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Explained: Where do Mitsubishi Models Get Their Names?

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Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition

Mitsubishi has surprisingly convoluted and complicated names for the models in its lineup, given how few there are—or at least, it used to. Specifically, Mitsubishi used the “Mirage” and “Colt” nameplate across a variety of models, some of which were also used by Chrysler during the two automaker’s alliance, which means that, if you were to go back to the 1970s and asked for a “Colt” rental, you might end up with a Lancer, a Mirage, or something else entirely.

Fortunately, things are a lot less complicated today.

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Where do Mitsubishi models get their names?

2017 Mitsubishi Lancer Lancer As mentioned, the Mitsubishi Lancer has been sold under a variety of names since 1973, from the Mirage in Japan to the Colt Lancer and Chrysler Lancer in the United States. Fortunately for us, it’s only ever been known as the Lancer in America, so there’s less confusion to be had there. The name “lancer” is a reference to the ancient cavalrymen who fought with a lance, intended to project the car’s forward-facing thrust or momentum, and its energetic ability to attack the road.


2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Outlander The Outlander didn’t bear that name until 2005, before which it was known as the Airtrek. The original name was a rather obvious portmanteau of “air” and “trek” designed to “express the idea of footloose, adventure-filled motoring pleasure.” It was changed in 2005 to “Outlander,” a more fitting name that hints at similar ideas; according to Mitsubishi, it is meant to evoke a “feeling of journeying to distant, unexplored lands in search of adventure.” There we see the key terms of “journey” and “adventure” again. It could be a coincidence that the German word ausländer means “foreigner” or “alien,” but given that unexplored lands tend to be just that, we’re going to guess it was an intended association.


2017 Mitsubishi Mirage Mirage Everyone knows what a mirage is, but what do they have to do with the Mitsubishi car? As best as we can tell, Mitsubishi just really likes the name. Before it was associated with the current subcompact, the Mirage nameplate was slapped on all kinds of Mitsubishi models. With the sixth-generation model, however, we hope it’ll stick to just this one. Mitsubishi hasn’t said why they like the Mirage name so much, but we do find it appropriate on this specific car—given its incredibly low curb weight and fuel-sipping economy, it might as well be a mirage.


Mitsubishi i-MiEV driving silhouette i-MiEV Unlike the other cars in the lineup, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV doesn’t have proper noun. Instead, it is a combination of “Mitsubishi i” and “MiEV,” the former being the name of the kei car (a Japanese light automobile) that was launched in 2006, and the latter being an acronym for “Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle.” In other words, “MiEV” is just Mitsubishi’s fancy way of saying “EV.” If the car was named using regular American-market convention, it would simply be called the Mitsubishi i EV.

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Source: Mitsubishi