Thursday, May 30, 2013

Car Profiles - Mazda 626 (1993-1998)

1993-1998 Mazda 626

The Good: Available liftback version, space for occupants

The Bad: Not that fuel efficient, engine somewhat underpowered (but has the torque)

The Say: Underneath the bland styling is a fun to drive car.

Go For: 2.0

Price Range: P90,000-P150,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Used Car Review - Toyota Corona (1993-1999)

Our last candidate for the elections, despite the name, tries to win the general buyers' wallets as well as the seat. Myk Belmonte invites you to discover a rather forgotten name.

1993-1999 Toyota Corona

If the 90s premium sedans had an election back in year 1995 (this was the time Fidel Ramos was president), the Accord would definitely be Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (she used a senator) since this topped the polls as well as the sales leader for that category. The Mitsubishi Galant and Toyota Corona would be Francisco Tatad and Gregorio Honasan II in the sales charts due to the fact while they sold well, they are not as that visible as the sales leader. The Mazda 626 and Nissan Altima fared outside the top 12 since these two are not popular among buyers of this category. Worse, the Altima can be compared with Rosemarie Arenas, who placed 19 out of 20 candidates.

The T190 Corona, as what I am featuring in this review, was made available in March 1992 in most international markets under the Corona and Carina names. Sold in sedan, liftback, station wagon, hardtop sedan, and even a van version. Interestingly enough, this was the last that those outside Japan can buy and drive a brand new Corona, as the T210 model was only exclusive for the Japanese market. Toyota pulled the plug for international markets in 1998.

Filipinos had a love affair with Coronas (not the disposed Chief Justice nor the imported beer from Mexico), but with a Toyota badge. You get the image but with the maintenance costs of a Corolla, that was the appeal of the Corona locally. The T190 was made available in 1993 and did battle with the Accord and Galant. Time had passed in which the Camry replaced this vehicle in 1998, although you can buy one until 1999, which are basically leftover units. From launch, the only trim available is the EX Saloon but one year after the 1995 revision, the Exsior model was introduced with extended bumpers and red/amber tail lamps. The Exsior spawned a second model, the LE which had leather upholstery.

Value and Costs
This vehicle is a victim of low residuals that targets premium sedans having an engine displacement of two liters. Not also to be helped by the discontinued nameplate, T190 Coronas can be acquired in the range of P120,000-P180,000. In that range, direct rivals of the same period can be had for the same sum. Either way, careful research is the key since the Corona targets those who want things smooth.

Common problems that hit the T190 involves the leak from the pump and rack, map sensor, water leak in the trunk, power antenna, and the suspension bushing. But despite these maladies, you can buy parts easily and they are cheap. Fuel economy is no match to a 1.6 Corolla GLi of a same time.

Exterior and Interior
European inspired is the term to describe the outside of the Corona, but the car remains Japanese at heart. 1993 to early 1995 models have their license plates mounted in the rear bumper, as opposed to the facelift's integrated to the trunk. 1995 saw its bumpers, both front and back, sporting a black trim and a three piece spoiler was made standard. Exsior models have (and can be distinguished by their) extended bumpers, and the mix of red and amber tail lamps. It is understated luxury here, but with the European touch.

Inside, it is your typical Toyota interior. Controls are legible and placed within reasonable distance from the driver. Interestingly enough, climate controls are more of the rotator type (which is common among cars nowadays) than the slide ones which are vogue during that time. Black finish was used and faux wood is only available on the Exsior LE. Most models have fabric seats but the Exsior LE gets leather seating, and other exclusive items include an air purifier and the above mentioned wood trim. Airbags and ABS Brakes come standard with 1995 and later models. Interior room is definitely excellent, but driver visibility is somewhat poor no thanks to the high cowl, high dashboard layout, and low seating position.

There is only one engine option for PHDM Coronas back then. It is a 3S-FE 1,998cc which carries 126hp at 5,600rpm and 177Nm at 4,400rpm. A strength typical for Toyotas are available power in the low to mid revs, but go beyond 5,000rpm it loses stream. But then, if you have the love for modification, slapping in a 3S-GE or 3S-GTE is a cake and you'll be driving like the devil in no time.

Driving Impressions
Let me remind you one thing, the Corona is not a treat for the driver due to the seats positioned very low, and a dull steering. It does not drive like a barge, but since it is a smooth operator, your passengers would love it more, thanks to the large space in the rear.

The Corona is one outstanding premium sedan from the noughties, buy one if you want comfort for less cash. But if economy is a priority, a 1.6 vehicle from the same period is a better choice. Besides, both of them have the same prices and there is the freedom of choice for the buyer. Vote (or shall I say buy) wisely.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Corona (1993-1999)

1993-1999 Toyota Corona

The Good: Reliable and roomy

The Bad: Poor visibility, not fuel efficient

The Say: Crowns the passenger more than the driver.

Go For: EX Saloon
Avoid: Exsior LE

Price Range: P120,000-P180,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Toyota Corona (1993-1999)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Car Profiles - Nissan Altima (1993-1998)

1993-1998 Nissan Altima

The Good: Strong 2.0 engine, luxurious looks

The Bad: Jelly bean styling not for all

The Say: Under appreciated when new, appealing when used.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: 1.8

Price Range: P55,000-P120,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review:  None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Used Car Review - Honda Accord (2008-2013)

Our newcomer for the elections, and Myk Belmonte also evaluates this soon to be replaced model. We shall check more of this generation, since this could be a great value.

