishi Is Profitable Again

Morning Dump Mitsubishi Profit

Mitsubishi posts a profit, Carvana lays off 2,500 workers, Toyota hops aboard the downsized turbocharged four-cylinder engine train. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Good News For Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Outlander Rear 1 Crop Source
Photo credit: Mitsubishi

It’s been a rough decade for Mitsubishi. From a massive fuel economy scandal to a drought of new product to Nissan taking a controlling stake in the Japanese company, good news was far and few between. Then, signs of life started to appear. The new Outlander crossover SUV is actually really, really good. The Mirage subcompact car may be a bit old, but it’s the recession-proof car we need right now. The upcoming 2023 Outlander PHEV offers an impressive 54 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle and Mitsubishi’s ten-year powertrain warranty has remained unwavering. Now, in the midst of supply shortages and inflation, Mitsubishi has even more good news to share.

According to an Automotive News Europe report, Mitsubishi has made a profit. While an operating profit is largely expected in the car business, going from a $70.6 million operating loss to a $257.6 million profit in such a tough year is absolutely incredible. Moreover, Mitsubishi’s predicting continued profitability through fiscal year 2022, even in the face of rising supply costs.

Look, we’ve all ragged on Mitsubishi for such questionable decisions as the Eclipse Cross and routinely pumping Botox into the Outlander Sport, but it genuinely pains me to see any car company doing badly. Call it tough love, but the new car landscape is better with more brand diversity, and the best way to stay in business is to build better cars. Here’s hoping that the next all-new Mitsubishi carries the same fundamental goodness as the new Outlander and that the Japanese carmaker can better serve its niche of providing customers with great value and a great warranty.

Mayday! At Carvana

Carvana Vending Machine
Photo credit: Carvana

When will startups learn how difficult it is to disrupt established industries? While I can’t speak to the greater tech bro zeitgeist, Carvana’s used car fantasies are crashing down right now. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 10, Carvana announced the layoffs of 2,500 staff members and the temporary pause of executive salaries. Not exactly brilliant news on the eve of acquiring the second-largest wholesale used car auction company in America.

So what’s the takeaway here? Besides the fact that ‘staff’ and ‘member’ are both synonyms for ‘penis,’ a tidbit of information that should make looking at employee directories significantly more entertaining, it seems that offering sky-high values for used cars is a bad idea and that trying to trade on volume during a global shortage is a lot harder than it sounds.

Honestly, it’s hard to argue that Carvana’s aggressive offers on private vehicles haven’t hurt the private used car market in some manner. As with most situations where dealerships get involved, consumers are the ones who end up getting screwed. While my heart goes out to the employees who’ve found themselves victims of e-commerce’s hubris, I feel no sympathy at all for the executives who’ll forgo their salaries for the rest of the year. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.

Land Rover Claims The New Range Rover Sport Can Reduce SARS-CoV-2

2023 Range Rover Sport
Photo credit: Land Rover

No, I’m not joking. Land Rover claims in the press release for the new Range Rover Sport that its new Cabin Air Purification Pro system “…combines PM2.5 filtration and nanoe™ X technology to significantly reduce odours, bacteria and allergens, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” While this certainly raises an eyebrow or two, it’s probably the least-interesting thing about the new Sport. Let’s quickly dive into the latest Range Rover model and see exactly how comfortable your realtor’s next vehicle will be.

On the outside, Land Rover’s put in some serious work to make the new Range Rover Sport more subtle. The character lines are softer, while flush glass, flush door handles, a laser-welded roof, and a full-width tail lamp treatment make this enormous SUV a bit sleeker than its predecessor.

More importantly, all these little touches give the new Range Rover Sport a drag coefficient of 0.29, which should help facilitate a quiet cabin. On the inside, it’s much the same story with the Sport as it is with the big Range Rover. There’s an enormous 13.1-inch curved touchscreen for the infotainment, a powerful 29-speaker top-spec Meridian sound system on offer, a set of winged airplane-style headrests and available vegan upholstery.

I know, it’s easy to roll your eyes at most vegan upholstery considering vegan leather is often plastic, but the vegan upholstery option in the new Range Rover Sport will have you rolling your eyes for an entirely different reason. Land Rover’s calling it Ultrafabrics. Look, good fabric beats leather for luxury, but Ultrafabrics? Let me pop my Ultrabagel into my Hypertoaster and pour myself a cup of Megatea while we’re at it.

While Ultrafabrics is a rubbish name, the Stormer Handling Pack is anything but. It’s actually a nice nod to the 2004 Range Stormer Concept. This package includes active anti-roll bars that run off the vehicle’s 48-volt electrical system and reduce body roll, four-wheel steering, an electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differential, brake-based fake torque-vectoring and customizable drive modes. All good things, so definitely tick this box or spring for either 500-plus-horsepower powertrain to really put the Sport in Range Rover Sport.

