It’s hard to understand why there’s little love for the all-new Mitsubishi Strada. Many dismissed it for the toothy chrome grille, but besides that, it’s a great performer. It may not spout the same sort of spec sheet worthy numbers like horsepower, torque, or water wading depth, but at the end of the day, the Strada simply works. So, it’s time to go beyond the cover (or in this case, the grille) and witness what could be the best everyday pickup truck.
The moment you lay your eyes on it, the styling hits you as polarizing. But then, you look carefully and you notice: it’s just the grille. It’s like dismissing a gorgeous girl just because she’s got braces. Blackening it out does wonders to improve the aesthetics. Like the previous-generation Strada, the proportions between cabin and bed are more or less balanced, but unlike the older model, this new one’s got athletic and taut lines throughout. The best and most definitive styling feature is the hard crease running from the front fender all the way to the bed; together with the chunky and squared-off front end it gives it a space-age vibe. With all these changes though, it’s surprising why Mitsubishi opted for alloy wheel designs that look like they’ve been carried over from the previous model.
As divisive as the exterior styling is, inside, the Strada’s straightforward. Mitsubishi touts it as the Sport Truck—a combination of a SUV and a pickup truck—and it delivers that point pretty much. It doesn’t go for the usual “I’m so tough, I eat nails for breakfast” type of execution and instead, it goes for an atmosphere that actually prioritizes usability. Calling the interior car-like is straight on because that’s exactly how it feels when you sit in the driver’s seat. Getting in and out is way easier because of pillar-mounted grab handles, and apart from the high driving position, the ergonomics pass for a run-of-the-mill SUV. The gauges are legible and all the controls are within easy reach. A tilt/telescopic steering column make for minute adjustments; with the resulting seating much more relaxed compared to other pickups. But as great as the front seats are, the best thing is actually the rear seats. The knee room is already great, but so is the seat pitch and cushion length. It’s actually possible to spend long drives as a passenger without complaints.
On paper, the Strada doesn’t boast of the same monstrous power and torque as its rivals, but the carryover 2.5-liter 4D56 engine still pushes out good numbers: 178 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. It does clatter like a can full of marbles, but it doesn’t get much louder than that. There’s a bit of hesitation to get the momentum going and there’s some accompanying vibration as well, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Once it builds up enough speed, it’s surprisingly capable. It shines in the critical overtaking speeds, with good pull from 50 to 100 km/h, though the progress drops off a cliff soon thereafter (it’s the gearing of the 5-speed automatic). The GLS Sport V is also equipped with cruise control, but activating it doesn’t turn on any indicator in the instrument panel. Still, in the areas important to everyday driving, this pickup does reasonably well. In city traffic, it returns a good figure of 8.7 km/L.
Also within city confines, the Strada is surprisingly maneuverable. The steering is a tad on the heavy side (it still uses a hydraulic power assist system after all), but the 3.8 turns lock-to-lock and 5.9-meter turning radius make it far easier to slot into mall parking lots. The ride is stiff and firm, but is still easily one of the most comfortable in its class. It’s only when going over speed bumps that the rear semi-elliptic leaf springs show its ugly head. At higher speeds, the unloaded rear tires will screech in protest, but it’s nonetheless secure and stable. Its lower center of gravity compared to other pickups also means it can carry more speed with less drama.
This pickup foregoes any sort of brake or throttle assisted stability or traction control system in favor of a Hybrid Limited Slip Differential (LSD) system. This system combines traditional helical gears (Torsen-type) with a viscous coupling. This system is dubbed the best setup because it allows the Strada to react quicker on changing surfaces such as slippery or rugged terrain. This pretty much supplants the need for a traction control system making the Strada surefooted in all but likely the most extreme conditions. What’s more, the Super Select 4WD-II allows it not only to lock its differential like a typical pickup but allows it to work in full-time 4WD even on paved roads.
Considering how pickups are now supposed to double as lifestyle vehicles, all the next generation models have seen a substantial uptick in price, except for the Strada. The GLS Sport V doesn’t disappoint. Priced at P 1,440,000, not only is it cheaper than any of its rivals by at least one hundred grand, but you get all the gear, except for leather seats. The rest, a multi-function trip computer, dual zone climate control, keyless entry with push-button engine start/stop, GPS navigation, rear parking camera, and power folding mirrors are all standard. Heck, you even get HID headlights with LED daytime running lights and a bed liner as well. In short, this is one pickup that’s not just work but for play as well. The only caveat here is that with all these toys, one or two of them won’t place nice. In this case, it’s the keyless entry system. If you use the door handle button to lock, you must also use to unlock; if you use the key fob to unlock, you must also use it to lock. Any other combination will cause the alarm to sound off.
With the exception of the easily confused anti-theft system, Mitsubishi has done their engineering homework with the Strada. It’s a pickup that’s truly deserving of the title, next generation. Although some will see its carryover engine and transmission as a sign that it’s merely an interim model for something more, there’s no denying this carryover heart still does the job pretty well. And besides, those seriously considering a pickup truck should consider the well-rounded package that this model delivers. Going beyond the toothy grille, it’s a great value-for-money sport truck.
2016 Mitsubishi Strada GLS Sport V A/T
|Ownership||2016 Mitsubishi Strada GLS Sport V 4WD A/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Pickup Truck|
|Body Type||4-door pickup|
|Engine / Drive||F/4WD, Part-Time, Locking|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Common Rail, Turbo|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||178 @ 4,000|
|Nm @ rpm||400 @ 2,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,850|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Toyo Open Country A28 245/65 R 17 S (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Parking Sensors||No, Rear Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|