2008-2012 Honda Accord

The first time a car that bore the badge of Honda Accord ran for the premium sedan race was when the president toted a cigar and passenger sedans dominated over commercial vehicles. Now running for the fourth term, the Accord grows bigger and advocates power while being economical. Did it succeed? Read on.

One of the vehicles replaced for this year, the eighth generation Accord had two versions, one for the consumers in Europe and Japan and one for the rest of Asia and North America. The latter grew in size as it was classified by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US as a full size, which rivals the Toyota Avalon and the Chevrolet Impala in terms of interior room. Apart from a sedan body, a coupe and a fastback named the Crossback was also made for retail sale. Sales ended in 2012 in anticipation of the ninth generation Accord that was previewed in the North American International Auto Show earlier that year.

If you think that the Mercedes Benz you're dreaming of would have your bank account complain, then a second hand eight generation Accord is a prudent choice. Available since 2008, it was a second choice among buyers since the Camry is their first. It had the usual fare of engines common in this segment, a room for the boss to stretch his legs, and one important thing, respectable looks. Grey imports brought in the coupe and Crossback versions, and months after you read this, Honda might be pulling the curtains off  for their ninth generation Accord. While there is only one variant for the four banger, the V6 can be had in either Thailand (named as the S and renamed S-V last year) or Japan (EX, recently available) flavors.

Value and Costs
With the mercy of depreciation, a second hand unit goes for P690,000-P1,100,000. This is considering that prices may go down further by the time the new model comes out. Purchasing a unit acquired from June 2010 or late would have the remaining chunk of the warranty, but then earlier units are great buys too.

Maintaining one is similar to its contemporaries from the Land of the Rising Sun and Korea but less than the Germans. Electronic gadgets are nice to have, but see them break is more hurtful to the wallet especially when the engine conks down. A unit with complete service records but priced higher is worth it than a lower priced one that has incomplete records.

Exterior and Interior
German cues are evident here, and it turns out that it wants attention, unlike the leading competitor. Dynamic is the word, especially that it has geometric slash lines in the doors and windows and the headlamps that were pulled using a suction cup. Bulky as it is, it does a great job of hiding it. For the 2011 update, the Accord was fitted with a bigger grille (that can draw some mixed reactions), some nips and tuck in the bumpers, and a new wheel design.

A mixture of soft touch plastics, leather, and wood (for the V6 models) abound the Accord's dashboard. All variants get leather seating, so be careful when buying a unit especially if dirt is present all around. The center stack of controls can be confusing for the first time buyer but you'll get used to it later on. Gauges are readable and interior room, reflecting its full-size status, is excellent.

Two sets of engines with different cylinders are made standard. The first one is a K24Z2 2,354cc 4 cylinder which carries 180hp at 6,500rpm and 225Nm at 4,200rpm. On the other side of the spectrum, a V6 engine in the form of a J35Z2 3,471cc that has 275hp at 6,200rpm and 342Nm at 5,000rpm powers the S, S-V, and EX models. The 4-cylinder engine has enough grunt for your daily needs but if your are hungry for power, the 3.5 V6 has it but the cylinder shutdown isn't obvious at low speeds (it has an eco indicator, though). Floor it and go to the higher rpms, the VTEC magic comes in, but then it does not mean it lacks power in low speeds.

Driving Impressions
If I previously criticized the Camry for having a boat ride, the Accord responds to the drivers desires. While road noise is evident, it is hushed properly. Handling is properly behaved especially when in motion. Try making numerous spins in a short radius circle and especially for the V6, it shows its limitations ahead of time. Kudos to the engineers who made the Accord since they took in consideration the driving delight.

There is a reason why the Accord continues to win the elections for the premium sedan race. It has the panache, room, image, and strikes a balance between daddy's mobile and sons college car. It may be gone, but you can still buy one. Besides, old or new, it is still a classic

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Car Profiles - Honda Accord (2008-2013)

2008-2013 Honda Accord

The Good: High levels of refinement and materials used, spacious interior

The Bad: Center console buttons needs time to get used to

The Say: Can be your daily driver and at the same time, the sports car of your dreams.

Go For: 2.4

Price Range: P580,000-P1,420,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Honda Accord (2008-2013)
Latest vehicle profile: Honda Accord

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Car Profiles - Isuzu Hilander (1997-2001)

1997-2001 Isuzu Hilander

The Good: Spacious, low maintenance costs and acquisition

The Bad: Refinement not on its vocabulary

The Say: A logical choice for the low budgeted family man.

Go For: SLX
Avoid: Ex-shuttles

Price Range: P150,000-P350,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Isuzu Crosswind

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Innova (2005-2016)

2005-2016 Toyota Innova

The Good: Robust, comfortable than the ancient rivals

The Bad: Side folding third row seats, gasoline engine could use more punch

The Say: Definitely an innovation, sticks to its name.

Go For: 2.5 G
Avoid: 2.0 V

Price Range: P360,000-P800,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Reviews: Used Car Review - Toyota Innova (2005-Current)/(2005-2016)
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Innova Diesel/Gasoline

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2005-2008 Gasoline/Diesel
2008-2012 Gasoline/Diesel
2012-2014 Gasoline/Diesel
2014-2016 Gasoline/Diesel

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Adventure (1998-Current)

Running for numerous terms, Myk Belmonte delves more on why this vehicle continues to win the slot during elections and the buyers around the country.

1998-Current Mitsubishi Adventure

There are reasons why some senators stay in their seats for numerous terms and some cars sell well for years despite the influx of new competitors. Despite some old school mechanicals and tons of cosmetic and equipment changes, the Mitsubishi Adventure still attracts some buyers. More on this later.

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. Some markets placed the vehicle in the graveyard, which in turn senators retire after years of service.

With the growing market for AUV's during the late 90s, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines decided to join the party by assembling the Adventure locally and because of this, the three diamond brand became the number one brand in 1998 due to this (Toyota dominated later on with skyrocketing sales of the Revo). After numerous under the surgeons knife treatments done in 2001, 2004, and late 2009, the Adventure has a customer base ranging from OFW families to UV Express operators. 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.

Value and Costs
Scouting for an affordable family vehicle? Place in the Adventure in your list since second hand models cost P230,000-P670,000 that encompasses different model years and variants. So, focus on the condition rather than a year model since there are minimal changes.

Having one in your garage does not bring you headaches, especially if you purchase a diesel model, parts are interchangeable with the L300 and you can purchase them anywhere. Just keep some funds for replaceable items.

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 Super 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 (this does not include the FX type door) and this includes opening the spare tyre cover sideways that is a bane in mall parking lots. If you got a 2004 and later Super Sport, worry less since they have their third rows facing front.

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 a candidate in the UNA or Team PNoy senatorial slate with a number of trims, but you have an option of two engines. The popular one is the 4D56 2,476cc 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. Hate being flagged by the money hungry ASBUs unauthorized by the MMDA? Then you have the 4G63 1,997cc which possess 114hp at 5,500rpm and 165Nm at 3,000rpm. What shall you pick then? For all intents and purposes, the diesel is the top choice since parts availability is wide spread. If compared with the Crosswind's 4JA1 powerplant, the 4D56 feels muted and quiet. You can speed up a bit due to the low gear ratios, but fuel efficiency is somewhat lower and you have to thrash the gear for an acceptable performance. The Galant sourced 4G63 engine, on the other hand, is rough when started but once things get through, it becomes smooth. Fuel economy 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).

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. Wait, why do I compare an AUV to a heavy purpose van?

Still a veteran in the car market, the Adventure still has a following despite not having some new ideas. New ideas from new but unknown faces are encouraged, but there is a reason why old names are still voted. The Adventure still has that name recall, especially if you prioritize your family over yourself.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Car Profiles - Mitsubishi Adventure (1998-2017)

1998-2017 Mitsubishi Adventure

The Good: Variety of trim levels, options, and seating layout to choose from

The Bad: No safety kit, not that spacious

The Say: There is a reason why Filipinos buy this car.

Go For: 2.5 GLS Sport
Avoid: Units previously used as shuttles

Price Range: P250,000-P680,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Adventure (1998-Current) (first review), Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Adventure (1998-2017) (final review)
Latest vehicle profile: Mitsubishi Adventure

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2001-2004 Gasoline/Diesel
2004-2009 Gasoline/Diesel

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Car Profiles - Suzuki APV (2005-Current)

2005-Current Suzuki APV

The Good: Headroom space, can seat 8 in a compact size

The Bad: Rudimentary suspension settings, slow and power deprived engine

The Say: Practical but not refined.

Go For: 1.6 GLX
Avoid: 1.6 GA

Price Range: P200,000-P400,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Suzuki APV (2005-Current)
Latest vehicle profile: Suzuki APV

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Used Car Review - Kia Carens (2007-2012)

People carriers are common in the country, and Myk Belmonte evaluates this candidate for the Senate and will this win the people, or shall we say buyers? Find out.

2007-2012 Kia Carens

I may have written these words (or in this case, description) several times that Korean makers develop vehicles ranging from those first time owners to the executives who are patriotic. People carriers are mainstays since they make sizes of small, medium, large, and extra large. Similar to a political family, they have people from the small position to the national ones.

In Kia's roster of MPVs and vans, the Carens (or Rondo in other countries) is the entry level one. The model started life in 1999 but the third generation model was released in 2006. As they say, learn to think local. And in some markets, both five and seven seater versions were sold. The US market discontinued this in 2010 but their Canadian neighbors love this one. 2012 was the last year you can buy this one internationally.

As a part of Columbian Autocar Corporation's product revamp, the Carens was made available to the Philippine market in 2007. At that time, it complemented the Carnival and battling the likes of the Innova and Grand Livina. Both gasoline and diesel engines were made available but the former was dropped in 2009 due to lack of consumer interest. Available in the Kia dealership near you until 2012, with the last stocks being sold and quietly dropped in the local website in the middle of the year. As you read this, an all new generation is made available, but the previous generation Carens is a great candidate as a cheap people carrier. Trims available are the LX and EX, with the latter available only in automatic transmission.

Value and Costs
At P430,000-P650,000, you can get a small MPV that is also fuel efficient. There are numerous worthy candidates priced in the same category such as the Toyota Innova, Mitsubishi Adventure, Suzuki APV, Nissan Grand Livina, and the Toyota Avanza; but research more on your needs especially that when you realize that the top brands are big for your requirements.

