We know how much owners love customizing their pickup trucks. The aftermarket updates may come as mundane as a new set of wheels and sports bar for the bed, while others go as far as de-chroming any shiny stuff on the exterior or even adding some decals to increase power. I kid.
My point is, there are plenty of options out there that pickup truck owners can choose from.
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines wants you to skip that with the Strada Athlete. It’s handsome right off the bat, adding more visual grunt that can turn heads wherever it goes. But can this pickup truck offer more than just good looks? Here’s a rundown.
Black on orange – it can’t get any more eye-catching like that. Mitsubishi has made sure that every bit of shiny chrome has been blacked out in the Strada Athlete, adding sportiness into the mix in the process. My hate towards chrome made me adore this design execution. While a blacked-out roof doesn’t always work, it kind of looks okay in the Strada Athlete, thanks largely to the set of black 18-inch alloys that complement the styling.
Then again, the graphics by the rear fenders are polarizing, at best. It sure adds something, but it would have been a cleaner (and meaner) look sans the attention-grabbing decals.
Out back, the Strada Athlete comes standard with a bedliner and tie hooks. That means it’s ready to haul 950 kgs of cargo straight from the showroom. Not the class leader, but still a performer.
The orange continues in the cabin. Beyond the obvious placements on the seats, the steering wheel and accent stitches also adopt the citrus color. It makes the interior look alive, though I wish I could say the same about the plastics used all over the cabin. Good thing there are plenty of storage spots and cubbyholes for practical daily use.
That said, looking way past the heft of polymers, the Strada’s interior does look durable and easy to clean. The leather steering wheel also feels nice to the touch, while I appreciate the reclined rear bench that allows comfortable seating, as is the folding armrest with cupholders at the center. Expectedly, space is good for four, tight for five, but cozy with roof-mounted rear blowers transferring the cold breeze to the passengers.
Technology & Safety
The Strada is a high-tech pickup, no doubt about that, and much of its tech toys are found on its safety features. The flag-bearer of this is Mitsubishi’s Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System that prevents the adverse effects of pedal misapplication – a safety feature that’s also found in the Montero Sport. It works in tandem with Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and seven airbags.
The instrument cluster has a digital display sandwiched in between analog dials, presenting essential driving information, and more. Now, the touchscreen head unit is a cinch to use, although, we can’t help but wish for a better design and more connectivity options like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. That said, you can still connect your iPhone if you want to listen to music since the system recognizes it as an iPod.
Driving & Handling
The Mitsubishi Strada Athlete doesn’t come with performance upgrades for its engine and drivetrain setup, but it doesn’t need to. The tried-and-tested 2.4-liter turbocharged 4N15 diesel engine produces adequate power and pull even at heavy loads. Sure, 179hp and 430Nm of torque are not at the top of the segment, but the six-speed automatic transmission does a good job in maximizing all the juice sent to the rear wheels.
The Strada’s steering is on the heavy side especially during tight and slow maneuvers, but the good thing about it is that it’s responsive, has quite a good road feedback, and keeps the truck stable even at high speeds.
The suspension is likewise in line with the rest of the Strada variants, which are double-wishbone with coil springs at the front and leaf springs with telescopic shock absorbers at the rear. This setup, along with the robust ladder-frame chassis, feels quite rigid yet pliant with any road surfaces. Mitsubishi has also done a good job of insulating the cabin from outside noise.
Despite the heft of this machine, the Strada registered good fuel economy numbers in and out of the city. In the city with moderate to heavy traffic in play, I obtained 12 km/l at an average speed of around 30 to 40 km/h.
On the highway, I clocked in 19 km/l with the cruise control nailed at 90 km/h. Of note, the Strada could have done better if it were equipped with longer legs, such as the Montero Sport’s 8-speed automatic.
The top-spec Mitsubishi Strada Athlete comes with a sticker price of P1,760,000 – quite pricey for a pickup truck but with all the things I mentioned here considered, your money is pretty much spent on tech toys and safety features, and of course aesthetic upgrades over a normal Strada. That isn’t such a bad deal at all, especially that car buyers these days tend to disregard safety when buying cars.
Besides, if you’re in the market for a pickup truck just for the looks, a 4×2 variant of the Strada is available that’s priced below P1.5 million. It’s practically identical to the one I tested here, except that it isn’t as capable as this 4×4 in terms of reaching uncharted territories.