By George Polgar

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the surging performance of the US auto sector, Mitsubishi is battling back from precarious marginal status, finally quelling rumors that it might exit the American market.

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Despite the “rising tide raises all boats” factor, the automotive unit of the vast Japanese Mitsubishi conglomerate is making its US comeback on a thin line-up.

In step with the strength of the small SUV segment, a larger and more impressive 7-passenger Outlander is leading the Mitsubishi charge.

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The Lancer small sedan and its tuned-up Evolution editions are legendary on the world rally circuit. A recent test drive of the $34,000 hot-rod, nicknamed “Evo”, was a bracing reminder of how modern small car engineering makes for the most pure driving fun!

The Outlander Sport compact SUV is an attractive package that has had mixed reviews from critics but has found an audience that appreciates its styling value and SUV format convenience.

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Supported through the rough spots by its conglomerate parent, Mitsubishi is on track for profitability. And by building the global supply of its SUVs in its Normal, Illinois plant, Mitsubishi gets a bonus on the books from the weak Yen.