Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Japan for 2017

For 2017, 5.2 million Japanese branded cars and 351,000 imports were sold, which saw both an increase. However, the vehicles in the top 30 mostly showed a decline (those that went on a positive note were either updated or brand new). This list only counts regular models especially that our source doesn't include Keis and imports.

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of the USA for 2017

While the US market had lost the sidelines to China recently, it is still large when it comes to numbers. However, the seven years of continuous growth had stopped for 2017 with a slight drop. While pickup trucks are still best sellers, the SUV craze had been evident with some surprises below. Yes, we all know that the Americans have different tastes compared to the ASEAN market but there are some cars that are sold similarly to us.

Out of the 12 months, let's look back on America's best sellers. Watch out for our best seller features in the US from 2002 in the coming months. We have included the increase/decrease from 2016.

Disclaimer: Some photos used are Philippine/ASEAN spec, which may differ from what USA has to offer.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Used Car Review - Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005-2017)

Another soon to be classic lives on.

2005-2017 Suzuki Grand Vitara

History

The compact SUV market evolved throughout the years. Previous models used to be truck-like but with the changing market demands as well as trends, they have to ride on car-based platforms which may limit appeal to several segments but then you cannot please everyone.

One compact ute that had stayed true to its form is the Grand Vitara, which remained a rugged image despite its competitors that had gone curvy. On its third iteration which was first introduced in 2005, it utilized a GM platform but all the rest are done by Suzuki independently. It had a run for 12 years straight with multiple updates throughout to keep this vehicle fresh, with rivals having two generation models with that year length. After a long time, most markets receive the fresher fourth generation model which had transitioned to a car-based platform and became shorter than it was before.

A stalwart ever since Suzuki had set shop or in some cases, the term "compact SUV" was invented locally, the third generation Grand Vitara was first introduced to the Philippine market in August 2005 in the form of a 2.0 4WD model available in both manual or automatic transmission. Throughout selling life, updates from engine upgrades (and additional ones) are done and for 2014, the sole model was is a 2.4 2WD with a Special Edition model added months later. There may be remaining stocks for this car but Japan had stopped production of this car.

Value and Costs
For 12 years straight and apart with some minimal changes, focus on the general condition of the vehicle more especially the engines are unchanged. If you are interested in a small SUV with off-road capabilities, this vehicle will set you back between P335,000 for early models released ten years ago to P800,000 among later models. If you want 4WD, only the 2.4 does not have it so hunt for other engine displacements.

Keeping this baby won't set you back big bucks nor your kidney but Suzuki parts cost more than the average Japanese competition. Problem points for this vehicle involve the aircon and the engine support, so have these checked prior to buying. As an economical choice, this isn't the one since city driving will fall below 10kms to a liter and the V6 drinks more than a drunken man.

Exterior and Interior
Timeless looks and a rugged exterior makes this SUV silently stands out in a crowd. Throughout the years, the grille was changed only once. Let us leave the design alone which speaks for itself.

Going inside, this vehicle will treat you to lots of space which can fit five people comfortably. The interior controls are logically placed but some interior touches feel cheap, despite the fact this one is a CBU from Japan. Despite buying a later model year unit, you will feel that you are in something from a decade ago. Just imagine this: you have an iPhone X but the specifications come from earlier model releases.

Engine
Four engines (of gasoline descent) were offered throughout selling life and we will detail them one by one. For 2005 til August 2008, the base engine is a 2.0 4-cylinder with 145hp at 6,000rpm and 193Nm at 4,000rpm until an update had a 2.4 having 168hp at 6,000rpm and 227Nm at 3,800rpm fitted under the hood. To compete with the likes of the higher end models of the Mitsubishi Outlander and Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute, two V6 power plants were made available: From 2006 to 2008, there's a 2.7 engine having 185hp at 6,000rpm and 250Nm at 4,500rpm while from 2009 to 2012, a larger 3.2 V6 utilizing 230hp at 6,200rpm and 288Nm at 3,500rpm. Enough of the numbers, let us delve how do they perform in the real world. The 2.0 is sluggish at first but gets going when it gains momentum, the 2.4 is the best choice as it provides a sweet spot, and both V6 are quick enough to accelerate and to drink fuel. Our pick? The 2.4 engine.

