Tuesday, June 2, 2015

First Drive: 2015 Mitsubishi Strada GLX V A/T

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Our ride and drives follow a certain formula: hop on a vehicle and drive to an exotic locale for some R&R. Along the way, we’re fed with bottomless food and if the carmaker feels generous enough, a massage. There are some variations along the way, but the bottom line is we’re shown a good time. This looks hedonistic to an outsider looking in, and I can’t blame them. After all, is eating to your heart’s content an appropriate way to spend some seat time when we could instead make a difference? Well, Mitsubishi did just that. The 2015 Strada’s first shakedown is a ride and drive activity like no other. It’s one with a purpose, with a heart. It shows what a Strada can do, and consequently, what its owner could possibly achieve.

This ride and drive story actually started in 2012 when Mitsubishi Motors Philippines and renowned photographer John K. Chua brought to light the destruction of the Banaue Rice Terraces after a strong typhoon. It was severely damaged that UNESCO was threatening to strip the amphitheater rice terraces of its place in the World Heritage Site list. Helping ignite the Ifugao’s bachang aka bayanihan spirit, it was eventually fixed. Today, its status is safe. And this is all without government support. Of course, the work doesn’t stop there. Coinciding with the all-new Strada, it’s time to drive up to see what we can do to help the people of Batad.



From EDSA, the fleet of Stradas stood waiting for their marching orders. The styling is polarizing, but I personally find it a good thing. Parked next to the previous-gen model, the new model’s got tauter lines and better proportions. I find the hard crease—running from the front fender to the bed—to be its most definitive styling feature. The front maw does take some getting used to, but it gives it character. It’s best paired with bright colors such as Rosita Red or better yet, the Impulse Blue Metallic.

Hopping aboard the mid-level GLX V trim, it is well-equipped for its P 1,158,000 price tag. It comes with all sorts of features absent in pickup trucks in this price range like dual SRS airbags, ABS, and a multi-function display nestled between the two main gauges. Plus, you get a 6.75-inch touchscreen AV system with GPS, tire pressure sensors, and even cruise control. It’s a winner in my book. The steering wheel adjusts only for tilt and the driver’s seat moves only in four ways, but it has a very comfortable driving position. I found all the controls easy to reach and understand.  The exception is the GPS navigation, which like all other touchscreens, require good eye-hand coordination to operate.



Driving the Strada GLX V surprises me at how much it improved in driving terms. Despite the carryover engine and transmission, it’s noticeably quieter than the previous-gen Strada. Thanks to the compact body and lighter curb weight, it pulls strongly all the way to highway speeds. The automatic gearbox readily shifts up. On NLEX and SCTEX, it shows a marked improvement in NVH isolation. I could actually hold a decent conversation without having to shout over the drivetrain. It’s still no passenger car, but there are some instances when it comes real close. After a short stop for brunch in Cabanatuan City, the long straights are replaced by tight, two-lane roads. On these conditions, it showed good pull—enough to literally dig me into the driver’s seat. From Nueva Vizcaya to Banaue, the road scape transforms again—becoming twisty and mountainous. In these instances, the Strada lives up to its “sport truck” moniker by remaining secure and stable. There’s some tire screeching involved, but no big drama. The steering requires less turns to toss it around tighter confines. An extra second or two is required for the gearbox to call for a lower gear, so some planning in involved when attempting a last-minute overtake. Still, when the power does arrive, you’ll have boat loads of it to blast through an 18-wheeler or two in one go. The ride is understandably firm, but again, it’s leagues better than the previous-gen model. It’s not punishing nor draining even after ten hours behind the wheel (and just one driver change).

The following day, both man and machine are tested on the way to Barangay Batad, home of the Batad Rice Terraces. The steep 30-degree incline is no match for the Strada even in 4x2 guise (it’s highly recommended though you take a four-wheel drive vehicle through here). When the road ended, it’s a 40-minute walk down. Greeting us is a spectacular view of the rice terraces—the very same one that Mitsubishi helped save three years ago. Today though, it looks perfect with no trace of the damage it once suffered. With nothing to fix, what are we doing here? Well, aside from the rice terraces, the Batad Public School itself was endangered, almost closing down due to the lack of students. Today, they’re seeing a steady uptick in number.



