Saturday, August 31, 2013

Car Profiles - Hyundai Sonata (2003-2005)

2003-2005 Hyundai Sonata

The Good: Numerous standard equipment, spacious interior

The Bad: Odd ball looks, slow 2.0 engine

The Say: Large car for small money, just don't expect too much.

Go For: 2.0 GLS
Avoid: You have no other choice

Price Range: P220,000-P300,000
Our Rating: **

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

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Camry (2002-2006)

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

The Good: Stately appearance, high levels of quality

The Bad: Bulky, boring

The Say: Almost after 10 years, this car still has class.

Go For: 2.4 V
Avoid: 2.0 models

Price Range: P320,000-P480,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review:Used Car Review - Toyota Camry (2002-2006)
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Camry

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Galant (1998-2005)

Myk Belmonte revisits a 90s wonder which could have been a hit, if things went right for the car itself at that time.

1998-2005 Mitsubishi Galant

One of the longest running nameplates locally and one of the top choices when it comes to premium sedans back in the 80s and 90s. While the sixth and seventh generation models were popular buys back then, the eighth generation one - what you see in this review - eventually started the downfall for the Galant nameplate especially when the vehicle started to feel old against some key competitors from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. Think when Backstreet Boys got older, their popularity waned in favor of One Direction and The Wanted.

Launched in 1996 in either sedan or wagon bodies, the eighth generation Galant continued the styling cues of the model it preceded but with the deletion of the liftback model. Numerous engines were made available including a GDi (gasoline direct injection) and a 2.0 V6 one seen in the FTO. While last sold in the US in 2003, other countries had this one until 2006.

December 1997 saw the launch of the eighth model despite the financial crisis that crippled the Philippines back then. While it sold decently in its first run, the revised Cefiro in 2000, the all new Camry in 2002, and the redesigned Accord in 2003 clawed the market share of the Galant until a new model dubbed as the 240M was made available in January 2006. Trims available include the 4-cylinder Super Saloon which was later revised and renamed as the GT-A and the V6 VR sold from 1998 to 2000 but reappeared in 2002.

Value and Costs
Priced similarly to most Estrada and even some Macapagal-Arroyo era premium sedans, the Galant can be acquired for just between P210,000-P360,000. You'll be encountering the 4 cylinder models more than the V6 ones since the latter was retailed in a short span of time.

The common malady of the Galant of this generation is the automatic transmission that gives up on itself. Consumables include the suspension, ball joints. and other underchassis components must be inspected and replaced. V6 models are fuel thirsty, so if fuel consumption is a concern, hunt for a Super Saloon with a manual transmission.

Exterior and Interior
Local car enthusiasts dub this as the "shark" due to some sharp edges that resembles the water creature. In fact, it has some cues lifted from a BMW, but the way it drives and performs is a different can of worms altogether.

Unlike the Accord, interior materials used are more compatible for the Lancer since they are of poor quality. The wood trim is nearly the same with the Camry, but more Snickers dark than the lighter variety, and both the VR and GT-A have leather seating, a bane for tropical climates. While the front occupants have decent space (the driver has numerous settings for a comfortable position), rear ones have to contend with a tight bench.

It was the Galant that first introduced a four and six cylinder engine option, which competitors imitated later on. First on the Galant engine chain is the 4G63 1,997cc that carries 136hp at 6,000rpm and 180Nm at 3,000rpm while the king is the 6A13 2.498cc which has 163hp at 5,750rpm and 218Nm at 4,500rpm. My pick is the 2.0 model since it is more than decent for your daily needs and can be paired with a stickshift. There is nothing wrong with the V6 since it is fast, but it lacks the refinement found in the Cefiro and not that smooth in the power bandwith since the automatic is a "fuzzy logic" that adapts to the driver's style which ends up gear hunting.

Driving Impressions
Steering the "shark" is on the slow side especially that it does not befit the aggressive image it offers. Ride quality is decent, but not that refined in the Accord and Cefiro, both benchmarks in its class. Braking is excellent and stops in a centavo (dime is too American, so let's use the Filipino equivalent)

The downfall of the Galant's nameplate started with this generation by having some reliability problems, cheap interior trim, and a crude V6. Too bad, the nameplate was tarnished in some aspects and more potent (and competitive) rivals. Before settling with the "shark" Galant, check out other premium sedans of the age before arriving at a final decision.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Car Profiles - Mitsubishi Galant (1998-2005)

1998-2005 Mitsubishi Galant

The Good: Sharp styling, engines have grunt

The Bad: Tight rear seat, interior is cheap feeling

The Say: Still has some virtues, but not the best Galant.

Go For: 2.0 Super Saloon/GT-A
Avoid: 2.5 VR

Price Range: P210,000-P360,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Galant (1998-2005)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Car Profiles - Honda Accord (1998-2003)

1998-2003 Honda Accord

The Good: Peppy engines, comfortable, fun to drive

The Bad: Bland looks

The Say: This car has hidden talents, you must drive to appreciate.

