My memory of the Mitsubishi Strada dates back to the mid-90s when, amidst the popularity of the Pajero SUV, a pickup truck – with a name reminiscent of a famous celebrity/politician – entered our shores. The second-generation model was a standout, particularly because of its Pajero-derived curvy styling and two-tone color theme, giving it a somewhat youthful glow – an uncommon trait among popular pickup trucks during that period.
The Strada’s popularity continued at the turn of the millennium but it wasn’t without quirks. The third- and fourth-generation models got bright-colored options and a polarizing J-line for its bed, things that apparently pretty worked for Mitsubishi Philippines.
Now, we’re on the fifth-generation Strada. Does it still have what it takes to win the hearts of Filipino car buyers? Here’s a full review of the 2019 Mitsubishi Strada in its range-topping 4x4 GT trim.
For the second half of its current lifetime, the 2019 Strada gets the updated Dynamic Shield face that’s derived from its brothers Montero Sport SUV and Xpander MPV, but more on the former with its array of LED headlights and DRLs. This aligns the pickup truck to Mitsubishi’s current design language, which is a refreshing look in my opinion.
On its side, the Strada retains the signature slightly-sloping bed walls, albeit, the wheel arches are noticeably square-ish unlike before. The GT variant gets rollbars that are a great touch but the greatest asset would be the 18-inch aluminum machine-cut silver/glossy deep gray rims, exclusive to the GT and GLS trims.
At the rear, the Montero Sport influence continues. The LED taillights now don the ‘crying’ effect, although it’s not as tacky as the one found in the midsize SUV. Overall, the changes in the 2019 Strada will make you think that it’s an all-new model, which is a good thing – save maybe for some afterthought parts like the non-integrated parking sensors at the front bumper.
Inside, the 2019 Strada will still remind you of the Montero Sport, especially with the four-spoked, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The integrated buttons on the dashboard employ a cleaner look than before, albeit, the presence of several blank buttons might irk some.
Most materials used are above average, with a mix of polyurethane, leather, and soft-touch plastics. However, as we always point out, the extensive use of piano black plasticson key touchpoints such as the door control panel, gear lever housing, and the infotainment housing is a huge con – the relatively new media unit does have scratches on these parts already. So, if you’re planning to get one, you need to be really careful on these parts so your Strada’s cabin will age gracefully.
The cubbyholes, cup-holders, bottle-holders, and door pockets inside the Strada are huge, as is the front cabin space. The rear cabin, on the other hand, is pretty much like any other pickup trucks these days: non-reclinable bench seats with enough room for two people standing at 5’8” and below. Three passengers can be a bit tight but still possible and easy with the non-obstructive transmission tunnel.
As for comfort, the Strada’s automatic dual-zone air-conditioning needs a bit of improvement since it’ll take a while to cool the cabin down after leaving the car parked in a sunny parking lot. The rear A/C vents aren’t really vents, as well, but more of just blowers that let the cold air in the front cabin flow.
The 2019 Strada’s suspension, on the other hand, has greatly improved from its predecessor. It’s not as bouncy as before, bringing the diamond pickup truck’s ride comfort closer to class leaders such as the Ford Rangerand Nissan Navara. There were, of course, moments of tippling, diving, and rolling but they were relatively acceptable. Its NVH insulation was also something to be raved about, keeping outside noise to a bare minimum.
As the range-topper, the Strada 4x4 GT gets all the goodies in terms of tech conveniences and features. Expected conveniences like speed-sensing door locks, auto up/down driver’s window, power-folding mirrors, headlight-leveler, push start/stop, parking sensors, reverse camera, and cruise control are all present here.
The touchscreen infotainment system, which has been devoid of buttons, looks neater than before. However, the lack of volume knob is a bit of a downer since you’ll be obliged to look at the screen when adjusting your volume. That, or you could use the buttons on the steering wheel, which is the safer thing to do.
Also, there’s no Apple Carplay or Android Auto in the 2019 Strada, but smartphone integration using Bluetooth is seamless and handsfree calls are loud and clear. Offline navigation is also available to use. Although, the front USB charging port doesn’t charge phones quickly; the two rear USB ports do, however.
Safety must have been Mitsubishi’s priority in the 2019 Strada GT. It’s pretty loaded, starting off with seven SRS airbags and the usual ISOFIX child seat tethers, ABS with EBD, and five 3-point seatbelts with audible seatbelt reminders for the front occupants.
As an added extra, the new Strada has high-tech toys to boot, such as blind-spot monitors, Mitsubishi Active Stability and Traction Control (MASTC) that electronically manages power distribution to the wheels, hill-start assist, hill descent control, and forward collision mitigation system. The latter works using a radar system, and there were moments when I could feel the brakes charging especially in tight spaces.
The Strada also has the Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System which basically means that the car won’t move from a standstill if it detects an obstacle. Pretty neat.
Driving & Handling
For this year, Mitsubishi dropped the 2.5-liter diesel in the engine options. What’s left is the 2.4-liter MIVEC diesel with VGT that produces 178 horses and 430 Nm of torque. On paper, the Strada seems to be an underdog compared to the Ford Biturbo Wildtrak and the Chevrolet Colorado, the leaders of the torque race. On application, however, the Strada didn’t disappoint.
The six-speed conventional automatic transmission sent a tremendous amount of torque as early as 1,500 RPM, peaking at 2,500 RPM, which meant pull was readily available on tap, even from a standstill. However, when changing speeds, there was a bit of a delay when letting the engine downshift by itself. You’re better off using the huge paddle shifters to manually row through the gears, which I absolutely love, by the way.
Taming this beast was easier on the highway since it’s composed and planted at speeds, thanks largely to the weighted steering. However, congested city traffic and narrow alleys were a bit of a challenge with the heavy steering and the fact that the Strada felt wider than it was. You need to be careful in these situations and pay attention to the sensors.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to test the Strada 4x4 GT on heavy off-road trails; only at light unfinished parking space of a bike trail. I felt confident in those areas, though, plus the suspension’s recoil wasn’t bad even at speeds.
Fuel efficiency isn’t the 2019 Strada 4x4 GT’s strongest suit, probably because of its weight. I was able to get 7.0 km/L after an hour on heavy city traffic, while faster paces such as a leisurely Sunday drive warranted 10.8 km/L. Long and flat highway stints read back better numbers at 14.7 km/L, with the cruise control set at 90 km/h.
Nips and tucks, better suspension setup, upgraded interior, and a familiar face – the 2019 Mitsubishi Strada picked up where its predecessor left off, and improved upon the frailties to keep up with the times.
At P1,670,000 for the Strada 4x4 GT, it’s also reasonably priced, considering the features that come with the car especially in terms of safety. But, as discussed above, there are needed improvements that can easily be addressed by Mitsubishi.
On the bright side, I'm elated to see what the Diamond brand has up its sleeve for its next-generation model. If it can employ huge improvements in just a refresh, imagine what it can do in a major revamp.