Will the Hyundai Stargazer outshine the Mitsubishi Xpander in PH?
The compact 7-seater MPV market is surely heating up in the country. Just this year alone, we saw Toyota reveal the all-new Avanza and Veloz, Mitsubishi debuted the facelifted Xpander, and Nissan joined the MPV arena with the Livina.
With the compact MPV market seeing a resurgence as of late, Hyundai Motor Philippines Inc (HMPH) has also decided to join the party with the all-new Stargazer. Set to be revealed next month, the Korean automaker actually gave us an early preview of the MPV.
While we were impressed with its looks, features, and powertrain, we also couldn't help but compare it to its closest rivals when we got to test drive it. With that, it's time for another round of spec-check, and we pit the Hyundai Stargazer against the Mitsubishi Xpander.
Will the Stargazer be able to outshine the Xpander in the immensely-popular compact MPV segment, or will the Xpander still come out on top? Let's get down to brass tacks.
Sizing up the MPVs
One of the most important factors of a 7-seater MPV is its size. In the compact segment, it has to be spacious enough to sit seven individuals but should also be small enough that it can fit tight parking slots and is easy to maneuver through narrow city roads or provincial highways.
While no official specs have been released by HMPH, a quick look at what Indonesia gets gives us a good idea of its size. It measures 4460mm long, 1780mm wide, and 1695mm tall. It also has a generous 2780mm wheelbase and 195mm of ground clearance. Impressive, but the Xpander is still the (slightly) bigger and more spacious MPV in this comparo.
Measuring 4595mm long, 1750mm wide, and 1750mm tall, the Xpander is longer and taller than the Stargazer. However, it's 30mm narrower compared to the Stargazer. Wheelbase, on the other hand, comes in at 2775mm which is just 5mm shorter when compared to the Hyundai. Ground clearance for the Xpander is at 225mm, giving the Mitsubishi an edge over the Stargazer.
Looking at the figures, the Xpander is clearly the bigger vehicle. Sure, it's slightly narrower but its sheer length, height, and ground clearance mean the Mitsubishi towers over the Stargazer. Hyundai's MPV, however, is wider and has a marginally longer wheelbase. But with lower ground clearance, some customers might consider its rivals for extra peace of mind.
Features and amenities are aplenty
With MPVs geared towards family use, it stands to reason that these types of vehicles have to be equipped with plenty of features and amenities while still being reasonably priced. Both the Stargazer and Xpander have plenty on offer but which of the two actually offers more bang for the buck?
The GLX and GLS variants of the Xpander are fitted with 7-inch touchscreen infotainment complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB, and AM/FM radio. There's also a new digital air-conditioning system with automatic climate control available on higher-grade models.
Other available features present inside the Xpander include an electronic parking brake (EPB), push-button start (GLS only), cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt and telescopic adjust, soft-pad touch panels for a more premium feel, cupholders on the second-row armrest, a front center armrest, and charging ports for the second and third-row seats.
Hyundai is still playing its cards close to its chest when it comes to the Stargazer's features. But a quick look at what we saw when Hyundai gave us a preview of the MPV and having checked the Indonesian-market Stargazer, gave us a good idea as to what amenities the MPV will have.
An 8-inch touchscreen will be available on the Stargazer and will come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB, and AM/FM radio as standard. Automatic climate control is also available on the higher-grade variants, along with a rear A/C blower. As an added bonus, it gets front and rear USB charging ports to keep your mobile devices juiced up wherever you go.
Perhaps one of the biggest selling points of the Stargazer is the rear tray table for the second-row passengers. If you're the type to work (or eat) while on the go, the tray table at the back will surely be a big selling point. If that's not enough, there's a center armrest for the second row and additional cupholders on the rear doors themselves for easier placement of drinks.
Other available amenities in the 2023 Stargazer are; a push-button start, a full leather interior, a 4.2-inch digital instrument panel, a wireless charging pad for smartphones, 60:40 split-folding second-row seats, and a 6-speaker sound system.