With the influx of Korean specialist shops, purchase of parts for your Carens is as easy as 1-2-3. However, if the diesel engine is what you seek, check the unit you are eyeing has a problem with the turbocharger. This is the most fragile part and expensive (and not to forget, you'll have to wait for long) to fix, especially if the owner does not have the habit of warming down the engine for 2 minutes the most after a long drive before shutting down the engine.

Exterior and Interior
There is not much to be said about the exterior, but there is one important thing to remember, this can fit 7 warm bodies in a compact package. The smallish body has a versatile cabin that can accommodate your ever changing needs. Hubcaps come standard with the LX while EX models have alloys.

Bare is the word to describe the interior. Black and beige are dominant in the dashboard, and there are tons of storage bins hidden inside. The transmission shifter is placed in the middle of the dash, freeing space. A foot brake comes standard but operating it is a problem especially for the manual variants. There is space in the front and middle rows but kids are welcome in the third row. Fold the third one and you get a great amount of space for a couple of shopping bags or a stroller.

Two engine options are made available, and let's begin with the most popular one. You'll encounter the D4EA 1,991cc diesel engine in every Carens for sale you see. For the figures, it packs 140hp at 4,000rpm and 314Nm at 2,500rpm. The G4KA 1,998cc gasoline from the Theta engine family, on the other hand, is rare and discontinued in 2009 but it has 145hp at 6,000rpm and 201Nm at 4,250rpm. While the gasoline engine is a decent performer, the diesel engine is the one to get. It may have conservative figures but it is very fast, thanks to the light body and, if you are lucky, available six forward gears in the manual transmission.

Driving Impressions
While not a bad drive, it is neither supple on the urban jungle nor composed on the corners in the provincial roads. Refinement is a mixed bag, with noise coming from the suspension, wind, and road can intrude the cabin. Speedwise, the ride gets better but gets out of posture when hitting the bad ruts. Steering, on the other hand, is decent but body roll is just moderate.

Big on utility, that's what the Carens wants to prove to the voters that every cent of their penny is worth it. There are apparent weaknesses, but you'll forgive those when you appreciate the big kit this car has.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Car Profiles - Kia Carens (2007-2012)

2007-2012 Kia Carens

The Good: Interior space in a clever package

The Bad: Lacks some refinement

The Say: A great choice if you find the class leaders big.

Go For: Diesels
Avoid: Gasoline variants

Price Range: P430,000-P650,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Kia Carens (2007-2012)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Car Profiles - Dodge Durango (2000-2005)

2000-2005 Dodge Durango

The Good: Interior space, powerful engine

The Bad: Clumsy handling, poor ride quality, poor fuel economy

The Say: A beast uncivilized in the city.

Go For: 4.7 V8

Price Range: P310,000-P500,000
Our Rating: **

Related Reviews: Used Car Review - Dodge Durango (2000-2005)
Latest vehicle profile: Dodge Durango

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Car Features - Electronic Fuel Injection vs. Carburetor System

Here at The Ultimate Used Car Guide, there are numerous vehicles that have their fuels being delivered via electronic fuel injection and carburetor system. This article aims to help you arrive at a wise decision especially on the financial and emotional aspect of buying a car.

Some vehicles mentioned in this article have links to their corresponding Car Profiles, with some having a link to their respective reviews.

Car Profiles - Mitsubishi Pajero (1995-1998)

1995-1998 Mitsubishi Pajero

The Good: Image, durability

The Bad: Not refined

The Say: A head turner that needs a personality check.

Go For: 2.5 Intercooler
Avoid: Converted units from Japan

Price Range: P300,000-P450,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Reviews: 
None as of the Moment

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Used Car Review - Nissan Patrol Safari (1991-2000)

After years of hiatus, Myk Belmonte follows the story of a comeback kid who wants to bring a bang to the Senate, as well as win the wallets of the buyers.

1991-2000 Nissan Patrol

Our candidate for the elections is making a comeback after years of being out of the spotlight. Surely, the SUV elections during the 90s had only a few candidates vying for the spot inside the senate, or in this case, the garages of the buyers.

Introduced in 1987 under the Y60 platform, the Nissan Patrol was totally 100% new mechanically as it carries a coil spring suspension. This remains the off-road prowess it is known for since 1951, especially that is one selling point of the Patrol. It remained in production until 1997, where the Y61 replaced it although some countries had it a little longer.

1991 saw the release of the Patrol Safari in the Philippines after years of the 160 series being sold locally. From prominent families, local businessmen, and the people who get voted by the masses, it has a following. Surely the elite voted their wallets for the Patrol, alongside the Pajero of the same period as their vehicles to carry their families in a safe but high profile fashion. This is one common car you'll see as back up vehicles of the president until they saw better days when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo replaced them with the Y61 models. 2000 was the last time you can buy them brand new.

Value and Costs
You can experience the moneyed people had done before without losing your image for as low as P300,000. However, the price range between P330,000-P700,000 can be questionable since the car is almost two decades old and in that range one can get various modern vehicles that are friendly to drive. But then, if you have a driver this does not pose a problem (which I will discuss later).

