Mitsubishi Xpander: Four-wheeled expression of beauty and utility

Mitsubishi Xpander: Four-wheeled expression of beauty and utility

Let’s face it: Multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) rarely look good. They’re largely either a plain five-door on wheels doing cargo moving or a shapely minivan for Mom. It doesn’t really go both ways.

That’s until the Xpander came along. Here’s our review of the Mitsubishi Xpander GLS Sport 1.5G AT.

Exterior

That “Dynamic Shield” design alone is wow! It’s futuristic and hi-tech rolled into one, and looks more deserving on an SUV than an MPV. The design language is visible on the nose, from the grille all the way down to the air dam – and that’s just half of message the design really wants to convey. The other half is a sense of protection epitomized by shield-like headlamp casings bordered by chrome strips that point inward. Definitely a one-of-a-kind look.

Mitsubishi Xpander side GLS Sport 1.5G AT side 850 x 420

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the daytime running lights (DRLs) are actually on top, positioned right beside the grille, while the headlamps are the ones below. This design, according to Mitsubishi, hits two birds with one stone, so to speak. The lower-positioned headlamps reduce glare for oncoming traffic while DRLs on top make the vehicle more noticeable for pedestrians.

Mitsubishi Xpander side GLS Sport 1.5G AT rear quarter 850x420

Making it ultra-sporty, without actually affecting mechanical grip are front, side and rear air dams. It has a nice character line starting faintly from the front fender before it etches more deeply going to the taillights where a more modest version of the “shield” appears on its rear.

Interior

The cabin is not as flamboyant as the exterior. Seats are covered in fabric, and the only leather to be found is on the steering wheel. It does come with cruise controls on the right and audio controls on the left.

Mitsubishi Xpander side GLS Sport 1.5G AT rear seats 850 x 420

That design theme affects the interior subliminally and it’s obvious only on the corner aircon vents. I expected more, to be honest, for a higher level of impact. But that may be reserved for the updated version.

The instrument panel is simple but has a high contrast meter and a colored multi-information display, which looks good and is easy on the eyes. It comes with a trip computer and even eco-driving indicators

Mitsubishi Xpander side GLS Sport 1.5G AT rear seats 850 x 420

.The Xpander sports a seven-inch touchscreen that runs the multimedia system, which is equipped with GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and has USB and Aux-in ports.

The menu system isn’t exactly intuitive so there’s a small learning curve before you get the hang of it. But once you do, it’s all down to muscle memory.

One gripe though: The volume jumps by increments of “too much” or “too little.” Wasn’t able to find a setting to adjust it properly. In the end, I just had to settle for either slightly low or slightly loud volume when listening to the radio.

Engine

No different from competitors in its segment, it has a 1.5-liter gasoline engine that churns out 105hp and 141Nm of torque to the two front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission.

It’s not a lot, but is okay for the city, even when laden. Wasn’t able to take it on the highway but I can almost say for sure that it will be found wanting especially with just four gears and a 1.24-ton body.

Shifting is smooth although it takes a tad longer than it should to upshift – especially from first to second even under normal driving situations. You can get it to downshift much earlier by releasing the throttle as soon as the right speed for the gear is attained.

With no Eco mode to automatically dampen the engine’s performance to increase fuel efficiency, I relied on the eco coach which guides you by indicating how much fuel you’re consuming on every leg of the drive.

Mitsubishi Xpander center stack GLS Sport 1.5G AT center stack 850 x 420

My best mark on a holiday weekday run on EDSA was 15.8 kilometers per liter driving at an average speed of 70kph.

Ride and handling

It uses a MacPherson strut suspension up front and torsion beams on the rear, which give it a more car-based platform for a quiet and comfortable drive, not typical for a tall vehicle.  And this is one MPV that deserves that compliment. The Xpander that has the highest ground clearance at 205mm in the segment.

Electronic steering makes the feel very light, which is deceiving of its curb weight but also makes handling easy on the arms, especially in Metro Manila traffic.

Verdict

It’s a terrific MPV: Looks great, a consummate performer, and more importantly, an efficient rider. And to think, it’s just a first-generation model. That makes waiting for the updated version so exciting. For now though, at a very reasonable P1.128 million, it’s not a surprise at all why Mitsubishi has a bestseller in their hands.

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