Go For: 2.0 VTi-L
Avoid: 2.3 VTi-L

Price Range: P170,000-P400,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Honda Accord (1998-2003)
Latest vehicle profile: Honda Accord

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Used Car Review - Mazda 6 (2008-2012)

While the new generation is under the radar, Myk Belmonte invites you to check out the model it preceded.

2008-2012 Mazda 6

The Philippine premium car market has two types of buyers. The first one are those who love to sit at the back for most and the second one are those who love to spend time behind the wheel. Chauffeur rides include the Camry and the Teana while driver involved vehicles are the Legacy and the 6, the latter car which we will be reviewing in this article.

Developed under the GH platform, the second generation 6 was first previewed in 2007 at the Frankfurt Auto Show before being made for sale next year (North America had this in 2009). Nothing but praises were given to the second generation 6, with the driving feel still the same despite the increase in size. The GJ 6 replaced this just recently, with all models being produced in Hiroshima, Japan.

Ford Group Philippines, who used to handle Mazda at that time, launched the GH Mazda 6 in early 2008. It was only available in just one trim, a 2.5 4 cylinder one. You can buy one until 2012, with the much anticipated GJ Mazda 6 replacing it this year.

Value and Costs
Sedans with 2.0 gasoline engines and above have usually low residuals, and the second generation 6 can be bought for less than a million pesos. Have a lookout for units purchased in October 2010 or later to get the remainder of the warranty.

You'll need more funds to keep this baby in great shape, especially that it has a bigger engine than the top of the line Mazda 3. Parts are mostly purchased in the casa but there are a number of specialist shops out there, so do your research so you can save more. When compared with its peers, they offer a similar cost of maintenance.

Exterior and Interior
More sharper than the model it replaced, the second generation 6 has sleek and sharp lines that can elicit stares (in a low profile fashion) and remains distinctive. A 2010 update had a revised grille, with the Mazda logo being the highlight. Before we leave this paragraph, the second generation 6 has 4,735mm in length, a width of 1,795mm, and a height of 1,440mm.

While the exterior drank growth pills, the inside is something of the same size. Placing three people at the back is very tight and headroom is something to be desired, no thanks to the sunroof. Definitely the materials used in the interior are of high quality, which is something (and should be) commendable.

Despite the single engine option for PHDM Mazda 6's, this is definitely no slouch since the LS-VE 2,488cc I4 that has 168hp at 6,000rpm and 226Nm at 4,400rpm has the oomph and you can hold the gears until redline. Never a dull moment will be experienced since some sports car genes were infused in the 6's growing pills.

Driving Impressions
A fear whenever redesigning a car is to retain the previous model's personality or not, and thankfully, the 6 still retains the driving prowess it is known for. It steers with confidence and goes with the flow gracefully, but there is a minimal amount of body roll due to the added weight. Braking whenever something goes wrong is excellent, despite the heft.

The Mazda 6 is still a great choice when it comes to something premium with drivers involvement, but there are qualities that made me still go for the first generation 6. It may lack some space for the passengers, but those who usually carry people most of the time check other options first before committing to the 6.

Car Profiles - Nissan Cefiro (1989-1991)

1989-1991 Nissan Cefiro

The Good: Fun to drive due to RWD layout

The Bad: Problems may pop out, carburetor engine comes standard

The Say: Unless you'll be doing some side sliding fun, other modern rivals are better for personal usage.

Go For: 2.0

Price Range: P150,000-P170,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW 5 Series Touring (2007-2010)

2007-2010 BMW 5 Series Touring

The Good: Torquey diesel engine, spacious, BMW driving dynamics

The Bad: Limited in the market

The Say: Enjoyable to drive but expensive to maintain.

Go For: 525d Touring

Price Range: P1,850,000-P2,000,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Car Profiles - Volkswagen New Beetle Hatchback (2000-2006)

2000-2006 Volkswagen New Beetle

The Good: Funky, solid

The Bad: Only two can hop in, smallish trunk

The Say: Be the attraction of the party, but two can join the driving fun.

Go For: 1.6
Avoid: Units with incomplete service records

Price Range: P450,000-P620,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volkswagen New Beetle (2000-2006)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Used Car Review - Volvo V50 (2005-2011)

Need a wagon for your daily needs? Myk Belmonte has one suggestion for you.

2005-2011 Volvo V50

When it comes to wagons, the Europeans are the leaders. And among the leaders, Volvo is one of them since they have numerous station wagons in their stable throughout the years. From the Duett of the 1950s to the V50 and V60 of the new decade, Volvo sold a number of them worldwide and a popular choice in Sweden.

Together with the S40 sedan, the V50 (it was renamed from V40) wagon was redesigned and introduced in mid-2004 using the P1 platform. While the chassis and most components were developed by Volvo, some mechanicals are shared with the Mazda 3 and European Ford Focus. No thanks to decreasing sales, the V50 (together with the S40 sedan) were replaced by the V40 (no relation to the predecessor) in 2012.

Late 2004 saw the Philippine introduction of the V50 wagon, together with the S40 sedan. Unlike the previous models that target those nearing retirement age (850 anyone?), the V50 reached out the yuppie market. Same fate with the sedan, it faced discontinuation in 2011, a year earlier than the S40.

Value and Costs
Higher than the Opel wagons for a reason (other than age), second hand V50s can be purchased between P750,000-P860,000. If possible, start your hunt in a Volvo dealership near you for a certified unit since they are inspected and backed-up with a warranty before selling them to you.

Cost of maintenance are a bit higher than the Japanese, but there are no reported reliability problems so getting one isn't a liability. While it shares parts with the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, go with 100% Volvo parts for assurance, but it does not hurt to ask if they can.

Exterior and Interior
Not anymore a box of soap or worse, a funeral hearse; the V50 comes with a bulging hood, muscular sides, a streamed roofline, and a chopped rear which contributes to a short wheelbase wagon. It drives like a regular sedan, not some long wagon of the 60s and 70s.

What is the number one strength of this vehicle? Its versatility, which is the obvious answer of them all. To fully utilize the cargo area, one must fold down the rear seats (they do in a 60/40 way), remove the headrests, and load. If using the V50 as a family car, be warned as the rear seat is tight and good for two people for comfort. Other than people, let's evaluate the other parts of the interior. Controls are big enough to hold on, but the center console (this is where the audio, climate, and trip computer controls are placed) needs time to get used to it since the buttons are near one another. There are pieces of aluminum that gives the wagon a luxury touch.

Two engines were made available and the first one is a 1,984cc inline four that carries 145hp at 6,000rpm and 185Nm at 4,500rpm. Those who want more have the B5244S4 2,435cc inline five which has 170hp at 6,000rpm and 230Nm at 4,400rpm to fiddle with. When it comes to performance, both engines drive decently and motivate the V50 without drama.

Driving Impressions
Just like the sedan sibling, it shows its best at straight lines but exhibits the worst side when doing cornering since the steering turns heavy. Unlike the S40, you can do some rallying by turning off the traction control and vola! But it is not as great as a Bimmer and when you crash the car, but don't fret, Volvo placed lots of safety kit in your V50, but driving carefully is the order of the day.

Wagon choices locally are very limited, and if you want one with the European flair, the Volvo V50 is one great pick. Just be patient when finding for one, since you'll love the versatility it has when you drive it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Car Profiles - Volvo V50 (2005-2011)

2005-2011 Volvo V50

The Good: Solid underchassis, stylish

The Bad: Less space, no diesel option

The Say: An outstanding pick in the estate race.

Go For: 2.0i

Price Range: P750,000-P860,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volvo V50 (2005-2011)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Car Profiles - Volvo C30 (2007-2013)

2007-2013 Volvo C30

The Good: Unique styling, high quality

The Bad: Tight rear seat, not that fun to drive

The Say: A boutique vehicle that competes in the mainstream market.

Go For: 2.0i
Avoid: T5

Price Range: P750,000-P1,800,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volvo C30 (2007-2013)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz B Class (2006-2012)

Myk Belmonte invites you to check out this German wonder that can be yours for less.

2006-2012 Mercedes Benz B Class

As everyone knows it, the A Class is the entry level Benz that your money can buy. Those who find the A small for their needs and the C big for the garage and expensive for the wallet, well the B Class slots in the middle.

While the A Class entered its second iteration, the B Class was just launched in 2005 as an enlarged A but with the same engines (although some powerful ones are also available). Rather than marketing it as a plain hatchback, Mercedes calls the B Class as a "Compact Sports Tourer". The W245 B Class was first made available in March 2005 and production and sales ended in 2011, with some having it a little longer.

CATS Motors introduced the B Class in early 2006 together with the redesigned M and S Class models. Trim models brought in include the B150, B160 (introduced in 2010 to replace the B150), B170, and B200. Until 2010, the three models can be purchased except for the B160, which was introduced in that year.

Value and Costs
A compact sized vehicle with a Benz logo (genuine one) can be yours for between P900,000-P1,150,000. For peace of mind (this line gets overused when it comes to Mercedes Benz reviews), get a unit from the pre-owned selection of CATS which are backed up with a warranty and inspected prior to sale.

Compared with its compatriots, cost of maintenance is similar to them. Before driving off, check out the electronics function properly which includes the panoramic sunroof, traction control, and for the B160, the Active Park Assist.

Exterior and Interior
This is basically an A Class which drank Cherifer syrup and the result is an extended body while remaining compact in size. It still looks elegant, despite the ovoid figure.

Flexibility is tops, since the B Class has a rear bench that can fold 60/40 and the front seat has the capacity of folding forward to accommodate any long objects. As with most Benzes, interior quality is topnotch, you really get what you pay for - except that's in a second hand package. The silver and black interior houses the controls that are within drivers reach. All occupants get a reasonable amount of room and won't complain about getting claustrophobic.