Now comes the post poignant part: unknown to everyone, we carried all the necessary supplies for the school from Manila; items like flat-screen TVs, iPads, paint, bags, clothing, and more—all to modernize and improve education for the people living there. This certainly made good use of the Strada’s bigger cargo bed.

From that point on, I saw the purpose of this ride and drive. We could have been billeted in a fancy place, binging on food and drinks, but that wouldn’t change the world much, would it? By having us experience their advocacy, it shows what the Mitsubishi Strada and consequently its owners can achieve. The Strada is one pickup that goes beyond the specifications printed on its brochure. Likewise, it’s the same for Mitsubishi, the company behind it. Clearly, the Strada is an instrument of change and shows that its owners or would-be owners can live their lives to the fullest or better yet, make a difference.


34 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. We drove it on a mostly highway setting so I can't give you city. Anyway, conservatively driven it can do around 12.5 km/L. If you push it, it'll drop to around 9 to 10 km/L. Adding the going up and down Banaue part? 8 km/L.

      Basically, it can go from Nueva Vizcaya to Banaue and then back to Manila with fuel to spare. We couldn't risk fueling up in Banaue as Mitsubishi says the fuel may be shoddy there.

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  2. Are the carryover engines still belt driven?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, just upgraded vgt to make 200 horses & 400nm torque

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  3. This latest Strada aged 4D56 will be shadowed by the coming new model Hilux which has 2 new modern GD engines. Mitsu upgrade is forthcoming with 4N15 mill otherwise pupulutin ka sa kangkungan.

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    1. Hooe this new 4N15 engine gets a timing chain

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    2. 4N15 is a timing-chain drive same with Nissan YD2.5 & the latest twin-turbo YS2.3 & Toyota new GD engines are timing chain drive as well.
      There are already test drive for both Nissan & Mitsu trucks in land down under.
      Nissan YS2.3 has better torque (450Nm @ 1500-2500) though noisy. Let's wait for Toyota's GD engines.

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  4. Nissan is the game changer here coz of the rear coil suspension. The only one in its class.. All other pick ups, as powerful and strong as they are - will rattle your jaws and teeth, specially when youre seated at the rear- and an aching back to boot, specially on long drives.. TopGear Phils reviews the nissan navara as having like an SUV ride.

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    Replies
    1. SUV-like ride could mean the old Fortuner?

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    2. could mean any 7-seater SUV...

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    3. Have you driven the new NP300?
      1. I would say the coil spring suspension is the most comfy in any dual-cab to date without compromising the rated payload of 930 kg.
      2. Bad news is second-row space is not good for adults occupancy otherwise take up yoga.
      3. Steering is a bit slow & lack-lustre, new Strada is better.
      4. Engine still clatter, but still a good family car due to high standard road noise suppression & NVH.
      Nissan says"let the truck war begin"

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    4. If Nissan if a game changer then are you saying it is tested in tough conditions? Does Nissan researched on that and spent years to testing a rear coil suspension for a pick-up? Yes, they can say I can live without compromising the load capacity but have they really tested it before put it in its production line? Because as far as I know leaf springs are best for pick up because of multi-purpose functions, and coil springs are best for SUV because they carry only a certain amount of cargo. I know Nissan introduced that just for comfort not for hauling.

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  5. @anonymous 5:56pm
    Mitsubishi 4N15 is rated at 179hp and 430nm of torque. Nissan Navara's 2.5 engine is rated at 188hp and 450Nm of torque. Nissan wins this one.

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  6. Heck, all new pick ups today will more or less have the same fuel consumption, almost the same size and features, almost the same price, almost all the same in everyway... except for the ride. it will be leaf springs vs coil springs at the rear. Nissan again.

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  7. HP claims.for these liliputian asian diesel engines is a big joke. Funny how the Philippines has no law against false claims. Dyno test of these asian diesel show they develop no more than 60 hp plus minus, even with turbo. And its a bigger joke how funny Pinoys bolting on big tyres on such funny pick ups and auv (montero fortuner everest trailblazer), in addition to those cheap plastic chrome painted ones. Then pormang astig as if "naman" may dating ang kuliglig nia. Aniway, few Pinoys know what is east from west, though. Promdi boys with deir branded suv juz keep on laughing.

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    Replies
    1. Wow! You seemed to know everything. 60-+ bhp? How's that? Seat of the pants dyno? Lol. Diesel is all about torque and has narrow powerband against comparable gas-fed motor.

      Keep trolling; it will get you far.

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    2. What's with the ' promdi' anyway. I am a promdi boy. You're implying that you are pure manila bred boy? Parents and you born in Quiapo, Binondo, Sampaloc, Tondo? And consider yourself more superior than the rest of us?

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    3. im a promdi,so what?..pa english2x kapa,para ano?sabihin mayaman ka?baka kotse mo acquire thru bank yan or naka utang,di naman nag mayabang pero kami?kaya namin bumi ng condo,kotse or BMW na hindi mag ootang sa bank...dont mess with the promdi,wag mo kami mamaliitin..

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    4. Lol. HP off the crank and HP off the wheels are 2 different things. Hahaha ever heard of Law of conservation of energy in physics?
      Manufacturers rate their engines on the crankshaft. Dynos measure hp on the wheels. Of course rated hp on the wheels will be lower than the manufacturers' rated engine output because of the transmission and other powertrain parts like the transfer case for 4x4 models. As the energy from the engine gets transferred to these parts and eventually to the wheels, heat and friction is generated, and hence the power loss.

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    5. Mga boss tanong lang ano ba tlaga mas ok strada ba o navarra?

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    6. RE: Anonymous June 3, 2015 at 6:26 AM

      I think what the original poster is saying is that the HP & TQ claims made by these diesel manufacturers are all false because those engines were tested using Euro-4 fuel, while it's an open secret that local variants all have detuned engines to make it survive on poor quality, high-sulfur, Euro-2 only biodiesel fuel commonly found here in the country. So I agree with the OP, 60HP at the wheels means its making around 100hp at the crank, a far cry from the ~140-200hp these manufacturers are claiming for their diesel engines. DTI & DOTC should be investigating these false claims.

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  8. So, to sum up this Mitsu CSR article cum "review", the old engine & tranny grafted onto a new, chrome alien body elicits little gee-whiz comments, so might as well write about the trip and the purpose of the trip. This article belongs in a travel blog or lifestyle section of a newspaper.

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    Replies
    1. It's not a review. It's a "first drive". Hope you read the title.

      To sum it up, the Strada is better than it looks especially if you consider the carryover mechanicals. Haven't tried the Navara yet, but looking forward to it. That will be the new yardstick if ever.

      We'll let you know when I do.

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    2. navara is the yardstick. LED projector lamps, Coil rear suspension, sedan like handling, 7speed A/T, 190hp, 450Nm torque, etc etc..

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  9. Man, this looks ugly upfront and bland on the inside. At P1M I can buy a ranger or a navara. Better looking inside and out than this piece of crap.

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  10. this truck is fugly as hell. the ranger or navarra is so much better looking.

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    1. Ranger and navarra= strada na try mo na bang e drive test😃...pde mo nmang pa pormahin yan dba...all right✌

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  11. The look of the truck's exterior is reminiscent of an over-accessorized owner-type stainless jeep. The kindest way to describe it is "jeproks." The most honest way of putting it is it's completely baduy.

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  12. Our Latest News from Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi Montero Sport Special Edition

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  13. New strada is nice 4me😃 sa stock viewing talaga masama pero pag pinalitan mo ng rims at pinalagyan mo ng rollbar mapapa wow ka..allright rockinrolltotheworld✌

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  14. 5 speed na ba itong glx v?

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  15. Db crain mkina ng strada?

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