One advantage of this SUV is that there is no need to worry on where to fuel up, since this uses a rudimentary diesel engine. No piezzo injectors to replace, especially that earlier models of the Y61 series had a problem with their diesel engines. Parts can be acquired at your favorite car shops but for some components, waiting is a must. Watch out for the suspension and the vehicle emits black smoke, especially you wouldn't want to be flagged down by ASBU's

Exterior and Interior
Patrols with sirens are the images when mentioning the Patrol Safari. I couldn't help but associate it with either President Ramos or Estrada. This SUV wants to grab attention, especially the muscular but bulky body, and wide wheels comes standard. Let's not describe it further since the vehicle speaks for itself and for the owner.

Ancient is the word to associate with the Patrol's dashboard, as squares covered in black are dominant. The clock and stereo is placed in the lower portion and covered by the stickshift, which is good so that driver distraction is avoided. Gauges are huge, so that you can remind the driver he is over speeding especially when the fuel gauge goes down. The seats are hard, but legroom and headroom is excellent, especially the latter benefits from a tall roof. Planning to clamber in from the outside? It is difficult to do so as well going inside the third row, as you must go over a folded seat.

If the Pajero of the same period had a 2.5 4D56 (upgraded in 1999 to the 4M40), the Patrol has a monster, a TD422 4,169cc six diesel which has 123hp at 4,000rpm and 270Nm at 2,000rpm. With torques arriving as early as 2,000rpm, this one can move with ease. This one has 10 gears due to the fact it has 2WD and 4WD high and low settings. How does it drive when in these settings? Let's proceed to the next paragraph.

Driving Impressions
Thank goodness that the clutch isn't stiff, in fact it is more easier to press down. However, the shifter is somewhat uncooperative especially that placing it in gear is a challenge. Steering is light, which we are thankful but maneuvering can be daunting especially if you are graduating from a sedan. Before I forget, the 10 gears must be used wisely. Best to leave it in 2WD form especially that the 4WD low can make the Patrol a snail while the 4WD high can make the SUV wild in releasing under steer and at the same time, handling can be a problem.

Reminiscing what was life in the 90s? Buy yourself a Patrol Safari and try driving in the posh hotels and golf courses to get the feeling of being a rich guy back then. Comparing this to the SUV's of today, this would be left behind but there is a special place in the automotive culture of the Philippines. Would your wallet vote for this? You decide.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Car Profiles - Nissan Patrol Safari (1991-2000)

1991-2000 Nissan Patrol Safari

The Good: Easy to steer, ample occupant space, soft clutch

The Bad: Hard to maneuver, slow at 4WD mode

The Say: Tough as nails, but there are other appealing but modern choices.

Go For: 4.2 Patrol Safari
Avoid: Converted units

Price Range: P330,000-P700,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Nissan Patrol Safari (1991-2000)
Latest vehicle profile: Nissan Patrol Safari/Royale

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Land Cruiser (1993-1998)

1993-1998 Toyota Land Cruiser

The Good: Off road strength, reliability

The Bad: Size, expensive at second hand prices

The Say: Practices the great combination of luxury and utility.

Go For: 4.2 Diesel
Avoid: Japanese converted units

Price Range: P700,000-P1,200,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Land Cruiser

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Used Car Review - Ford Expedition (2003-2006)

Myk Belmonte: Our next candidate for this elections is something big, something popular. But only the selected few are invited. Will it appeal to the masses? The answer lies somewhere in this article.

2003-2006 Ford Expedition

There is one thing that connects the senator and the Ford Expedition, statement. If these senators want to arrive in style, they would be lining up for the Expedition. But that was 2003, 10 years later, these politicians had ditched their Expeditions for Land Cruisers due to the standard diesel engines. Even them, whose pork barrel money were used to fuel up their babies, have been depleted.

Developed under the U222 code, the second generation Expedition was available in 2002 as a 2003 vehicle. New items such as a four-wheel independent suspension system, an independent rear suspension, an increased towing capacity, and updated steering, braking, and electronic systems. Changes with noise insulation were also made, since Ford wants their customers to forget the truck like predecessor. The third row seat need not be removed for additional storage, they can be stowed flat.

Apart from the changes evident in Expeditions sold overseas, the Philippine version had a 10 seater option but all three rows face front. Do you miss the side facing jumpseats that did not have any comfort? No. Still, the elite still lined up for this hulking SUV. In the second hand market, would the voters (or in the case, buyers) plunk in their money for this one? Read on.

Value and Costs
So, you have reached your status but you want to be in a low profile appearance. You have a budget good enough for a brand new Vios, but have a oil well at your backyard or located somewhere in Palawan. Hmm, for a practical choice, head to your nearest car dealer and scout their lot for a second generation Expedition. Prices range from P500,000-P800,000, depending on year and condition.

Is it practical to own when parts are a problem? Maybe, but for the case of the Expedition, they can be scarce but Ford specialist shops are there for your needs. Fuel economy is not a strength, and you must have an eye with the suspension system.

Exterior and Interior
Some nip and tuck operations were done that chiseled off the muscles in favor of elegant curves. Just like a caveman who went to civilization, wearing a decent pair of shirt and shorts than something fit in the jungle. Nothing much to be talked about here.

