With the long holidays coming up, and many road trip destinations to choose from, deciding on the next family road trip can be a daunting exercise. Thankfully, we’ve recently come across a combo that goes perfect together: The new Mitsubishi Xpander and a drive to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan.
The Mitsubishi Xpander is one of the current top choices in the small MPV/ 7-seater SUV class, so this test drive hosted by Mitsubishi couldn’t be more timely.
You’ll notice the fascia has quite a bit in common with the current Montero Sport. The look of the front end is called the Dynamic Shield Concept. If you like chrome, this is for you, as there’s generous use of it throughout the façade.
Most noticeable in the Xpander are the position lights. The grille leads eyes to the Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) on the sides instead of the head lights. Those are actually mounted lower on the far edges of the bumper itself. Around back, you get L-shaped LED combination lamps. All variants roll on 205/55 tires on 16-inch alloy rims except for the GLX M/T which is equipped with 185/65 tires on 15-inch alloys. Ground clearance is very high 205mm.
We immediately found the interior spacious. Getting in was easy, especially with the large rear passenger doors. My car mates were not your average petite Pinoys either, so they were the perfect subjects to help put the car’s spaciousness to the test.
Getting behind the wheel, it was easy to find the perfect driving position with the Xpander having a tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel. The dash layout was simple and logical, with everything within reach. There was good headroom all around. The fabric seats were comfortable all around and the space in the second and third rows were impressive for a car this size.
The entertainment system is a six-speaker, seven-inch touchscreen with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity with USB and AUX-in ports with Navigation.
Under the hood is a 1.5L four-cylinder 16 valve DOHC ECI-Multi MIVEC gasoline engine that puts out 105-Hp at 6,000 rpm with 141-Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. This is mated to your choice of either a new five-speed manual transmission or a four–speed auto.
Having driven both we found that you need to be in the optimal rev range to get a good response from the Xpander and since we were on the open road at highway speeds, we were almost always in the engine’s power band.
Ride and handling
After a quick photo-op and lunch in Subic, we headed to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan, which would serve as a beautiful backdrop to some of the photos we would take.
It was an additional 70-km away with some corners en route to better experience the handling of Mitsubishi’s latest offering.
The Xpander had a comfortable ride, and with that, you can expect to have some body roll. After all, it’s a people carrier, not a sports car, so it’s not too much of an issue. The steering was just right and accurate and gave adequate feedback despite it being electric power assisted. Acceleration from a full stop took a while, but when you’re already at highway speeds, the Xpander comes into its own. It’s equipped with thicker glass and better sound proofing lessening the wind noise entering the cabin making for a quieter ride.
We drove the GLS Sport, which has all the electronic driver aids like Active Stability Control (ASC), Traction Control (TCL) and Hill Start Assist (HSA). Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is standard across all the variants. All variants also get driver and front passenger airbags and cruise control.
If you’re in the market for a people carrier that lives up to its claim of seating seven, or just a car that can do it all, you might want to seriously consider the Mitsubishi Xpander. It may be what you need.
The Xpander variants are priced as follows: GLX MT at P955K; GLX Plus AT at P1.03M; GLS AT at P1.065M; and GLS Sport at P1.130M. All variants seat seven.
Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan