Monday, September 25, 2017

Car Features - Nissan Models Not Sold in Japan

In Japan, the second largest vehicle brand is Nissan whose brand portfolio include Infiniti (luxury brand) and Datsun (budget brand for several emerging markets). In the larger picture, it is allied with Renault that had saved the Japanese brand from bankruptcy in the late 90s as well as acquiring compatriot Mitsubishi in 2016. Similar to Toyota, Nissan has a handful of models sold outside the Japanese market not sold in the home market.

This list includes sister company Mitsubishi where certain Nissan models are rebadged as such in Japan but not their Infiniti or Datsun brands since these aren't available back there. Renault is out of question for now, since its a French brand to begin with. Before we start, current model line-up vehicles will be counted here and since Japan does not anymore dig pick-up trucks, they would not be listed here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Car Features - Toyota Models Not Sold in Japan

Toyota is the largest car manufacturer in Japan and among the top brands worldwide. With most of the line-up catered to suit different markets around the world, it is no wonder some vehicles are unique to several places. You may don't know this but they also own Lexus and Daihatsu, as well as a stake in Subaru.

With Toyota having a diverse line-up not available in their home country, we shall discover what the rest of the world drives. This also includes their Lexus and Daihatsu subsidiaries, as they have a number of vehicles not for sale in Japan. Before we start, current model line-up vehicles will be counted here and since Japan does not anymore dig pick-up trucks, they would not be listed here.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Used Car Review - Isuzu Crosswind (2001-2017)

Another nameplate is would be discontinued this year, let us go back.

2001-2017 Isuzu Crosswind

We rarely feature Isuzu models in this used car review segment, especially that they have a rather small passenger car line-up. We featured two pick-up models (Fuego and D-Max) and two sport utility vehicles (Trooper and Alterra) before, so the spotlight now belongs to one of the manufacturer's longest running vehicles, the Crosswind. Similar to its rival sold during the same time, the Toyota Revo, it is developed primarily for the Indonesian market and was changed to suit Filipino tastes. Unlike the Taiwanese Mitsubishi we had featured a week ago, this vehicle will be killed sixteen years after its existence and wouldn't reach its debut year.

Known as the Isuzu Panther since 1991, it was sold primarily for Indonesia and suited to local conditions which dictates of its harsh climate, poor road conditions, and a penchant for carrying the extended family that requires the need for something durable yet capable of carrying seven warm bodies. Technically, what we are featuring is the second generation model that was sold starting 2000 still wearing the same engine from its predecessor. By this time, only Indonesia and India (as a Chevrolet) have this vehicle by next year.

Isuzu brought in the Hilander in March 1997 to rival the Toyota Tamaraw but it only played third placer when it comes to sales behind Toyota and Mitsubishi. With the introduction of the Hilander Crosswind (the Hilander moniker was dropped for 2005), it made competitors looked older and outsold Mitsubishi's Adventure for some years. Just like any best seller, upgrades were done through the years and several special edition models were launched. By the time you have read this, production had stopped and sales will cease by year end due to emission requirements and will be missed by a wider base of clients from OFW families to shuttle operators. Crosswind buyers can choose from the following variants available throughout the years: a taxi exclusive XS, XL, XT, XTO, XTI, XTRM, XUV, XUVI, and Sportivo.

Value and Costs
When brand new, the Crosswind is priced higher than the similarly spec'ed Adventure. The same thing is true for second hand with the Isuzu selling more than its Mitsubishi counterpart. Early examples can be had for P250,000 and units sold recently have an average price of P800,000. We suggest going for October 2014 models and above to utilize the remainder of their warranty. Ex-public utility vehicles are a huge no-no, we would go for something seen as a private car used carefully. Since not much had changed internally, focus on the year model with varying kit. Since this vehicle sold well, be patient on your hunt.

With the engine being shared with several Isuzu models and having a simple mechanism, maintaining this vehicle is easy with any mechanic having the ability of maintaining this one. Parts can be purchased anywhere, a plus advantage. Similar to any diesel vehicle, do check the tailpipe for any black smoke. Problem points include the water pump and the radiator tends to leak.

Exterior and Interior
While the body remained the same, cosmetic changes were done to keep the vehicle fresh. XS, XL, XT, XTO, and XTI ride lower than those on the upper range, especially that their raised suspension and their spare tire at the back make them similar to an SUV. Special edition models do carry blacked out rims and a roof rack, depending on what was released.

Inside, it is a hard plastic affair with lots of them dominating the cabin and even the latest model is #throwbackthursday no thanks to several elements that make it look like one. Still, the controls are simple and easy to modulate. Cheaper models utilize a vinyl interior while higher ones are done well. Sportivo models have a DVD system with headrest monitors only to be removed on later releases. The XUVI trims gain a VCD player with two wireless microphones, perfect at a time with the Magic Sing was released. Three people in the first row wouldn't translate to a comfortable ride so better look for something with bucket seats. Three people is fine in the middle row but four isn't good and for models with a side facing jump seat translates to limited head and leg room and the front facing ones are best left for kids.

One main advantage of the Crosswind (which commanded a price premium when brand new) is the diesel engine which is the 4JA1 2.5 with either 81hp or 85hp rated at 3,900rpm with the latter being standard for 2007 and up models and for older ones, the automatics having more power. Torque is rated at either 170Nm at 3,200rpm or 185Nm at 2,000rpm with the higher rating reserved for 2007 and up and older automatics. Yes, this does not have any CRDi technology but if you are using this vehicle to haul people this is acceptable enough. Low grunt is there but go faster and this is where the car loses stream. Manuals are acceptable enough while automatics are slow, but then if you're in the market for a diesel AUV with two pedals, this is the remaining choice since the main two rivals do not have. Fuel consumption is tops when compared to the Adventure and Revo but still no match to the modern competition.

Driving Impressions
Similar to the Mitsubishi Adventure, this vehicle comes with a floaty handling and body roll comes standard at high speeds. Ride quality, similar to most competitors, are bouncy when not fully loaded except for lower riding variants but do take note that this vehicle is tuned for cargo carrying.

The Crosswind was a best seller for a reason back then but no thanks to fresher rivals as well as changing market trends, good things came to an end. This vehicle witnessed a lot of events and had stood the test of time and had brought a lot of families together and commuters to their destinations safely. To our good friend, you will be missed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Subaru XV - Generation 1.2 (2016-2017)


A light facelift was given without any price increase, the XV still retains the same level of equipment and the formula the vehicle is known for.

See the overview of this XV
See the Generation 1.1 model
See the latest model of the XV

Subaru XV - Generation 1.1 (2012-2015)


Basically an Impreza hatchback which was given a height raise, the XV is categorized as an crossover SUV without acting like its bigger brother.

See the overview of this XV
See the Generation 1.2 model
See the latest model of the XV

Car Profiles - Subaru XV (2012-2017)

2012-2017 Subaru XV

The Good: Standard AWD traction in a manageable size

The Bad: Some features of its SUV siblings are present

The Say: An Impreza on stilts which is not for all.

Go For: Any will do

Price Range: P700,000-P1,000,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Subaru XV (2012-2017)
Latest vehicle profile: Subaru XV

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Adventure (1998-2017)

The original article was published last May 23, 2013 and can be viewed here. Minor revisions are done.

This iconic nameplate is going to greener pastures this year.

1998-2017 Mitsubishi Adventure

20 years is very long, especially for a vehicle that hasn't received any huge or significant upgrades both inside and out. Sure, there are numerous vehicles worldwide that run on the same platform and body for more than ten years and the Philippine market is no exemption. One of the vehicles which had reached the end of its teenage years is the Mitsubishi Adventure, which had seen six presidents and two assembly locations in the Philippines. First introduced to the market in January 1998, the Adventure is basically a Taiwanese model with modifications to suit local tastes. 1998 saw the Asian Financial Crisis in full swing and thanks to this model, Mitsubishi became the number one brand for that year since the 80s and to never reclaim it after.

With the collaboration of Mitsubishi Motors and China Motor Corporation, the Adventure (or Freeca in its hometown in Taiwan) was first released in September 11 1997. Other names used include the Kuda (Indonesian for horse) in the Indonesian market and Jolie for Vietnamese consumers. As of now, it is only the Philippine market which sells this car with Indonesian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and Chinese markets discontinuing this vehicle for long.

With the growing market for AUV's during the late 90s, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines decided to join the party by assembling the Adventure locally. This vehicle, just like any best seller, received numerous upgrades throughout selling life to keep up with market trends. From OFW families to UV Express operators as its customer base, by the end of this year it will be discontinued due to emission systems which this vehicle doesn't meet. Variants available throughout the years include the taxi exclusive TX, GX, GLX, GLS Sport, Grand Sport, and Super Sport. In 2012, an SE suffix was added to GLX, GLS Sport, and Super Sport trims that added a touch screen monitor with GPS function which trickled down later on.

