First, let me be clear that I’m not being sexist—that “pair” I’m referencing in the headline there can be either testicles or ovaries, whatever genital pairing it takes to give the company’s American arm the courage it needs to stop floundering and finally do something about the perpetually dismal situation they’re in. And that something they could do is called the Delica D:5.
Now, Mitsubishi’s sales in America have been improving a little bit, but they’re still fairly crappy, especially when you consider that their lineup is exclusively SUVs and crossovers—the biggest-selling types of vehicles by far in America today—and some really inexpensive economy cars that I think aren’t that terrible.
There’s no good reason why Mitsubishi shouldn’t be doing much better here in America, except for one crucial problem: nobody really gives a damn about their SUVs or crossovers.
It’s not like they’re all that terrible, really, but they are getting pretty long in the tooth, and they’re not particularly engaging to drive, and, let’s be brutally honest here, the Outlanders and Eclipse Cross are all pretty forgettable things, lost in a sea of nearly-identical and arguably better SUVs and crossovers available from almost everyone else.
Over the years, we’ve given Mitsubishi so much unsolicited advice that we could probably invoice them for contracting work. It’s not like Mitsubishi never has good ideas—hell, they kicked out Carlos Ghosn back in 2018—and in their non-American markets, they do make some compelling cars. Which brings me to my point: they need to bring the Delica to America.
The latest version of the Delica is the Delica D:5, and at the Tokyo Auto Show just recently, they had some really fun variants, like this Terry Ito edition:
From what I can gather, Terry Ito is a Japanese television producer and writer, and I think is the gentleman dressed as a yeti in that picture there.
It’s not really important who Terry Ito is for my argument, just that the Delica with the retro round headlights and the interesting green color there I think looks fantastic. It looks like it’s really staring you down and has spent a lot of time on its eyebrows, always a potent combination.
The actual production versions of the Delica D5 have a more conventionally modern look, but are still pretty striking:
As you have likely figured out, since nothing gets past you, the Delica D5 is a sort of minivan, but not exactly. It’s a sort of combination of a minivan and an SUV, which is what the Delica has always been, and why there’s a bit of a resurgence in popularity of bringing old Delicas to America thanks to the recent overlanding/camping trends and the whole #vanlife goings-on.
Sure, it’s sort of a niche, but you’d think by now Mitsubishi would realize that trying to blend in just isn’t working. They need to sell something that actually stands out, and they have the vehicle already. Besides, if you accept and revel in your role as a more niche automaker, the lower sales numbers feel intentional and, as a result, a lot less embarrassing.
Think about it—a federalized Delica D5 would be a vehicle with, really, no major competitors: a minivan with SUV capabilities, or maybe and SUV with minivan practicality.
It wouldn’t look like everything else in the parking lot and melt away into nothingness, it would stand out and catch people’s attention and make them actually ask, hey, what is this thing?
Not everyone would like it, but some people would love it, and that’s far better than everyone not giving a shit about the cars a company sells.
Look at this interior! That looks pretty great!
A full three-row seven-seater that takes up less space on the outside than most five-seat SUVs, and yet has more room on the inside!
You’ve got that idiotic but coveted “command seating” position and four-wheel drive and the big wheels of an SUV, but van proportions, all without it feeling like some tepid Nissan Quest or something miserable like that.
I know federalizing a vehicle is expensive, but, you what is also expensive? Not selling thousands of cars every month. What Mitsubishi is doing now just isn’t working, and there’s no foreseeable reason to assume it’s just going to start working anytime soon.
They need to mix it up a bit, do something to stand out, and selling the latest Delicas here is the quickest, best way to do just that.
Give it a try, Mitsubishi. And if it works, you can thank me by making that round-headlight Terry Ito thing a version you can buy here.
Oh, and you can keep selling the Mirage here if you want. I kinda like it.