The macho MPV
Text and photos by Eric Tipan
I don’t blame you if the name Xpander Cross doesn’t ring a bell. Its launch flew under everyone’s radar as it happened just as the lockdown was implemented.
Let me tell you right now though, if you want a tougher, more muscular looking MPV, there are harder decisions to make than getting this model.
All this body cladding, that thick black plastic lining the fender arch, rocker panel and parts of the rear bumper increased its ‘pogi’ points by a factor of 10. Other exclusives include roof rails, a totally new and darker grille, and a new front and rear bumper.
That treatment necessitated a new underbody garnish design (front and rear) and new placement of the front fog lamps. It still gets those nice LED headlamps and daytime running lamps upfront while the rear has LED combinations taillights.
It is nothing short of an amazing design execution that now gives buyers two totally distinctive looks of the Xpander. Want it toned-down and sophisticated? You can get it in the GLS, GLX Plus, or even GLX trim. But if you want it chiseled and heftier, this is the one for you. Know though that these exterior enhancements will make this specific model longer (by 25mm), wider (by 50mm), and taller (by 50mm) than all other variants, which also translates to an extra 35 kilos in weight.
As the top variant, this comes with a smart key that you’ll never have to take out of pocket. Just click the button on the door handle to unlock.
One of the things I immediately like is how its doors swing open wider than most, which makes it easier to get in and out. Just be careful when in malls so you don’t ding other doors.
It gets dual-tone leather seats that thankfully are a color-coordinated tan and dark brown. The plastic dashboard even comes with the same color scheme and some visible stitching and carbon fiber trims that, while clearly artificial, adds contrast to its nice, utilitarian design. I wish most manufacturers would do this instead of just slapping on any color under the sun, even ones that don’t match.
What there won’t be any shortage of are storage spaces. There’s a long ledge for devices on the dashboard, another just below the manual air-conditioning controls, a couple of bottle holders by the center console, and a couple more on the door panels. There’s even a pull-out tray under both front seats that can fit muddy shoes and wet clothes, seatback pockets, and some more cubby holes even in the third row and a 12-volt outlet.
Typical of a top trim, it gets the big seven-inch touchscreen with the works but I just couldn’t figure out how to pair it to my mobile device. The unit only offers Mirror Link via hotspot but the brochure says there’s Bluetooth. It’s also equipped with a navigation system and six speakers.
The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, which makes it soft to the touch, and has a glossy black trim on the bottom half.
As a seven-seater, it’s spacious. Second- and third-row seats fold flat to accommodate a host of cargo but if it’ll be used as a people mover. Seats are still bench-type, albeit with a little bit more cushioning now. There are overhead air vents in the second row to keep everybody comfortable.
Under the hood is a 1.5L gasoline engine that sends drive to the front wheels. The speedometer says maximum speed is 200 km/h but with only 103 HP, you’d probably be redlining it by the time you get there.
It feels light to handle, from the steering feedback to the way the whole vehicle moves, and even feels like a compact vehicle despite its length. Because of its 225mm ground clearance, it’s relatively tall and rollover resistance isn’t pretty good. Take it easy when shifting lanes or taking sharp corners because it can make it feel a tad shaky if you make the move aggressively.
141 Nm of torque lets it takeoff quickly and get ahead of slow traffic but upshifts usually happen at around 2,500 RPM. Don’t worry though as fuel consumption is a very good 9-km/L in traffic and 12.5-km/L on a Sunday drive.
Even if engine noise will be audible (at high speeds) due to the small engine, NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) levels are low because of its sound absorbing walls and floor, and sound absorbing roof and windscreen.
More than its looks, there has to be a reason this MPV sold a head-spinning 2,003 units in the shortest month of the year. That’s like 71 units per day in February 2021 and it happened while we were still in the middle of a pandemic.
The Mitsubishi Xpander at P1.225 million (without the P78,400 safeguard duty) is now bigger, more beautiful, yet still bears features specifically designed to satisfy the needs of families and multiple passengers.