Monday, December 10, 2012

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi L200 Strada (1999-2006)

What if Myk Belmonte recommended a pick-up truck to Santa for his sleigh? The red suit guy may jump for joy when he reads this article. But, this is the second week and the search still goes on, since its 13 days before Christmas.

1998-2006 Mitsubishi L200 Strada

The Mitsubishi pickup truck that is reviewed in this article used a lot of names for its selling duty worldwide. And these names include the L200, Triton, Strada, Forte, Mighty Max, Rodeo, Colt, Storm, Magnum, and Sportero just for the three diamond brand alone. In fact, this pick-up truck have been American citizens for a while wearing the names of Dodge and Plymouth but both had returned to Japan after the discontinuation of the Dodge Ram 50 in 1993. Santa got confused with these names, so do I.

Enough of name calling, the generation of this Mitsubishi pick-up is on its third generation which was introduced in 1996. It saw the usage of round angles and while the engine is still the same, power had been increased to the hundred territory. Unlike other trucks, this one participated in the Dakar Rally in 2005, and this competition proved its durability and reliability. After 10 long years, production was discontinued in favor of the fourth generation designed by Akinori Nakanishi.

Filipinos have a soft spot for tough pick-up trucks, and the Mitsubishi is one of them. The third generation L200 Strada was launched in 1999 despite the competition from the newly introduced Nissan Frontier and Isuzu Fuego, both best sellers. Several improvements such as the addition of more creature comforts and the bump in power of the 4D56 engine. It stayed for a long six years (which is the norm among trucks) and bowed out to give way for the fourth generation model. Variants include the basic GLX and GLS and the upper tier LE.

Value and Costs
Planning to own a basic truck for the price of a brand new base model sedan? You can see second hand L200 Strada's priced between P320,000-P480,000. Basically, Mitsubishi vehicles with diesel engines do possess a high resale value due to the perception they have received. There exist the Endeavor nameplate, which is essentially an L200 pickup without 4WD option and has a lower height. So, if you want the real thing pay attention to the height.

The surprise here is that, maintaining this beast is easy since you wont encounter any dilemmas that vehicles with common rail diesel engines have, which is they are picky when it comes to their fuel type. The 4D56 (sounds familiar to you then? You can see this engine residing in the L300 and Adventure) power plant can be fixed by any mechanic and related parts for it can be procured in any auto shop. Do check out for any black smoke coming out of the tail pipe and for the suspension system if it got abused by the previous owner. Other than these nibbles, the L200 Strada is one solid truck.

Exterior and Interior
One good thing about this truck is it does not possess styling cues from a car. With earlier models having fender flares and other automatic buluroy, with these two deleted in 2006. Either bulky or stripped, you can't deny that the L200 Strada is macho looking with its squarish frame, large multi-reflector frame, and the famed hood scoop for the turbo engine. Two tone exterior paint is available on the top of the line LE model while low variants get a single color scheme.

Inside, the interior could be described as dated but then, hauling and off-roading is the L200's forte. Driving position is somewhat awkward due to the angle of the steering wheel and the seating positions is limited to four directions. The seats are actually comfortable with the support, that is if you do not have the larger than average frame, so hit the gym first and ask your doctor for a diet plan before buying this truck. Controls and switches are easy to operate except for the slide type for the ventilation, which is very clumsy to use.

As mentioned earlier, the sole choice of engine for L200 Strada buyers is the popular 4D56 engine with intercooler. If the L300 and the Adventure carries 74 ponies, the intercooler had more, with 100hp at 4,200rpm and 245Nm at 2,000rpm. Despite modest figures, it can keep up with the other cars and can reach 100km/h. But a deficiency for vehicles built for hauling than top speed, reaching beyond 120km/h can keep the truck lifeless. Please be reminded that this is no sports car.

Driving Impressions
Fire up the engine and while on motion even on cemented roads, you and your other passengers would bounce around since the truck is hauling biased. The rear seat occupants will find the spot having the harsh ride and the b-pillar is not covered (bare metal than the plastic covered norm), which can cause head lumps and make the ride experience a bad one. Maneuvering through the unpredictably changing U-turn slots can be a chore despite the manageable size. For the positives, handling is manageable with the usual understeer and body roll, the narrow body is a perfect city companion since maneuvering is easy, the Easy Select 4WD System is a cinch to use, and outside visibility is excellent.

You buy pickup trucks because you need to haul, not because to carry your family or to participate in drag racing. If you carry construction materials or furniture, items for the farm, or towing a trailer which contains motor bikes the L200 Strada is for you. Choosing this vehicle as your family car? I won't recommend this no thanks to the harsh ride and funds for band aids is needed. I suggest to look elsewhere for a comfortable family car.

Santa Says
This is what I want! A pickup truck for my gift giving duty thanks to the huge bed. I can store my toys there and at the same time, place some little inside the cabin since I'm driving alone most of the time. If I were to consider this, let my bargaining powers have me a camper shell for the bed to cover the toys from rain and snow. Let me see the other options before making a decision, until next week!

The Good:
  • Hauling is tops
  • Slick manual transmission
  • Off road capable (obviously)
The Bad:
  • The ride punishes your back
  • Practice parking while you can
  • Ground clearance is difficult for children
The Pick: Go with the manual variants

Engine: 2,746cc 4D56 I4 diesel
Power: 100hp @ 4,200rpm
Torque: 245Nm @ 2,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 10-12km/L (city), 13-15km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear rigid axle with leaf springs

Price (New): P900,000-P1,230,000 (range from 1998-2006)
Price (Now): P320,000-P480,000
Rivals: Nissan Frontier, Isuzu Fuego, Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger
On Sale: 1998-2006

Citimotors Makati - 892-0331
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Union Motor Paco - 563-8481

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