Driving Impressions
Compared to the modern competition, you will feel that this car is from a different time era which masquerades itself as a modern person. A bumpy ride coupled to a decent handling feel, this one wouldn't you consider as something modern.

Verdict
Being different is not a bad thing but fitting in to the modern world while retaining your old image is something a feat. While the GV has its own virtues, it has to evolve and adapt to keep up with the modern times but having an old image isn't something bad, just a limited appeal.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Used Car Review - Peugeot 3008 (2013-2017)

Explore this French crossover once more.

2013-2017 Peugeot 3008

History

The Peugeot brand used to have its time a decade ago or so, especially with the Lee family (Nissan-UMC, Hyundai fame) bringing these stylish hatchbacks to the Philippine market. While unique to the buyers palette, their prices aren't friendly plus given the fact Europeans may mean a luxury car from Germany or UK for something whose size is similar to a Honda Jazz made them a huge failure from day one. Adding MPVs and vans that were priced more didn't help either, plus given the fact the economy isn't that vibrant at the time of arrival, they had no choice but to pull out with upbeat sales later on for the industry as a whole.

First introduced to the European market in 2008, the 3008 (do not be confused, my friend) got nothing but praises from various automotive publications and award giving bodies despite the fact its exterior design was criticized. Although the 4007 was the first SUV from the French brand, this one was the first SUV to be developed from the ground up with the former being a rebadged Mitsubishi Outlander. So successful, this vehicle continued to be sold for eight years straight in multiple markets around the world.

Under the helm of Columbian Autocar Corporation (Kia, BMW, Mahindra), the Peugeot brand had a comeback with the 3008 being the first four models to be brought in. Three models were available  paired to two engines were first made available from November 2012 until an update three years later reduced to one model - the expensive top of the line. The Active model is the base while the Allure has more fancy features added.

Value and Costs
For the price of a brand new Mirage G4 or a second hand PPV (think Montero Sport or Fortuner), you can have a pre-loved 3008 crossover for as low as P700,000 with late releases going for P1,000,000 having the remainder of the warranty. Not much changes occurred during its run, which is a good thing, so focus on the condition more than the year model.

European brands would usually have maintenance costs that are higher than the Japanese so if you are the kuripot type, this is not the car for you. There are available specialist parts for French cars and fuel consumption is good, since this vehicle is a diesel powered one. Problem points for this vehicle mostly involve the electrical components but there are some transmission and aircon niggles. But if there is one thing to be careful of, it is the diesel injectors given the fact the engine is of advanced state.

Exterior and Interior
As mentioned earlier, the exterior design is a center of criticism especially that the grille is huge than its original size and you may mistaken this one for an oversized hatchback with body cladding, this is tuned for city driving than taking this off-road. All models come with a panoramic sun roof and daytime running lights as standard equipment. For hauling stuff at the back, the split gate can fold down for help.

Inside, the interior is flexible enough which shames several competitors and it folds flat, a feat. Going to persons, it can fit five persons in comfort and stylish manner while the driver gets a commanding view of the road thanks to an excellent outward visibility. Control layout is a mixed bag, some are good while some are not and the bonus heads-up display is a help. Cubbyholes and storage boxes of various sizes come standard.

Engine
With the local Peugeot distributor pushing with diesels, the 3008 has two oil burners throughout selling life. Lower models sold from 2013 to 2015 have a 1.6 diesel which gets 112hp at 3,600rpm and 285Nm at 1,700rpm paired to a semi-automatic transmission. Higher end models gain a 2.0 diesel utilizing 163hp at 3,750rpm and 340Nm at 2,000rpm that is matched to a conventional automatic. The semi-automatics could be a complicated combo but you would get used to it later on when you get the hang of it while the automatics are a fine partner. Both engines are fine but we suggest to get the lesser one since it will give you a slight advantage on fuel consumption. Another great feature is this model gets a unique diesel particulate filter which removes harmful particles for zero emissions and a start-stop system.