There are three engines made available in local units and the most common one is the M266.920 1,498cc which has 95hp at 5,500rpm and 140Nm at 3,500-4,000rpm that motivates the B150 and B160. Next is the M266.940 1,699cc that carries 114hp at 5,500rpm and 155Nm at 3,500-4,000rpm moving the B170. Lastly is the M266.960 2,034cc which belches 135hp at 5,750rpm and 185Nm at 3,500-4,000rpm available in the B200 model. Both the 1.5 and 1.7 engines are much better in the city than the expressways due to their low displacement nature and the standard CVT robs power. The 2.0, on the other hand, is much better in both city and highway, thanks to the large displacement that can carry the heft.

Driving Impressions
No thanks to the heft (it has a 1,300kg curb weight), it wants to accelerate as if there's no tomorrow but it gives you a comfortable ride. While it shows its best on the open, changing lanes are best avoided and you get an SUV like oversteer. Small hatches of the less price, or even the diesel BMW 1 Series or Audi A3, would even out sprint this one. Parking would mean practice since it is a bit confusing to know the front ends.

You pay for the Benz badge and to flaunt that you are driving a three-pointed star car inside the city. The alluring points end there; with the B Class suffering a Porky Pig weight, quivers like an SUV, and the tendency of the engines to overwork. You want this because of the badge, but the Audi A3 is the great hatch for all around duties while the BMW 1 Series for the sporty minded.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Car Profiles - Mercedes Benz B Class (2006-2012)

2006-2012 Mercedes Benz B Class

The Good: Lots of room, easy to park

The Bad: Power grabbing CVT, bulky

The Say: More city cruiser than driver's delight.

Go For: B200
Avoid: B170

Price Range: P900,000-P1,150,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz B Class (2006-2012)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Car Profiles - Mazda BT-50 (2008-2011)

2008-2011 Mazda BT-50

The Good: Great off-road abilities, sporty in image

The Bad: No automatic option, interior space

The Say: Everything that the Ranger has treated to that sporty touch.

Go For: 2.5 4x2

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

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Mazda BT-50

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Car Features - The Cars of Napoles

With all the news surrounding Janet Lim Napoles, The Ultimate Used Car Guide delves in to the cars which she and her brother Reynald Lim may use to escape with. If you love your country and happen to see these cars roaming around, then do yourself a favor by calling the NBI Hotline at (02) 524-1141 or 0917 583-8612.

Do take note the photos of the following vehicles are merely representations and do not necessarily mean the actual vehicles owned or being used. All information are correct as of press time with a source available at the end of the article.

Listed below are the vehicles with their corresponding plate number and color.

Car Profiles - Ford F150 (1998-2004)

1998-2004 Ford F150 

The Good: Available regular and crew cab styles, handsome looks

The Bad: Impractical to drive, poor fuel economy

The Say: You'll look good, but you can't live with this package.

Go For: 4.2 V6 Styleside
Avoid: 4.6 V8 Supercrew

Price Range: P310,000-P680,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Ford F150 (1998-2004)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Used Car Review - Nissan Eagle (1991-1998)

Need a reliable truck that can fit the meager budget? Myk Belmonte gives you one suggestion.

1991-1998 Nissan Eagle

Throwback: its the 90s and most Japanese pickup trucks are tuned for hauling, not comfort. While efforts were done to "modernize" the truck by placing power amenities and even an automatic transmission option, but the bumpy ride still dictates sacks of rice than humans. One of the popular choices for a hauler back then was the Nissan Hardbody or locally known as the Power Eagle, which is the vehicle being discussed here.

Basically the continuation of the Datsun Truck, the D21 generation was sold unofficially as the Hardbody in the US but other countries have their own names. Body configurations include the standard length (two door), extended (two door with long bed), and crew cab (four doors) with a plethora of gasoline and diesel engines which can be paired with either manual or automatic. While it bowed out in some countries in 1997-1999 for the Frontier, some Central and South American nations sell this one until today.

Although first made available as the "Classic" in 1987, the Power series was launched in 1991 which featured a number of firsts in its category including power steering and other power amenities. Do remember that the Ultra Power trim was used in 1994 and was renamed as the Ultra Eagle in 1996. Sales ceased in 1998 to give way to the Frontier and apart from the Ultra variant available, there is the basic DLX that is famed for being used by media networks back then.

Value and Costs
Need a dependable truck on the cheap? Well, the Nissan Eagle is one great option with units flirting  in the P170,000-P320,000 range. If possible, hunt for a unit that had seen private usage more than those abused in the rough, since these units can be a pain especially for their suspension.

Fuel economy, for a diesel, is decent enough while parts can be purchased anywhere but priced on the higher side. One problem that affected pre-1996 models of this truck is rust which plagued the wheel wells positioned in the bed area. For those who are asking how it happened, this is more of a design error whose inner design configuration was a boxed area which allowed water and dirt to enter and be trapped. Go for an Eagle series to avoid the problem of rusts in the bed.

