As the battle continues to brew over at the Pickup-based Passenger Vehicle (PPV) 7-seater SUV segment, over in the quiet AUV segment, another siege is brewing. For quite some time, it’s been a relatively exclusive club, populated by the Toyota Innova, Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo, and Mitsubishi Adventure. That club is about to get crowded with the arrival of the Mahindra Xylo.

Mahindra Xylo's rear

Many may already be familiar with Mahindra’s other product, the Enforcer jeep/pickup, already in operation around the country. India’s own AUV is a far cry from the very spartan and rugged patrol vehicle, offering more space, luxuries, with a hint of its sibling’s terrain-conquering confidence and ruggedness.

Like the early iterations of the Tamaraw, Highlander and Adventure, the SUV influence is evident in the Xylo. It’s also easily one of the larger AUV’s you’ll come across, in almost all dimensions. It’s got respectable ground clearance, even with stepboards equipped as standard. It’s got a tall cabin, with enough headroom for 6-foot occupants in all rows. The rear door swings out, rather than up, easing access to the rear cargo area. There’s no doubting its rugged aspirations with all-terrain tires, steep approach and departure angles, as well as scratch proof cladding around the bottom of the body.

Inside, the Xylo offers the most spacious cabin in this segment. There is very comfortable legroom in all rows, especially the third — capable of accommodating a full-sized adult with no qualms.

The dashboard design may be a bit out of this world, but in spite of the odd looks, is still very functional. For its price, there’s a lot of amenities, that competitors typically leave out at this price point. Things like lots of faux wood and chrome trim, fold-down armrests for both rows, seatback trays, a dizzying number of cupholders and even swiveling dome lights. It also has standard accessories like lighting visor mirrors, fog lights both in front and behind, front and rear wipers with washers and timers, power mirrors and even a provision for a tow hitch.

This version is equipped with a second row bench, though the new batch of Xylos will be offered with captain chairs for the middle row. Above are controls for the rear air conditioning. Air is channeled through ceiling vents.

Behind, the third row is accessed by folding the middle row, which can tumble forward. The rearmost bench folds forward like the old Toyota Revos and Alterras, and secures itself to the middle row with a hook. It can be removed completely with some tools. Keep it installed and it still leaves some room to stack a couple of boxes, one on top of the other.

The Xylo starts up with the twist of a key, bringing its 2.2-liter mHawk common rail turbo diesel to life. It produces 120 PS and 280Nm of torque, paired only to a 5-speed manual that drives the rear wheels. Nonetheless, there’s lots of initial torque to get rolling. It has a very low first gear ratio, perfect for rolling along in our crawling traffic. There’s a bit of a flat spot before the midrange. The engine is most responsive between 40-80 km/h, making it ideal for city and rural use.

The ride is a bit on the stiff side, softer than your average pickup but not as plush as an Innova. This is essential to keep its body roll in check, owing to the tall cabin’s high center of gravity. Nonetheless, the suspension system is incredibly rugged, giving you the confidence to floor it through potholed streets and rough gravel roads with little worry.

Once out of the city and in the highway, the vehicle easily maintains highway speeds and can reach a top speed of 150 km/h. The calm highway proved to be a great opportunity to tinker with the cruise control and fuel consumption computer. Our drive with the Xylo netted a pretty high 12.6 km/L in the city in heavy traffic and an even better 16.1 km/L in the highway.

All told, in spite of the odd styling, the Xylo offers good value. Indeed, it direly needs an automatic model. However, those satisfied with a manual will find it trumps its competition in terms of space, amenities, fuel consumption, and most especially price, at P1,050,000.

Mahindra still has many hearts to win over in the local automotive scene, but the Xylo proves the company is in tune with the buyers’ wants, needs, and most especially budget.

  • Make:Mahindra
  • Model:Xylo E8
  • Engine:2.2-liter inline-4 mHawk common rail intercooled turbo diesel
  • Max Power:120 PS @ 4,000 rpm
  • Max Torque:280 Nm @ 2,400 rpm
  • Transmission:5-speed manual
  • Price as Tested:₱ 1,050,000