Let's discuss more of the interior since you'll be inside it more often. Quality of materials used are much improved than the Fisher Price predecessor, although cheap ones are still there, it is not as widespread. Rather than wood, a black and beige befits the vehicle and does not feel tacky. Want leather? Better settle for the Eddie Bauer model since the XLT, which you'll encounter more often, has fabric seating as standard. XLT models can seat 10, but all of them facing front and there are four seat belts (yes, you heard it right) in the second row. You can stow them when not in use. Eddie Bauer ones make do with a three belt per row scheme. The third row can be folded when necessary and disappear like magic. You can be comfortable driving one but still awkward when used from a sedan. You wont feel any shortage of space in the Expedition.

Two V8 engines are available, but with only one drivetrain to pair with. The common one fitted in XLT models is the 4,601cc Modular engine which carries 232hp at 4,750rpm and 395Nm at 3,450rpm. Familiar with the figures? This engine was carried over from the previous generation model. With the introduction of the Eddie Bauer trim in late 2003, a new engine was made available. Still from the Modular engine family, a 5,408cc engine that has 260hp at 4,500rpm and 475Nm at 2,500rpm. Despite the heavy weight, the 4.6 V8 would provide you power at any rpm band. What more with the 5.4 V8, it will satisfy your hunger for power more. You wont win any fuel economy awards with either engines, and even fitting a diesel engine is a costly process.

Driving Impressions
Unlike the clumsy handling of the first generation, handling is much more behaved and with the suspension settings revised, power and torque had been balanced. You'll be more comfortable driving this since this is more nimble and feels smaller than it is. There is no need to worry when doing high speed driving, but remember to drive safely. Ride is still stiff, though.

You still get the presence and power that a senator wants but behaves like a nun, then a second generation Expedition is a great choice. Economy freaks need not buy or apply here. You get the popularity but will it serve you? Buyer, choose wisely.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Car Profiles - Ford Explorer (2004-2006)

2004-2006 Ford Explorer

The Good: Practical than an Expedition, yet you get the image that comes with it

The Bad: Firm ride, cheap materials used in the interior

The Say: Less than the Expedition but big in value.

Go For: 4x2 XLT
Avoid: 4x4 Eddie Bauer

Price Range: P450,000-P650,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Ford Explorer (2004-2006)
Latest vehicle profile: Ford Explorer

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mazda MX-5 - Generation 3.2 (2008-2014)

MAZDA MX-5 (2008-2014)

With the second generation model not sold locally, the third one was first launched in 2008 with a 25th Edition model being available in 2014. The latter is only available in 25 units which all have been accounted for.

See the overview of this MX-5
See the latest model of the MX-5

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Car Profiles - Alfa Romeo Spider (1996-2000)

1996-2000 Alfa Romeo Spider

The Good: Good looks

The Bad: Not reliable, poor seating position, high maintenance costs

The Say: Handsome, but not the all around husband.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: All others

Price Range: P300,000-P500,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

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Car Choices:
Only a 2.0 4-cylinder which carries 155hp is the standard engine among Spiders. This suits the vehicle's personality well since it is relaxed. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual.

Standard features include dual airbags, ABS brakes, fog lamps, leather seats, keyless entry, alarm system, power mirrors, power door locks, and power windows.

Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz SLK Class (2004-2011)

Our convertible candidate is back, and explore more of this if you are not interested on the one we featured last Monday. Myk Belmonte invites you to discover more through this review.

2004-2011 Mercedes Benz SLK Class

Among the German convertibles available, Myk does have a soft spot for the SLK Class especially that I had featured the predecessor of our featured model almost a year ago. It brought in strong engines and a metal top. Would this win the hearts of the buyers, let's see in the following articles.

Sold under the R171 code, the second generation SLK Class was made available in 2004 and kept the values that Mercedes Benz (or in this case, DaimlerChyrsler due to the fact it was developed under their partnership) wants to imbibe in this car. 2011 was the last year you can purchase this car brand new, with the R172 SLK replacing it.

Thanks to CATS Motors, all engines released worldwide were made available to the public. Variants include  the 200 Kompressor, 280, 350, and the 55 AMG available on an indent basis.

Value and Costs
Locally sold units would cost you between P1,800,000-P2,600,000. Why priced high? Convertibles are rare in the Philippines due to our weather here. Be careful if there is any, units from free ports especially those from Cagayan. They may have questionable conversion process and also, scariest of them, documents that can place you in danger.

European cars in general have expensive maintenance costs, so don't think of buying one if you do not have a stable income. Among things, the convertible top must be checked first if there is any difficulty in opening and if leaks are present. Before buying, let your fingers walk through every button you see.

Exterior and Interior
F1 is the word that you would say when you see the R171 SLK due to the front resembling a Formula One race car. The long hood, short tail profile is still there, as well as aggressive haunches. You can have an F1 inspired car without taking special driving lessons that are costly. With top or not, girls will look at you.

You will feel that the cabin is snug when entering the bank vault like doors. Tons of silver buttons that control every function are abound the interior ranging from the memory seat to the steering adjustment. The gauges break the Benz tradition, they have hoods and between them is a screen that reports your fuel consumption, temperature, and other important data. Headroom is not good, especially if you are a six footer, but no problems for the other parts of the body.