Exterior and Interior 
All Power pick-up trucks have four doors, and on that body comes a boxy and more macho appearance. So, what body features compliment this pickup? Well, chrome grille in front (later used by some competitors) and one single handle in the tailgate. Remember, less is more, as there no tacky chrome handles to see (remember the Frontier Navarra Krom?).

With all pickup trucks, the rear bench isn't good for three people but two is a perfect but comfortable fit. Weirdly enough, the stereo is located below the air-conditioning controls which the driver can have a hard time switching stations.

Fitted in the Power pickup series is the SD25 2,488cc with 70hp at 4,000rpm to play with (no torque figures are available at research), which has some power in the lower revs to keep chugging on. The low end pull means that the engine is good for hauling, the intended purpose of this truck. Going at triple digit speeds especially at top speed would scream at the top of its lungs, which you wouldn't want that to happen.

Driving Impressions
Step in the driver's seat and you get a clutch that is easy to step on, thanks to its hydraulic system. Also, the manual gearstick is a short throw one, which is definitely a good thing. If we were to discuss about its comfort, the Power Eagle has a powerful (pun unintended) and durable suspension good for your farm needs or your family riding with you but not when driving solo since it has a bumpy ride. Do remember that the suspension settings are like that due to its hauling nature, its intended purpose.

Before settling with this truck, do you need a comfort of a car? Steer clear. How about something sturdy for your construction needs at a budget? Consider this one. Remember, life is full of compromises so decide very carefully. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Car Profiles - Nissan Eagle (1991-1998)

1991-1998 Nissan Eagle

The Good: Tough, handsome looks

The Bad: Tight rear seat, noisy engine

The Say: A great choice for old but durable trucks; superior alternatives are great bargains.

Go For: Ultra series

Price Range: P170,000-P320,000
Our Rating: *

Related Review: Used Car Review - Nissan Eagle (1991-1998)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Hilux (1997-2004)

1997-2004 Toyota Hilux

The Good: Simplistic engine, off-road capable

The Bad: Crude interior, noisy engine

The Say: Perfect in the boondocks, not in the city.

Go For: XS 4x2

Price Range: P375,000-P750,000
Our Rating: *

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

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Used Car Review - Isuzu D-Max (2003-2013)

With just months before the reveal of the next generation model, Myk Belmonte evaluates the outgoing model.

2003-2013 Isuzu D-Max

In the automotive world, Isuzu has some links with General Motors. Especially some Isuzu vehicles are sold as Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs, Holdens, or GEOs (a defunct brand of GM that targeted first time and youth buyers), this ensured Isuzu's presence at and the same time, fill the void of other brands by badge engineering which involved Suzuki and Subaru previously. The most important role of Isuzu is supplying manufacturers with diesel engines for their own vehicles.

One popular vehicle that Isuzu made with a corresponding GM equivalent is the D-Max pickup truck. Remember this, there is one version being sold in the rest of the world (rebadged version) while another being marketed in the US as the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon/Isuzu i-Series but uses the same platform but not related to the main D-Max. Apart from the Isuzu badge, it is sold as a Chevrolet, and Holden around the world except for the United States.

Replacing the aging Fuego, the D-Max was first made available in late 2003 and it featured the very first for the category. Push button 4x4 hubs? Present, with others following suit in the way of knobs and buttons. While at this time the second generation model will be launched locally, the current one is still available and there are plans of keeping the older body for a period of time. Variants include the LT (added in 2007, the base model with a 4WD model added in 2009), LX, LS (either in two or four wheel drive), and the LS Boondock available as a special edition model.

Value and Costs
This pickup truck can pickup (pun not intended) the needs for just between P600,000-P1,000,000. Do remember later models are priced in the upper range and try to hunt for a unit sold in October 2010 or later to get the remainder of the warranty.

Parts are widespread and maintenance costs are on the cheap side, a positive among Isuzus. This one drinks fuel less than the main rivals, which is a strength. Do check the unit you're eyeing before signing the dotted line.

Exterior and Interior
The design remains unchanged for nearly 10 years (or 80 years old in car age), but the boxy stance gives the vehicle a classic look. Despite some chrome touches, they don't look tacky at all. Boondock versions get a "Boondock 4x4" sticker on the side and large wheels. Numerous exterior updates were done throughout the years, while retaining the same body everyone remembers. Let's review the bed area since you'll be using it when you're buying it. The bed can accommodate anything with ease but it only has four tie points, not good for some fragile items.

A simplistic approach was done in the D-Max's interior with the 4WD push buttons being located within driver's reach, with the same for the climate and other controls. The aftermarket stereo needs some time to read the owners manual to master the buttons, as they are small and confusing. USB connectivity and an auxiliary jack comes standard in 2007 and later models. Front occupants get a decent space while those who prefer to seat at the rear bench would have an upright - but still humane - position.

