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

History

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.

Engine
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.

Verdict
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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Honda CR-V - Generation 4.2 (2015-2017)

HONDA CR-V (2015-2017)

Applicable only to Thailand models, the facelift gains new items such as a navigation system and Lanewatch system.

Kia Picanto - Generation 2.1-2 (2011-2017)

KIA PICANTO (2011-2017)

Improved in many ways, the second generation Picanto has an interior and exterior that is European levels but equipment levels are primitive. The basic LX is introduced in 2014 only to be dropped a year later.

Car Profiles - Kia Picanto (2011-2017)

2011-2017 Kia Picanto

The Good: High quality interior, easy to drive

The Bad: Basic interior, automatics are fuel guzzlers

The Say: Improved but still primitive.

Go For: EX M/T
Avoid: EX A/T

Price Range: P240,000-P440,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Kia Picanto (2011-2017)
Latest vehicle profile: Kia Picanto

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2011-2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Used Car Review - Honda CR-V (2012-2017)

A popular nameplate gets redesigned this year, let us revisit.

2012-2017 Honda CR-V

History

One of the popular nameplates in the Philippine car landscape is the Honda CR-V, which became the sole model to start the compact SUV category ever since it entered the market in late 1997. Sure, the Toyota RAV4 came first, but the straight H badge became the class leader. Rivals from other parts of Asia (such as Japan and Korea) and America came to the scene and toppled this but the legacy of this category starts with this one.

Debuted as a concept car at the Orange County International Auto Show in September 2011 with the actual production model launched two months later in Los Angeles and sales starting December in both US and Japan markets.

We all know that Honda's assembly plant in Thailand got flooded in late 2011, resulting to vehicle shortages for selected models for our market. Because of this, the local subsidiary of Honda had to result to importing certain models such as the CR-V (most PHDM models come from Thailand, the same goes with the Jazz, Civic, and Accord). Japanese models were first brought here in two guises, the LX 2WD and EX 4WD, which carried different specifications in April 2012. In December 2012, Thailand spec models were shipped in with varying features from the first batches. Updates occurred in November 2014 and July 2016 which were either model changes or additional equipment.

Value and Costs
Most gasoline powered compact sport utility vehicles - especially when their displacement is above two liters - aren't friendly to the first owner, but if you're buying second hand that may come to an advantage especially that lower prices may prove as a bargain. Japan sourced models have a slight price premium over those from Thailand, given the fact that the former is sold for a limited time. Just like previous generation models, you can have a Modulo or Cruiser Edition for this one. Manuals can only be had for the V sourced from Thailand.

Keeping this baby wouldn't require you to skip meals or do cost cutting measures, especially that maintenance costs aren't that far and between compared to rivals of the same price point (not including turbocharged models and diesels). No serious problems were reported as of now but a recall issued in July 2012 for 834 units sold between April to July of that year involving the interior door latch whose inside system may get loose that may open when the vehicle is moving.

Exterior and Interior
While the front looked sleek, the rear is somewhat flat due to the sloping window design. Sure, it may not be a standout when it comes to its style but the design adds to one advantage the vehicle has. November 2014 (for the 2015 model year) gives the vehicle a revised grille which made the car look more premium, different wheel design, and daytime running lamps. Models from Japan can be distinguished by their matte finish grill (Thailand units have theirs in piano black) and DRLs (2013-2014 models don't get them).

Inside, a spacious cabin treats both people and cargo which is a long time advantage for this nameplate. A third row seat became a cost-free option for LX and EX models in 2013 with later models being a P25,000 optional item but it is best treated for emergency uses only. Regardless of country of origin, interior quality is top notch especially it has that premium touch. A touchscreen radio monitor with Bluetooth comes standard among S and S-X models from 2015 while the LaneWatch and a navigation system comes standard for the top end model for 2015. Japan models come with fabric seats with their counterparts from Thailand get optional leather. Other major differences include the following: conventional handbrake for Japan units versus a footbrake for Thailand models, and an advanced i-Mid system for later units.

Engine
Similar to previous generation models, you can have two engine variants but only paired to a certain drivetrain. Front wheel drive models are paired to a R20A 2.0 having 153hp at 6,500rpm and 190Nm at 4,300rpm while all wheel drive models have a K24Y1 2.4 displacing 185hp at 7,000rpm and 220Nm at 4,400rpm. An ECON mode which aids the car to be more fuel friendly on an already fuel thirsty engine comes standard.

Driving Impressions
If you want something comfortable and relaxing, then you have came to the right place since this vehicle has that attribute. The CR-V has a light steering which is a boon for city driving and its ride comfort is perfect for both environments.

Verdict
Despite rivals which have more power or are cheaper that came to the market, the CR-V still has that place in the consumer's heart by providing a sweet spot between something that is comfortable in all places while at the same time a reliable partner.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Japan for 2014

Our third article for Japan best sellers is the year 2014, in what would be the last year for a huge increase but that is because of a looming tax increase that occurred the following year.

5.5 million vehicles were driven off Japanese showrooms on that year which comprises of 3.2 million regular cars, 2.2 million Keis, and 100,000 imports (or in short, non-Japanese). This list only counts regular models especially that our source doesn't include Keis and imports but these are just the minority.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Japan for 2015

For our second article, we shall go to year 2015.