Driving Impressions
Riding on a platform which is also shared with PSA Group passenger cars, expect car-like handling which performs with grace even on curved roads. Comfort-wise, you wouldn't go wrong with this vehicle.

Verdict
It seemed the current Peugeot distributor got the right product when it was first made available and priced accordingly. Later models were messed up since the top end is retained with a jacked up price, but at second hand prices this is a steal already.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: Nissan

Our next Japanese brand (with four more on the spotlight on the following weeks) in which we will discuss this topic is Nissan. The second largest car manufacturer in their home country, Nissan may have a large line-up but not as big as Toyota and it has resulted to a rebadging that involves selling one car of the same brand but having different names to different dealer networks.

Just like last week, this list would be separated in two categories: the first one is the same car but different brand and the second is the same car of the same brand but wearing a different name. For the latter category, they must be sold in a different dealer network (the practice was stopped until 2006). Cars launched from 1990 and above would be included on the list to avoid a long list. Do take note the year range represents the entire vehicle line (including those of its twins) even if the original model was killed. The list will also include Infiniti and Datsun vehicles.

Let us discover which Nissan vehicles used a different name for the same car.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: Toyota

After three weeks of featuring American brands and their badge engineering shenanigans, let us feature Japanese brands next starting with Toyota, the largest among the Nippons. Sure, they don't do re-badges that much but the craziness levels are to the next level (all of them are guilty of this) by selling virtually one car but using different names of the same brand - to different dealer networks which isn't disastrous. Most of these were launched two to three decades ago and Toyota plans to reduce their vehicle line-up in Japan by 2025.

In the case of Japanese companies, the list would be separated in two categories: the first one is the same car but different brand and the second is the same car of the same brand but wearing a different name. For the latter category, they must be sold in a different dealer network (and the only one doing it up to now). Cars launched from 1990 and above would be included on the list to avoid a long list. Do take note the year range represents the entire vehicle line (including those of its twins) even if the original model was killed. The list will also include Daihatsu and Lexus vehicles plus brands which were associated with the T badge from 1990 and up.

For Toyota models, let us see who wore things differently in perfect fashion and wore things on a poor taste.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: Fiat-Chrysler

Among the Detroit three manufacturers, Chrysler is the smallest of them and the word badge engineering is no stranger to the brand. The group had a number of brands throughout the years from a bankruptcy to German and Italian ownership, to a point of having a Japanese partner to fulfill a joint-venture.

In order for a car to be counted on this list, the vehicle must have a different name using the same shell (exterior modifications are usually done) but sold under a different brand. And to avoid a super long list, we would limit vehicles which were launched from 1990s and above. Do take note the year range represents the entire vehicle line (including those of its twins) even if the original model was killed. In order to be listed, the base vehicle must be from a Chrysler subsidiary so a Mitsubishi badged Chrysler vehicle will not make a cut here.

Let us see Chrysler vehicles that had seen different badges at their backs and will include both past models from the Fiat Group as well as the Mitsubishi partnership and Daimler Chrysler eras.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: Ford

Just like compatriot General Motors, Ford Motor Company is no stranger to the words rebadging and badge engineering. Throughout the years, Ford had owned numerous companies of different locations which means their expansive line has a chance of utilizing one car but wearing different names. While this thing is past tense, we shall check on which vehicles are products of badge engineering.

In order for a car to be counted on this list, the vehicle must have a different name using the same shell (exterior modifications are usually done) but sold under a different brand. And to avoid a super long list, we would limit vehicles which were launched from 1990s and above. Do take note the year range represents the entire vehicle line (including those of its twins) even if the original model was killed. In order to be listed, the base vehicle must be from a Ford subsidiary so a Toyota or Nissan badged Ford vehicle will not make a cut here.

