Behind the Mitsubishi Xpander’s Dynamic Shield
With the arrival of the Xpander in April 2018, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) brought to our shores the brand’s futuristic X-shaped façade called the new generation Dynamic Shield.
This 2019, the Strada pickup will sport the same in-your-face Dynamic Shield.
Based on the global XM Concept that was displayed by MMPC at the 6th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) in September 2016, the 7-seater Xpander is being marketed as a small, affordable crossover multipurpose vehicle (MPV) that combines the toughness of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the versatility of an MPV.
Made in and imported from Indonesia, the Xpander directly competes with the newly introduced Toyota Rush.
Before the end of this month, Suzuki joins the fray by fielding a refreshed Ertiga, while an updated Honda BR-V is also near revelation.
What sets the Xpander apart from the competition is Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield front end design featuring a wide swath of chrome trim, a big black grille, slit-like LED headlights above the front fenders, and large, square halogen headlamps.
The Xpander’s Dynamic Shield impresses some people as stylish, while others dislike it. Polarizing as it may be, it attracts attention.
At the same time, flared wheel arches, sharp character lines, the sculpted body, and the 205-mm ground clearance create a rugged SUV-like presence although the cab-forward design and sloping roofline are clues that the Xpander is really an MPV.
A 5-speed manual transmission variant (P955,000) is available, ditto three variants with 4-speed automatic transmission, whose retail prices range start at P1.030 million to P1.15 million for the top-of-the-line GLS Sport.
Powered by a 1.5-liter MIVEC naturally-aspirated petrol engine that produces 105 hp and 141 Nm max torque, the Xpander is a front-wheel-drive, car-based, monocoque vehicle, which explains its comfy, stable ride.
The suspension (independent MacPherson strut in front, rear torsion beam with coil springs fore and aft) provides a soft, supple ride, and absorbs road imperfections with aplomb.
Aside from its quiet, carlike ride quality, the Xpander’s outstanding feature is its spacious interior.
Legroom, headroom and shoulder room are generous in the front of the cabin, as well as in the second row of seats.
Cupholders and storage cubbyholes for small items abound.
The fabric seats are supportive and comfortable. However, the third row lacks knee room, thus it is best reserved for small children.
The third row splits 40/60 and easily folds forward—although not completely flat—to increase cargo room. The second row is easily stowed to gain access to the back.
Compartmentalized storage space safe from prying eyes is available under the cargo floor.
Aircon vents at the rear guarantee comfortable motoring for passengers.
The cockpit’s layout is efficiently planned with a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen at the center that also displays the navigation system or rear camera view.
On sunny days, however, the brightness of the sun overshadows the touchscreen .
Piano black surfaces, chrome trim and soft-touch plastics, plus the Montero Sport-inspired multifunction steering wheel give the cockpit a handsome, upscale look.
Driving the Xpander, you can feel its solid construction and stability.
The Xpander’s curb weight is 1,240 kg, making it one of the lightest in its class, and therefore easy and pleasant to drive.
The tilt and telescopic steering column makes it easy to find a good driving position.
The steering is adequately weighted, but when the Xpander is buffeted by strong winds like when on the Skyway, it seems too light. That said, the Xpander is undeniably stable and well-planted on the road.
In terms of performance, the Xpander is surprisingly responsive and frisky despite its modest 105 horsepower.
It negotiates corners with minor body roll, and excels in the nip and tuck of city traffic.
Only on the expressway, when you want to overtake, will you yearn for more power. The Xpander is a 7-seat people carrier, after all, and has no pretensions of being something more.
Yet, for a budget-priced subcompact MPV, the Xpander GLS Sport does offer something more: push button start/stop, proximity keyless entry, automatic folding side mirrors, electronic stability control, and traction control, among others.
Taking into consideration all the above, plus its imposing facade, extra spacious interior, robust construction, quiet, carlike ride quality, affordable price, and proven (22.94 km/liter) fuel efficiency, the Mitsubishi Xpander definitely offers good value for money.
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