Monday, December 30, 2013

Car Profiles - Ferrari F430 Coupe (2005-2008)

2005-2008 Ferrari F430 Coupe

The Good: Fun to drive and performance will give you the time of your life

The Bad: You can't find and afford one

The Say: A part of Ferrari's F1 expertise is trickled down to a road friendly model.

Go For: Sequential
Avoid: Very tired units

Price Range: Data Not Available
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Car Profiles - Lamborghini Gallardo

LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO

The Good: Fast, drop dead gorgeous, and a nimble handler
The Bad: Numb steering, not that special interior, not easy to keep

Price Range: By Order Basis
Our Rating: ****

TABLE TO BE ADDED SOON

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW X3

BMW X3

An update for 2014 gave the X3 some exterior and interior changes which makes it fresh even though it shows its age (yeah, tell it to the rivals). Other than that, it remains a car which balances driving enthusiasm and comfort.

The Good: Balance between comfort and fun to drive handling
The Bad: Ride can get firm

Price Range: P3,490,000-P4,090,000
Our Rating: ****

Last Update: March 8, 2014

Friday, December 27, 2013

Car Profiles - Porsche 911 Coupe (2005-2012)

2005-2012 Porsche 911 Coupe

The Good: You can live with it everyday without sacrificing practicality

The Bad: You must live with its horrendous maintenance costs

The Say: One of the best sports cars in the universe that you can use everyday.

Go For: Turbo
Avoid: Anything abused

Price Range: P4,800,000-P7,380,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Reviews: None as of the Moment

Car Choices:
There is a 911 for everybody: coupe, convertible, or targa. The first option is the Carrera which can be had in either the three body styles and powered by a 3.6 flat six that can be had with either 321hp (2005 to June 2007 models) or 325hp (July 2007 and later) which is one impressive engine. Next is the Carrera 4 and 4S which carries the 3.8 flat six carrying 355hp and comes with standard AWD. You can only order this with both coupe and convertible models.

Choose the Turbo that pumps out 480hp from its 3.6 flat six which can be had with the coupe version and call it a day. The lower brethren is already special, the turbo is a momentous event.

There exists a 415hp GT3 and GT3 RS which is earth shattering but best left driven on the closed track.

Buying a 911 means you have enough cash to keep this and you should not complain. Both manual and automatic variants are available for all variants save the GT3.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Car Profiles - Volvo S60

VOLVO S60

This one looks more classy and modern than the one it replaced. Safety features like City Stop and some fuel economy measures like an energy braking system are integrated in one stylish package. Pick among the range is the 2.0 D4 while T6 is a redundant buy.

The Good: More stylish than ever
The Bad: Expensive maintenance costs

Price Range: P2,795,000-P3,795,000
Our Rating: ****

Last Update: November 5, 2014

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Car Profiles Compilation New Entries for 2014

With Christmas around the corner, we shall give you our gift, a sneak peek of the new car profiles vehicle entries for 2014. These are 2012 models and they meet the two year rule. So expect to see them by next year on what we say about them. They will be included in the compilation within the few days and you'll know their ratings.

Other vehicles not introduced in 2012 will be added in a regular basis. 2013 models will be available in 2015.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Spark (2006-2010)

On the twelfth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... twelve Chevy Sparks

2006-2010 Chevrolet Spark

History
We are all witnesses to this: General Motors purchasing the bankrupt Daewoo Motors based in Korea. Basically, all vehicles developed by GM in Korea are badged as Daewoos while the rest of the world have them in varying names. The Daewoo name was laid to rest as GM ditched the nameplate in 2011.

Born as the Daewoo Matiz in 1998 with designs from Giugiaro (the Italian design powerhouse) and carryover engine and transmission from the Daewoo Tico upgraded to an EFi system. First Matiz units had a 0.8 engine with a 1.0 added to the line-up in 2002. A heavily revised Spark/Matiz was unveiled in 2005 with revisions in the engine, interior, and drag coefficient. This generation was discontinued in 2010 to make way for the M300 Spark based on the Chevrolet Beat concept car.

Locally, the M200 Spark made its introduction in July 2006 and battled the Kia Picanto and Hyundai Getz. It was the cheapest Chevrolet in the line-up which undercut the base model Aveo back then. It had a following among buyers but the Koreans and Suzuki clawed their way to the sales charts. February 2011 saw the introduction of the M300 Spark which gained market recognition.

Value and Costs
Those who want something cheap to run without any involvement of down payments for a brand new car might want to consider a Chevrolet Spark. It is somewhat a modelo car that is affordable to buy especially prices are between P180,000-P280,000. You might encounter some Daewoo Matiz models which are sold by the previous Daewoo distributor that possess the lethargic 0.8 engine.

Fuel economy is on the cheap side but watch out for wear and tear parts especially the Spark is intended as a city car so these items wore out. Parts outside the casa are numerous, while the dealerships have stocks that some need waiting.

Exterior and Interior
Good thing about the Spark is it saves road space, since it measures 3,495mm in length. The Giugiaro design gave the Spark some lively cues and it is available in some colors which will definitely brighten up your day. Puny steel wheels come standard but why would it matter if you'll be using it most of the time inside the city?

Inside, four people would fit in comfortably with headroom a positive. However, prepare to rub elbows with your front passenger more often as you change gears and three at the back is only suitable for close friends or small people. When it comes to driver's convenience, controls are within reach with power windows up front and mirrors are adjustable using a stick inside. Do not expect high end plastics as the Spark does not have them; it treats occupants with exposed screws and bolts.

Engine
It was a heaven sent that the S-TEC 995cc carrying 65hp and 91Nm is the standard fare among Philippine market Sparks. It is one willing engine that will propel you to the top provided you should be in the right gear. A manual transmission which will help you move is the standard engine.

Driving Impressions
We all know the feeling of driving a small car: you are easily a victim of road bullying. Despite the somewhat roomy cabin, you sit low to the ground and it was logical to have the gauges placed in the center. Suspension is on the soft side which even absorbs road ruts and does not transmit to the occupants. Shifting is easy and clutch possessing a soft modulation. Fast and curves aren't good words since it has the tendency to tip over while hill climbs require you to exercise what you have learned on your overtaking skills 101.

Verdict
If you find the Alto too bare for your needs, the Spark would be a better choice. However, some might find this suited for their tastes and preferences so further research is the key.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Suzuki SX4 Hatchback - Generation 1 (2010-2015)

SUZUKI SX4 HATCHBACK (2010-2015)

Introduced two years after the sedan, the SX4 was known more in this configuration. Only one variant is available, the Crossover which is offered with a 1.6 engine.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Pick-Up Trucks (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
To conclude our Bargains of Christmas series, we will be dealing with pick-up trucks for the end of the saga. Back then they used to be the farmer's choice but now they are equipped with the city-cruiser image even though people who do not have trailers drive them. Here are some of my top picks for those who want a bed this holidays.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Car Profiles - Suzuki Alto (2007-2013)

2007-2013 Suzuki Alto

The Good: Fuel efficient, reliable

The Bad: Limited interior space, plasticky interior

The Say: Basic transportation in small mass for less.

Go For: 1.0 K10
Avoid: 0.8 Standard

Price Range: P185,000-P330,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Suzuki Alto (2007-Current)
Latest vehicle profile: Suzuki Alto

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2007-2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Used Car Review - Suzuki Alto (2007-Current)

On the eleventh day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... eleven Suzuki Altos

2007-Current Suzuki Alto

History
Indians do have a love affair with small vehicles, which Maruti Suzuki builds and sells. Their immense popularity led them to their number one manufacturer status in the said country. Still, many of the locals still drive their Maruti 800 hatchbacks and Omni minivans despite their age and the influx of new and cheaper rivals (think of the Tata Nano).