Two sets of engines were offered in the D-Max, and initial models get the 4JH1 2,999cc which has 130hp at 3,800rpm and 294Nm at 2,000rpm. A 2007 update had the 4JJ1 packed with CRDi technology but using the same displacement with slightly different figures. Horsepower is now rated at 146hp at 3,800 while torque still remains the same, it has an early twist at 1,400-3,400rpm. The LT, targeted the fleet market, utilizes the 4JA1 2,499cc (used in the Crosswind)  that possess 81hp at 3,900rpm and 177Nm at 2,000rpm. The 4JA1, although noisy, has better pull in the lower range. The 4JH1 engine does live without CRDi technology but thanks to the close gear ratios (especially for the manual variant), it feels spirited at launch and at fifth gear, it can reach 80km/h. It does not like to be pushed above 100km/h as it becomes noisy and vibration is too much in this period. Moving on to the 4JJ1, there is enough torque to start at second gear in the manual but the automatic has a high powerband entry and the 3,000rpm, the turbo wakes up there. Fuel economy is definitely a strength.

Driving Impressions
At low speeds, the D-Max drives like a sedan but steering feel is on the dead side. Parking is a breeze due to the light steering and unlike the Hilux, it feels planted to the ground. For more power, I recommend sticking with a 2007 and later model but paired with a stick shift as they have gobs of torque at an early gear.

Sure, the D-Max is being eclipsed by new and modern competitors but there are some virtues which still remains a pick in the market. If economy is the top most concern, you can never go wrong with the D-Max

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Car Profiles - Isuzu D-Max (2003-2013)

2003-2013 Isuzu D-Max

The Good: Off road capable, push button 4WD system

The Bad: Not that powerful against competitors

The Say: An old fashioned truck wrapped in a modern package.

Go For: 2007 and later LS

Price Range: P600,000-P1,000,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Isuzu D-Max (2003-2013)
Latest vehicle profile: Isuzu D-Max

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Yaris (2007-2014)

2007-2014 Toyota Yaris

The Good: Practical, a pleasure to drive

The Bad: Interior is not that flexible

The Say: Something unnoticed that has character.

Go For: 1.5
Avoid: You have no other choice

Price Range: P350,000-P500,000
Our Rating: ***

Related review: Used Car Review - Toyota Yaris (2007-2014)
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Yaris

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Car Profiles - Volkswagen Golf (2000-2003)

2000-2003 Volkswagen Golf

The Good: Spacious cabin, great pickup from 1.6

The Bad: Limited to buy, expensive to maintain

The Say: If only the previous distributor didn't mess up things, the Golf could have been common.

Go For: 1.6

Price Range: Data not available
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Used Car Review - Toyota Vios (2007-2013)

With the new model under the spotlight, Myk Belmonte evaluates the predecessor which is still a great bargain.

2007-2013 Toyota Vios

So, how can you signal whenever there is a new model coming? Apart from the usual leaked photos on the net, Facebook posts by employees of that car company, and some chika with the salespeople; big discounts are also one indicator when a car is ripe for replacement. In the case of the second generation Vios which mostly happened in the first portion of the year, huge price offs were published and depending on the salesman, can add some more cuts to the SRP.

First introduced in Japan as the Toyota Belta in November 2005, with exports being commenced the following year. Also sold in North America and Australia as the Yaris sedan and South and South East Asia using the Vios name. While Japanese units are either available with a 1.0 or 1.3 engine, some countries have the more potent 1.5 powerplant. Last March 2013, the third generation Vios was previewed at the Bangkok  Motor Show of that year, so by now all markets may have discontinued sales of the second generation model.

August 2007 saw the launch of the second generation Vios and for the first time, it was locally assembled as opposed to the previous model's Thailand importation. It gained more inches in terms of exterior and interior size than the model it replaced. By now, the third generation model (introduced last month) is on display at the nearest Toyota showroom but there could be some leftover units that some dealers have in stock. Updates occurred in April 2010, October 2011, and October 2012 which involved a minor facelift and addition of new variants. Available trim lines throughout selling life include the 1.3 base that targeted taxi fleets (added in 2012), 1.3 J, 1.3 J Limited (included in 2012), 1.3 E (deleted in 2012), 1.3 G (launched in October 2011 and replaced the E), 1.5 G, 1.5 S (made available in 2009 until April 2010), 1.5 G Limited XX (from 2008 to 2009), 1.5 TRD Sportivo, and the 1.5 G SE (2011-early 2012).

Value and Costs
With the current generation model being on sale for now, expect Vios residuals to dip down. Can't afford the new model? Then a used second generation one is a prudent choice with units priced in the range of P320,000-P580,000. Go with a unit sold from October 2010 and later to ensure that it has the remaining chunk of the warranty.

This is already very cliche when it comes to Toyota Vios commentaries, parts are affordable and can be purchased anywhere plus fuel economy is tops. While the Vios is reliable, be cautious of the rear suspension which can sag (as evidenced by some taxi units roaming around) and some overheating problems (the myth with taxis having their hood opened while driving).

