Last November, we flew to Tokyo for the global media test drive of the all-new Mitsubishi Strada. While Thailand is the usual destination for such activity for pickups entering our market, seeing the new Strada in Japan allowed us to appreciate its Nippon roots.
To better experience the pickup's off-road heritage, we sampled various Strada variants for different markets around a muddy 4x4 course. We also sampled its handling ability on the Sodegaura Forest Raceway. We were in for a treat as two-time Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka demonstrated the new pickup truck's capabilities on the grimy track.
The outgoing Strada, which has been in the market for 10 years now, is a lifestyle-oriented pickup with soft lines and a car-like ride. It wasn't marketed as a truck with hefty dimensions. The new one, however, has a better mix of car and pickup attributes.
Here's what you need to know about the all-new Strada, as well as our first impressions of it:
Design. A week before the test drive in Tokyo, the all-new Strada had been unveiled in Thailand. The photos showed the new model to be bigger, with size becoming a stronger demand for pickups. But it looks much better in the metal, and the new dimensions give it more presence. The biggest challenge was increasing those dimensions while retaining the fluid lines from the previous generation. This includes the "J" line, which has given the Strada a distinct character in terms of appearance and handling.
The Strada sports LED daytime running lights and HID headlights. The grille, however, continues to be a point of argument. It is finished entirely in chrome and with vertical slits rather than the more contemporary "hockey stick" design with a mix of black and chrome.
At the rear, the cargo bed is consistent with the overall design, matched with taillights that extend farther to the sides. Sadly, the power rear windshield has been omitted, which was a unique feature. A Mitsubishi executive said this was because of added cost. Meanwhile, the bed length is increased to 1,520mm from 1,325mm. The new bed is also now taller (475mm) than its predecessor's (405mm). Naturally, the bed's volume is also bigger (1.06 cubic meters) versus the old Strada's (0.8 cubic meter). Its width remains the same.
The rear bumper design is also more stylish, with a flat silver finish with black extensions and step ramp, rather than the all-chrome bumper seen in our cover story. The Strada rides on 17-inch multispoke alloy wheels.
Aerodynamics. The styling is a combination of soft corners, flowing roofline and tapered cargo bed. This makes the new Strada one of the most aerodynamically efficient pickups, thus aiding fuel consumption in the process.
Interior. Just like the exterior design, the overall look and functionality of the cabin have evolved. It's sporty and minimalist--it has a black/gray color scheme with polished silver and piano-black accents.
The seats are much improved--wider, longer, better-cushioned and more supportive. The seatbacks also have a more reclined angle. There's more head and shoulder room in front and more legroom at the rear, impressive given the "J" line design.
Chassis. Torsional rigidity has been increased by 7% over the outgoing model. This means the new Strada has improved handling performance, stability, ride quality and NVH levels. The chassis frame also absorbs energy by way of the so-called Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution.
Suspension. The Strada continues the traditional setup of front double wishbones and rear leaf springs. Improvements include a new front stabilizer, larger mounts, better spring rates front and rear, as well as better damping.
Engine. The Strada is powered by the high-output 4D56 2.5-liter diesel with variable-geometry turbo that churns out 175hp and 400Nm. We also sampled in Japan the 4N15 2.4-liter MIVEC turbodiesel with a rating of 178hp and 430Nm (although there is no confirmation as to whether this will be available in our market) as well as the 126hp 4G64 2.4-liter petrol engine, which will definitely not reach our market.
Transmission. Available transmissions for our market will be a five-speed automatic with sports mode and a five-speed stick shift.
Maneuverability. The all-new Strada's approach angle is at 30 degrees, while departure angle is at 22 degrees. The Strada has the tightest turning radius in class at 5.9m.
Safety and technology. Along with the chassis, the passenger cell absorbs energy. Trickling down from the Pajero to this new pickup truck is the Super Select 4WD II (available in the GLS Sport V 4x4 AT variant). The all-new Strada is also fitted with a start/stop button, magnesium alloy paddle shifters, and a rear-view camera.
Prices will be released by the end of February, while the official launch will be on March 19. Excited?
Photos by Mikko David