Value and Costs
Since the vehicle would be removed by the end of year, expect vehicle prices to dip down further with the cheapest ones going for P175,000 for early gasoline models and latest releases can be had for P750,000. October 2014 models and above still have the remaining chunk of their warranty, so do keep an eye for them. Go for something that had been used as a private vehicle than something which had a hundred butts sitting and traveled more than the average driver. With no mechanical changes, it all boils down to the amenities and the year model. With more than 100,000 units sold, our wise money goes to the diesels with the gasoline best left unless you want an automatic.

For nearly 20 years riding on a single platform, parts are aplenty and for the diesel, since it shares engine components with other Mitsubishi vehicles and thanks to its simple structure, any mechanic can fix this one. Do keep an eye for its smoke belching nature for the diesel, especially that the engine is notorious for that. If you want this car, keep an eye on the air-conditioning unit.

Exterior and Interior
With various cosmetic changes, let's discuss them one by one. Earlier models possess a grille similar to the Pajero, and high models have design cues to resemble an SUV. Body stickers come standard in the Super Sport, Grand Sport, and GLS Sport (until 2007). GLX trims have them from 2012 onwards; if you can't live with them, there is an option of removing them. The side hinged doors for some Grand Sport and Super Sport models is complicated to open as it hogs space (it is different from the FX type door of several models) and this includes opening the spare tyre cover sideways that is a bane in mall parking lots. 2017 models are distinguished by their daytime running lights and black rims for GLX and above.

Interior quality is a mixed bag, depending on what year model you are eyeing on. Early models are crude while later ones are decent enough. Higher models have wood panels that can be described as luxurious or tacky, depending on who you are asking. Controls are within the reach of the driver and gauges can range from the white of pre-2007 to the blue of later ones. A two spoke steering wheel is standard among trim lines below the GLS Sport but they get a four spoke one in 2007, save for the GX. An entertainment system comes standard but haphazardly located since the rear view mirror gets blocked when in use. Squeezing three bodies in the first row is a violation of human rights while bucket seats are a relief. If you are unlucky to seat in the middle, your knees would hit the dashboard. Three is an ideal number in the middle row but four is a tight fit. Going for those models with a side facing jump seat would mean limited head and leg room; the front facing ones have nonexistent space for their legs, it is best left for the kids.

Choosing your Adventure is like choosing your coffee at Starbucks with a number of variants, but you have an option of two engines. The popular one is the diesel in the form of the 4D56 2.5 that carries 62hp at 4,200rpm and 165Nm at 2,500rpm for models prior to 2004, later models get a power update to 73hp at 4,200rpm but has its torque downgraded to 143Nm at 2,500rpm. Another option that you can have and offered until 2009 is the 4G63 2.0 gasoline which possess 114hp at 5,500rpm and 165Nm at 3,000rpm. The diesel feels muted and quiet when compared to Isuzu's Crosswind and you can speed up a bit due to the low gear ratios at the expense of lower fuel economy and you need to thrash the gear for an acceptable performance. On the other hand, the Galant sourced 4G63 engine is rough at first but becomes smooth afterwards. Fuel economy for the gasoline isn't to be proud of, but still better than the Revo's 2.0 one (and even the 1.8 when paired with a slushbox). Before anything else, if you hate rowing gears then the automatic is available with the gasoline.

Driving Impressions
A well behaved chassis comes standard since body roll is controlled and turning is stable, but high speeds must be planned carefully since the rear can get twitchy. Ride quality can get bouncy and firm when driving solo but since it has a suspension setting tuned for cargo hauling, don't expect a sedan comfort feeling. For a passenger like you, you'll like riding in this more than a Toyota Hiace or worse, an Isuzu iVan since getting your head hit is a bigger chance, especially for the latter and ride quality is more worse.

The Adventure was a good car for an intended market, but there's a saying that good things come to an end. This vehicle witnessed a lot of events and had stood the test of time and had brought a lot of families together and commuters to their destinations safely. You will be missed, our dear friend.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Car Features - Best Selling Non Toyota Branded Vehicles From 1995

Mention the phrase "best selling car in the Philippines" and a Toyota will emerge as a best seller. Since 1995 (with available data, although there might be since its return in 1989) a Toyota is the best seller in a country of 7,000 plus islands, with four vehicles from the brand became a best seller.