To tell you the truth, the Alto sold in Japan is way way different than the one marketed in India and exported worldwide. What you see here in this article is the fifth generation Alto suited for worldwide requirements (except for Japan) built by the Indian subsidiary. You see, the Celerio we have locally is not available in Japan.

After their success with the Swift hatchback, it was time for Suzuki Philippines to bring in the Alto. Simlar to an actor more suited for drama than comedy, the Alto looked frumpy and plain compared with the Picanto, Spark, and even the QQ. It was definitely a hit among fuel conscious motorists and fleet buyers when gas prices spiked. Initially available in 0.8 guise in both Standard and Deluxe variants, with a K10 model (having a 1.0 engine) launched in November 2011 and discontinued in April 2013 when the Alto line was revamped.

Value and Costs
Love to own one but hate to bite the first owner depreciation? Then a second hand Alto is a prudent choice, with secondhand units being priced between P185,000-P330,000. If possible, hunt for a unit sold in February 2011 and later to get the remaining chunk of the warranty. Old model deals can be had in private owners while recent ones in repossessed bank lots.

Prospective Alto buyers must be warned for these maladies: worn clutch, brittle plastics, and broken driver side window crank. Otherwise, this won't fail you and would not drain your bank account.

Exterior and Interior
Cost cutting is evident in the Alto, so we remind you not to expect too much. This vehicle is devoid of character which staring at one will brighten up your day. Steel rims are standard across the range (hubcap covers are standard in Deluxe) and black bumpers are only available on Standard models. No rear wiper can be found in the basic model.

The basic theme continues on to the interior, with some cheap finishes lifted out from a 90s budget car. Choosing a Deluxe or K10 gives you power windows and nothing else. Regardless of what you get, all models gain power steering and a CD player with two speakers. Space is only good for four people and whenever shifting to reverse, be prepared to hit the companion beside you. Small bags (or bayongs) are welcome but not a weeks worth of groceries from Savemore.

Engine
Even with a smallish engine, both the F8D 796cc carrying 47hp at 6,200rpm and 68Nm at 3,500rpm and K10B 996cc with 68hp at 6,200rpm and 90Nm at 3,500rpm can reach the triple digit speed zone when loaded appropriately. This is not a vehicle you would star yourself at drag races but something you'll appreciate inside the city and even inclines, credit its short gearing. Fuel economy is a top strength and top reason to buy this car.

Driving Impressions
You'll enjoy how practical the Alto is especially when you're on the move. Weaving through traffic and parking are no biggie, you'll just laugh at people driving hulking SUV's even when they are just alone. It may be light but it'll give you a dull steering and somewhat unstable suspension, which you will live with it. Unlike the cheapest car in India, it will carry you and three passengers with ease.

Verdict
Shunning the popular Corollas and Sentras for a dinky size Alto is one bold move. Buyers who can live with the bare interior, smallish engine, and uninspiring driving characteristics will get more for the hatchback's fuel miser image. Others who want more in terms of amenities and power might want to check out the Alto's competition having similar prices.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Mid-size and Large SUVs (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
Thanks to the mercy of depreciation, SUV's of the medium and large size are now appealing to used car buyers who can purchase these for a lower price. Your family's wish of having an SUV comes timely for the holidays and with The Ultimate Used Car Guide to the rescue, picking the vehicle that suits your needs is easy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Car Profiles - Kia Soul (2009-2014)

2009-2014 Kia Soul

The Good: Stylish, spacious

The Bad: Ride isn't that good, rear visibility

The Say: Funky looking vehicle that has problems.

Go For: 1.6 LX
Avoid: 2.0 EX

Price Range: P530,000-P830,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Kia Soul (2009-2014)
Latest vehicle profile: Kia Soul

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2009-2010
2010-2014

Monday, December 16, 2013

Used Car Review - Kia Soul (2009-Current)

On the tenth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... ten Kia Souls

2009-Current Kia Soul

History
Mention the words fun and Korean and you'll hear varying reactions. We all know the Hyundai Tiburon and its replacement, the Genesis Coupe for their Ferrari inspired styling; wholly, the fun Korean cars get buried by rows of Kia Rios and Hyundai Accents. Europe has the funky Kia cee'd exclusive to their continent, but how about the rest of the world? The answer lies on the next paragraph.

Numerous concepts were displayed until its final production model in 2009. The Soul first made its public appearance at the 2008 Paris Motor Show with production commencing in the following year. It was marketed towards the younger crowd with funky styling and fun themed advertisements (oh, the dancing hamsters). For 2013, the vehicle is slated to enter its second generation through a Chicago Auto Show release.

The financial crisis back in 2009 didn't stop Columbian Autocar Corporation to bring the Soul (along with the Sorento and the overpriced Forte sedan and coupe and Mohave SUV) for the Philippine market. The P1M asking price is too much when compared to its rivals and out of reach of its intended market (which are, of course, yuppies). CAC listened and equipped the Soul with a 1.6 engine which later on became the standard engine and resulted to a low price. Available trims include the LX and EX.

Value and Costs
From a brand new price ranging from P800,000 to as high as P1.3M, second hand prices now lie between P530,000 to P830,000 for later models. Repossessed bank lots are your starting point with some selling the 2.0 and for your peace of mind, a 5 year warranty is standard for all Kias.

Since this is a new model, no known problems are popping out which indicates this model is reliable. The 2.0 EX was subject to a 2010 recall that involves its wiring system which links the speaker lights. Maintenance costs is comparable to its closest Japanese rival, the Suzuki SX4 hatchback.

Exterior and Interior
Introverts need not apply here; the Soul is one attention grabbing vehicle thanks to its aggressive lines slabbed in the side, imposing grille, and an angled line in the windows. Couple this with a low stance, you grab attention without the bulk of an SUV. Some models get body stickers which makes people stare at your car. Mike Torpey took care of the vehicle concept, with finishing touches by Peter Schreyer.

Lower models have a black interior, as opposed to the same color scheme of the upper brethren. If you want a 2.0 model, get a decent exterior color (dark shades are better) so as the interior wouldn't look tacky and easy interior cleaning. Controls for the air-con and radio are within reach, a good thing since it is elevated from the dash. The 2.0 EX gets speaker lights which can be flicked on to follow the beat of the music; we would skip this for practical reasons unless you are the barkada's official transportation provider. Occupants for both front and rear would be treated to a roomy cabin, which is a plus point.

Engine
Until 2010, the only engine available is the Beta 1,975cc having 144hp at 6,000rpm and 186Nm at 4,600rpm. One advantage of this engine is the availability of both manual and automatic transmissions, which gives you a choice. While it has decent city acceleration, going to the highway at triple digit speeds gives you a noisy and less efficient engine. Going with the Gamma 1,591cc that dishes out 124hp at 6,300rpm and 156Nm at 4,200rpm gives you a more fuel efficient engine while retaining the 2.0's power. Early 1.6 models get a 4-speed automatic with an upgrade to 6-speed in 2012, so hunt for the latter if you can. We go for the lesser engine due to low maintenance costs.

Driving Impressions
Handling defies its 1,200kg weight, it corners with aplomb and the suspension does not give up. When it comes to ride quality, it may be jarring for some and the worse could be experienced when driving through potholes and bumpy roads. Rear visibility is wanting, no thanks to the stylish windows at the rear.

