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2019 Mitsubishi Xpander GLS AT: DNA of a Modern Family MPV

Science has proven that siblings share about 50 percent of the same DNA on average. Each brother gets one half of his DNA from each parent, since the father and the mother only donates half of their DNA. The shared DNA can produce some similarities in the appearance of the siblings, like – in the case of celebrities – the winsome toothy smile of the Osmond brothers or the handsome sexy look of the Baldwin brothers. But each sibling gets to shine on his own merit, like when Donny Osmond became a pop icon in the ‘70s or when Alec Baldwin became the male sex symbol of the ‘90s.

The Osmond brothers: Jay, Alan, Donny, Wayne and Merrill.

The Baldwin brothers: William, Stephen, Alec and Daniel.

In the automotive industry, the DNA of vehicle is determined not just by the designer, but also by the marketing direction of the manufacturer. The more familial the vehicle looks, the better the brand recall. Take the case of the trio of Mitsubishi utility vehicles – the Montero Sport sport utility vehicle (SUV), the Strada pickup truck, and the Xpander compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). They possess the same familial design language with a modern chiseled look but each with its own individual characteristics.

2018 Mitsubishi Montero Sport

2019 Mitsubishi Strada

2019 Mitsubishi Xpander 1.5 GLS AT

Futuristic Exterior Design

For the purpose of our test drive review, let’s focus on the 2019 Mitsubishi Xpander 1.5 GLS AT. Mitsubishi Motors wanted to project an adventurous and futuristic style with the application of the Dynamic Shield design concept on their contender for the MPV market. Judging by the number of units we see on the road today and the number of envious looks we get while driving our GLS on the road, a lot of Filipinos are attracted to its futuristic styling. The front end of our GLS features a chrome grill with clear smoke coating combined with the LED position lamps arranged like crystal blocks and a unique headlight design. The factory claims that the lamp layout improves night time visibility for both pedestrians and oncoming vehicles and prevents the blinding effects of headlight glare. During our evening drives around the metropolis, we can only agree with Mitsubishi’s claim.

The futuristic front end looks like it came from the set of Battlestar Galactica.

Many are taken by its modern looks and balanced proportions.

The Xpander carries its two-box (engine and passenger compartments) proportions and its character lines over its 4.5-meter length very well. We would have preferred a bigger wheel and tire combo to fill up the wheel wells better, but those four 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels shod with Bridgestone Ecopia 205/65R-16 tires already provide an ample combination of grip and comfort. At the rear, L-shaped LED tail lamps with the rear combination lamps extend to the tailgate that opens wide to accept tall, bulky or wide stuff. In an ode to its futuristic styling, the rear view of the Xpander looks like a space pod from a science fiction movie.

Rear section looks like a space pod from a SciFi movie.

Modern and Functional Interior

Getting inside the Xpander is a breeze. The four doors open wide to provide easy access to the three seating rows proportioned over 2.8 meters of interior space, which can seat seven adults comfortably. Folding the 60/40-split second row seats accesses the third row, although we noticed that the smaller 40% split seat is on the left side of the vehicle, perhaps due to the fact that the Xpander is assembled in Indonesia. Mitsubishi engineers thoughtfully installed a large armrest in the second row that folds forward into a center space to hold long items. The seats can be arranged in various combinations to accommodate different type of cargo. There’s ample space for luggage with the third row seats up and because of its flat luggage floor without bumps and gaps, the Xpander’s maximum cargo capacity is 1,630 liters when both the second and third row seats are folded.

Front seats are spacious and supportive. 7-inch touch screen now looks small and dated.

2nd row seats offer ample legroom and a center armrest.

3rd row seats can accommodate 2 adults but they may not be too comfy.

MMPC claims that four 4-liter jugs can fit behind the 3rd row seats.

Folding the 3rd row can add more jugs…

… while folding the 3rd and 2nd rows can accommodate 1,630 liters!

