Mitsubishi Express 2020 glx swb
review

2020 Mitsubishi Express SWB automatic review

Rating: 6.8
$35,610 $42,350 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
    7.3L
  • Engine Power
    125kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    191g
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A
It's been a long time coming, but finally you can buy a new Mitsubishi Express in Australia. We've looked at the LWB auto, but now we take a look at the SWB auto.
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Revived earlier in 2020, it’s hard to argue the case that the 2020 Mitsubishi Express SWB automatic wasn’t in line for an update. 2013 was the last time we’d seen the Express nameplate locally, and for the re-introduced version, the Express comes to Australia as a rebadged Renault Trafic under.

The 2020 variant landed Down Under in a single GLX specification, but with the choice of short- and long-wheelbase platforms. There is also the choice of a manual and an automatic, but each transmission is mated to a different engine.

The manual transmission works with a 103kW/340Nm 1.6-litre twin-turbo diesel, while the automatic as tested here is matched with a 2.0-litre single-turbo engine, which makes 125kW and 380Nm. The automatic of choice is a six-speed, dual-clutch unit.

Pricing starts from $42,490 before on-road costs for the SWB auto we’re testing here, and as we’ve noted before, Mitsubishi’s pricing is a little sharper than donor company Renault. There’s not much in it, but even $1000 is noteworthy for the business buyer on a budget.

Express was once a mainstay of the Aussie van market, but now it’s got some serious ground to make up against leaders Toyota and Hyundai, the two of which make up more than 50 per cent of the Australian van market. It’s a daunting task.

Although closely related, you’ll be able to tell the Mitsubishi apart from its Renault sibling thanks to a different grille and bonnet design, as well as the halogen headlights, rather than Renault’s updated LEDs.

2020 Mitsubishi Express SWB auto
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Power and torque 125kW @ 3500rpm, 380Nm @ 1500rpm
TransmissionSix-speed, dual-clutch automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Kerb weight1870kg
Fuel claim combined (ADR)7.3L/100km
Fuel use on test8.5L/100km
Cargo volume5200L
Load area (length/width/height)2537mm / 1662mm / 1387mm
Payload1115kg
Turning circle11.8m
ANCAP safety ratingUntested
Warranty5 years/100,000km standard (up to 10 years/200,000km when serviced within the Mitsubishi network)
Main competitorsToyota HiAce, Renault Trafic, Ford Transit
Price as tested (ex on-road costs)$42,490

The ADR fuel claim on the combined cycle is 7.3L/100km and we used an indicated 8.5L/100km, almost entirely around town. So, the new Express is pretty frugal in the real world. The SWB has a payload of 1115kg and will tow 1715kg, which should suit the intended buyer.

The van world has – thankfully – moved on from the under-equipped, unsafe and quite frankly unacceptable driving dynamics of years past. While they might not be as advanced as the sedans and SUVs they enter the cut-and-thrust with, vans are significantly more up to date than they’ve ever been. And that’s a good thing for buyers.

As such, the cabin is a more comfortable and more practical place to be than it’s ever been. There’s a separate driver's seat and two-seat passenger bench up front, armrest for the driver as well as height and lumbar adjustment, cloth trim, rubber floor mats, a urethane steering wheel, sliding doors on both sides, barn doors at the rear, cruise control with speed limiter, air-conditioning, power mirrors and remote central locking.

Our automatic tester has a rear-view camera that displays inside the rear-view mirror (not equipped on manual models), rain-sensing wipers, front fog lights, self-dimming interior mirror and automatic headlights. The infotainment system is basic, but it does work. You get DAB, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and a mobile phone dock that secures it out of the console and your hands. There’s no touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The cabin is functional and comfortable, but does lack some of the more advanced infotainment and connectivity that we’d like to see standard. A decent screen of any size, with a smartphone link, for example, would add to the experience for drivers who spend large chunks of the day on the road. The controls and features that are there are easy to access and easy to use.

No matter how gently you tried to structure the argument, older vans were properly uncomfortable from the driver’s seat. And the passenger’s for that matter, as well. The new raft of vans is a significant step forward. The fold-down armrest is a welcome feature, and there’s some useful storage throughout the cabin. Although, there’s not as much storage as we see in some of the best vans. We found the seats to be comfortable even after we’d spent a few hours in them.

The rear-view camera is on the poor side of average, and would of course benefit from the aforementioned screen that we’d like to see standard across the range. Bluetooth worked well for us on test, but the phone holder won’t accept the largest smartphones, and it can’t be removed, so keep that in mind. The doors auto-locking isn’t the most useful thing in the world for delivery drivers and it grated for us a bit on test.

As Sam noted with his LWB review, barn doors at the rear that open to 180 degrees give you full-width access to the load area, and twin sliding doors play their part here, too. The load space is useful and will swallow a full pallet between the wheel arches. While plenty of buyers will be tempted by the LWB variant, I reckon the SWB will suffice for most.

The fact that you’re not sitting on top of and beside the engine makes a big difference to the general driving experience when you’re in the Express. It’s not as competent as the segment-leading HiAce, but it’s still a solid option.

The 2.0-litre engine is smooth and punchy. Crucially, the power and torque it develops is neatly served by the six-speed gearbox, which is never slow or lazy to get to work. The engine works as well on the highway as it does around town, and the general ride refinement is well executed unladen. Interestingly, the LWB variant definitely felt firmer around town unladen than the SWB did.

You’ll find that we make the point regularly when a van is on test, but you do need a cargo divider to quieten down the ride in almost all situations. There’s obviously road and wind noise coming into the cab, but you also get the drumming of such a vast empty space behind you. A divider would almost completely mitigate that, not to mention make it easier to cool the space in the warmer months as well.

Standard safety equipment is a key step forward from any of the old vans, with the Express featuring six airbags, hill start assist, rollover mitigation, stability control and traction control. The more advanced suite of electronic safety features isn’t available – that means no AEB, blind-spot detection or driver fatigue monitor.

Mitsubishi provides a quality five-year/100,000km warranty (compared to five years/200,000km for the Trafic) as a basic package, however extends coverage to 10 years or 200,000km if the vehicle remains serviced within the Mitsubishi dealer network, although some users (government fleets, rental vehicles and more) maybe be excluded from the extended offer. Capped-price services are set every 12 months or 15,000km and prices vary with each service, starting at $199, $599, $199, $699, and $199 for the first five visits, or $1895 all up.

The point that Sam made in his LWB review remains relevant for the SWB variant on test here. The HiAce is far and away the best van in the segment, despite the higher asking price. As such, the Express, which isn’t a bad van by any means, needs to be the one you consider as a value proposition.

If you can drive a hard bargain, if you can secure a good deal, it’s well worth taking a close look at. The fact that the van segment is getting more compelling than it ever was is good news for buyers. It also means there’s an opportunity for Mitsubishi to move the game forward with a midlife upgrade of what is already a solid proposition.

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