A decline no thanks to tax for Kei cars brought in a decrease with five million cars were sold including 3.1 million regular cars, 1.8 million Kei cars, and 328,000 imported cars (non-Japanese brands). This list only counts regular models especially that our source doesn't include Keis and imports but these are just the minority.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Car Profiles - Honda Civic Type R

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R

You asked for a performance oriented Honda, they have answered it. Since the Civic SiR's demise more than two decades ago, the Civic Type R is the brand's halo car with the performance known for but comes at a price.

The Good:
The Bad:

Price Range: P2,980,000
Our Rating:

Last Update: July 18, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Japan for 2016

We all know that Japanese brands dominate the Philippine market and you might be curious what Japanese models are selling well in their home country. Well, we have obtained a list online for 2013 to 2016 and we shall start with the latest one.

2016 saw 4.9 million cars were sold in Japan, this includes 1.7 million Kei cars and 343,000 imported cars (non-Japanese brands), down slightly no thanks to a tax increase for small cars. This list only counts regular models especially that our source doesn't include Keis and imports but these are just the minority.

Watch out for three Mondays as we discover the best sellers of 2013 to 2015 in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Used Car Review - Chrysler Town and Country (2008-2017)

One of the remaining American minivans graces this page for today.

2008-2017 Chrysler Town and Country

History

American car manufacturers had long been abandoning minivans for personal usage ten years ago or so, with General Motors and Ford Motor Company leaving the minivan market citing poor sales, with Chrysler/Dodge the remaining American brand to compete in a shrinking market now being relegated to a Japanese and a lone Korean brand. Times weren't friendly to the soccer mom since crossovers and SUVs now dominate the sales charts.

Introduced in August 2007 as a 2008 model, the Chrysler Town and Country/Dodge Grand Caravan twins and the similar European Chrysler Voyager reached its fifth generation life span. It also gave birth to a North American exclusive Volkswagen Routan which wasn't a sales success. Numerous changes from its previous generation model occurred to this Canadian made minivan with an extensive one for the 2011 model year. Although the Caravan still lives on as a cheaper alternative, the Town and Country was replaced by the Pacifica (not related to a crossover sold in the mid-00s).

Apart from the Ford E-150, the Chrysler Town and Country were one of the remaining American minivans sold in the Philippine market during the late-00s, with the Chevrolet Venture - a Chinese branded Buick minivan - being removed. Two models were first launched with a sole diesel added in 2010 and in 2013, it was reduced to a single variant. It was silently discontinued with the pending introduction of the Pacifica later this year.

Value and Costs
American vehicles are notorious for their low resale prices which makes them a bargain for second hand buyers if you know how to look. Second hand Chrysler Town and Country minivans of this generation can cost between P600,000 to a million pesos in varying years. Before going for this van, you may want to reconsider other superior rivals which cost more and importantly, more reliable as we will explain further.

This van, alongside its siblings, aren't the most reliable minivans in the market especially in the US alone. Since this is a high end minivan, power options come standard and these must be checked if these still work. Other areas of concern include the transmission system, air-conditioning, and the interior plastics. Parts can be sourced from American car specialists, in which you must befriend them if you decide to own this one. Fuel consumption isn't a strength (except for the diesel), so if you are complaining of gas prices look elsewhere.

Exterior and Interior
Minivan qualities like a tall profile and dual sliding doors come standard, in which this vehicle is known for. Not much to be said on the outside, as the magic of this vehicle lies inside but Limited models of 2008 to 2012 distinguish themselves with a sun roof.

Since this van is aimed towards the upper scale of the market, it seats seven people just like several rivals (with the exemption of the USDM Honda Odyssey of the early 2010s) and comes with the famed Stow and Go but for the Limited, it gets a Swivel and Go seating configuration that gives you swiveling rear seats and an optional table. Since this van is fully loaded, depending on the year and variant, it comes with the following items: MyGig Hard drive with either 20GB or 40GB worth of storage, navigation system, power tailgate, power sliding doors, power pedals, cruise control, airbags on all sides, parking sensors, back-up camera, and a requisite among family oriented vehicles, a DVD player. Since this is a minivan, expect a roomy cabin for all types of people. Updated models gain a revised interior which bade farewell to cheap plastic materials.

Engine
There are two gasoline engines and a sole diesel burner which was offered. Let us first discuss the former as you'll be encountering this more often; 2008 to 2012 models utilize a 3.8 V6 with 193hp at 5,000rpm and 314Nm at 4,000rpm with 2013 to 2017 using a 3.6 V6 having 279hp at 6,600rpm and 344Nm at 4,400rpm. A rare (but our choice for this vehicle) diesel is offered in the form of a 2.8 4-cylinder with 163hp at 3,800rpm and 359Nm at 1,600rpm to play with. Both petrol engines are fast movers in both acceleration and fuel consumption while the diesel is the thriftier option.

Driving Impressions
The words sporty handling and minivan aren't mentioned in one paragraph, let alone a sentence, and this isn't applicable with the Town and Country especially that comfort rules here. Despite the abundance of power, we advise you to drive prudently especially with the vehicle being full.

Verdict
Although an innovator, the Town and Country became outclassed by superior rivals from Japan throughout the years. Sure, its interior is very flexible and there's a diesel but its isn't that reliable, so check first before committing.