Pickup comparo: Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Strada

By Botchi Santos

Hi, Botchi!

First let me congratulate you and the rest of the guys and gals there at Top Gear Philippines for your excellent work. You're the best!

I'm from Mindanao (Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur) and in the market for a new 4x4 pickup truck. I'm actually having this dilemma over which pickup to get. I'm a family man and THE pickup would be carrying my precious "cargo" around. We love to travel in the countryside and most of our roads are, to be honest, bad. I need a strong, safe, reliable ride that can tackle not only our highways but the rough roads also.

In the July 2009 issue, you featured pickups going head to head, but Mitsubishi sent in the underpowered (of the bunch) 2.5Li variant and the Nissan Navara was not available for testing. Is a rematch with the complete lineup in the works?

I'm no longer inclined to get the Isuzu D-max nor the Toyota Hilux. So far, I've narrowed down my choices to the Ford Ranger XLT 4x4, Mitsubishi Strada 3.2 GLS, and Nissan Navara. Among the three, my top pick would be the Nissan Navara but I've read some comments on the Internet about its poor Euro NCAP rating. A close second would be the Mitsubishi Strada which I've read got the best rating.

I need your input about the pickup trucks' handling, safety features, ride quality, maintenance cost and fuel consumption. Please help me choose wisely. More power to you all.

Dr. Glenn

Hi, Dr. Glenn!

It's great to know our magazine gives great pleasure to readers from as far as Mindanao.

Regarding pickups, here's the lowdown:

1.) Nissan Navarra - As I write this, I'm actually waiting for Top Gear's Wrong Car, Right Car shoot to begin. We're looking at the Nissan Navara, too! Honestly, I've yet to drive it and I'm going with our associate off-road editor Beeboy Bargas' comments. He says the Nissan Navara is a great on-road pick-up with decent ground clearance but not enough for hard-core off-road use. It makes the most power--170hp but it is quite peaky since the engine is a smaller 2.5-liter CRDi. Again better suited for highway drive and the top-end is tremendous but lacks the mid-range grunt--the sort of power you'd expect from a bigger capacity engine. That's where the Mitsubishi Strada and Ford Ranger trounce it. The rear is quite roomy but the bench is too upright--not very comfortable and supportive during long drives. It does have a six-speed manual so if you love to redline your truck, this is the one for you.

2.) Ford Ranger - It's the only one with a five-speed automatic option available and a powerful, powerful mid-range and top-end grunt. The Ford Ranger is a bit on the thirsty side even for a diesel though thanks to all the prodigious power it makes. The driving feel of this one is perhaps the most exhilarating and manic. It also looks very cool and modern as the recent facelift did it wonders. Probably the most macho in the bunch. The Ford Ranger is quite tight, however, especially at the back. If you'll be carrying your precious cargo a lot, they will definitely feel uncomfortable with the bench seats. From what I remember, the rear is also on the firm side. More suited to being a workhorse than a family transporter. In a drag race though, this baby might be the fastest and quickest off the line.

3.) Mitsubishi Strada - I love this pickup the most. It has very good power, very highly-adaptive automatic transmission, the roomiest interior and the tightest turning radius (5.9 meters as opposed to over six meters for the rest of the pickup trucks). It also looks the most modern and most futuristic. The Mitsubishi Strada's engine is a highly fuel-efficient 3.2 CRDi that delivers good mid-range power--where you'll be spending most of your time driving instead of the top-end. Small touches like the rear-window that goes down to let fresh air come in more, a fancy audio system with iPOD/MP3 integration, dual airbags and an LSD make this the winner of the bunch. That it's the top-selling pickup in the market tells you something. Having driven this in an intense 4X4 off-road trail in Chanburri, Thailand, the SCTEx prior to its completion, and in and around Metro Manila, I've tested this Mitsubishi Strada in as many typical conditions as I can.

I own the current generation Hilux (3.0 D4-D AT) so it's also a pretty good choice otherwise I wouldn't have bought one but Mitsubishi presents better value since it is cheaper. The D-Max is one pick-up I'm not a big fan of, partly because the interior isn't up to the standards set by other trucks; the engine is noisy and down on power despite being a 3.0-liter CRDi.

Good luck in your choice. Keep it safe out there and best regards to your precious cargo.

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

Lost in a sea of cars and not quite sure which one to get? Click here to email your car query so Botchi can help you pick the right vehicle!


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Filter comments by:
  • ninoy77 Feb 04 2010 @ 06:50pm
    h.. Dr. Glen, for me i will choose mitsu strada 3.2L 4x4...complete pick-up......go for mitsu strada 3.2 Dr. Glen....its nice
  • maranello_5775 Feb 04 2010 @ 09:10pm
    strada will comfortably handle your family transporting needs while the ranger will make cinch of the offroading, the navara on the other hand is a good choice because of its power but hampered by the low ground clearance(for a 4x4 truck)so offroading is not a strength. The balance pickup that will cater your needs and satisfy you with its good performance would be the strada.
  • jclogan Feb 05 2010 @ 11:02am
    @botchi..nissan navara also has a 5-speed AT..been reading lots of WCRC & the readers almost always ask the same comparo.. we all know Botchi prefers Strada but uses a Hilux, doesnt like Isuzu engines, prefers Subarus, the Lancer EX in compact sedans, Jazz for subcompact & Starex for vans...
  • ninoy77 Feb 10 2010 @ 12:08pm
    doc glen anu nakabili kna ng pick up mo?share mo naman anu binili mo?para matahimik na sila...hehehehe..goodluck doc glen
  • dtkiko May 29 2010 @ 11:59am
    When choosing a pick-up, the key elements usually come down to dependability, durability, safety, responsive power (right amount of power vis-a-vis torque where and when you need it, not brutish raw power like the other competitors), downright simplicity in looks, fuel efficiency, and best bang for your money? ---- no doubt the 3-liter Isuzu DMax 4JJ1-TC DDi-iTEQ fits all the bill
  • expatio Aug 06 2010 @ 08:36pm
    Congrats on your new purchase Dr. Glen
    I too will be buying a pickup before Christmas.
    My choices are between the Strada 2.5 GLS 4x4, Strada 3.2, Dmax and Navara. I have already discounted the Hilux (I hated it), Dmax (noisey and looks/feels 90s). Have only been a passenger in the Navara, and the driver was trying to impress me with high reving through the gears. Looks wise it seems to be a lot bigger than it actually is compaed to the Strada compact design. I have driven a 4x2 2.5 Strada. It is a nice drive, but I think I might want a little bit more power.

    So next month I will take a drive in the 3.2 Strada and the Nissan. The Nissan is already way behind on looks. Looking at the power figuire curves, it seems the guy that brought me for a spin was reving it high for a reason. It seems that its peak hp is at 4000rpm. That is all very well for a car; but a truck needs lots of low end grunt.

    Anyway, I will report back in a few months. ATM the Strada 3.2 is in first place. Will make my final judgement on test driving and without the influence of fan boys ;-)
  • enzofroilan Jan 14 2011 @ 08:08pm
    i would choose the strada. a tire-pressure monitoring system and its 3.2L engine is a sure value for money
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