Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Kelvin Christian Go | posted October 22, 2015 15:51
The adaptable pick-up truck
Pick-up trucks are one of the most sought after vehicles in the Philippine automotive market due to their taller ride height, reliable engine power, and versatility. With these things in mind, it’s not surprising that various auto manufacturers have pitted their respective challengers for the competitive segment. Among the many is the 2015 Mitsubishi Strada which was locally launched early this year, right on time for the so-called “pick-up wars.”
Design-wise, you can easily spot that the fifth-generation Strada has undergone a makeover. It has sharper-looking HID headlights that turn night into day, with a bright blue-ish white glow. The Strada’s fascia is also fitted with daytime running lights, a revamped bumper, a sculpted hood and a chrome grill.
As a suggestion, I think that Mitsubishi could have designed the Strada’s fascia with a bit less chrome. If I were to choose, I’d rather have this pick-up truck equipped with a dark gray or a matte black grill to make it look more rugged and aggressive.
Unlike other types of vehicles, pick-up trucks have a design template that designers need to consider. It has to have an enclosed cab and an open cargo bed. In other words, designing a pick-up truck could restrain one’s creative ideas. However, Mitsubishi’s design team veered away from this traditional template by introducing the ‘J-line’ (the rear pillar of the cabin) cab, which separates the cab and the cargo bed, giving the Strada its own unique, yet recognizable look. This diagonal pillar also grants the passengers more cabin room without having to significantly increase the size of the truck.
Aside from the unconventional design, the Strada is characterized by a straight character line that extends up to the rear. It also has wide wheel arches which add to the vehicle’s bold stance.
The rear of the Strada has wraparound taillights, along with a chrome tailgate handle and a prominent bumper. The cargo bed of the Strada is spacious and can fit almost anything from bicycles, coolers, balikbayan boxes, furniture, among others.
Compared to its predecessor, the 2015 Strada is 165mm longer and 15 mm wider. With this, the vehicle now measures 5280mm long and 1815mm wide. The Strada’s wheelbase and height were unchanged, which measures 3000mm and 1780mm respectively.
Of note, the vehicle’s door panels are now car-like and it doesn’t look like it’s borrowed from a truck. Through Strada’s car-like door panels, the interior becomes more premium rather than Spartan-like. One more thing, the rear is spacious offering occupants good leg and headroom. In addition, the ‘J-line’ cab design allowed the Strada to have a comfortable rear seat angle which is perhaps the best among its class.
Inside, the Strada has a clean and well laid-out interior. It comes with a two-tone theme with glossy black and silver accents as well as a new steering wheel design, a restyled dashboard and a 6.75-inch touchscreen display. On it are selectable functions like a tire pressure monitoring system, reverse camera, GPS navigation, among others.
The instrument cluster has a straightforward display and it is executed with white-on-black gauges. Mitsubishi also equipped this Strada with paddle shifters — a feature that was once only available with the ASX and the Lancer EX. In addition, the vehicle comes with the brand’s Super Select 4WD-II system that allows you to conquer the road less travelled with just the turn of a knob on the center console.
Under the hood, this Strada is equipped with a 2.5-liter DOHC turbocharged and intercooled Common Rail Direct Injection diesel engine that delivers 178 PS and 400 Nm of torque. It is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
It runs through a new Super Select system that introduces a new feature. Unlike its competitors, the Strada has two 4WD Hi modes: one with an unlocked transaxle (4H, 40:60 front rear split) differential and one with it locked (4HLc, 50:50 front rear split). Its 4WD Lo (4LLc) mode locks the transaxle differential by default.
In the city, the Strada is easy to drive despite its size due to its light steering and handling feel. Driving through tight streets was easily managed thanks to its 5.9 meter turning radius, the tightest turning circle in its class and a trait commonly associated in Mitsubishi vehicles. When driving through uphill city roads, the Strada is never short of climbing power thanks to its good engine response. Furthermore, power can instantly be felt with relatively minimum lag. In terms of fuel economy, this Strada registered 8.0km/l (moderate traffic).
On the highway, this Strada never disappointed as it cruised the stretch of SLEX with ease. Power and torque pull can be felt between 2000 and 2500 RPM and the five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, allowing for swift overtaking. Fuel economy-wise, I yielded 13km/l while driving at an average speed of 80 km/h.
However, we thought that Mitsubishi should have fitted the Strada with a six-speed automatic transmission to be at par with other vehicles in its class. To put things in perspective, the Ford Ranger comes with a six-speed automatic transmission while the Nissan Navara is equipped with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
On the other hand, the handling and steering feel of this Strada stood out as it drove through winding, rural roads. As for the ride comfort, the vehicle showed adaptability on different terrains thanks to its firmer suspension; though the ride still gets a little bumpy. I would have to say that the Navara has the most comfortable ride in the pick-up segment.
Since the glory days of the L200, Mitsubishi’s pick-up has been one of the top contenders in its class. With the 2015 Strada, Mitsubishi intends to maintain its long tradition of offering reliable and quality to the Philippine market. With its sophisticated urban exterior, refreshed interior and reliable engine, the 2015 Strada is indeed ready to go up against other vehicles in the pick-up segment. Let the games begin.