Taller drivers might need to bend a little when entering or exiting the Xpander because of the windshield angle, which is slanted aggressively to minimize wind drag. Once inside though, the driver faces an ergonomic cockpit with a comfortable and relatively high seating position, clear forward and side visibility. He or she grips a steering wheel equipped with remote switches for the infotainment system and cruise control, and an instrument panel with an 8,000rpm tachometer and a 200 km/h speedometer sandwiching an LED screen that displays the odometer reading, fuel mileage, fuel range, average speed, and a unique “Economy” driving indicator. A 7-inch touch screen monitor features a navigation system, MP3 player, AM/FM radio, auxiliary port, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and Easy Link feature. We particularly like the numerous cubbyholes where we can store various small items, the slots where we can place our mobile phones, and the 12V power outlets for first, second and third rows.

Driver’s cockpit has all the controls within easy reach.

Instrument panel has 2 round dials and an LCD display in between.

Besides the odometer reading and the temperature and fuel levels, the display shows the fuel range in kilometers to empty…

… average fuel consumption in liters per 100 kilometers…

… average speed in kilometers per hour…

… Economy mode setting…

… and even the next maintenance schedule.

Driving in Metro Manila Traffic

Unfortunately, we didn’t plan for an out-of-town drive when we got the Xpander. The two times we drove it on highway was when we got it from the MMPC plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna and when we returned it a week later. Despite its 1.5-liter 4A91 4-cylinder engine, which is equipped with the Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) system, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), 16 valves and an “Eco” mode setting, we can only squeeze an average of 5.32 kilometers per liter (18.8L/100kms as shown on the onboard computer) with an average speed of 9 km/h. When we stretched its legs on the highways, we were able to improve our fuel mileage to 9.17 km/L (10.9L/100kms) with an average speed of 20 km/h. It only goes to show that getting stuck in crawling traffic is a horrendous waste of fuel.

1.5-liter 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC MIVEC 4A91 tends to windup like a race engine.

In heavy traffic, we were penalized with an average fuel consumption of 18.8 liters every 100 kilometers…

… because heavy traffic limited us to an average speed of only 9 kilometers per hour!

While our driving style with the Xpander may not win any fuel economy challenges, it won us over with its numerous safety features. We learned that Mitsubishi’s proprietary Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body is designed to absorb the impact of a collision while its anti-lock braking system (ABS) and emergency stop signal (ESS) system, which activates and automatically flashes the hazard lamps in case of sudden stops, helps prevent collisions from happening. We also found out that the Xpander was awarded a 4-star safety rating in the ASEAN New Car Assessment Program (ASEAN NCAP). That it has several airbags protecting all the occupants is another reassuring point to consider.

7-inch touch screen for infotainment system includes navigation…

… and acts as a monitor for the rear reversing camera.

Center console has a sliding cover…

… that opens to reveal a small tray that can be removed…

… to reveal a deep storage compartment. What thieves can’t see, thieves won’t steal.

A similar sliding cover in the forward center console…

… reveals another cubby hole to store small items. Slot above can hold phone or iPod.

Slot above the glove compartment can hold passenger’s phone and other small items.

When the Xpander was first launched, we immediately dismissed it as the smaller, more affordable MPV version of the Montero Sport. After our week-long test drive, we realized that despite having the same Mitsubishi DNA, the Xpander has its own identity. While the Montero Sport is the Mitsubishi’s highly desirable SUV, the Xpander is their highly versatile MPV. Judging by the number of Xpander MPVs that we now see on the Philippine roads, we can say that its DNA is becoming wired into the Filipino’s motoring subconscious. Like what Donny Osmond was to the ’70s and Alec Baldwin was to the ’90s, the Mitsubishi Xpander may become the Star MPV of its time.

 Specifications

Vehicle type                 :           Front-engine, FWD, 7 passenger, 5-door MPV

Price                            :           P1,110,000

Engine type                   :           Liquid-cooled DOHC 16V inline-4 4A91 MIVEC

Displacement                :           1499cc

Power                          :           [email protected]

Torque                         :           [email protected]

Transmission                 :           4-speed automatic

Wheelbase                   :           2775mm

Length                          :           4475mm

Width                           :           1695mm

Height                          :           1700mm

Curb weight                  :           1780kg

Fuel capacity                :           45 liters

Wheels and tires           :           16-inch two-tone alloys with Bridgestone Ecopia 205/65R-16 tires

Contact Details

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC)

No. 1 Auto Park Avenue, Greenfield Automotive Park

Special Economic Zone, Santa Rosa, Laguna

Contact nos.: (632) 948-9999; (6349) 530-9999

Website: mitsubishi-motors.com.ph