Speaking of powertrains, Land Rover’s famous, screaming, hollow-wolf five-liter supercharged V8 has been sent to the shadow realm in favor of a BMW-sourced twin-turbo V8. While 523 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque aren’t figures to sneeze at, the V8 isn’t the most interesting powertrain available in the new Range Rover Sport.

That honor goes to the P510e model which blends the glorious smoothness of a boosted inline-six with a 105 kW electric motor and a 38.2 kWh battery pack. Expect that powertrain to offer a 0-60 mph time in the low five second range and 54 miles (88 km) of all-electric range on the admittedly optimistic WLTP test cycle. Not that we’ll know what the P510e will do on the EPA test cycle, Land Rover’s reportedly not bringing it to America.

It’s not all bad news though, an all-electric Range Rover Sport is coming in 2024. In the meantime, we’ll get a 355-horsepower inline-six, a 395-horsepower inline-six, a 434-horsepower inline-six plug-in hybrid, and the aforementioned V8. Realtors and dentists, your chariot has arrived.

Toyota Hops On The Turbo Four Bandwagon

2023 Toyota Highlander
Photo credit: Toyota

Toyota are notoriously late adopters of just about everything. The Corolla soldiered on with a Mikuni carburetor into the early ‘90s before fuel injection made it across the entire range, and made it to 2015 with a four-speed automatic, long after competitors had adopted six-speed or CVT automatic gearboxes. When an industry trend finally rolls around to Toyota, it’s a sign that trend will be with us for a very long time. The latest bit of tech Toyota’s finally hopping on? Downsized and turbocharged four-cylinders in place of V6s.

Granted, the Lexus NX compact luxury crossover has featured a turbocharged four-banger for a very long time, but the 2023 Highlander marks the first time a turbo four has replaced a V6 in a mainline American Toyota vehicle. Displacing 2.4 liters, this turbo four is likely the same T24A-FTS motor seen in the new Lexus NX 350.

However, it does feature a reduction in output, likely signifying an engine calibration for regular fuel. The new four-banger puts out 265 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque, down 30 horsepower from the V6 but up 46 lb-ft in the twist department. Weirdly enough, this new turbo motor isn’t expected to benefit fuel economy at all.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Toyota says it’s expecting 24 mpg combined out of the new engine, same as the V6. However, the new engine is expected to reduce emissions, most notable a 50 percent reduction in NOx, a 50 percent reduction in non-methane organic gas, and a reduction in CO2.

In comfort news, the updated Highlander gets Toyota’s new-generation infotainment system that’s much faster, slicker and higher-resolution than the outgoing system. The wireless charger is relocated to the shelf below the climate controls, the XLE and XSE trims get a hands-free power liftgate and the hybrid powertrain option continues undisturbed. Pricing and arrival timing for the 2023 Highlander haven’t been announced yet, but we expect it to roll onto dealer lots sometime this year without massively moving the needle on pricing.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week. While Mitsubishi may be cleaving their way back from the brink, some brands weren’t as lucky. I once owned a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and while it was certainly plush, it felt a bit behind the times of the 1980s. Oldsmobile may have made great leaps in the next 19 years, but even the glorious form factor of the Aurora flagship sedan couldn’t stop GM from pulling the plug. Honestly, I wish Oldsmobile soldiered on a bit longer, even just to see a proper second-generation Aurora rather than the Aurora badge slapped on the Antares project. My question for you today is quite simple. Have you ever owned a car from a dead brand, and do you wish that brand was still around.

Lead photo credit: Mitsubishi

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52 Responses

  1. Saturn SC2 with a manual was a good winter hoonmobile for a couple years even though fwd, Saab 9-2x Aero was a car I loved over the entire 7 years that I owned it, and my ‘89 Trooper that I currently own is a vehicle that I will try to keep around for my son. He’s only 4 though. Of these, I wish Isuzu was still around.

  2. Cars from dead brands… Saturn yes, Pontiac yes (although they needed a reboot—could they be to GM what Dodge is to that dietary supplement company that owns Chrysler?) Plymouth no. Plymouth may have been fine in its day, but my Neon was a miserable piece of plastic garbage that cracked its head for no reason.

    I’m real curious how that nee turbo-4 is supposed to reduce CO2 emissions while burning just as much gas as the engine it’s replacing. The stoichiometric equation for combustion of octane and oxygen (an idealized model for burning gasoline in air) is 25 O2 + 2 C8H18 → 16 CO2 + 18 H2O + energy.

    That’s what you would get if you had a theoretically perfect burn—gasoline is a hydrocarbon, and when you burn it those carbon atoms combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. That’s what oxidation is. In the real world you also get other carbon compounds like soot and carbon monoxide, but they are even worse than carbon dioxide and one of the goals of engine design is to minimize them. Carbon dioxide is what you *want* to have happen. How is Toyota reducing CO2 output without burning less gasoline?

