With all the hype and rave that the 2018 Xpander got from Filipino car-buyers, it might very well be the hottest car in the Philippines right now. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) knows that so well that they heavily capitalized on the idea — opening the reservation lanes and scheduling nationwide preview nights before its official launch.
For many, the Xpander is a nice-looking car based from the online stock images, but is it really any good in metal? More importantly, will it be able to replace the Adventure AUV as the Filipino car-buyers’ favorite?
Now that MMPC finally (and officially) launched the 7-seater MPV, it’s time we give our thoughts based on what we saw during the launch.
Admittedly, the Xpander’s front exterior design is hands down head-turning. Although it might be polarizing for some, its unusual light configuration makes it interesting. That alone is enough for the small MPV to receive merit when it comes to styling, especially its LED clearance lights (the small strips on top) that crown the fascia. Simply put, if you notice the car then the design’s good.
In case you’re wondering, all variants are equipped with huge halogen headlamps, with their differences depend mainly on the amount of chrome and kind of side skirts the car has (the base variant has no side skirts). And, if you see a red Xpander (like the one in the photos here), that’s definitely the range-toppers GLS and GLS Sport.
We also appreciate the Dynamic Shield styling, which is a derivative from the bigger Montero Sport midsize SUV. Together with the muscular fenders, it made the MPV beefy and aggressive, almost SUV-looking. Although, as a not-so-fan of chrome, I think the blacked out grille of the lower variants looks better than the chromed ones – if only they could add the side skirts.
In profile, the character lines are prominent but the 16-inch rims are a bit small, let alone the 15-inch of the base model; good thing it has a unique turbine-ish design. It would look really rad if the wheels are bigger.
The rear-end styling isn’t that explosive as well. But that’s just us; maybe we’re just expecting more because of the bold fascia. Nevertheless, the build quality of the Indonesian-made Xpander is more-than-decent. Kudos to Mitsubishi for that.
Inside, the materials used look okay for the Xpander’s million-esque price tag. The fabric seats are nice to the touch. Yes, plastics are still present in the cabin but they don’t look cheap, so we’ll let that pass.
The dark-themed cabin, angular dashboard, and gray faux-carbon fiber accents hit the spot as it somehow gave the MPV a classy yet sporty appeal. These are also present on the door panels, which are a nice touch.
Best part of the cabin is its infotainment system, with almost all variants getting a huge seven-inch touchscreen that doubles as the display for the rear camera. The base variant gets an in-dash stereo system instead. I’m seeing Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary ports as well, so music-trippin’ via your smartphone should be fine.
The main difference in the interior of the higher variants are the push-start ignition, keyless entry system, and some buttons on the gauge clusters. Good news is, the steering wheel is both telescopic and tilt-adjustable for all variants, along with its mounted audio and cruise control buttons.
As for space, I’m 5’6” and I fit comfortably in the first and second rows with the seats well-bolstered. The third row’s legroom is good, as the second row seats can be slid as needed. The 12V sockets and bottle holders up to the rear are a huge plus.
The cargo space is okay when all the seats are erect — enough to fit 6-8 overnight bags by our estimate. It’s more immense, however, when the third and second rows folded flat. Well, that’s why it’s an MPV.
Only the Xpander GLS Sport is fully loaded with safety features such as Hill Start Assist (HSA), Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) Body, Active Stability Control (ASC), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), and Anti-Locking Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). All variants come standard with ISOFIX child seat anchors, as well as driver and front passenger airbags.
The Xpander has the aesthetics that we think Filipinos will love, especially the GLS Sport, but it all boils down to the actual behavior of its 105-hp 1.5L MIVEC gasoline engine; the car’s ride comfort with its front coil spring and rear torsion beam suspension setup; its stopping power with front disc and rear drum brakes; and many other things that you can only check during test drives. Also, that publicly scrutinized four-speed transmission should be tested before we really judge the car.
MMPC is actually ready for test drives, as the Xpander is available for everyone at the Xpander Xpo, happening at the World Trade Center in Pasay City from March 2 to 4, 2018. Trust us, you don't want to miss experiencing the car before shelling out your hard-earned cash.
The 2018 Xpander is available in four variants: GLX MT (P885,000), GLX Plus AT (P960,000), GLS AT (P995,000), and the range-topping GLS Sport AT (P1,060,000). It will reach the showrooms by May of this year but you can still reserve for a unit by heading out to the nearest Mitsubishi dealership.
MMPC made a good decision in bringing the 2018 Xpander here. It’s a great contender in the budding SUV-looking MPV segment; we just wish there’s a diesel variant. As the soul-successor to the well-loved Mitsubishi Adventure, we think it has what it takes to replace the AUV in the hearts of the Filipinos — especially with those price tags.
Yes, buying the Xpander means less seats for the family (7, as opposed to the 9 or 10 of the Adventure) but seriously, do you really want to sacrifice overall comfort for more passengers? We think it's high time we all move on from the '90s and leave the AUV segment in the past.