Monday, April 23, 2018

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of the USA for 2016

17.5 million cars, that was the number for all new cars sold in the USA for all 366 days (because it's leap year) of 2016, despite the elections held in November which placed Donald Trump into power. Pickup trucks are still best sellers, the SUV craze is going up while passenger cars are falling down. 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 for 2016. Look out for our best sellers for USA from 2002 up to 2015. We have included the increase/decrease from 2015.

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: The Korean Brands

At the very last day of April, our badge engineering saga deals with Korean manufacturers which includes Hyundai, Kia, and Ssangyong. GM Daewoo vehicles are listed on our General Motors article while Renault Samsung cars goes to our Renault list. Sure, we are dealing with three brands but rebadging could happen.

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 Hyundai, Kia, or Ssangyong.

Would the list be as spicy as Kimchi? Let us find out.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Used Car Review - Ford Expedition (2007-2017)

This car had an unusually long run for this generation.

2007-2017 Ford Expedition


The Ford Expedition has a special place among Filipino motorists especially during the early to the middle part of the 2000s, especially that rich business tycoons bought them brand new back then and you have arrived if you had one since gas prices aren't a huge issue. Ten years ago, its popularity somewhat dwindled with the third generation model as the upper class shifted to Japanese rivals with diesel engines and the first and second generation models had low resale values that became a favorite among networkers (MLM companies like Uno and Frontrow) because it may be old but commands power.

Developed under the U324 code in which it is basically an update of the second generation model that focused on the mechanical parts while improvements were also done inside and out. Logically enough, Ford launched this vehicle at the Houston (Texas) Auto Show as majority of Expeditions are sold in that state in 2006 as a 2007 model year vehicle. This is the first time that an extended length model was introduced (as a replacement to the Excursion) which gives loyal Blue Oval owners choices as well as a one model rival to General Motors.

January 2007 saw the introduction of the third generation Expedition, which was all together launched with the fourth generation Explorer and the refreshed Escape (for the Asian market) and Everest. Do take note that 2007 til 2010 models are sold as the Eddie Bauer with the later ones using the XLT (5.4 models, late 2010 to 2014) and Platinum (3.5, 2015 and up) names. Another thing to look at is the length, with the standard size from 2007 to 2010 and the extended body (called the EL) from 2009 until its discontinuation.

Value and Costs
With a 10 year run, third gen Expeditions have varying prices from P600,000 for the standard body Eddie Bauer to as high as P3,000,000 for a Platinum model having a chunk of the warranty. This is no Land Cruiser when it comes to resale value, so if you want something large and have the money to burn, this is it.

Despite the fact this is a ten year old model, parts are common among American parts specialists plus maintenance isn't for the kuripot in heart. Fuel consumption will give you nightmares if you don't have the money plus with this car having lots of electronic toys, things may go wrong.

Exterior and Interior
As mentioned earlier, it is basically an improved second generation model. Still, the hollow block silhouette is there but the chrome grille gives it more presence.

The Expedition's interior, especially the long wheelbase ones, means business. Its three rows can comfortably fit full size adults without complaining for space and can accommodate extra for your luggage. Thankfully, the controls are easy to reach and understand although some touches that don't befit a three million peso car exist. With a 10 year run, interior upgrades are done especially with the audio system (later ones had Ford's SYNC and MyFord) to keep up with the times.

For 2007 to 2014 models, a 5.4 gasoline V8 carrying 310hp at 5,100rpm and 365Nm at 3,600rpm comes standard while later ones use a 3.5 V6 with Ford's Ecoboost technology that has 365hp at 5,000rpm and 569Nm at 2,250rpm with both engines paired to a six-speed automatic. Either engine will give you more than decent power at all times but fuel consumption is poor, but it is a given.

Driving Impressions
Unlike competitors that drives like a truck, this one is much better especially that it does not tremble at corners or road bumps plus it likes to be driven at straight roads.

Sure, it does not have any diesel engine and the length may intimidate some newbie driver, the Expedition still has the presence and the symbol which some people find. And as a second hand choice, if you have the resources, it is one solid choice.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Car Profiles - Ford Escape (2015-2016)

2015-2016 Ford Escape

The Good: Athletic turbo engines, high levels of quality

The Bad: Turbo engines may prove to be expensive to maintain

The Say: While an outstanding package, it isn't practical as others.

