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Top Gear Philippines

We render Hyundai's possible 1st production pickup

Hi, Botchi!

First of all, thank you for all your helpful articles. I always look forward to reading your column.

I currently own a 2002 Nissan Grandeur AT. With the memory of Ondoy and the expectations of more big typhoons and floods (hopefully not as bad as Ondoy) due to climate change, I am seriously considering a “high” vehicle. I believe my current and future needs will be addressed by a pickup truck. I have narrowed my choices to these:

Nissan Navara LE 2.5L

Pros:
It’s a 4x2 AT
It includes all safety features such as ABS/EBD
Cons:
It's quite expensive
It’s not as tall or high as other pickups

Mitsubishi Strada GLX 2.5L

Pros:
It’s affordable
It has a very high ground clearance
Cons:
Its 4x2 only comes with MT
It has limited safety features (no ABS/EBD)

I would have gladly bought the Mitsubishi Strada at a moment’s notice if only it had an ABS feature. I usually go on out of town trips and feel I need the control during sudden stops like when there are tricycles crossing the highway.

Can you share your inputs with me?

Thanks a lot!

Dolf

Hi, Dolf!

Thanks for taking the time to write to us. We're always glad to be of assistance to our fellow motorists!

Your focus on safety with pickup trucks is quite noteworthy since everyone seems to want to get a pickup for the image it denotes (read: macho!).

I have to agree the Nissan Navara is quite low but, more importantly, the backseat is just so yester-year. It’s tight, cramped and upright. Suffering in the backseat is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention! I like my vehicles to be practical, versatile and comfortable so the Navara gets a thumbs-down on these aspects.

Now about the Mitsubishi Strada’s lach of ABS/EBD…what exactly do you expect them to do for you? Make bake braking distances shorter or keep you from hitting a tricycle by swerving by braking? Obstacles like trikes are difficult to avoid because of the width of our roads and the size of pickup trucks. In short, the ABS and EBD will most likely not help you when you’re stuck with trikes and the like on the road. Even with ABS and EBD, the very light pickup bed section will most likely lose grip and cause you to oversteer when you do a severe emergency lane-changing maneuver. I’ve experienced that many times.

Just to clarify, ABS and EBD will not make a vehicle stop at a shorter distance on its own. It will in most cases prevent lock-up at speeds above 40 kilometers per hour or so. EBD is most useful when trail-braking into a corner (braking while steering). For most track-driving newbies and basic to intermediate drivers, trail-braking is not advisable since there are more forces acting on your vehicle while entering a corner and the result could be catastrophic. While this example is in an extreme case (track driving at 10/10 concentration) it highlights the fact that you should brake as much as possible in a straight line before turning the wheel. While EBD assists you while cornering, it is not a good idea in principle. No doubt it will be better if your vehicle did have ABS and EBD, but you should know where and when these safety aids work best--on high-speed maneuvers in a fully-laden vehicle with the weight being equally distributed. A pickup will rarely experience that unless you regularly haul a ton of cargo in the back, in which case you have no business driving fast. 

An integrated vehicle dynamics control consisting of ABS, EBD, traction and stability control along with a soft-rev ignition cut limiter is what you need to be able to avoid a tricycle on a narrow road and not lose control of the vehicle. This integrated vehicle dynamics system gets all the sub-systems (ABS, EBD, engine limiter and stability/traction control) to all work cohesively, safely and predictably. 

Ultimately your limiting factors in total braking distance performance are the tires and suspension since they dictate your truck’s grip on the road. To make your pickup truck safer for highway use, get really good highway terrain tires (HT designation) that are slightly bigger and wider and find better brake pads. These will help you shorten your stopping distance. Taking it further, get firmer suspension especially up front where it can better control the vehicle's weight transfer (up to as much as 80 percent) to the two front tires. 

I'd pick the Strada precisely because, aside from the lack of ABS-EBD, it represents very good value for money, has the proper ride-height to wade through floods and do some light off-roading. And it looks much better than the rather plain-looking Navarra. 

Slap on some really good highway terrain or HT tires (I love the Nitto Dura Grappler and Yokohama AVS ST tires) on your truck and better brake pads (a speedshop can help you find a set) and you're all set with your Strada. 

You want more mods? Go for really bright fog lamps and a powerful horn to signal other vehicles, tricycles and motorists on the road when you're coming through. In my experience, a very powerful horn is enough to make other motorists stop dead on their tracks and clear the way for you.

I'm sorry if my answer is long-winded and barely touched on your question, but I felt I should explain some basic facts before you make a decision which may be based on some false assumptions on how these advanced vehicle safety systems work. 

Good luck, drive more carefully, sound off your horn more often and keep your eyes peeled on the road at all times. Keep it safe and God bless!

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! 

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor
Botchi eats, lives and breathes cars (aside from hotdogs). Aside from wanting to drive any car, preferably through some scenic destination, he's always thinking of ways to "improve them" by modifying the (insert any car-related word here).
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