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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Review: 2023 Mitsubishi Xpander 1.5 GLS


Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of just how good a car is by giving it go once more. In the case of the Mitsubishi Xpander, it’s the small MPV everyone’s become familiar with. This, of course, puts it in danger of being bred in contempt. Regardless, despite the newer offerings in the market, it still remains the segment’s benchmark.

The Xpander can’t be considered as the pioneer of the small MPV segment, but it’s the one that brought about its mainstream popularity. From a class of vehicles not known for providing frills or thrills, it managed to turn that on its head. Simply put, it made this segment classy. Driving one need not be done with a paper bag over your head. It was stylish, well-featured, and flexible. Naturally, Mitsubishi was rewarded with the Xpander becoming the country’s best-selling MPV, beating even the Toyota Innova.



Flashforward to 2022, and Mitsubishi’s rivals started to take notice. As the oldest one in its class, it puts the Xpander in a vulnerable position. Still, a timely refresh managed to turn back father time.

Depending on who you ask, the Xpander is either looks head-turning or fussy. Personally, it’s a bit of both. No one will call the Gundam-inspired front-end gorgeous, but it does give it flair. You have to tip your hat to Mitsubishi designers who stuck to their guns with this entire Dynamic Shield concept. For 2022, it’s been emphasized even more, and together with the T-shaped LED headlights, gives it an unmistakable, almost shouty presence; a rarity in the MPV segment. Over to the rest of the car, it’s all about tidying everything up. Compared to the shocking front end, everything else is quite subdued. The side sills are better integrated now, while the tailgate and rear bumpers have been cleaned up nicely.



Polarizing as the Xpander’s exterior design is, inside, there’s no question which direction designers wanted to go. Basically, they ripped out the old dashboard and replaced it with one that’s visually more upscale. Mitsubishi calls the motif, “Horizontal Axis,” but you can also call it a winner. Not only does it look more modern than ever, but it also brings over nicer, more tactile materials. Previously, soft-padded surfaces are absent in this segment, but here, you’ll find it immediately in that brown dash topper. Not only that, but see that silver trim on the dash? It’s actually nicely textured too.

The Xpander goes from strength to strength with a first-rate driving environment. The dash re-design gives birth to a new three-spoke steering wheel. With a thick, meaty rim, it’s something you’ll expect in a sporty car and not a practical MPV. Then, there are the new gauges with the full-colored multi-info display and the highly-legible Mitsubishi font; something echoed in the new 7-inch infotainment system. The climate control isn’t fully automated, but the large buttons and toggle switches make them easy to operate. Then, there are the seats. It’s not covered in leather, but the fabric used is of extremely high quality that cow hide isn’t missed.



Back to the subject of the infotainment system, the Xpander now comes with what Mitsubishi calls, “Smart Phone Link Display Audio.” It’s a mouthful, but what’s important is that it comes with support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto straight out of the box. The interface may look ancient, but at least it’s easy to use and navigate. Functions, including system-related settings are no more than two sub-menus deep. Sadly, the setup isn’t perfect. If there’s one thing that could be improved here, it’s the audio quality. As it stands, the 6-speaker system isn’t even mediocre; it’s downright horrible.

One of the new mechanical highlights to the refreshed Xpander is the boosted ride height. Thanks to the taller tires (205/55R17) and a re-worked suspension, it now stands with a 225-mm ground clearance. Not only does this make it the best in the small MPV segment, but it can easily put most crossovers to shame. Of course, this doesn’t automatically transform it into an off-roader. If anything, it merely provides some extra protection against supermarket parking lot curbs and of course, flash floods.



Surprisingly, this suspension re-work has only slightly altered the ride and handling mix. Keeping its tire pressure at the recommended 33 PSI, it loses some of its pliancy over low-speed, low frequency bumps. On the flip side, it gains better bump absorption over large cracks and potholes. It also doesn’t bottom out as much even when fully loaded. Handling-wise, the Xpander turns on a dime (5.2-meter turning radius), and there’s not much body roll even when pushed (it does understeer a lot, though). That said, the steering could use a re-calibration. Here, it’s simply too light and too devoid of feedback that you’ll find it fidgety, especially on the highway. It tends to wander about and this requires small steering corrections just for it to track straight. In terms of braking power, it continues with its front vented disc, rear drum set-up. But for the update, it gains an electric parking brake with auto hold which is smart enough to engage whenever the gearlever’s shifted to park.

