For the past 6 years, the Mitsubishi Strada has always been a favorite of ours. Good looks, great features, a comfortable ride and incredibly attractive pricing are definitely great attributes to have on your side when it comes to any new product.
The competition has improved too. There's the Nissan Navara which has been selling well since its debut, Toyota has just launched the new Hilux, Isuzu continues to improve on their D-Max with better features and Ford is looming in the horizon with the upcoming debut of the next generation Ranger. Times are about to get tougher for Mitsubishi's tough pick up truck, and to continue its edge, they made sure to work on updating it to meet the competition head on.
First, they went to work on the exterior of the car. Like any refresh, the Strada was given a mild facelift with a new bumper, a new grille and smoked headlamps. Newer, larger rims replace the old ones, giving the Strada an even better appeal for the lifestyle truck market.
Inside, not much has changed, but nevertheless, the Strada's interior still looks like a concept car's when compared to the rest of the (more utilitarian) competition. The two tone black and gray interior looks great, and is matched with silver panels. What they've upgraded in the new GLS Sport V is the in-car entertainment system, as the center console now gets a fully integrated LCD, DVD, CD, MP3 system. The system also features a GPS navigation program so you'll never get lost or have to guess where you're going.
Compared to other mid-cycle changes, the Strada's upgrade extends to more than just cosmetics and electronic features. The engine has been replaced with a new, lower displacement 2.5 liter diesel engine. It gets the same common rail direct injection diesel system as the preceding models, but has been pumped up by the addition of a variable geometry turbo, hence the V designation (same goes for the Strada's SUV counterpart, the Montero Sport GTV). The new engine now performs even better than the larger 3.2 liter non-VGT diesel, as output has been increased to 178 PS along with 350 Newton-meters of torque.
The improvement in performance is more pronounced in the Strada than the Montero. Acceleration is better as they also replaced the old 4-speed INVECS-II automatic with a better 5-speed INVECS-II auto. The result is a better split of ratios and better fuel economy figures, with the Strada returning 11.5 kilometers per liter in city conditions (moderate traffic) and 13.9 on the highway (100 km/h cruise).
For 4x4 enthusiasts, the Strada still remains every bit as capable. Actually, better even, as the new turbo has given the engine a flatter torque curve that sustains the 350 Nm from 1800 to 3500 rpm. Having the softer (relatively) suspension of the Strada is a blessing off road, blending its capability with an improved ride when compared to other pick ups in its class. Best of all, it still retains its competitive pricetag at PhP 1,305,000; excellent pricing considering what you get for your money.
Overall, the Strada GLS Sport V remains ahead in its class if you're after a personal truck (read: lifestyle). You may want to look elsewhere for utilitarian trucks, especially given the size of the Strada's bed when compared to others, but for a truck that's good both in the city, in the country or on the trails, the Strada does strike a very good middle ground.