Go For: 1.6 SE

Price Range: P800,000-P1,150,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Car Profiles - Volkswagen Beetle (2014-2017)

2014-2017 Volkswagen Beetle

The Good: Stylish, powerful engines

The Bad: Impractical, some cheap feeling materials

The Say: Not the best choice for all seasons, unless you prefer cuteness and nostalgia.

Go For: 1.4

Price Range: P1,000,000-P1,600,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volkswagen Beetle (2014-2017)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Car Profiles - Toyota Previa (2006-2017)

2006-2017 Toyota Previa

The Good: Topnotch interior quality, manageable and practical

The Bad: Firm ride, no diesel

The Say: Luxurious and practical at the same time.

Go For: 2.4 Q

Price Range: P560,000-P1,000,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Toyota Previa (2006-2017)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Cruze (2010-2017)

This car's first generation will cruze to its swan song.

2010-2017 Chevrolet Cruze


General Motors is one big family, especially that they own multiple brands and being sold to different markets. Funnily enough, one car model is being sold under different badges in different countries. With the General being guilty of this, would this car be a farewell effort to ditch this long practice?

Carrying the internal designation of J300, the Cruze was first introduced in 2008 which replaces the Chevrolet Cobalt (North America), Daewoo Lacetti (most of Asia, we have it as the Chevrolet Optra), and the Holden Astra (Australia and New Zealand) and replacing it with one car that serves as a global car assembled in multiple countries and a significant one for GM's North American division, simply because people would buy because it is good and not for its price. If Ford had done it with the Focus, then GM must have been missing a lot.

A year after a turn over to a new distributor, Chevrolet brought in the Cruze to replace the outdated and slow selling Optra back in 2010. Three gasoline models and a solo diesel were made available to the general public. Quiet updates were done in 2013 and 2015 but not the blockbuster it was before. It will be replaced this year by a turbocharged second generation model. L and LS models are paired with a gasoline engine while the top end LT can be had with both.

Value and Costs
Chevrolets aren't known for their stellar resale values, which means that the oldest example can cost you for as low as P220,000. In comparison with comparable Japanese rivals (except perhaps with the old body Nissan Sentra and Mitsubishi Lancer) are priced a hundred grand more, a good thing for second hand buyers. Units purchased from March 2011 onwards gain a five year warranty.

Since this Chevrolet has some Korean blood, parts are somewhat easy and maintaining one is on par with rivals. Problem points include the alternator and the transmission, so check carefully. Another point is the diesel model would require you to travel more miles just to recoup the operating costs.

Exterior and Interior
While not striking like some rivals, the Cruze is elegantly styled and clean looking. A facelift in 2013 gained a revised grille and tail lamps while two years later the rear license plate holder was relocated to the bumper portion.

Unlike its predecessor (and one thing that the General got it right), interior quality is much better which you may mistaken it for a luxury brand. Do take note that LS models and above from 2011 until 2013 ditch a six-disc changer to a single one in order to accommodate a navigation system while the updated ones utilize a MyLink system. While the third row is fine, it may be tight for some.

Just like its compatriot the Ford Focus of the same period, two engines of different fuel flavors are available. Most Cruzes come with a 1.8 gasoline carrying 139hp at 6,200rpm and 173Nm at 3,800rpm while the rarest of them all is a 2.0 diesel that has 148hp at 4,000rpm 320Nm at 2,000rpm. While below the 3,500rpm mark will give you a smooth drive, anything above it will treat you to a powerful drive which may have the vehicle strained. On the other hand, the 2.0 diesel is fast yet efficient.

Driving Impressions
While the driving prowess may not come to the levels of the Civic or the Focus, the Cruze remains relaxed and planted although going to the curves may give you some body lean. Refinement is top notch, thinking that Chevy must have buried their bad habits.

Replacing three different vehicles for one global brand is definitely not the General's strength (since Ford and the Japs) but the Cruze proved that they can.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: Renault

Our third manufacturer from Europe is Renault, which is the second largest brand from France. Although they have an alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi, they are treated as separate entities in this list. Same with its European brothers which has a wide portfolio of brands, the case of badge engineering can happen.

