Monday, October 16, 2017

Car Features - Honda Models Not Sold in Japan

Believe it or not, Honda assembles a variety of motor related items such as cars, motorcycles, engines for various items, power equipment, robots (remember ASIMO?), mountain bikes, aircraft, and previously ATVs and solar cell. They also participate in motorsports in both two and four wheels and still active as of today. While Honda isn't a part of any larger conglomerate, they are still a larger company and sell a sizable number of vehicles worldwide.

In this series, we shall discover vehicles built by Honda (cars, as including motorcycles would be a longer list) not sold in Japan. Acura vehicles would not be counted here. 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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Car Profiles - Volvo XC60 (2009-2017)

2009-2017 Volvo XC60

The Good: Flexible, safety feature loaded

The Bad: Busy looking dash

The Say: A breakthrough, not safe looking or generic.

Go For: Diesel
Avoid: 3.0 T6

Price Range: P890,000-P2,500,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volvo XC60 (2009-2017)
Latest vehicle profile: Volvo XC60

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Used Car Review - Volkswagen Touareg (2013-2017)

This unnoticed SUV is on our spotlight for today.

2013-2017 Volkswagen Touareg


Mention the words "German luxury car" and the very answer are the following brands: Benz, BMW, Porsche, and to a small extent, Audi. The brand Volkswagen is synonymous to the Beetle which littered Philippine streets during the 60s to the 70s and to some other models like the Kombi and Sakbayan. Further efforts from the 90s didn't make the brand back to local consciousness since they are heavily priced, as opposed to being called as the people's car. But then, VW's are positioned as a premium mainstream brand, above the likes of Toyota but below Audi.

Jumping on the SUV bandwagon too late, the Touareg was first introduced in 2002 and it shares a platform with the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7, two late bloomers in the category. The second generation model first debuted in 2010 with a newer 8-speed automatic and a wide variety of gas and diesel engines (no V10 diesel is available).

One of the vehicles introduced for the return of the Volks in 2013, the Touareg is the flagship model as well as the most expensive vehicle. This time, the diesel engine was brought here unlike the first model's gas burner. It was quietly discontinued in 2017, which we feel the cause of it is the introduction of the brand new model.

Value and Costs
Due to the fact not much were sold when brand new as well as a shorter selling time, finding a used Touareg of this vintage is a challenge but if you find one, you can get one for at least P2,000,000 with the remainder of the warranty.

Since it runs on a diesel engine, expect fuel costs to be slightly lower than several high end SUVs with gasoline powerplants. With this vehicle being new to the market (this one was sold a decade ago but in a different package), not much reports of problems were raised up.

Exterior and Interior
Sure, it may look discreet and anonymous but it still looks imposing and brute. There are two models available: a regular one and a Sports edition which has side skirts and larger rims.

Unlike some of the European competition which are notoriously known for their interiors that have smaller buttons and a transmission shift similar to a joystick of a game console, this vehicle has the opposite which is easy to use. Other niceties include an electronic parking brake and air suspension system, which rivals of the same price range get. Added bonus include ample space for five people and cargo.

Despite its bulky proportions, the 3.0 diesel having 242hp @ 3,800-4,400rpm and 550Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm isn't a slouch mover and available torque can be had for as low as 1,750rpm.

Driving Impressions
This SUV excels in both road conditions, both on pavement and off the beaten path. The air suspension settings have a comfort mode which makes it good for a relaxed drive and sports mode for fun driving. You can have all aspects in one body.

Based on the excellent Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, the VW Touareg is an excellent choice if you desire something different that stands out the crowd.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Car Profiles - Kia Carens (2013-2016)

2013-2016 Kia Carens

The Good: Stylish, behaves like a car

The Bad: Not that spacious, basic base models

The Say: Much better than the model it succeeds.

Go For: EX

Price Range: P520,000-P815,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Kia Carens (2013-2016)

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Car Profiles - Chevrolet Orlando (2012-2017)

2012-2017 Chevrolet Orlando

The Good: Car like driving, interior quality

The Bad: Underpowered engine, no diesel

The Say: A nice formula, if one thing is only missing.

Go For: LT

Price Range: P430,000-P660,000
Our Rating: ****

Latest vehicle review: Used Car Review - Chevrolet Orlando (2012-2017)

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Car Profiles - Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback (2012-2017)

2012-2017 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

The Good: Spacious, low resale value an advantage for buyers

The Bad: Cheap feeling interior

The Say: A step up but does not shine in any aspect.