As for grunt, the Xpander keeps its 1.5-liter 4A91 engine and 4-speed automatic combo. At city speeds, the outputs are entirely adequate, but mind you, it will lose pace quickly whenever the speeds or passenger count goes up. In addition, because there’s more rotational mass to overcome thanks to the larger tires and heavier mass (up by 20 kilograms), it doesn’t get off the line as quickly as before. When it does get moving though, it’s alright. Sadly, this has affected the fuel economy, dropping to 8.3 km/L from 9.9 km/L before at the same sort of average speeds. Still, when fueled with Petron XCS, a fuel that answers your needs, its 45-liter tank can go the distance—up to 373 kilometers. Not bad.



Apart from getting less kilometers per liter of gas, the Xpander also loses out when it comes to safety. When it was launched in 2018, it wasn’t able to net a 5-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating due to the lack of side-impact airbags. Four years on, Mitsubishi still didn’t manage to correct this shortcoming by opting to keep the same safety gear as before. With dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist (standard only on the GLS) and traction control with hill start assist, it’s solid but not outstanding. It also lacks parking sensors of any kind, though the rear camera does have clear, concise guidelines.

After all’s said and done, the Mitsubishi Xpander still manages to stand out for its unique sense of style while also delivering the best driving experience in the small MPV segment. Despite its shortcomings when it comes to fuel efficiency and safety equipment, it counters that by continuing to offer a highly flexible, practical interior space that’s now backed up by a sense of upscale premium-ness typically absent in this class of vehicles. People were quick to balk at the refreshed Xpander’s P 1.180-million, but in the end, every peso has been accounted for. The price is perfectly justified in this case, and all it takes is a drive to remind you of that.



2023 Mitsubishi Xpander 1.5 GLS

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Ownership 2023 Mitsubishi Xpander 1.5 GLS AT
Year Introduced 2018 (Refreshed: 2021, 2022)
Vehicle Classification Entry-level MPV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door MPV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 105 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 141 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 4AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.33 km/L @ 14 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,595
Width (mm) 1,750
Height (mm) 1,750
Wheelbase (mm) 2,775
Curb Weight (kg) 1,260
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Hankook Ventus Prime 3 205/55 R 17 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40, Sliding, Reclining (2nd row),
50/50 Reclining (3rd row)
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Manual, Front & Rear
Audio System Stereo
Bluetooth
USB
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

16 comments:

  1. Can't wait for a comparo between the Xpander and Livina.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's safe to say the Livina will get decimated. There's no need for a comparo to know that.

      Delete
  2. Sir Uly, for you, which is better? The Xpander GLS or the Livina VL?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I answered that with my reply above. The lack of Apple CarPlay / Android Auto in the Livina is already a crime. Only thing going for the Living is its longer warranty and longer interval between service.

      Delete
  3. Uly, very good that you mentioned the lack of side and curtain airbags in the Xpander (same issues w the Ertiga/XL7). That's where the Avanza/Veloz and Rush edge out the competition.
    Hope the new BRV has at least 6 airbags.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most likely two to 4 airbags for the entry and mid level variants of the New BR-V.

      Delete
  4. Sir uly , Xpander 4sped vs avanza dual cvt, fuel efficiency and acceleratoon?

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    Replies
    1. Around the same, if ever one has an advantage over the other, it's not exactly night and day. The dual CVT though has this unpleasant shifting sound whenever it switches between the belt and gears...the Xpander, given it continues with the old torque converter 4 AT, doesn't experience that. My hunch is that the Avanza would have better highway fuel mileage, but in the city, it would be the same.

      Delete
  5. No point comparing the Xpander and Livina as the Nissan one is still based on the pre-facelifted Xpander.
    Xpander GLS is still very well despite lacking 4 more airbags..Its got better interior,engine,NVH and ride quality than the Rush,Avanza and Veloz.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Save up some more and get an innova instead...

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  7. Specs correct? Specs show 106 BHP @ 6000 rpm, how does this drive with 7 passengers? Seems very underpowered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Specs correct, yes. The output is very typical of this class of MPVs.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Wow, 8.3 km/L from a puny 1.5L gas engine pulling a relatively light 1260-kg subcompact AUV body. That's poor fuel economy for this class. Buyers who really need 7 seats should just buy the Innova. Ignore these class of underpowered AUVs. And before the Extraordinary Attorney Woo Kuchi Woo chimes in once again, we aren't including models which have not been released here yet, so shut up about any upcoming hybrids.

    ReplyDelete

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