Verdict
Korean vehicles aren't any more piece of boring boxes. They are now classy while retaining their core values. Want something exciting for this Christmas? A second hand Kia Soul would be a great choice especially depreciation bit this a lot. The money which gives you a cheap brand new sub-compact can give you a Soul. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mazda 2 Hatchback - Generation 3 (2010-2015)

MAZDA 2 HATCHBACK (2010-2015)

The Mazda 2 name was first introduced here through a hatchback body. A 1.5 engine paired to an automatic went first with 1.3 models came to the scene a year later. A limited edition 1.3 Speed was made available in 2014.

See the overview of this 2 Hatchback
See the latest model of the 2 Hatchback

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Compact SUVs (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
Now you want a compact SUV for yourself or for your family member. Then you have landed at the right place especially if you plan to do some car shopping this weekend. There are tons of compact SUVs out in the market which falls on the year range requirement. but which one? Let us pick the compact SUV for you out of the sea of them. Catch them fresh, while you can.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Car Profiles - Hyundai Starex

HYUNDAI STAREX

As the Grand Starex, it has more space but moved to rival on the Hiace and Urvan, whose engine are under the seats. Variety is the game, with a basic diesel engine that can seat 12 to a uplevel model with leather seats. Not as bumpy as rivals, a good thing.

The Good: Spacious and practical
The Bad: Confusing number of variants

Price Range: P1,248,000-P2,055,000
Our Rating: ***

Last Update: March 2, 2018

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Used Car Review - Hyundai Starex (1998-2004)

On the ninth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... nine Hyundai vans.

1998-2004 Hyundai Starex

History
During the 90s, Hyundai vehicles are distributed and assembled by Italcar Pilipinas which is a subsidiary of Francisco Motors Corporation (the one who also assembles Fiats, Mazda trucks, and Jeepneys). Their van offering was the H100/Grace which is based on the L300. Going to the other side of the field, grey market dealers like those in Katipunan Avenue made some gold on selling Starex vans. Who wouldn't know these vans became hits especially to affluent families?

Replacing the Grace van in 1997 is the Starex, which is also based on the Mitsubishi Delica. This vehicle can be had in a multitude of accessories and engines that included a 3.0 V6 paired to LPG. Cargo, minivan, and minibus configurations are available.

Columbian Motors Corporation first sold these vans before Hyundai Asian Resources Corporation stepped to the scene in December 2001. This type is sold until 2004 with an update that gave way to a new engine. Available variants during this time included the Jumbo, SVX, and Club.

Value and Costs
Still a great pick in the used car land, especially that prices are now between P280,000-P450,000. In that range, you'll encounter local and surplus units in varying conditions and accessories. Since changes were minimal, do take time to hunt for something well loved than something beat-up.

No fancy CRDi engine resides under the hood, unlike the updated model, which makes maintenance easy on the pocket. With the proliferation of Korean parts specialists, finding for spare parts isn't no needle in the haystack. One must check for rust especially for surplus units, since snow is an occurrence in Korea

Exterior and Interior
Some units come with body stickers especially for the Club variants. Roof rack, roof rail, rear ladder, and bullbar are accessories which are made standard. Let's not deal with the design in a bigger scale since stealing glances isn't the top objective of this van. Good thing this van has a snout which is a boon for safety.

The advantage of the Starex is this: a car-like interior. The controls for the radio and climate are geared towards the driver and it is within reach. Unlike the Spacegear, the transmission shifter is positioned on the floor, not behind the wheel. Seven inside is comfortable, eight is a tight squeeze unless that person is small or a close friend.

Engine
The most common engine that you will encounter is a 2,477cc diesel which churns out 85hp at 4,000rpm and 170Nm at 2,200rpm. This one has enough power in the lower range but loses stream when driven hard. On the flipside, the Mitsubishi sourced Sirius 2,351cc gasoline that carries 112hp and 181Nm at 2,300rpm is best avoided as it is fuel thirsty and rare in the market.

Driving Impressions
Unlike competitors which will mistaken you for a bus driver, the Starex possess a steering wheel positioned similar to a sedan. It does bring you a jarring free ride without irritating the occupants or disturbing them from their sleep. Besides, you'll be respected than a nose-less van.

Verdict
It became an overnight success by simply offering more than its Japanese twin. The Starex debunked the main notion of Korean vehicles: being unreliable. With more than 20,000 units plying Philippine roads - locally sourced or not - many buyers didn't make a mistake. A cheap option for those who want a reliable family van.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Mini and Full Sized Vans (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
For Wednesday, we would be featuring vans, both regular and full size. Unlike the ones we had last Saturday, these people carriers have sliding doors. If you want something stylish or has the capacity of carrying more people this coming holidays, here are our top recommendations.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Toyota Alphard - Generation 2.1-2 (2010-2015)

TOYOTA ALPHARD (2010-2015)

One of the most expensive vans available in the market, the Alphard can be had in either 2.4 4-cylinder or 3.5 V6 (launched months later) engines. A mild facelift occurred in 2012 in which it received a new grille.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Used Car Review - Toyota Innova (2005-Current)

On the eighth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... eight Toyota Innovas.

2005-Current Toyota Innova

History
The Kijang, as it is known in Indonesia, could be traced back as far as 1977. The prototype was first displayed at the 1975 Jakarta Fair with production commencing two years later. It first started as a pick-up truck with minibus and pick-up with rear body and roof versions being available. Its mission was very simple: offer people low cost transportation while having the capability to carry many people and conquering poor roads. Their mission, they succeeded.

Late 2004 saw the introduction of the fifth generation Kijang which gave a new moniker, the "Innova". It was more luxurious than previous models and one of the vehicles of the IMV program which shares its platform with the Hilux and Fortuner. It retains its body-on-frame chassis layout, which is suitable for tough situations. It gave way to new engines that included a 2.0 gasoline, 2.7 gasoline (for some markets only), and a 2.5 diesel.

Replacing the Revo after conquering the Adventure and Crosswind for years is the Innova. The industry was shocked especially it essentially replaced a best selling nameplate. Gone are the rear side facing seats which scream utility than luxury. It looked more of a minivan which became a favorite of Filipino families. Revisions were done in late 2006, September 2008, October 2009, and February 2012. Available variants include the J, E, G, and V with a limited edition Sports Runner made available in 2009.

Value and Costs
Thanks to its long production run, finding an Innova that fits your budget and requirements is easy. With prices between P360,000 for old models to P800,000 that gives you a nearly brand new unit, there's a unit for you. Go for a unit sold in February 2011 and later if you want to have the remainder of the warranty.

First batch of Innovas having the 2.5 diesel engine faced a chocking problem which dirty diesel fuel was the culprit which caused these engines to stall. Also, have the rear suspension checked especially it has the tendency to leak. Overall, this vehicle is something easy to maintain and would not let you down. Before I leave this paragraph, cleaning the aircon requires the dash to be disassembled and better leave this to the pros.

Exterior and Interior
It shares some resemblance with some Toyota MPVs and minivans, most notably the 2004-2009 Sienna and Wish. To distinguish the J from its higher models, a grey grille is standard while the latter uses either color coded or chrome ones. J models carry hubcap covers, black door handles and mirrors, and no rear wiper. E adds rear wiper and alloy rims while G gets chrome exterior bits. Sports Runner has body kits and a different set of rims but without the body stickers the Revo SR was clad of.

The interior was a step up from the Revo with more curves and amenities than the model it replaced. Low models have grey interiors while the G and V carry beige as their motif. A dual glovebox comes standard for all models while later models have an auxiliary jack and USB port. Driving position is high enough, a trait that was inherited from its predecessors. Second row occupants have decent space and can be folded upfront for more space. The third row is folded sideways but space can be tight for large sized people. V models have second row captain's chairs and wrapped in leather, useless in our tropical climate.

Engine
Both gasoline and diesel motivators are available so let us delve to their technical specifications. The popular engine in the Innova range is the 2KD-FTV 2,494cc diesel which has 102hp at 3,600rpm and their torque ratings differ: 200Nm at 1,400-3,200rpm for manuals and 260Nm at 1,600-2,400rpm for automatic variants. On the other hand, choosing the 1TR-FE 1,998cc gives you 136hp at 5,600rpm and 182Nm at 4,000rpm. Despite the conservative 102hp, the diesel isn't a slouch to drive and leagues ahead of the Crosswind and Adventure when it comes to refinement and performance. It loses its advantage when compared to the Carens, which has a stronger engine. Going with the gasoline will give you a smooth engine but fuel consumption isn't as good as the diesel but still better than the fuel thirsty Revo.

Driving Impressions
Despite the truck based underpinnings, it has a ride which does not give motion sickness to its occupants. Handling isn't something in the ancient age that plagued old AUVs. Besides, you would not be buying this to race or participate in drag sprints.

Verdict
Killing a popular nameplate isn't a wise gamble; the decision that Toyota made proved to be a success. What they did not know the Innova continued the Tamaraw's heritage. A good choice for a family vehicle, new or used.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Car Profiles - Peugeot 807 (2005-2007)

2005-2007 Peugeot 807

The Good: Comfortable, practical, and one fine drive

The Bad: Lethargic gasoline engine, no luggage space with all seats up

The Say: It could have been nice, only if it was rightfully equipped.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: You have no choice

Price Range: Data not available
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2005-2007

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Asian Utility and Multi Purpose Vehicles (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
This Saturday, let us help you choose the AUV or MPV that fits your needs right before Christmas. These vehicles come in different sizes, can sit seven to ten people in a pinch, can withstand the Philippine setting, and less expenses on the financial aspect. Whether it is for the family or business, there's a vehicle for you.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Car Profiles - Jeep Cherokee (1998-2000)

1998-2000 Jeep Cherokee

The Good: Boxy yet fashionable looks, good outside tarmac

The Bad: Maintenance costs can be high, reliability

The Say: Has dashing looks but comes sloppy.

Go For: 2.5 MT
Avoid: Units from Japan

Price Range: P195,000-P285,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Used Car Review - Ford Escape (2002-2013)

On the seventh day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... seven Ford Escapes.

2002-2013 Ford Escape

History
Ford Motor Company realized it cannot rely more on its larger SUVs for profits. The Expedition is too large and the Explorer faced controversies, so raking in to the smallest and hottest segment is deemed prudent. It was a risk worth going for, since people aren't interested on driving a large SUV on a daily basis.

With Ford realizing that most SUV owners do not take their vehicles off-road, a monocoque car based platform is used with an AWD system by Dana was thrown in for emergency purposes. The result: the Ford Escape and its Mazda Tribute twin. Bet you didn't know that this was sold as the Ford Maverick in Europe to lukewarm success since it didn't offer one item that Europeans love: a diesel engine. A 2007 update had the Asian and American versions be treated to different designs which enabled them to have their own distinct personality. The American version was redesigned in 2012 with the Asian version following suit.

As part of Ford Motor Company Philippines export program, they've decided to add the Escape to the line-up to compliment their hulking SUVs and vans. This competed with industry stalwarts whose names are CR-V, RAV4, and Grand Vitara as well as new entrants Outlander and X-Trail. It found units in Filipino garages unlike the Tribute. For most of its selling life, XLS (usually in 2WD) and XLT models were sold with a bevy of updates done which will be explained later.

Value and Costs
Since Ford Escapes are now difficult to find in Ford dealers with the Ecosport replacing it within this month or next year, going to the second hand route is the only way. Since changes were minimal, go with the condition rather than a year model. The latter, however, produced engines which warrants your consideration and must be avoided. Prices for a second hand unit falls between P270,000-P745,000 and go with a February 2011 or later unit to grab the remainder of the warranty.

Maintenance costs are easy to the pocket, that's if we compare it to the Escape's rivals. Fuel consumption isn't a strong suit since the 2.0 is overtaxed by the body and the 3.0 V6 is, well, fuel thirsty by nature. Some owners have faced problems with the automatic transmission but you'll find a well maintained unit if you work hard.

Exterior and Interior
Models made before January 2007 are treated to a rugged touch. It may be small but still retains its presence available in its larger siblings. The wheel arches are large that makes it large yet remains clean looking overall. Updates in 2007 and September 2008 made the Escape softer looking that looks good for the urban jungle while retaining its trademark shell.

Unlike rivals whose occupants would feel uncomfortable due to their tight portions, the Escape gives out comfortable seating for five people. 2007 and later units have a floor mounted shifter which is more practical than the column mounted of previous ones. Controls for the audio and climate are within reach of the driver but changing the temperature can be confusing since the fan speed is separate from the on/off switch while the temperature switch is useless for some. The rear seat tray, similar to airplanes, is standard and makes meal time while traveling an enjoyable experience. Oh, before we leave, cargo space is decent enough.

Engine
Offered from August 2002 to July 2004 is the Zeta 1,980cc that carries 130hp at 5,400rpm and 183Nm at 4,500rpm that can be had with a manual transmission. Replacing this is the Duratec 23 2,261cc having 157hp at 6,000rpm and 200Nm at 4,000rpm and is the common engine among Philippine market Escapes. Offered from October 2003 until December 2006 is the icing of the Escape cake: the Duratec 2,967cc V6 with 206hp at 6,000rpm and 276Nm at 4,750rpm. All of these engines are gasoline powered, so head to the Hyundai Tucson if you want a diesel engine. When it comes to real world performance, the 2.0 is decent with the manual and asthmatic with the automatic if pushed hard. The 3.0 V6 is both fast in terms of acceleration and fuel consumption. For best of both worlds, choose the 2.3 since it offers decent acceleration and better fuel economy.

Driving Impressions
It may look like an SUV but the driving feel is similar to a car, which is a good thing. Expect understeers though when driven at high speeds. For models equipped with AWD, when the system detects some slipping, power is distributed to the rear wheels. The system can be locked for the whole time and adds some security and stability.

Verdict
One of the outstanding choices in the compact SUV category, that's if you choose the right engine. Oodles of space for both driver and passenger with a reliable and durable chassis. There was no wonder it sold longer without any flashy designs or amenities, just the basics.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Sports Cars and Convertibles (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
For Wednesday, we shall give the page to vehicles that will give you a smile on your face. Whether you want to drive fast on the open road or cruise in the scenic routes and feel the cold air, there is a sports car or convertible waiting for you. With these cars as fast as the pick-up lines of Miriam Santiago, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide guide you with the great picks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Car Profiles - Mitsubishi Montero Sport (2005-2008)

2005-2008 Mitsubishi Montero Sport

The Good: A good partner for off-road excursions, spacious inside

The Bad: Not good on pavement due to poor ride; plus interior is way beyond due date

The Say: Perfect when things get rough; bad when things are flawless.

Go For: 2.5 GLS 4WD
Avoid: Gasoline models from grey imports

Price Range: P550,000-P750,000
Our Rating: *

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Mitsubishi Montero Sport

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2005-2008

Monday, December 2, 2013

Used Car Review - Nissan Terrano (1996-2003)

On the sixth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... six Nissan 4x4s.

1996-2003 Nissan Terrano

History
The Nissan Terrano and the Pathfinder are basically one vehicle. Locally, it was the reverse since there exists a Pathfinder pick-up truck sold in the late 80s and the Terrano SUV introduced in the mid 90s. The former was axed together with the Power pick-up series and replaced by the Frontier. Sounds confusing right?