Luckily, our country had all the engine options that the international market has. Starting from the bottom is the M271 I4 packed with a supercharger which carries 184hp at 5,500rpm and 250Nm at 2,800-5,000rpm. Next in line are two V6 engines, with a 2,996cc with 200hp at 6,000rpm and 300Nm at 2,400-5,000rpm and a 3,498cc which carries 305hp at 6,500rpm and 460Nm at 4,900rpm, both engines come from the M272 family. The big boss of them all is the M113 5,439cc V8 that carries 355hp at 6,000rpm and 510Nm at 4,000rpm. The 1.8, although decent for those new to the experience, to get acceptable power you must push the pedal more and mind you, you are begging for at least the 3 liter ones. Both of these engines flirting in the 3 liter range are fast in their knees and have a great growling sound. The 5.5 V8 has more burble especially if you are not intimidated by them, but they are rare finds.

Driving Impressions
You will appreciate this beast more for long trips than the dash to the nearest 711 store since the suspension settings soaks up the bumps but the steering lacks that crisp which does not go with the design flow. Bad thing is that, this thing drives like a big car but you'll forgive this when on the motion. Between the manual and automatic modes, go for the latter since it responds better. Braking is a suit, as well as stability due to the standard Electronic Stability Control.

Our candidate, the Porsche Boxster, is very hardcore and turns off those who want something for the daily living. This candidate, promises every ounce of driving fun for the long road. Can afford to buy a weekend car? Place this in your choices.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Car Profiles - Mercedes Benz SLK Class (2004-2011)

2004-2011 Mercedes Benz SLK Class

The Good: Great exterior styling with the matching performance

The Bad: Rare in the market

The Say: Balances the hardcore moments and the smooth ones.

Go For: SLK350
Avoid: SLK55 AMG

Price Range: P1,800,000-P2,600,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz SLK Class (2004-2011)

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW Z3 Convertible (1996-2002)

1996-2002 BMW Z3 Convertible

The Good: Looks good

The Bad: But handles bad

The Say: If the performance could match the looks.

Go For: 1.9
Avoid: Imports

Price Range: P560,000-P900,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - BMW Z3 (1996-2002)

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Used Car Review - Porsche Boxster (1998-2004)

Myk Belmonte: Two convertibles are battling it out for a slot in the Senate as well as the buyer's heart. Which should you choose, this or wait for Thursday?

1999-2004 Porsche Boxster

When was the last time Porsche did a roadster since the 550 Spyder? It was 1956 and that car was famed since James Dean used it (and died in it due to a car crash). 1996 (or 40 years later) saw the launch of the Boxster and Porsche had one intention, to be a roadster.

The 986 Boxster started from struggles since the German brand was in danger of being purchased by a larger company. Wendelin Weideking was one hero for he saved the company, and since this was the most affordable Porsche you can buy in their dealership back then, profits flowed. Their efforts paid off since then a Boxster S model was made available in 2000 and as with all things, the life of this generation came to an end in 2004.

Locally, PGA Cars brought in this baby in 1998, the year where a financial crisis crippled the country. This candidate kept steadfast in surviving (or in this case, being purchased by customers). After six faithful years, the 987 was made available to the general public. Initially available with the 2.7 powerplant, with the 3.2 added in the roster at the turn of the millennium.

Value and Costs
It may be old, but definitely a goodie. And for that, a second hand unit would cost you in the range of P760,000-P2,500,000. The order of the day is to find a certified unit from PGA Cars since they have been verified and certified. Units imported from Japan and sold in freeports are no nos, not just with their condition but also to their documents.

Maintaining one isn't reserved for the lazy ones, as costs are very expensive. The first thing to check since this is a convertible is the top if it opens properly and it is in mint condition. Worn out ones and those with scratches can pose a problem later on. Other things to look at are the brakes if they are worn out, electrical components, and the oil levels.

Exterior and Interior
Modern and classic Porsche curves are present thanks to the efforts of Harm Lagaay, with some cues lifted from the 356 cabriolet, speedster, and 550 Spyder. Top down or not, it is dead gorgeous. The projector headlamp cluster resembles an egg while the air intakes add some style and shows how the engineers are determined with this vehicle.

Inside everything is more simple due to the fact the sporty driver does not need to be distracted. Audio and climate controls are within reach and simple to operate. Importantly, the gauges are simplified to three and display the important items that you should know. For the driver, the seats are comfortable to sit in and the armrest is situated where it should be, your arms on it.

From introduction, a 2,687cc flat six with 220hp at 6,400rpm and 260Nm at 4,750rpm was the basic engine and the sole choice, until year 2000 had the 3,179cc (still a flat six) that carries 252hp at 6,250rpm and 305Nm at 4,500rpm. Both engines are a joy to drive, especially that power is available on a broad curve.

Driving Impressions
Cranking the engine would make the harmonious sound of the flat six. And once placing it in drive, either something smooth or rough (depending on you) may happen. Go with the smooth flow and it will purr in harmony and encourages you to speed up, drive it rough and it will push you to your seat and put a smile on your face. The suspension system reminds you to bring it out of the city, especially it can get firm on a daily commute. Hardcore to say.

The cheapest Porsche does not dilute your image but rather it is the alternative to the pricey 911. If you like it brute, this is it. Smooth drivers look elsewhere.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Car Profiles - Porsche Boxster (1998-2004)

1998-2004 Porsche Boxster

The Good: Exciting to drive, excellent performance

The Bad: Expensive to buy and maintain

The Say: You still get the heritage of a Porsche even if it does not have a 911 badge at the back.

