After dominating the segment for years, the Honda BR-V now has a worthy contender in the form of the all-new 2020 Mitsubishi Xpander. The new 7-seater B-segment SUV arrives in Malaysia in its facelifted form with 1 variant to offer and is locally assembled (CKD) in Pekan.
Before it arrived in Malaysia, the Xpander had been making waves across South East Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. So, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) has high hopes that the Xpander will win over hearts here as well.
Sure enough, MMM announced recently that demand for the Xpander has far exceeded the Pekan plant’s production limit for the year 2020 and new bookings will be receiving the 2021-year model make instead.
1. Futuristic and aggressive looks
Like its Mitsubishi Triton sibling, the Xpander also features Mitsubishi’s new generation Dynamic Shield design language. So, it gets a squinty top light design to pair with the headlamps on the bumper that makes the SUV look bolder and fiercer than it is.
2. Well-balanced suspension
This doesn’t come as a surprised since Mitsubishi does have a history in the rallying world. So, the Xpander also benefitted from Mitsubishi’s suspension tuning prowess as it easily absorbs every bump and road surface blemish.
So, regardless whether you’re sitting in the front or the back, you get a ride that is tuned just right.
Sidenote: Did you know that Mitsubishi has kitted out the Xpander to take part in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC)?
3. Comfortable rear seats
Compared to the Toyota Rush, the Xpander’s rear passengers in the third-row seats also get plenty of head and legroom. The seats are full leather with a quilted design to enhance the Xpander’s plush interior.
4. Largest in its segment
Compared to the Honda BR-V and Toyota Rush, the Xpander measures the widest and longest, even the wheelbase is longer by a margin. While a car’s measurement doesn’t always translate to interior space, Mitsubishi has done a good job squeezing function into every inch.
Are we saying that the Xpander is even more practical than a Honda? Yes, we are. Not only do passengers get plenty of legroom, but Mitsubishi has also made sure that there is plenty of storage space in the car.
There is even a shoe rack in the boot of the car which we’re sure would catch the fancy of many ladies out there. The second and third-row seats can also be folded flat to free up a total of 1,630-litre worth of boot space.
Fun fact: The Mitsubishi Xpander has 18 bottle/ cup holders around the car so nobody will be left thirsty on the balik kampung trip.
6. Fuel efficient engine
Based on the fuel efficiency test done by our friends from Autofun Thailand, the Xpander’s 1.5-litre Mivec engine returned 16.5 km/L on the highway with average speeds of 90 km/h. In stop-go traffic, the Xpander returned 12 km/L. That’s not bad for a 7-seater SUV like the Xpander at all.
7. Best-in-class infotainment system
Malaysia is the only market where the Xpander gets a 9-inch touchscreen display that also provides Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Audiophiles will be pleased to know that the Xpander’s sound system is also a huge improvement compared to the system on the Honda BR-V and Toyota Rush.
8. 360-degree camera
There are 4 cameras installed on the Mitsubishi Xpander allowing it to project a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the car’s surrounding. Known in Mitsubishi speak as the Around View Monitor (ARM), it is paired with the parking sensors on the large-ish SUV makes reversing into a parking lot a breeze.
9. Telescopic steering adjustment
Motoring enthusiasts would be glad to know that the Xpander has a steering wheel that doesn’t just tilt but also has telescopic adjustments. Though the Xpander’s seating position feels like an MPV, the telescopic adjustable steering wheel will allow you more leeway to find that perfect seating position.
10. Quiet cabin
After driving the Xpander around for a few days, one of the most pleasing factors on the SUV is just how quiet the cabin is. Perhaps we should have expected this since MMM did equip the car with very thick window panes, acoustic windshield and good insulation in the roof of the car.
Based on our noise level measurements, the Xpander’s cabin reads 62 dB at 90 km/h (BR-V 69 dB, Rush 63 dB) while at 110 km/h we recorded an average of 68 dB (BR-V 72 dB, Rush 71 dB).
1. Four-speed automatic transmission
There is no denying it, the four-speed automatic transmission is just not suitable for the Xpander causing the engine to roar painfully at high speeds. The transmission also slightly affects the Xpander’s fuel efficiency reading. In our opinion, the Xpander is better off with either one extra gear or a CVT instead.
2. Only 2 airbags
Like the Honda BR-V, the Xpander is also equipped with only 2 airbags which still makes the Toyota Rush stand out with its 6 airbags. But though the SUV is lacking in this department, it still received a 4-star rating at the ASEAN NCAP awards.
3. No ADAS
Safety is not the Xpander’s forte. Not only does it have only 2 airbags for a 7-seater SUV, but it also doesn’t have any ADAS features to put to its name.
ABS with EBD, ESC or Active Stability Control as Mitsubishi knows it, and Hill Start Assist are just a few features the Xpander listed.
But then again, the Xpander doesn’t lose out here as the BR-V is also lacking ADAS. Amongst the rivals, only the Rush comes with partial ADAS like Pre-collision System, BSM and RCTA.
Conclusion – Worth it for RM 90k
After experiencing the Mitsubishi Xpander, Honda BR-V, and Toyota Rush back to back, we can conclude that Mitsubishi Motors has found the perfect balance between a comfortable, spacious, and stylish people carrier with good driving dynamics.
Even though the Xpander is let down of the transmission and the lack of safety system for a family car, for the price of RM 94,800 (price inclusive of SST, you can’t purchase an Xpander sans SST anymore), it is still well worth your investment.