Competing with the Chevrolet Blazer and Ford Bronco SUVs is the WD21 Pathfinder made available in 1986. You can have this in either two or four door models with the latter having the famed rear door handles in the C pillar, which resembled a pick-up truck with a camper shell. This generation was discontinued in 1995 to make way for the R50 Pathfinder a year later.

It may be too late for Universal Motors Corporation to bring in this generation of Terrano but it made its local presence in 1996. It complimented the Patrol in Nissan dealers and competed with various rivals from Suzuki, Toyota, and Honda. The Terrano bowed out in 2003 without any direct replacement.

Value and Costs
Hunting for a reliable off-road ready SUV? Then the Terrano would suit your needs especially second hand prices fall between P170,000 to P330,000.

Since it carries a simplistic layout, maintaining one does not hurt the bank account. While doing your Terrano hunt, steer clear of converted units since they have questionable conversion process.

Exterior and Interior
Design cues were taken from the Nissan Hardbody Pick-up which makes the SUV's line timeless against the sea of soft designs (take that: Tucson). The door handles for the rear are located in the rear pillar which can be difficult to reach for children. Accessing the rear is through the spare tire (similar to the top end Adventure) and opening the door in a side hinged manner, a disadvantage for mall parking. The glass door can be opened to place in small items similar to the first generation CR-V and Tucson. Be warned to open the spare tire support first or get your glass damaged.

It is a plastic affair inside with tons of hard plastics which are durable in the long run. Positives include are legible gauges and within reach controls. Weirdly, front seats are fixed in a correct manner while the rear are awkwardly positioned since it is placed low. For cargo carrying purposes, the rear bench can be folded.

Engine
Both engines living in the ancient period come standard, and what we recommend is this: the TD272 2,664cc with 84hp at 4,300rpm and 117Nm at 2,200rpm. The other option is a carburetor fed Z24i 2,389cc carrying 103hp at 4,800rpm and 181Nm at 2,800rpm. Both do not offer breath taking acceleration but rather a durable partner. The 4WD system is reliable provided it was meticulously maintained by the previous owner.

Driving Impressions
Despite looking bulky, it has its gears designed for heavy hauling than acceleration. Cornering isn't something to be proud of; after all, this is a truck.

Verdict
Prefer something brute than cute? Then going with a Terrano isn't a choice you'll regret later on. It may have ancient driving characteristics but comes prepared when it comes to tackling the worst road scenarios. A great buy for the holidays.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Car Profiles - Ssangyong Musso (1997-2002)

1997-2002 Ssangyong Musso

The Good: Off-road ability

The Bad: Poor refinement, tight position with side facing seats

The Say: You'll get satisfaction with something else.

Go For: 2.9 or 2.5 diesel
Avoid: 2.0 gasoline

Price Range: P170,000-P380,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Premium and Luxury Sedans (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
Expensive when new, affordable when used. At low prices, premium and luxury sedans are steals since you get something posh for less cash. Imagine this, be the envy at your office especially if the car plan dictates a brand new sub-compact, well you get the picture. If you're doing your shopping this Bonifacio day, have this list handy.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Car Profiles - Subaru Legacy Wagon (2006-2009)

2006-2009 Subaru Legacy Wagon

The Good: Excellent driving feel in a practical package

The Bad: Some hard plastics exist

The Say: Driving excitement in a versatile body.

Go For: 2.0R Wagon
Avoid: None

Price Range: P530,000-P800,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Subaru Legacy (2006-2009)

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2006-2009

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Used Car Review - Honda Accord (1998-2002)

On the fifth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... five second generation Honda Accords!

1998-2002 Honda Accord

History
Having sensitivity to your market is one essential step to market success. You, as the car maker company, adjust to their needs and not the way around. If that country loves station wagons, give them a station wagon version. A nation of diesel users must have a diesel option in the bucket list. If that place has no affinity for coupes, then do not offer. That is one secret recipe of the Accord's success anywhere in the world - be it in Japan, North America, or South East Asia.

Sold from 1997 until 2003 in various points of the globe, the sixth generation Accord is offered in sedan, wagon, coupe, and hatchback configurations. Honda marketed different models for Japan, Europe, and one for American, Australian, and Asian markets. Japan has the Type-R and SiR versions while Europe gets the Type-R only. With numerous variations available for the whole world, let us not discuss more since it might take half of this article.

With the Mitsubishi Galant's introduction in December 1997, Honda Cars Philippines launched the sixth (second in the Philippines) generation model in February 1998. It gained a foothold in the executive market but the Cefiro was still the class leader. Sales stopped in 2003 to make way for the seventh generation (third in the local sense) Accord. Variants made available include the base VTi and the top end VTi-L.

Value and Costs
Want to reward with something premium this Christmas? Then a second generation Accord is a good pick, especially with units costing you between P170,000-P400,000. Do remember that modified units exist in the used car world, but steer clear of them since a stock unit is the way to go.

Thankfully, Honda Accords are extremely reliable vehicles. Cost of having one would lean on the expensive side due to the fuel consumption. Parts can be procured from any Honda parts store since this is a fairly popular model. Browse US automotive forums and you'll hear problems with the V6 models regarding their transmissions; it was good thing this engine didn't arrive at Philippine shores.

Exterior and Interior
Bland as it is, the second generation model is hiding the talent through clean lines. You may mistaken this for an EK Civic albeit inches larger.

A high quality cabin greets someone entering the Accord, whether he's the driver or passenger. Despite being assembled locally, gaps and squeaks aren't evident. Buttons for the radio and climate control is within driver's reach, which is a good thing. Wood trim is standard among VTi-L models, and the same goes with an in-dash TV monitor (added in 2001) that replaced the CD changer - that is also available on the VTi. Space for five without violating each other's privacy space is excellent.

Engine
While the engine options are the same as the first Accord, the 2.0 model is now equipped with VTEC technology. Your choice in VTi and 2001-2002 VTi-S variants is the F20B 1,997cc which possess 152hp at 6,000rpm and 190Nm at 5,000rpm. The icing of the Accord cake - and sold from 1998 until 2001 - is the H22A 2,157cc that has 157hp at 5,700rpm and 210Nm at 4,900rpm. With just minimal power difference, go with the 2.0 since it is adequate for your driving needs. There is nothing wrong with the 2.3 as it is one rev happy engine, but the trade-off is its less fuel friendly nature that can increase maintenance costs.

Driving Impressions
Hit a corner while revving the engine is nothing for the Accord. It loves to be driven hard, unleashing the VTEC technology that is known for. Handling is great despite the 1,000kg plus weight and body roll is minimized. Suspension settings is balanced to provide something for the highway runs and the city duties. Putting the car to a stop is no drama thanks to the ABS brakes in the VTi-L models (the VTi has none).

Verdict
Underneath the bland looks comes a car that is talented on driving ability and engine performance. People wouldn't look at you, but once they ride with you, they'll be in for a shock. There is no denying that today, one can get an Accord for low prices and enjoy the drive.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Compact Sedans, Wagons, and Hatchbacks (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
With the power of depreciation, compact sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks are within reach. Need more room? They have it. Want extra power and zip? Check. Space for people and cargoes? They have it. Let's now reveal the best buys for this season.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Corona (1991-1992)

1991-1992 Toyota Corona

The Good: Reliable and roomy

The Bad: Bland, standard carburetor engine

The Say: Classy but getting old.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: 

Price Range: P60,000-P120,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:
1991-1992

Monday, November 25, 2013

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Galant (2006-2012)

On the fourth day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... four of them. Four Mitsubishi Galants, great!