  3. I had a nice streak of buying a new car and then having the brand be killed while I still owned the car. Then I would buy another and then that brand would be killed.
    I went from a 2000 Olds Alero (Oldsmobile was discontinued in 2004) to a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix (announced closure in 2008). Then we got a 2008 Saturn Astra (1 year model in the US) and Saturn announced their closure only about 6 months after I bought the car. I did really like that car. It could be ordered with every option, but with a manual transmission. I drove that for 9 years with no significant issues and it was a pretty fun, toss-able car. Compared to other GM compacts at the time (like the Cobalt), the Astra was a really fun car and had some unexpected options, like rain sense wipers, a huge sunroof that extended over the back seats, 6 disc changer, and 3 level heated seats (available with cloth or leather). I put Opel badging on mine, since that’s what it was, and figured I would embrace the oddity after Saturn died. I do miss that little car. I could potentially count the Chevy Volt as dead while I had it too, since it’s a concept that no longer lives at GM, even though it was a brilliant car. I have an MGB now (as noted in the user name), but that’s my only dead brand car currently. There’s a Buick, Cadillac, and RAM in the family currently too, so hopefully those brands are safe for now.

  4. First, as far as dead brands go, I’ve owned a SAAB, two MG’s, an Austin-Healey and a Suzuki. I miss the British cars the most.
    Second, I bought my latest car from Carvana. A 2019 Chevy Bolt EV with only 15K miles back last October. The whole process was rather easy with no problems. Also, the battery recall process was quick and easy. Carvana is a good idea but maybe they’ve been poorly managed.

  5. Most recently, I sold a wonderful 2007 Pontiac Solstice red over black. Regretted it an hour later. Still do. Long ago I had a 1952 Studebaker Champion. It was nice enough and I wouldn’t mind having it back, I really regret that Studebaker lost their way after the Goldhawk and withered away. Between the two extremes was a 1951 Hudson Super Eight. I had to sell it because of a forced relocation (joined the Corps) and regret it still. Wonderful car! Note I didn’t say “old” car. It wasn’t an old car when I owned it and it will never be an old car to me. God what a road car. It had a swamp cooler that worked well in southeast Kansas summers. I had a “Smitty” glasspack on it and it really growled pretty running up through 2nd gear.

    1. Oops! Forgot my 1998 GEO Tracker, white over Holstein! Bought it 2nd hand from another soldier just for fun. My wife fell in love with it as it had a spunky engine, a smooth 5spd and was cute as hell with the top stowed. She sewed up some seat covers and spare tire cover in a B/W Holstein pattern. This meant that I obviously had to have a top made the same way. Add air horns and she had herself a very sporty run about. Needless to say I took quite a bit of ribbing from my Brothers in my German MC.

  6. Austin Ambassador (AKA ‘The Ambastador’) which was fabulous when it felt like working, and an Austin Allegro, the dashboard of which would fall off if you opened the glovebox. Oh and a Bedford Viceroy bus conversion.

  7. Let’s see, I’ve owned both a Saab 900 and an Isuzu Rodeo, and I regret both of them getting away.

    The Saab was my car in college. Fantastic car. It was a turbo, and hot enough to be fun without being crazy. Radiator died, and my parents wouldn’t let me fix it in the dorm parking lot. Shop wanted 800$ for it. Much to my sadness my parents let it go to one of the mechanics for $400. I’ve nearly bought a new Saab multiple times.

    The Isuzu was my first offroader. Was way more capable than it had any right to be, and even better had a stick so it could go for ages. I’d still have it, but it saved my life. My wife and I were driving home through northern NM when a snow storm hit us about 4 hours ahead of schedule. Came over a rise going 30 in a 75 area, and it was ice all the way down. Did my best, but ended up with all 4 tires in the air. Everyone walked away from that crash without so much as scratch. If Isuzu had still existed, I probably would have walked into the dealership and bought a new one…

    My fleet now is all from existing marques, but I really wish I had DT’s yard so I could grab a couple more forgotten gems.

  8. Anyone miss the days of boosted engines that didn’t build boost from idle? I remember my 98 Volvo t5 5spd, with the boost upped to 17psi, still holding down 30mpg on the highway. Even in town the 5cyl had enough grunt off boost to keep it in the 20-25mpg range without having to drive in an overly delicate manner.(in fairly flat city driving that is) Everyone I know with a tiny turbo 4cyl from the past decade, seem to complain about fuel consumption every place except the highway. I know it’s all a b.s. numbers game to beat the various test cycles, but still, kinda wonder if a bit lazier boost curve with a touch larger engine might not be a better solution for gas engines.

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