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 Renault subsidiary which includes Dacia, Renault-Samsung, and AvtoVAZ. Its Japanese corporate cousins are listed on separate articles for Nissan and Mitsubishi.

Let us check out which Renault vehicles were sold using another name.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Car Features - Same Car, Different Names: PSA Group

Next on the list is the PSA Group, which is the largest automotive group in France and the second overall. The group includes Peugeot, Citroen, DS Automobiles, and recently acquired Opel and Vauxhall. With a wide range of brands, badge engineering is the likely scenario to happen.

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 PSA Group subsidiary and includes the Eurovans which was a venture between PSA and Fiat (the facility that made these vans is fully owned by the French camp now).

For the largest French automobile brand, let us see which wore different badges.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Used Car Review - Volkswagen Beetle (2014-2017)

Want fun and nostalgia in a cute package, we have one nominee for you.

2014-2017 Volkswagen Beetle


We all know the story of the original Beetle where it was first introduced in 1938 and only to be sold until 2003, despite the fact that the Golf (its intended replacement) was introduced in 1974. Sure, it became an icon and had outlived with most contemporaries but is outsold by modern competition which is expected for something that was unchanged. The second generation model, called the New Beetle, was introduced in 1997 with the older model's silhouette as an inspiration but wrapped in a modern package. This one lived longer, with a lifespan of 13 years, especially that two or three generation models of the Golf or Jetta were introduced during those times.

Introduced in 2011 using the PQ35 chassis code that is shared with the Jetta, the Beetle (dropping the New moniker) aims to feature a lower profile and an aggressive personality without straying to the shape of the original model and making a distance to its predecessor. Unlike the Golf or Jetta that is marketed towards a general audience and a mainstream market, the Beetle is a niche car, just like its predecessor but not its grandfather is aimed at.

Ayala Corporation, which is responsible for having a stake in Honda and Isuzu, brought in the updated Beetle after nearly a decade of absence. It was priced lower than its direct rival, the MINI, but commands a premium against natural rivals from East Asia and the West assembled nearby (no thanks from being sourced in Mexico). It was quietly removed from the line-up in late 2017, with a Club Edition being its last hurrah.

Value and Costs
The oldest unit that you may encounter would even set you back P1,000,000 with the most expensive that you can get is P1,600,000. Have a keen eye towards the overall condition especially that not much changes were done and it was sold briefly, plus a later model will give you a remainder of the warranty.

Expect somewhat higher maintenance costs with this one especially that this car may either have a turbo or twin charger in it although PMS schedules are marked every 15,000kms that may offset its premium cost. Unlike its lolo, this isn't the reliable car it used to be as problem points for this car lies on its airconditioning and transmission.

Exterior and Interior
Sure, the Beetle's design is identifiable and widely known by anyone and VW's designers think that why would they fix something that is not broken. This means that the original shape (we have mentioned it numerous times) remains the concept but several modern touches were done to reflect current market trends. Club Edition models distance themselves from their regular counterparts in their black rims and a sticker. Dual clutch models have a spoiler to distinguish from their three pedaled models.

Inside is a mishmash of retro touches while being a relevant vehicle in the 21st century, with body color panels that is patterned with the exterior which is reminiscent of metal but they're actually plastic. Sure, two in the front are just right but adding two more at the back is torture plus visibility is wanting. Going for the Club adds leather seats, navigation system, Bluetooth, and a SD card reader.

Two engines are available, depending on the transmission you want. Manual models get a 1.2 turbocharged engine with 104hp at 4,500rpm and 175Nm at 1,400rpm while dual clutch ones have a 1.4 twincharger coupled to 158hp at 5,800rpm and 240Nm at 1,500-4,500rpm to play with. Both engines are capable at low speeds, but terrible when driven fast due to its noisy nature.

Driving Impressions
Despite the fact it shares its underpinnings with the impressive Golf, it does not share its traits and that is a sad fact. Braking and handling are fine but nothing special to write about plus it is overshadowed by the MINI Hatch.

Unless you prioritize attention and nostalgia, our nod goes to the British/German rival for being more practical while retaining its fun to drive roots. Sure, its has some flaws but the allure of a Beetle cannot be denied.