2006-2012 Mitsubishi Galant

History
I was definitely wondering why the word 'galant' does not exist in any English dictionary or receive a red jagged line whether in MS Word or in Google Chrome. While writing this article, I stumbled upon everyone's favorite research website, Wikipedia, that the word means "chivalrous". This word means a courteous man towards the fairer sex, hence the elegant styling that targets executives (in my own interpretation).

Based on the SSS concept sedan displayed at the North American International Auto Show in 2000, the ninth generation Galant had its US launch in 2003. With numerous versions sold for the North American (Russia, Ukraine, and some Middle East countries have this version), Australian (sold as the 380 with a few differences), and East Asian markets, the Galant was either successful or a flop. The last unit rolled out the Illinois' facility on August 30, 2012.

Long due for introduction, the ninth generation model arrived at Philippine shores in January 2006. Rather than assembled locally, PHDM units are sourced from Taiwan. From 2006 until 2008, it is dubbed as the 240M with the 2009 update gaining the SE moniker. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines silently dropped the vehicle in 2012.

Value and Costs
Sedans with two liters of displacement and above usually have poor resale values. With that in mind, a ninth generation Galant would cost you between P300,000-P700,000. With that sum, you get something comfortable without spending too much.

The 4G69 engine is also used by the Grandis and the first generation Outlander, so finding engine components isn't a problem. While this is a low volume model, spare parts can be purchased in the casa or even a specialist shop.

Exterior and Interior
More larger than the model it replaces, the ninth generation is the athlete in jersey turned father in suits in terms of design. Sharp lines that shout sportiness is not that much evident; replacing them are: rising window line, sharp creases, and an imposing grille. To distinguish models, 2006-2008 Galants have the Boulay grille while a one piece chrome grille is standard among 2009-2012 units.

If I criticize the previous model for having a tight rear, the Galant offers you tons of cabin space. Need to change the radio station or adjust the climate controls? Well, the center stack has their buttons crammed to one another and mastering them takes time. A minus point is the cheap feeling materials, especially for something that has a retail price of P1.5M when brand new. There are some other negatives inside the cabin apart from the interior materials: a passenger side airbag for 2006-2008 models is not available; the GPS unit cannot read street names, opening it requires a bulky remote, writing destinations is still through the remote, and isn't portable; and lastly, the DVD player is picky when it comes to playing discs. Do take note the GPS and DVD is available in the updated 2009 models. Thankfully, this sedan has an electronic power seat and the gauges in blue do not washout in direct sunlight.

Engine
Taiwan sourced models have only one engine available: the 4G69 2,378cc four cylinder that disposes 162hp at 5,500rpm and 219Nm at 4,000rpm. The numbers may look conservative, but as they say numbers are just numbers. This is one car that loves to be pushed to V6 speed territory, despite the automatic tranny being a four speed.

Driving Impressions
It defies the size, this sedan has a tight turning radius coupled with a responsive steering. A cavernous cabin must be partnered with a suspension and high levels of isolation, and it does oblige you with tons of it. But despite the speedy engine, this is no sports car.

Verdict
A good choice for those who value luxury and isolation above else, the ninth generation Galant is one good buy. There are some quirks in it but at these prices (established ones of the same age are priced higher) you can't help but resist.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Car Profiles - Hyundai Sonata (1996-2000)

1996-2000 Hyundai Sonata

The Good: Roomy, styling can draw conversations

The Bad: Reliability, styling can draw conversations

The Say: Hyundai's effort is good but still needs more.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: Tired imported units from Korea

Price Range: P95,000-P180,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Hyundai Sonata

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Bargains of Christmas - Sub-Compact Sedans and Hatchbacks (2013 Picks)

Our yearly feature during the season that everyone loves is on its second year. Finding a car for yourself (assuming if you are a good guy) or for your loved ones in each category is daunting, let The Ultimate Used Car Guide help you.

So, how are these bargain picks are chosen? Here are some criteria that were followed:
  • A vehicle must be available between 2003-2012
  • Reported problems from owners are minimal, based from local forums and several of my reviews
  • Vehicle value must be excellent, since they are good bargains. 
  • Must offer a competitive advantage over its rivals and must fit the buyers needs in a category
  • Availability in the second hand market must be widespread
The basic in the automotive food chain, sub-compact sedans and hatchbacks are popular among first time buyers. And why not? They possess a fuel efficient engine, a practical partner inside the city, has low maintenance costs, and comfort for four people. Below are the best sub-compact picks which are great Christmas buys.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Car Profiles - Lexus GS (2009-2012)

2009-2012 Lexus GS

The Good: Quality and refinement is tops

The Bad: Some ergonomic problems

The Say: This can compete with the established Germans.

Go For: GS460
Avoid: There is none

Price Range: Data Not Available
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Lexus GS (2009-2012)
Latest vehicle profile: Lexus GS

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2009-2012

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Used Car Review - Lexus GS (2009-2012)

On the third day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... three Lexus sedans. One for me, one for my dad, and one for my mom.

2009-2012 Lexus GS

History
It may not ring a bell but Lexus, in my observation and opinion, target those who want luxury without the bling. Understated luxury, that is. Lexus owners are those who appreciate value and quality, hence their smooth lines and reliability. Plus, their dealerships would treat you as if you were in your home.

One of the longest running Lexus nameplates is the GS, having four generations since 1991. The third generation model we are featuring is the S190 GS launched in January 2005. While the options of V6 and V8 gasoline remain, a hybrid propulsion was added in 2006. This was the first time a Toyota equivalent (the Toyota Aristo) was not used so that markets would be using the Lexus name. Development started as early in 1999 with a design patent filed in December 2003.

Facing the battle with the Philippine market BMW 5 Series and Mercedes Benz E Class, the GS was introduced to Filipino consumers in January 2009 amid the economic crisis. Our market received the updated model, sold elsewhere since 2008. Until March 2012 you can buy one brand new.

Value and Costs
A trip to Lexus' pre-owned section reveals that this sedan is a bargain, especially you can get one for P3,000,000 or less. Why go to the pre-owned section then? These units are inspected and a warranty is given.

Expect high maintenance costs since a V8 engine resides under the hood. I know this is cliche, but for your information (and also your benefit) Lexus Manila (or any dealership worldwide) has a comfortable ambiance and exemplary service.

Exterior and Interior
The L-finesse styling was first applied to the GS, and the execution is flawlessly done. It may have some resemblance to the 2006-2012 Camry but it shows more usage of concave and convex angles that contribute to a more machismo styling. Curves are everywhere and the result is a sharp looking sedan, unlike the previous model which lacked character.

Leather here, leather there, it is everywhere inside the cabin from the seats down to the dashboard. Wood trim comes standard, which I think, does not fit the sporty personality of the vehicle. Dominating the center console is a touch screen monitor that displays information for the radio and air-conditioning. Controls are placed accordingly and of high quality, which is a good thing. Other luxurious items added include a front sunroof and a Mark Levinson sound system with 14 speakers (yes, you read it right) and a cassette player. While it seats five, four is recommended for maximum comfort since the center console hampers the middle passenger's comfort. But then, this is no LS which is the king in passenger space.

Engine
The local distributor brought in a monstrous 1UR-FE 4,608cc V8 gasoline which pumps out 322hp at 6,400rpm and 440Nm at 4,000rpm. It is one sleeper, the V8 is rev happy and encourages you to drive harder. Bulky as it is, the GS is one fast vehicle.

Driving Impressions
For the inexperienced driver who wants something with a V8 engine, a traction control (which can be deactivated anyway) comes standard to ensure you are still alive. Have some side sliding fun and the traction control kicks in to provide enough stopping ability and a heavier steering. Apart from that, having eight gears to play means there is a gear set for each power setting. Fuel economy is more than decent, thanks to the transmission's numerous gears. Cabin isolation, as expected in Lexus vehicles, is excellent.

