Pickup options: D-Max, Hilux, Navara or Strada?

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Jun 2, 2011

Hi, Botchi! 

I am an ordinary housewife who secretly reads my son's Top Gear collection while he's in school. He's going to start his business soon, and my hubby and I would like to get him a car. We would like to get him a Mitsubishi Strada GLX  since he would go to the province every now and then. I personally think it is good because it has side impact beams and a taller ride height, and it uses a diesel engine. My son, however, would like to get a Nissan X-Trail 4x4 or a pre-owned Mitsubishi Outlander.  We can't really decide right now and would like to seek your expert opinion.

Thanks and more power to you and the rest of the team!

Sue

Hi, Sue!

You do realize I'm still quite young, and you and your hubby can still adopt me right? Hahaha!

Seriously, parents like you are the best! I have to agree with you that a pickup truck is better suited for your son if he'll be using the vehicle he gets for a business that entails a lot of highway driving to the province. 

The Mitsubishi Strada GLX is indeed my top pick, and with the new 2.5 liter CRDi engine equipped with the variable geometry turbine, it is really powerfully fast! Your son will appreciate the speed and power once he's out on the highway hauling whatever goods he has for his business. The interior is also the roomiest in my experience, and the rear seats of the Strada give you the most car-like in feel and comfort. You can't go wrong with this one, especially since the top-model variant is under P1.3 million for a fully-loaded automatic equipped with the new and excellent five-speed automatic gearbox.

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Other viable options are the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara.

The Toyota Hilux is rather old and it hasn't undergone any serious enhancements. It’s also expensive.

The new Ford Ranger would be my top pick, unfortunately, it is still half a year away from being launched in the Philippines. If you guys can wait, this would be the best pickup truck in its class with its five-cylinder engine, an even roomier interior and loads more cubbyholes inside. It also offers unmatched towing and bed payload hauling capacity and off-road ability right out of the showroom floor. Unfortunately, it will cost the most once it comes out. Still, in my mind, it’s going to be well-worth the price if it will be a full-time business vehicle and daily driver on less-than-ideal driving conditions.

The Nissan Navara is almost as fast as the Strada, almost as good, and almost as versatile. The big letdown are the rear seats, which really feel like a stone bench with minimal leg support. This means riding at the back for anything more than a 20-minute drive is sheer torture. Ground clearance is rather low and the smallish wheels make it look less macho, which is a big consideration when getting a pickup, right?

Perhaps the best bang for buck pickup is the Isuzu D-Max. It has a solid--though slightly underpowered (in its class)--diesel engine, decently roomy interior and excellent hauling, towing and off-road ability. It’s a favorite among serious off-road aficionados but if your son is taller than say 5'10" he may find the front seats uncomfortable during long drives due to the lack of leg support. But it has a lot of interesting options such as off-road crawling ability and engine anti-stall functions--useful when creeping through uneven terrain slowly but surely.

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To recap, the Strada is the best all-around choice in terms of comfort, performance and price. The new Ford Ranger though will be King of the Hill when it comes out in a few months.

The X-Trail or second-hand Outlander are excellent crossover SUVs but they won't be as tough, versatile and capable off-road or in adverse conditions as the pickups. Besides, brand-new is the way to go so you have maximum reliability and durability.

Moms are the best! Take care, good luck finding your son a suitable pickup 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!

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