Based on the number of features available in both the Xpander and Stargazer, it seems the two MPVs are evenly-matched when it comes to value for money. Sure, there are some amenities that only one of the vehicles carries, but that can be negligible, depending on a customer's needs. The Stargazer, however, has some neat tricks up its sleeve when it comes to safety which we'll get to later.
A common trait shared by compact MPVs is that they are powered by small yet efficient gasoline engines. The Stargazer and Xpander are no different as both vehicles come with a 1.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four.
The Hyundai Stargazer is powered by a 1.5-liter Smartstream G engine which makes 115 PS at 6300 rpm along with 144 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. Power is then sent to the front wheels via an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) or a 6-speed manual transmission. The IVT is essentially Hyundai's take on a CVT and uses a chain-drive system to minimize slippage and improve fuel economy.
As for the Xpander, it gets a 1.5-liter 4A91 engine with MIVEC. It puts out 105 PS at 6000 rpm and 141 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Don't expect to find a CVT in the Xpander as it continues to be available with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The 1.5-liter engine can also be paired to a regular 5-speed manual gearbox on lesser variants.
Comparing the two, it seems the Stargazer gets a slight upper hand over the Xpander. Not only does the Hyundai make more power, but it gets the benefit of a CVT and a 6-speed manual. The Xpander, meanwhile, makes slightly less power and only comes with a 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual. However, the Xpander has been in the country for several years now and has somehow proven itself in terms of reliability and durability.
The Stargazer still has to prove to the market that its powertrain is not only fuel efficient but can take on hundreds and thousands of kilometers without experiencing any major problems.
With MPVs meant to ferry growing families, they also have to be packed with a number of safety features to keep everyone safe. But which of the two MPVs in this comparo comes with a more comprehensive safety kit?
Both the Xpander and Stargazer come with anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, and brake assist. Both vehicles are also available with a reverse camera with parking sensors, traction & stability control, and hill-start assist (AKA hill-hold control). But whereas the Xpander only comes with dual front airbags, the Stargazer is fitted with a total of 6 airbags on the tops-spec GLS Premium.
But it is perhaps Smartsense that will serve as the Hyundai Stargazer's edge over the Xpander when it comes to safety. Serving as the brand's suite of intelligent driver aids, it essentially acts as the Stargazer's extra pair of eyes that will help drivers be safer while on the road.
While Hyundai has yet to fully reveal what Smartsense features will be available on the Stargazer, the Indonesian-spec version comes with the following; high-beam assist, forward collision-avoidance assist, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear-cross traffic collision avoidance assist, and safe-exit warning.
We already got to see (and test) some of the safety features when Hyundai gave us the keys to the Stargazer recently. But since HMPH has yet to release the full specifications, we can only assume that Smartsense will only be available in the range-topping 1.5 GLS Premium variant.
Prices start at...
So, we already know what we can expect once Hyundai officially launches the Stargazer in the Philippine market. We also know that it's slightly smaller when compared to the Xpander, but comes with more features and safety equipment than the Mitsubishi's MPV.
But just how much will the Stargazer cost? HMPH is not yet releasing the full price list, but they did mention that the Stargazer will start at a special introductory price of PHP 998,000 for the base model 1.5 GL M/T. With that, we can expect the mid-range 1.5 GLS IVT to be priced near PHP 1.1 million while the 1.5 GLS Premium could cost around PHP 1.2 million.
As for the Xpander, the base model GLX M/T is selling for PHP 1,050,000 while the mid-grade GLX A/T is retailing for PHP 1,110,000. Go for the top-of-the-line GLS A/T and it will set you back PHP 1,180,000. With an almost even price range between the Xpander and Stargazer, we might see a close rivalry between these two MPVs in the not-so-distant future.
With the all-new Stargazer set to be launched in the market come November 9, 2022, Hyundai is set to put every automaker with a 7-seater MPV on notice. The only question now is, will the Korean automaker take a big slice of the pie? That we'll find out soon.