Verdict
Definitely not close to a Bimmer in the driving experience but the GS comes close. Still a great choice for people who want something low key while having a smile on their face. The dealership experience is a bonus, too.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Car Profiles - Mercedes Benz S Class (2000-2005)

2000-2005 Mercedes Benz S Class

The Good: Highly engineered and tons of gadgets in a stately package

The Bad: Expensive to maintain

The Say: Nothing beats the aura of an S Class.

Go For: S350
Avoid: S55 AMG

Price Range: P1,200,000-P1,900,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Infographic - Top Five Best Selling Vehicles of January-September 2013

They say that the economy rises (as with car sales) during election period. And The Ultimate Used Car Guide walks through the best selling vehicles for the first nine months and the five senators who got the most votes from the May 2013 elections.


Car Profiles - Jaguar XF

JAGUAR XF

The Good: Good looking, top quality
The Bad: Pricey to maintain and buy

Price Range: P5,950,000-P9,400,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Jaguar XF (2008-Current)

TABLE TO BE ADDED SOON

Car Choices:
Added in 2011 is the 3.0 V6 diesel available in either normal (240hp) or supercharged (275hp) flavors is our pick. Go with the one wearing 240hp since it is practical and not much intimidating for new drivers. The supercharged motor is fast but too much as a daily driver.

Among the gasoline engines, consider them if you prefer their smoothness. The 238hp 3.0 V6 is decent inside the city, underpowered for long drives. The 5.0 V8 that carries 385hp is has fluid acceleration at the expense of fuel economy. A supercharged version carrying the same displacement with 510hp is for the experienced as it is freaking speedy.

You get everything that is reserved for a king: leather seats, eight airbags, engine drag control, pedestrian contact sensing hood, front and rear sensors, front and rear fog lamps, six disc changer with 7 inch monitor, and halo mood lighting. Other models gain the Bower and Wilkins with Dolby sound system, heated and cooled vented front seats, and larger wheel sizes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Car Features - September 2013 Philippines Car Sales Figures

As they say, its better late than never. We would be posting car sales figures for the month of September with links to sources at the end of article.

16,991 vehicles were driven off showroom floors across the Philippines last September, an increase of 15% from 14,744 of the same month last year. The first nine months of 2012 saw 153,439 cars that found a buyer, compared to 133,344 to the same period corresponding to a 15% increase.

Used Car Review - Jaguar XF (2008-Current)

On the second day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... two Jaguars. Two pre-owned units for me.

2008-Current Jaguar XF

History
We all know that Jaguar Cars was sold to Tata Motors (a huge conglomerate in India) from Ford Motor Company. Since the Blue Oval wants to focus on its core product - which is, Ford - they had no choice but to sell Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and let go of some percentage off Mazda.

The last Jaguar under Ford's supervision, the XF debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show with customer deliveries commenced in March 2008. Under the codename X250, this sedan was designed to replace the S-Type.

Locally, this vehicle had its local launch in 2008 with three gasoline powerplants available at first; with an update in 2011 saw the arrival of the diesels. Not much to discuss in this paragraph since we'll deal it more on the preceding portions of this article.

Value and Costs
Purchasing a brand new Jaguar XF can give you the following: fast depreciation since you are the first owner, a waiting period is possible, and you'll be under scrutiny of the BIR - especially if you know the news about it. With a pre-owned unit that can cost you between P3,200,000-P5,200,000, you would get something brand new for less. Best head to Jaguar in either Makati or Global City to check for pre-owned units since they have been checked and inspected.

Maintaining one is no bed of roses since Jaguars are known for their expensive maintenance costs. Just like other luxury sedans, one must check the electronics since the XF has tons of them. As with engines, going with the normally aspirated ones would save you more; supercharged models (available in both V8 gasoline and diesel) can put a drain to your wallet.

Exterior and Interior
Ian Callum is the guy who pushed Jaguar's design direction to the modern side, leaving behind the classic angles that is known for. More sharp lines from the front that reaches to the back which now appeals to young accomplished executives. Highlights include a chrome strip in the boot lid and the prominent Jaguar logo up front. Supercharged models gains an "S" badge to know the unit you are buying.

It is an electronic affair inside the XF since the car makes life easier for you. Having a bunch of keys is a thing of the past, a push button to start the car is present. Located in the center console, pushing the button will have the air-con vents open by itself. Another nice amenity is the rotary knob that acts as the shifter for the automatic transmission - whether six or eight speed. Simplicity is the key with a touchscreen monitor for the entertainment functions plus other buttons - that can be a source of driving distraction - located below for the audio and climate. You may adjust the cruise control via buttons mounted in the steering wheel, the same goes with the paddle shifters. Before leaving, material quality is excellent and cabin space is comfortable for four (five is a squeeze due to the center console).

Engine
As with luxury sedans, you get a wide raft of engines that suits your requirements and budget. Start from the basic, which is the AJ30 2,967cc V6 gasoline that carries 238hp at 6,800rpm and 293Nm at 4,100rpm. Graduate to the AJ133 5,000cc V8 in either normally aspirated or supercharged flavors; figures for the normally aspirated are 385hp at 6,500rpm and 515Nm at 3,500rpm while choosing the supercharged version gives you 510hp at 6,000-6,500rpm and 625Nm at 2,500-5,500rpm. Added in 2011 is the Lion 2,993cc V6 diesel both available in normally aspirated or supercharged. Crunching the numbers, the normally aspirated carries 240hp at 4,000rpm and 5,000rpm at 2,000rpm while the supercharged version has 275hp at 4,000rpm and 600Nm at 2,000rpm. Choosing the 3.0 V6 gasoline would reward you with ample power inside the city but underpowered at spirited drives. There is the 5.0 V8 with 385hp which carries the vehicle's weight well plus it is one smooth operator but it is fuel thirsty. The supercharged version gives you blistering acceleration at the expense of maintenance and fuel costs. Go for the 3.0 V6 diesel in normal flavor that will give you great acceleration while saving you diesel fuel in the process. There is also a supercharged version of this oil burner but for practicality we'd stick with the normal ones.

Driving Impressions
Daddy mobile no more, it is one car that will respond to your desires since steering is precise. Despite the 1,800kg mass, handling is controlled even at the sharpest turns. Stopping this heavy sedan is nothing, it will stop in a penny.

Verdict
Long from an old man's ride to the retirement home, Jaguar now has a styling direction that has more sharp angles than ruler inspired lines. The XF is nearly perfect, almost there. For those who want to get noticed (think Totoy Brown) than speeding up, then a pre-owned unit is the answer.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW 7 Series (2002-2009)

2002-2009 BMW 7 Series

The Good: Behaved, technology packed

The Bad: Styling not for everyone, iDrive system is an annoyance

The Say: Still has that class but the appeal is limited.

Go For: 730d
Avoid: 760Li

Price Range: P1,200,000-P3,200,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - BMW 7 Series (2002-2009)

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Car Profiles - Jaguar XK Convertible (1997-2006)

1997-2006 Jaguar XK Convertible

The Good: Has the pace

The Bad: But lacks space

The Say: A very classy tourer that is attainable.

Go For: XK8
Avoid: XKR

Price Range: P1,500,000-P1,700,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Jaguar XK (1997-2006)

See the different versions of this vehicle:
1997-2006

Friday, November 15, 2013

Car Profiles - Audi TT (1999-2006)

1999-2006 Audi TT

The Good: Looks great and drives great

The Bad: Some reliability quirks

The Say: Definitely a classic, always and forever.