Go For: LTZ

Price Range: P290,000-P490,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment

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Car Profiles - Volkswagen Touareg (2013-2017)

2013-2017 Volkswagen Touareg

The Good: Standard diesel engine, excellent interior quality

The Bad: No third row, rare in the market

The Say: One of the comebacks which is done better.

Go For: 3.0 Diesel

Price Range:
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volkswagen Touareg (2013-2017)

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Used Car Review - Nissan Patrol (2000-2017)

Once an icon, this will be put to greener pastures this year.

2000-2017 Nissan Patrol


We all know that apart from the Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Land Cruiser, and Ford Expedition, this vehicle became a poster star of the rich and famous here in the Philippines. From the Presidential Security Group that backs up our president to wealthy tycoons belonging to the top 100 corporations of the country, heads will drool especially when you are driving one, it means you have arrived.

The Y61 Patrol first appeared in December 1997 with model codes of GR for LHD and GU applied for RHD units and a multitude of engine options. Multiple changes were done in the drivetrain and NVH levels were increased. Ten years later, it was discontinued in its home country although certain countries still sell this car.

November 2000 saw the Philippine launch of the Y61 Patrol with both diesel and gasoline (a first) engines and had ran for 17 years with numerous changes to reflect market tastes. Updates were done in July 2003 (exterior revisions), March 2007 (facelift and an upgraded gasoline engine), and September 2014 (the addition of CRDI technology). Apart from the regular Super Safari, limited edition models are offered throughout include the Presidential Edition in 2004 and Legend Edition in 2017, the latter available for 38 units.

Value and Costs
Since this vehicle would have its demise by the end of the year, expect second hand prices to dip further with the cheapest model can be had for P360,000 and later models costing in the million peso range. Most models that you will encounter are diesels, which is what we recommend and since the vehicle had a long production run, standard items vary per year model so it is a price versus feature factor. Manuals can be had with the diesel with the rest work with automatics. Do take note that June 2010 and up models are strictly 3.0 diesel paired to an automatic, as the gasoline and manual oil burner were dropped. Four wheel drive is standard among 2004 and up models, with first examples being strictly rear wheel drive.

Sure, it is built like a tank but it definitely does not guarantee it will be trouble free, especially for earlier batches whose fuel injectors (think the case of the Trooper and early Toyota IMV models) fail due to dirty fuel during that time. Our choice is the diesel especially that the gasoline models are gas guzzlers as well as their availability in the market isn't that much so we wouldn't bother.

Exterior and Interior
Brute and imposing, these two words best describe the vehicle especially that its bulk would make heads turn but at the same time, run out of fear. Its rugged appeal stood the test of time, especially that it can go together with modern rivals when it comes to exterior design. For 2003 models and up, these can be distinguished by their single color scheme as opposed to the two tone of the early releases.

Its exterior bulk also translates to a roomy cabin, which is definitely a good thing. Do take note that 2004 models get front facing third row seats which is better treated for emergency uses while first models have rear seats facing to the sides. Despite modern touches such as a GPS navigation system, reverse camera, and a DVD system, it can't still deny that the interior lags modern competition. ABS brakes isn't standard until 2003 and a passenger airbag is added in 2007.

You'll encounter the ZD30DDTi 3.0 diesel more often which has 158hp at 3,600rpm and 354Nm at 2,000rpm with CRDI technology being added to late 2014 models which saw a decrease in figures that now lies in 150hp at 3,600rpm and 343Nm at 1,800-2,400rpm. Two gasoline models were introduced to a niche market that prefers the smoothness of one, which are the TB45E 4.5 having 197hp at 4,400rpm and 350Nm at 3,600rpm sold between 2000 to 2007 and later replaced by the TB48DE 4.8 which displaces 252hp at 4,800rpm and 400Nm at 3,600rpm. Our choice of engine is definitely the diesel, given the fact it has the grunt to motivate this rather bulky car. If you love the smell and cost of petrol, we'd go for the larger displacement.

Driving Impressions
Sure, it is wide as a tank but driving is easy with steering which doesn't remind you driving something larger. It is more utility than sport, which is both a good and bad thing since body roll comes standard. Comparing this vehicle to modern rivals, it comes outdated especially that a car introduced during the Nokia 3310 era and still selling at the time of Android and Apple period, but then some people want old school, you can't please everyone.

The early 2000s ushered in SUVs which commanded power and presence, but despite the arrival of 21st century rivals which are more modern and plush, some people want that old school feel. If there is one car that can't please all owners, this is it.

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.