The new Mitsubishi Xpander is ready to reassert its dominance

The MPV is done playing catch-up
by Leandre Grecia | Mar 5, 2022

The new Mitsubishi Xpander still ticks all the right boxes.

It’s crazy how quickly the automotive landscape changes. One minute, the mighty 10-seater AUVs are all the rage, then it’s all about entry-level sedans the next. These days? The big sellers are the inexpensive subcompact crossovers that come with all the tech a million pesos can buy.

That said, the utilitarian seven-seaters that dominated the latter part of the 2010s are still here, and still proving to be strong sales drivers for their respective brands. The Mitsubishi Xpander, for example, remained one of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines’ (MMPC) top-selling models last year.

But next to all the plush, tech-loaded models that came in over the past few years, the Xpander is starting to show its age. This MPV—the quintessential successor to the Adventure—that shook the market back in 2018 now appears to be the one playing catch-up. How fast the tables turn, no?

Then again, with the facelifted Xpander on its way, I believe Mitsubishi has no reason to worry. Our brief encounter with it during a recent media preview proved exactly that.

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PHOTO: Charles Banaag

The 2022 Mitsubishi Xpander looks striking as ever. I couldn’t help but stare at those T-shaped headlights with snazzy DRLs. I’m glad I got to see these up close, because the photos from the Indonesia launch didn’t do them justice. The front fascia retains its shape for the most part, only it sports a bigger grille that tapers down all the way to the new-look front bumper. Not that the old Xpander’s styling was dated, but I see this is as an upgrade.

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A few more changes can be seen out back. The taillights look almost the same as the old ones, but they now have a T-shaped light signature. It’s a subtle yet tasteful tweak that I like in particular. What I’m on the fence about are the new 17-inch wheels. They look a lot like the ones on the Isuzu MU-X, so they feel somewhat unoriginal to me.

PHOTO: Charles Banaag

As significant as the exterior redesign is, the new interior is the bigger highlight for me. You’d be forgiven if you saw the cabin and thought this was an all-new model, not a mere refresh.

First things first, let’s address the size increase: The Xpander has grown 75mm longer up front and 45mm out back. But since the wheelbase remains the same, the interior gets no added legroom. The MPV is now also 55mm taller, but that’s mostly because of the new wheels, so headroom is also unchanged.

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The changes here are mostly aesthetic. The entire dash—including the steering wheel, the A/C vents, and the accentuating plastic trim—has been given a simpler look. There’s now a lot more leather to go around, too. I do wish the designers just did away with all the fake carbon-fiber bits—these feel a bit pretentious at times.

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Overall, the design has a much more modern feel, especially with the addition of the digital A/C panel, the electronic parking brake, and the seven-inch infotainment system on the center console. Props to Mitsubishi for inserting the new head unit, because the lack of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity was one of the biggest gripes I had with the old model. The sound the audio setup produces is still nothing to rave about, but I’d take being able to see Waze on my screen over jaw-dropping audio any day of the week.

Luckily, the overhaul hasn’t wiped out the small storage compartments, like the cubby above the glove box—Mitsubishi has added even more storage, like the pockets behind the driver’s seat. These are suited for smartphones, tablets, or even small laptops, and are perfect to go along with the new USB-A and USB-C ports in the second row.

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PHOTO: Charles Banaag

All these changes so far, however, don’t carry over to what’s under the hood. Here, the Xpander still packs a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated in-line-four gasoline engine that generates 103hp at 6,000rpm and 141Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. It remains mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox that delivers power to the front wheels. As before, a base manual variant is also still available.

You won’t hear me complaining about this, because it’s a relatively fuel-efficient setup. And it’s as easy-to-drive as before, if not easier—there’s now a new auto-brake hold function that’ll help make traffic jams a cinch to get through.

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Unfortunately, some disappointment seeps in as you move further down the spec sheet. Particularly, in the safety department—there’s just not a lot to talk about here. Perhaps in the next full model change, Mitsubishi might consider adding some active safety tech to the Xpander package.

What’s supposedly new is the suspension setup. Mitsubishi claims it has added high-performance valves to improve the ride. Since we were able to drive what felt like a fresh-off-the-boat unit around a few blocks, I still can’t prove or refute that claim.

PHOTO: Charles Banaag

As my time with the Xpander drew to a close, I was reminded of the tall task ahead for this refreshed MPV. The last one only needed to fill the shoes of the old Adventure. That was no easy feat, but to its credit, the OG Xpander did it easily. This new model, meanwhile, also has its work cut out for it. Not only is it expected to help MMPC retain its second spot in local sales charts, it also has to keep the carmaker relevant in this crossover-crazy market.

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But to reiterate what I said at the start of all this, Mitsubishi need not worry. The new Xpander still ticks all the right boxes. A fuel-efficient engine? Check. A fresh design inside and out? Two checks. A reasonable price tag? Make that three, because this new model is priced from P1.03 to P1.16 million, excluding the Xpander Cross variant.

Now, the new Xpander’s upcoming launch may not be as hyped as when it first arrived in our market, but that’s the least of our concerns. This nameplate no longer needs the red carpet, the fireworks, or the flashy introduction. It only needs to remind everybody that even with all the tech and refinement that the new budget-friendly vehicles in our market have to offer, it can still easily go toe-to-toe with the best of them.

For everything you need to know about Mitsubishi’s refreshed MPV, click here.

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More photos of the 2022 Mitsubishi Xpander:

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PHOTO: Charles Banaag
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