Among the models from the Blue Oval company that wore different names but are basically the same, let us investigate.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: General Motors

If there is one manufacturer that had started the badge engineering to a whole new level, it is General Motors. With a crazy number of brands to begin with (we suggest you to check this link instead), it made sense to use one car and sell it under a number of brands to cut costs but at the expense of brand equity.

In order for a car to be counted on this list, the vehicle must have a different name using the same shell (exterior modifications are usually done) but sold under a different brand. And to avoid a super long list, we would limit vehicles which were launched from 1990s and above. Do take note the year range represents the entire vehicle line (including those of its twins) even if the original model was killed. In order to be listed, the base vehicle must be from a General Motor subsidiary so a Toyota or Nissan badged GM vehicle will not make a cut here.

So, which GM models wore different names but are basically the same?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Used Car Review - Audi Q5 (2009-2017)

The original article was published last October 14, 2013 and can be viewed here.

This European gem can be had now at a lower price entry.

2009-2017 Audi Q5

History
Luxury brands would usually have SUV's that fills the following sizes: very small, small, medium, large, and novelty size (usually the very small size). Why fill up every niche where they end up cannibalizing sales and a waste of research and development money? But then, why would I mess with their way especially this is their affair and not mine.

Presented first at the Beijing Auto Show back in 2008, the Audi Q5 was built from Volkswagen's MLB platform. The advantage of this platform was that it saves on production costs and the flexibility of assembling models in one factory. It was the second member of the Q family with the Q7 being the senior and the Q3 the youngest.

January 2009 saw the local introduction of the Q5. Great timing, since it was the global financial crisis that crippled the world and the Philippines was not that much affected. Initially available with a gasoline motivator, a diesel was added four years later.

Value and Costs
With the launch of the second generation, expect prices to dip down with the cheapest units being priced at P1,500,000. Best head to the pre-owned section since these vehicles are certified and inspected. It pays to have a peace of mind nowadays, you know.

Buying this vehicle would not give you maintenance costs similar to a high spec Hyundai Tucson. Rather, it is competitive enough with other European brands. It would be better to change all four tires together since this is an all wheel drive vehicle, and hunt for a diesel model for lower costs. Just like any high end European vehicle, inspecting the electronic gadgets is a must.

Exterior and Interior
Just think of it as a shrunken Q7, the Q5 can be handsome or generic looking if you're to ask. LED lamps are standard in both front and back while the front grille is distinctively Audi.

Cabin room in the rear isn't that cavernous like other rivals, and the same goes with the cargo compartment. High quality controls abound the cabin and they are faced towards the driver. The buttons take time to get used to since they are tiny and the hazard button is situated at the right of the touch screen. For Premium variants, a moon roof comes standard for those airy nights.

Engine
Both gasoline and diesel engines are offered; but the former is the most common one in the name of the TFSI Quattro turbo 1,984cc with 208hp at 4,300rpm (upgraded to 222hp at 4,500rpm in 2013) and 350Nm at 1,500rpm. Only made available in 2013 is the TDi that has 175hp at 4,200rpm and 380Nm at 1,750rpm. So, how do these engines perform? The gasoline, thanks to the standard turbo, is ferociously fast but control the pedal to get decent figures.

Driving Impressions
It may have quick engines that is complemented with sharp steering and fun handling. Thanks to the A4 underpinnings, driving this compact SUV is never a dull moment. Paired with either the gasoline or diesel engine, this is one energetic vehicle. Ride is supple when the standard tire size is used, large sizes can contribute to a firm ride.

Verdict
Who says that SUV's need not be sporty? If you're in the market for a premium compact that is fun to drive and with punchy engines, the Q5 is the one for you. Besides, this one can balance both driver's and passenger's needs.