For curiosity sake, let us discover which vehicle that does not wear the Toyota badge is the best seller. Sure, a lot of brands throughout the years want to beat out what the Japanese brand has to offer but they have failed. Let us see who is the best seller per year.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Japan for 2013

For the last Japan best seller series, we shall go to year 2013. Two years since a deadly earthquake and tsunami hit the country, car sales were down in that year but shot up the following year only to go down in 2013.

Regular cars sold during the year totaled to 3.2 million with Kei cars at 2.1 million and 346,000 imported cars. This list only counts regular models especially that our source doesn't include Keis and imports but these are just the minority.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Used Car Review - Kia Picanto (2011-2017)

This tiny Korean hatchback will have a new model change this year.

2011-2017 Kia Picanto


Slotting as the smallest vehicle in Kia's/Hyundai's line-up, the Kia Visto/Hyundai Atos twins are the cheapest vehicles that can be purchased from the two Korean brands. Sold in numerous markets around the world, it utilized a 1.0 or a 1.1 engine depending on the market and although production of the Kia version ended earlier, the Atos enjoyed a longer life with European production ceased in 2007 and with the Indian market cutting assembly seven years later. The Picanto shares a platform of what would be the successor of the Atos, the Hyundai i10 subcompact.

Having its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011, the second generation Picanto is longer than the model it replaces and gets a new design language done by Peter Schreyer. A first for this vehicle is the availability of a three door hatchback exclusively for the European market.

The late 00s and the early 2010s was a time where mini hatchbacks were the rage and the second generation Picanto ushered in. Although the category wasn't that much in the boom, the arrival of competitors such as the Mitsubishi Mirage, Toyota Wigo, and its compatriot Hyundai Eon throughout the years as well as low down payment schemes (you can have this car for as low as P5,000) made this one a popular choice among buyers. A solo engine option in the form of the 1.0 with either transmission (manual and automatic) was first sold with a 1.2 followed later on. From 2014 onwards, 1.0 models are paired to manuals while the 1.2 get automatics. Two variants were made available with the EX being the most common, the downgraded LX was offered for a limited time.

Value and Costs
Similar to vehicles aimed at first time owners, a used second gen Picanto costs between P240,000 to P440,000. Models sold from 2012 could have the chunk of the remainder of the five year manufacturer warranty, so it pays to look for these. Since this model are offered with low down schemes that makes them a common sight in repossessed bank lots, this is a good hunting place to start if you aim for this car.

Maintenance costs of these vehicles are on the lower side and on par with most Asian makes. A cause of concern of this vehicle, in general, is the auxiliary fan which tends to give up easily. And before we leave this paragraph, we would advise you to forget going for the automatics since it is not fuel friendly so choose a manual if possible.

Exterior and Interior
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Schreyer and company, the Picanto isn't any more cute but rather it shows its bolder side and does not look or shout budget meal. Little details which are integrated in the grille and the rear end makes the vehicle mistaken that it costs more than what it offers. Prior to 2017, 1.0 manuals wear steel wheels with cover while alloys are exclusive to the 1.0 automatic and 1.2 models. LX models wear black bumpers and does not get a rear wiper while the EX is body colored and has a rear washer system.

Inside reveals what could be a mixed bag, especially that it may disappoint you while at the same time, make you smile. Good thing is you get, for the EX models at least, all power amenities and keyless entry with alarm all coupled with an average interior in its class and an interior quality fit for cars costing more; bad news is if you get a unit before the 2017 model year, it does not have any airbag or anti-lock brakes as standard kit since competitors of the same price have them plus the high quality interior comes basic. Do not expect much as with some rivals come with touch screen monitor systems and even some with a navigation system head unit.

Most Picanto units would come with a Hyundai derived 1.0 3-cylinder which has 68hp at 6,200 rpm and 94Nm at 3,500rpm that is fine puttering around but we choose the manual as a pair, since we said earlier that going two pedals would cost you more at the pump. Introduced in 2012 is a 1.2 4-cylinder that gains 86hp at 6,000rpm and 120Nm at 4,000rpm that is a livelier partner but as we said earlier, if paired to a manual.

Driving Impressions
If you want something that is easy to drive inside the city, this is one fine partner especially that you get top notch visibility and light steering. Going to the highways shows its limitations especially that its steering is numb and a nervous ride.

Grown up already, the Picanto sheds it cute image for something more mature. While there are some positives of this vehicle, still some negatives such as the lack of safety kit for most units and a gas guzzling nature back it off from the segments best.