2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete 4WD Black Series image

Last hurrah for the Strada?

I will miss this Strada once the new one comes out.

Mitsubishi will be launching the next-generation Strada fairly soon, but it won't be the same pickup truck I used to know. The looks may still be there, but it won't feel familiar. Throughout the years, I have known the Strada since we had two generations of it in our family fleet – it's simply one of the pickups that brings its own unique flavor to the table.

The next one though will be different, because the next-generation Strada will be sharing a lot of things with the Navara thanks to the Nissan-Mitsubishi-Renault alliance. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Navara. It's a good pickup truck in its own right, but I've always had a soft spot for the Strada, and that still holds true with this Athlete.

After spending a week with it, I pretty much recalled and experienced all the things that make the Strada special.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

To begin with, Mitsubishi returned the pickup's boxy style when they did a mid-cycle update in 2019. For a three-year-old design, the Strada still looks rather fresh with its squared-off corners and the blacked-out rear spoiler.

The tall and thin look is accentuated by a few curves and cuts on the side, which makes it look very much like an athlete. And since this is the Athlete in Jet Black Mica, it gives off a more imposing presence on the road thanks to the lack of chrome.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

A lot of newer pickup trucks have arrived since this fifth-generation model came out in 2015, but its bed is still one of the longest in the segment. And to me this is another return to its roots; my dad used to fit a cadet class go-kart in our 1992 L200 back in the day, but in the 2010 Strada with the J-line, we were barely able to fit a mountain bike unless we turned the front wheels. I do wish I was able to get a hold of the kart and try out the Athlete's bed for size. It's not class-leading, but the Strada Athlete has a payload capacity of 950 kg – more on this later.

I'm not exactly a fan of the huge body graphics plastered on the sides of the Athlete, and I consider it more of a love-it-or-hate-it thing. If I had it my way, I would have preferred something a bit more subtle; anything with the Ralliart colors, plus all-terrain tires for the 18-inch wheels. But of course, we'd no longer call this the Athlete if it had Ralliart branding; it would have been the Strada Ralliart.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

While the pickup looks pretty much in its prime on the outside, the interior somewhat tells a different story. For the most part, the cabin has been the same since 2015, and we agree there's nothing wrong with its layout. Since this one's the Athlete, it has orange accents for its seats, armrests, and center panels.

Where I wish Mitsubishi kept the Strada fresh though is with its digital displays. The instrument cluster has a nice carbon fiber-inspired background for its analog dials, but the multi-information display in the middle is a bit of a letdown. Simply put, we've seen better units in other pickups.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

In addition, the thing that really sticks out to me is the dated local head unit; it doesn't have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Also, the graphics and resolution simply aren't up to par anymore with today's standards, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if future owners of the Strada Athlete upgrade to a newer, albeit aftermarket head unit.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

The 2.4-liter MIVEC turbodiesel powering the Strada Athlete also isn't new, but for the sake of this review, let's recap this engine. It has 181 PS and 430 Nm of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Since it's four-wheel drive (there's a Strada Athlete 2WD), it has Mitsubishi's competition-bred Super Select 4WD-II system with four terrain modes (Gravel, Mud and Snow, Sand, Rock) plus Hill Descent Control.

Unfortunately, I was not able to test those during my time with the Strada Athlete since our schedules did not permit a trip outside the metro to do some off-roading. What we were able to test though is the “Athlete” side of the Strada through a makeshift autocross course in the AutoIndustriya.com warehouse.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

Yes, we get it, it's not the most ideal vehicle to take around an autocross track, but the test brought out the strengths of the Strada when it comes to handling. Perhaps it's in this department that the influence of Ralliart is most felt with the Strada, and this is what I'll truly miss. For a pickup truck, the Strada Athlete is light on its feet, both in acceleration and change of direction. Plus, there's also minimal steering effort to turn the truck, which means maneuvering its 5.3-meter-long body is less of a chore.

If I'm not mistaken, this has one of the shortest (if not the shortest) wheelbases of all pickups on the market, and that's the reason why it's such a nimble truck to drive. The short wheelbase also allows the Strada to have an impressive turning radius – a trait I've known the Strada for since the fourth-generation model.

Of course, there will always be a tradeoff to that. With the Strada's rear axle placed more forward than its rivals, it can only carry up to 950 kg – a little low considering the Hilux has a payload capacity of 1,115 kg. But in a country like ours where the Strada Athlete is being used more as a lifestyle truck, it should be less of an issue.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

Out on the road, the Strada still gives one of the best rides in the segment, both suspension, and ergonomics-wise, especially for rear passengers. The engine has plenty of pulling power, and would gladly oblige when you step hard on the throttle. Pedal travel is a little long for the brakes, but it's always been like that for the Strada. Its six-speed auto is geared nicely, though I wish it had the Montero's 8-speed unit just to bring down the revs when driving on the highway.

When it comes to fuel economy, it was more or less what I would expect from a 4x4 pick-up. I did 7.2 km/l at a 14 km/h average on a payday Friday. Once I reached the expressways though, the Strada Athlete returned 12.5 to 13 km/l at 96 km/h. Lastly, at a steady 60 km/h on Skyway Stage 3, the Strada Athlete did 14.5 km/l.

2022 Mitsubishi Strada Athlete Black Series 4WD A/T image

For PHP 1.818-million, the Strada Athlete sits pretty high on the pricing spectrum. The previous top-of-the-line GT 4x4 automatic had a lower price and offered the same level of equipment except for the orange seats, the blacked-out trims, and the Athlete decals. In addition, Mitsubishi could have justified the price had they done better with some bits inside, especially the head unit.

If you're always on paved roads and won't need its four-wheel-drive system, then you may be better off with the cheaper 2WD version. But whichever you choose, it will still live up to its Athlete name both on and off the beaten path; it simply delivers the kind of driving dynamics you'll expect from a brand using the “spirit of competition” to develop its vehicles.

It will be a sad day for enthusiasts when the next Strada loses its character and turn out as a Nissan with a triple diamond badge.

  • Make: Mitsubishi
  • Model: Strada Athlete 4WD A/T
  • Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 CRDi MIVEC Turbo Intercooler
  • Max Power: 181 PS @ 3500 rpm
  • Max Torque: 430 Nm @ 2500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed A/T with manual mode, Super Select II 4WD
  • Price as Tested: ₱1,818,000