Go For: 1.8 T Quattro 6 speed MT
Avoid: Trashed units

Price Range: P700,000-P1,300,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Audi TT (1999-2006)
Latest vehicle profile: Audi TT

See the different versions of this vehicle:
1999-2006

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Used Car Review - Audi TT (1999-2006)

On the first day of Christmas Myk Belmonte gave to me... this stylish coupe. One of it for the first day.

1999-2006 Audi TT

History
Last June 7, Jalopnik.com ran an article titled "Why The Audi TT Is The Next Great Future Classic". And at some point, I agree to several arguments: eye catching exterior, well-thought interior, and fun to drive. Weak points are its economy car roots, patchy reliability, and does not loved to be pushed hard.

The TT name came from NSU's Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle race, which the previous automaker (NSU, the evolution of Audi) participates. Under the designation Typ 8N, the coupe was first marketed in September 1998 with the roadster in August 1999. You'll be shocked, as the TT shares its platform with the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3, and Skoda Octavia of the late 90s. A recall done in late 1999 to the early part of 2000 to fix the vehicle's handling in high speeds, as incidents of crashes occurred prior. The last Typ 8N TT rolled out the assembly was on June 2006.

Auto Prominence offered the TT in coupe guise in 1999, with PGA Cars taking the remainder of the vehicle's life span. One can buy this in either front wheel drive or with Quattro but with only one transmission choice, a manual.

Value and Costs
One can attain this roadster for below a million bucks, considering the fact this is pricey when brand new. Where else can you find something that looks good and at the same time handles well for less?

Running costs can be slightly on the high side given the fact it has a turbo engine standard. Since the Quattro is AWD in Audi's vocabulary, it is prudent to change all four tires together. Reliability is a weak point, so check out the following things when buying: gauges for the fuel or temperature if they function or light, knocking sound from the suspension due to front and rear anti-roll bars, and importantly the engine is its overworked.

Exterior and Interior
Based on the TT concept car shown in 1995, you may dismiss it as something acquired. But as you see one in person, you will appreciate it more since it is like a ballerina that works as a rock star at night. Designed well, it has circular flanks and clean angles that complete the vehicle. It is a treat for the looker and the driver; with the design not getting old rapidly.

Balanced is the word that applies to the TT's cabin. With a mix of aluminum, stainless steel, and leather bits, the interior looks pricey without being tagged as something traditional luxurious. It is definitely eye catching but do not be distracted while driving. With this being a hatchback body, loading cargoes when needed is easy. While this is a four seater, two can be placed inside comfortably as the rear isn't habitable.

Engine
While there is one engine configuration available, horsepower and torque figures differ. The 1,781cc turbo 4-cylinder can be had with the following configurations: front wheel drive models have 180hp at 5,500rpm and 235Nm at 1,950rpm while those equipped with the Quattro get 225hp at 5,900rpm and 280Nm at 2,200-5,500rpm. Either the engines mated to FWD or AWD are punchy at best but go for the latter since it has more.

Driving Impressions
While it looks good, driving one would be a great moment. It will respond to your desires by offering you secure yet enjoyable cornering. Those who want to speed-up aren't welcome here, especially this is more of a cruiser than a bruiser.

Verdict
It was no surprise that this vehicle will be a classic someday. Tidy yet presentable looks and a fun to drive persona, you get them in the TT. And best of all, prices are now cheaper; means you can have one for less.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Car Profiles - Mercedes Benz SL Class (2004-2012)

2004-2012 Mercedes Benz SL Class

The Good: All round vehicle that has the pace

The Bad: Steering isn't that fun

The Say: What used to be a rich kid's toy is now yours for less.

Go For: SL500
Avoid: SL350

Price Range: P2,200,000-P3,900,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Car Profiles - Honda S2000 (2001-2002)

2001-2002 Honda S2000

The Good: The rev happy engine and the fun to drive chassis

The Bad: The fact that finding one is difficult

The Say: All the fun comes at a price.

Go For: 2.0L
Avoid: There is none

Price Range: P880,000-P1,700,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2001-2002

Monday, November 11, 2013

Used Car Review - BMW Z3 (1996-2002)

Want good looks while having top down fun for the holidays? Myk Belmonte has one low cost solution.

1998-2002 BMW Z3

History
James Bond is definitely one lucky chap; he gets the chance of driving numerous vehicles packed with defense gadgets in all of his movies. He had driven em' all, from trains to swanky convertibles, airplanes and even an auto rickshaw. Despite being a fictional character, Bond has ridden or driven a lot.

Keeping the relation with the first paragraph, the BMW Z3 was featured in the 1995 film GoldenEye. Although it appeared as a cameo, the product placement was very successful which caused skyrocketing sales. Design patents were filed in April and September 1994 in Germany and the US respectively, with production started in September 20, 1995 at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Before anything else, the 'Z' in the name means 'Zukunft' (German for future) and the vehicle was discontinued in 2002, with the Z4 replacing it. The coupe version was made available year later, with an M version was made available in 1998

Although available through the grey market from launch, the official distributor - Asian Carmakers Corporation - brought in the Z3 in 1996. Someone with the moolah can either get the convertible or coupe back then. Sales ceased in 2003 with the introduction of the Z4 in the earlier part of that year.

Value and Costs
Whether your reason is you want to own a top down or a BMW, then the Z3 Convertible or Coupe is now attainable. With prices between P560,000-P1,200,000 for both body styles, there's a Z3 for everyone. Check for the vehicle condition since going for something problematic is an embarrassment. Stay away from units purchased in free ports due to their questionable conversion quality and potential document problems.

Of course, maintenance costs is expensive than your garden variety compact sedan. If possible, stick with the 1.9 since it has low running expenses (more on this later); while the 3.0 is prohibitively pricey to keep. Watch out for the top if it functions well and in good shape, cooling system, radiator, accessory drive belt and belt tensioner.

Exterior and Interior
First to be reviewed is the convertible body, since it is more common. Sleek and sexy lines dominate the Z3's body; coupled with the fender flares which look aggressive that contributes to the attractiveness of the vehicle. Wonder why the back is short? Well, you do not need something longer and heavy that will spoil the driving fun. A black top, regardless of color, comes standard to all variants. As with the coupe model, a more stiff chassis (no top is available, obviously) is standard but the Shooting Brake design is a love/hate affair. You be the judge.

Only two can join in the fun inside, since the cabin is very tiny and snug; large drivers would find a hard time fitting in. It may look dated, but the cabin is still intact and solid for many years. Controls are easy to manipulate and placed logically. May I remind you the reverse gear is situated beside the first gear.

Engine
For the engines that motivates the Z3, we shall first discuss the available ones in the convertible. Until 2000, the standard (and only) engine is the M44B19 1,895cc inline four that packs 138hp at 6,000rpm and 180Nm at 4,300rpm. An update done in the millennium year had the engine upgraded to the M52B20T 1,991cc inline six which carries 170hp at 6,250rpm and 210Nm at 3,500rpm. For the coupe, the sole option is the M54B30 2,979cc inline six which is good for 231hp at 5,900rpm and 300Nm at 3,500rpm. How do they perform? Well, the 1.9 isn't fast but suits the chassis well while the 2.0 is decent; but we vouch the 1.9 for low maintenance costs. On the other hand. the 3.0 is quick but shows the limitation of the chassis.

Driving Impressions
It is a wise decision to choose the smaller engine since this is more of a cruiser, not a bruiser especially the rear can get twitchy at speeds. This is one convertible whose handling is a weakness, no thanks to a stiff suspension.

Verdict
You get the stares, but that's it. Performance is simpler while the driving experience won't ring a bell. We wouldn't blame you that you want this, especially the badge and looks come standard. As for the driving experience, look elsewhere.