Text: Anton Andres / Photos: Manufacturer Press, Autoindustriya | posted January 15, 2016 19:46
We compare the 4x2 A/T variants of the most popular 7-seater SUVs
The pickup - based SUV: tough, rugged, durable and dependable, and very adaptable. Also known as pickup platform vehicles (PPV), we imagine these trucks climbing every mountain and fording every stream. Most of the time however, we drive these PPVs on paved roads.
Still, that hasn't stopped a lot of Filipinos from buying (or aspiring for) these cars. Their big and bold statures always promise miles and miles of open road and adventures. The most popular variant in this class are the two wheel drive, mid-range models with automatic transmissions.
Kicked off by the Ford Everest last year, it heated up the competition for second generation PPVs in the market. This year, we have all our contenders lined up and ready to roll. Here we have the volume sellers of the PPV class, which includes the the Chevrolet Trailblazer LTX, Ford Everest 2.2 Trend, Isuzu mu-X LS-A 2WD, Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS and the recently launched Toyota Fortuner 2.4 G.
When it comes to size, the two American badged cars rule the roost. The Ford Everest is the longest car in the segment, measuring in at 4,893 mm while the Chevrolet Trailblazer comes in a close second at 4,878 mm. The Trailblazer trumps everyone in the class in terms of width at 1,902 mm, giving passengers more room for their hips and shoulders. Based on the graph, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport is still the smallest car in the segment, followed by the Toyota Fortuner while the Isuzu mu-X sits in the middle.
The wheelbase, measured from the center of front and rear wheels, is a rough measure of a vehicle's legroom. With more distance between them, the more space for the floor is available. On that subject, it's the Ford that tops the list again while the Chevrolet and Isuzu cousins come in second. The Mitsubishi Montero Sport comes in fourth while the Fortuner comes up with the shortest wheelbase and the only one that measures below 2,800 mm.
Powertrains for the mid-level segment range from 2.4- to 3.0-liters. However, a higher displacement does not necessarily translate to more power. Case in point, the mu-X has the highest displacement at 3.0 liters but second to the last in terms of horsepower output at 163 PS. Even if the Ford is down by three horsepower from the Isuzu mu-X, it only needs a 2.2-liter engine to produce its 160 PS. While both the Toyota and Mitsubishi are 2.4-liter engines, the Montero Sport puts out 180 PS compared to the Fortuner's 150 PS. The Montero Sport also trumps the Fortuner for torque at 430 Nm compared to 400 Nm. Head and shoulders in the power department for the mid-range models is the Chevrolet Trailblazer thanks to its VM Motori engine.
While the engine outputs had a wide variation, transmission options are identical. Most offer a six speed automatic, save for the Isuzu mu-X (5-speed). The Montero Sport is the only one with an 8-speed automatic.
Now, for one of the top reasons why people buy PPV's: The ability to take on floods with more confidence thanks to their high water wading capacity. Water wading depth is the deepest water level that a vehicle can take on. In this aspect, both the Ford and the Chevrolet are tied for lead at 800 mm. The Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport are tied in second. However, do take note that these figures are measured in still water in laboratory conditions. Wading depth is not the only thing you need to know when driving through floods. Read our article on driving through floods for more information.
The PPV category has long been associated for their ability to seat seven. Each model offers a third row, only varying in how those seats are stowed. The Ford Everest, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Montero Sport all have third rows that fold flat into the floor. Those of the mu-X are elevated above the cargo floor. As for the Fortuner, its seats split in the middle, fold toward the side and are secured with a hook onto the D-pillar.
Deploying and stowing them are most easily done with the Everest, Trailblazer and mu-X, requiring just a pull on a tab behind to pull up or push down the seatback. The Montero Sport employs a two-stage process, wherein you pull up the seat cushion before pushing down the seatback to stow it, and vice-versa. Finally, the Fortuner adds a spring-loaded mechanism to make stowing the seats easier. This also makes deploying them a tad harder than before.
Finally, there's the matter of unique features. The Trailblazer is easily the most powerful in its class, with 200 PS. The mu-X offers a push-button starter, back-up camera, and GPS navigation in all of its variants. The Everest offers tech features like a customizable instrument cluster, rolls stability, trailer sway control, as well as a programmable My Key. The Montero Sport is powered by the only diesel engine with variable valve timing in its class, paired with a class-first 8-speed automatic. As for the Fortuner, it is the only PPV that offers a throttle overboost function.