Go For: Boxster S
Avoid: Units with questionable records

Price Range: P760,000-P2,500,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Porsche Boxster (1998-2004)

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Car Profiles - Mazda 323F Lantis (1996-1998)

1996-1998 Mazda 323F Lantis

The Good: Sleek looks, parts are similar to the 1.6 323 Familia

The Bad: Rare in the market

The Say: Modern but unique.

Go For: 323F Lantis

Price Range: P180,000-P230,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment

Friday, May 3, 2013

Car Profiles - Mazda 323F Astina (1993-1998)

1993-1998 Mazda 323F Astina

The Good: Practical notchback body, cheap to acquire

The Bad: Has a carburetor, pop out lights wont pop out is a problem

The Say: Unique, but a 323 Familia is a practical choice.

Go For: 323F

Price Range: P70,000-P180,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Used Car Review - Hyundai Coupe (2003-2008)

Our first candidate is a two door coupe that has sports car genes and advocating affordable sports car experience for all. Myk Belmonte investigates this car further.

2003-2008 Hyundai Coupe

Koreans are an interesting bunch, especially for the automotive industry. Due to the fact they churn out numerous vehicles nearly in every categories (save for the pick-up trucks). Hyundai made the smaller Atoz to their humongous trucks, and to balance things, a two door vehicle must be present in the line-up.

The Coupe (Tiburon or Tuscani in other countries) was first available in 1996 and redesigned in 2002 for the 2003 model year. This is not the first time Hyundai attempted in building a coupe, the Excel based Scoupe (pronounced as scoop) was the Tiburon's predecessor. In 2008, this vehicle was chucked in favor of the Veloster, which was made available three years later. This vehicle did not have the Genesis Coupe as its immediate successor, being based on the Genesis sedan.

The local Hyundai distributor brought in the Coupe in late 2003 with just one engine but two transmission options. Updates were done in 2005 to accommodate a V6 engine and a second one in 2007 which had some changes. I'm sorry to say but the Genesis Coupe replaced this in 2009. Besides, where can you find a sporty coupe priced below two million pesos brand new?

Value and Costs
Single and ready to mingle? Your 400k may get you either a second hand Mazda 3, Honda Civic, and throw in a Nissan X-Trail or Toyota RAV4; but how about a Hyundai Coupe? Well, at just between P350,000-P400,000 you can have fun without depleting your bank account. For an interesting hunt, try also scouting surplus units from Korea but try to avoid the weak 1.6 engine, if you happen to encounter one.

Maintaining one, save for the V6, is not to the level of the Europeans. This candidate promises you that he (or shall we say she due to one alternate name) will provide tons of driving fun without sacrificing meals for a year. Although better watch out for some electronic items such as the sunroof, and power windows; you'll love this car more.

Exterior and Interior
With the body courtesy of Giugiaro, sexy curves are present but the steal of the night are some aggressive styling cues such as the wheel arches and a shocker, twin exhaust pipes that can make a Ferrari cry. So damn gorgeous let's not talk about the exterior more since the design speaks for itself.

Word of warning: if you are the official transpo provider of your barkada, hit the back button and read about my review for the Starex. Practicality isn't a suit, since the rear seat has limited headroom. But if the driver wants to have fun, then do keep in mind that you get a humane driving position equivalent to a Japanese sports car and controls are within the drivers reach, similar to the Germans' Ultimate Driving Machine.

From launch, a G4GC 1,975cc from the Beta family which has 140hp at 6,000rpm and 184Nm at 4,500rpm comes standard, and the best part is that, until 2005, you can order one with a manual transmission. But then. due to lack of consumer interest, it was later dropped. The 2005 update brought in a monster, a G6BA 2,656cc coming from the Delta engine dynasty with 172hp at 6,000rpm and 245Nm at 4,500rpm at tap. Either engines would activate your adrenalin rush when driven in the challenging roads the Philippines has to offer. For experience, I recommend going with the 2.7 V6. Although it may use a lot of fuel, it is an experience worth it. The 2.0 is no slouch either, since it strikes a balance of power and economy, in terms of fuel and maintenance costs. So pick wisely among the two engines.

Driving Impressions
Taking this to the twisties, the chassis is well sorted and handling is crisp and provides the driver an excellent feedback. One disadvantage if you are the passenger is the crashy ride, especially that all road bumps and imperfections intrude the cabin and transmit to you. A firm ride comes standard, especially that driving satisfaction is the top priority of this car.

Voting is one herculean task, since your shade can affect the nation. Same goes with buying, your purchase would affect not just you but also the people around you. The Coupe is more geared with the driver than the passenger, so if you want a car that can accommodate you, your girlfriend and her friendships, don't consider this one. Life is full of compromises, so think wisely.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Car Profiles - Hyundai Coupe (2003-2008)

2003-2008 Hyundai Coupe

The Good: Aggressive styling, great engines

The Bad: Crashy ride, limited space in the third row

The Say: Sports car experience for less cash.

Go For: 2.7 V6

Price Range: P350,000-P400,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Hyundai Coupe (2003-2008)

See the different versions of this vehicle: