Mitsubishi releases details of its next-generation ’14 Outlander ahead of the cross/utility vehicle’s debut Thursday at the Los Angeles auto show.

The struggling Japanese brand, which recently re-emphasized its desire to remain in the U.S. market following Suzuki’s announcement of imminent departure, also reveals plans for a new limited-edition version of the smaller Outlander Sport model and a plug-in hybrid Outlander.

The ’14 Outlander gets a new exterior and interior look, boasts better fuel economy and is “affordably-priced,” Mitsubishi claims.

The auto maker calls the new Outlander’s face “fresh” and “contemporary” with the added benefit of reducing aerodynamic drag.

Mitsubishi has sliced roughly 200 lbs. (91 kg) off the outgoing Outlander’s weight, achieved partly through greater use of high-strength steel.

The base 2.4L 4-cyl. engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission, putting the CUV “among the most fuel-efficient” standard 7-passenger models in its segment, the auto maker says.

A GT trim level gets a 3.0L V-6 engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Options include a revamped navigation system, power liftgate that can be activated from the driver’s seat, camera-based lane-departure warning and radar-based adaptive cruise control and forward-collision mitigation.

An updated version of the auto maker’s all-wheel-drive system also will be available.

The new CUV’s interior includes a soft-touch instrument panel and wood-grain trim.

The ’13 Outlander Sport Limited Edition, produced at Mitsubishi’s Normal, IL, plant, differentiates from the standard model with blackout side mirrors, center bumper and roof rails. Dove Grey and black leather seats are standard in the cabin.

The Outlander Sport Limited Edition should exhibit “smoother and quicker acceleration” thanks to a new engine balance shaft, Mitsubishi says.

Details are scarce on the ’14 Outlander plug-in hybrid. Not due until early 2014, the Outlander PHEV will have front- and rear-mounted electric motors and AWD, which together “make the most of the dual electric motor/internal combustion engine configuration to maximize traction, handling and vehicle stability.”

EV mode, Parallel mode and Series Hybrid mode will be available, the auto maker says.

While Outlander Sport sales are up for the year, Outlander deliveries fell 19.9% through October, WardsAuto data shows.

Mitsubishi sales were down 28.7% through October, to 50,103 units.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com