Exterior and Interior
Neither polarizing nor sleek, the exterior design is just right. Prior to April 2010, the grille looked like it was extended (notice the single silver lining passing through the mesh grille) from the previous model which isn't offensive. The minor update had the front resemble a person smiling with braces, which is something a subject of debate. The rear isn't something to be a subject of praise, but definitely in the average side. Special edition models have a share of 17 inch wheels (the G SE makes do with 16 ones), and side skirts. Side mirror repeaters come standard in 1.5 models only.

Of course, the interior of the Vios would be remembered for its center clustered gauges, which has now migrated to where it should be for the new model, in front of the driver. Except for the J trims, a center cluster complemented with some silver lining (matte black was added in the 2010 update) which houses the radio (the J makes do with basically a 1-DIN audio unit, with 2010 and later models utilizing the one being used in the Innova but was reverted a year later) and climate controls, but it takes some time to get used to it. Some cheap materials made its way inside but hey, you're buying something below a million bucks so don't expect too much. Drivers get an awkward position with either being close to the tiller or being far from the pedals, but overall cabin space is excellent. Another negative is the useless cup holder mounted in the dash which is impossible to open due to the misaligned dash. Want leather seats and a folding rear bench? Try hunting for a 1.5 G model but you can have one with an automatic and that option was dropped in the 2010 update. Power windows are available across the line except for the Base and pre-2010 J models.

The usual cuisine in the sub-compact menu are two engine options, and the smallest (and most common one) is the 2NZ-FE 1,298cc that possess 85hp at 6,000rpm and 122Nm at 4,400rpm used in the Base, J, E, and G variants. Want something big? The menu suggests you the 1NZ-FE 1,497cc which has 107hp at 6,000rpm and 142Nm at 4,200rpm on tap. First the 1.3 models have decent power and still a great cruiser (but keep the revs lower) on long drives. Automatics are only made available during the 2010 update, so hunt one if you want something convenient yet small. On the other hand, the 1.5 is smooth when takeoff and has reserve power when overtaking but don't drive it on the upper range of the revs, since it will huff and puff on that case. Not fast, but decent enough for your needs.

Driving Impressions
Boring to drive, but you'll benefit from a quiet cabin thanks to the engines that keep the revs in the low to mid range. Ride quality is on the comfortable side, but then why would taxi operators (and even the passengers) won't choose the Vios if it had a firm ride? Handling is nothing special, it can bring you to your destination without fuzz.

The Vios is one great city car that is reliable, fuel efficient and most importantly in this article, easy to find in the market. Sure, criticize it for its dull steering and asthmatic to high revs engine, but if you need something cheap, compact, and modern, fit the Vios in your shopping list.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Echo Verso (2000-2004)

 2000-2004 Toyota Echo Verso

The Good: Reliable, practical

The Bad: Polarizing looks

The Say: Packs a huge space in a tiny shell.

Go For: 1.5 VVTi
Avoid: Units with Fun Cargo badges

Price Range: P240,000-P280,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Toyota Echo Verso (2000-2004)

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Car Profiles - Daewoo Espero (1995-2000)

1995-2000 Daewoo Espero

The Good: More space for both people and cargo for less

The Bad: Reliability, handling

The Say: You get a lot for less, but other established brands are worth looking first.

Go For: 1.5
Avoid: 2.0

Price Range: P50,000-P125,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Used Car Review - Honda City (1996-2003)

Myk Belmonte: Bored of the usual compact choices at budget prices? Then add this one to your shopping list.

1996-2003 Honda City

While the Philippines and the rest of South East Asia get the City in 1996, the Japanese and Europeans get the early City that rivaled the Nissan March/Micra. The first generation model was first made available in 1981 under the AA chassis and the second model was launched in 1986 with the model designated as GA1 (GA2 in its 1989 update). The first Citys are hatchbacks (and a convertible model was only offered in the first generation one), so the City discussed in the article isn't related in many ways except in the name.

Based on the EF Civic platform, the City nameplate was resurrected in 1996 under the chassis code SX8. It was developed and sold in developing markets (South East Asia, India, Pakistan) and to complement the EK Civic but at a lower price. Bet you didn't know this generation was sold in Honda Clio dealerships in Japan, as with the model it succeeded.

Honda Cars Philippine's cash cow during 1996-1997 was the Civic EK, but with some marketing efforts done locally including a song played in radio stations, this generation of City - together with the next generation models - found success in the local market. Initially available with a 1.3 engine, a 1.5 model was later added in 1998 and an update was done in 1999. You can buy the SX8 City until 2003, which the GD City replaced it. Available variants include the base Di (renamed as GL in 1999), LXi, and VTi; with the latter only be purchased with a 1.5 engine paired with a manual transmission.

Value and Costs
We all know that when buying a car under 200k, the usual suspects are the Corolla, Sentra, Civic, and Lancer. But for now, I have a secret to say; the SX8 City is also priced within that range and it can be yours between P145,000-P230,000. To say that the 1.3 engines of the four popular rivals are living in the carburetor era, and the 1.5 VTi competes with the Lancer GL (or GLX from 2000 onward), Sentra EX Saloon, and even the Civic LXi to fiddle with. What shall you pick then? Either engine is great but for the variants, forget about the Di/GL since they lack power amenities (except steering) and the price difference between units are narrow.

Parts can be procured at any Honda specialist shop, and maintaining one is on the affordable side. While hunting for your City, be careful with units with rust especially if the vehicle got in an accident and the body repair was poorly done. Fuel economy is wallet friendly, and there is no carburetor to worry about.

Exterior and Interior
While the Civic has elegant curves, the City makes do without any flashy design cues. But remember, it is a low frills vehicle that can transport you from point A to Z. To differentiate a 1.3 to a 1.5 City, the former gets black door handles while the latter has color coded ones.

You get a roomy cabin good for four of your friends (or family members) to hop in, but interior quality is very disappointing but you shouldn't since they say "you get what you pay for". Front footwell isn't that great, but you get a comfortable driving position that is complemented with large windows and a low hood. Power windows for the 1.3 LXi are only available in the front, with the rear occupants have to crank the windows down.

Two options can be had, with the most common one is the D13B4 1,343cc which spits out 95hp at 6,400rpm and 121Nm at 4,700rpm. Fitted among VTi models is the D15 1,493cc that carries 115hp at 6,800rpm and 142Nm at 4,600rpm. These engines are lively when reached at 4,000rpm and for a low price, you get something that is enjoyable to drive thanks to a light body and well spaced gear ratios.

Driving Impressions
Being a budget car does not mean a punishment, which the City debunks that notion. Thanks to the sub 1,000kg body weight, it handles well despite using McPherson struts rather than the double wishbone utilized by the Civic. Getting a manual transmission model means you have to live with a rubbery shifter and a unpleasant clutch, but you'll forgive them especially with the fuel economy it gives you.

This may have some faults, but it gives you more for less money. This overlooked option in the used car market gives you lively engines and a roomy cabin that others don't.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Car Profiles - Honda City (1996-2003)

1996-2003 Honda City

The Good: Perky handler, all around visibility

The Bad: No safety kit, cheap interior trim

The Say: A great basic car and no more.

Go For: 1.5 VTi
Avoid: 1.3 Di/GL

Price Range: P145,000-P230,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Honda City (1996-2003)
Latest vehicle profile: Honda City

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Car Profiles - Subaru Impreza WRX/WRX STi (2002-2007)

2002-2007 Subaru Impreza WRX/WRX STi

The Good: Fast, livable for daily usage, slick manual

The Bad: Fuel economy isn't good, expensive to maintain

The Say: Potent on the open, dependable on the city.

Go For: WRX
Avoid: Abused units

Price Range: P840,000-P1,050,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Subaru WRX/WRX STI

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW M3 (2001-2006)

2001-2006 BMW M3

The Good: Amazing performance and handling, practical

The Bad: Expensive to maintain and purchase

The Say: Your purchase can give you something exciting and practical at the same time.

Go For: Loved units
Avoid: Imitations

Price Range: P1,800,000-P2,500,000
Our Rating: *****

Related Review: None as of the Moment

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Used Car Review - Ford Lynx RS (2003-2005)

Myk Belmonte invites you to start the month of August with something fast and not to forget, affordable.

2003-2005 Ford Lynx RS

For those who don't know what does RS mean, this stands for Rallye Sport. And the RS badge was created for rally racing, which is incidentally the performance car and motorsport division of Ford in Europe. Among the vehicles blessed with the RS badge include the European Escort, Sierra, Fiesta, and Focus.

Although the Laser wasn't used for rallying, a special edition was made available in Taiwan and in some South East Asian countries as the Laser RS (or Lynx RS). While some countries phased this model out in favor of the Focus in 2003, some countries released this variant during that year.

In celebration of Ford's 100th anniversary, the Lynx RS was made available together with the Centennial Edition (virtually the same vehicle but can only be purchased in black, has silver stitching, and a free special edition key chain and coffee table book comes standard) in late 2003. This was the year when vehicle taxes are based on their value, not on their engine displacement or people carrying ability. Technically, this was the first compact to have a 2.0 engine which the Honda Civic followed suit in it 2004 update.

Value and Costs
Unlike the Civic SiR that was launched few years earlier, the Lynx RS/Centennial Edition has low residuals since it does not have a huge following in the country. You can get one for just P220,000-P380,000 but remember, stock units are in the lower range while those used in car shows (and presumably modified) have high prices. For your enjoyment, get a stock model since they are priced cheaply.

What problems would one encounter in this vehicle? Although there are not to large a problem, the suspension must be replaced especially if the owner drives in rough roads most of the time. Fuel economy, as some mentioned in popular automotive forums, is better than the Ghia variant. Although this must be due to the RS' standard manual transmission and high torque which beats the Ghia's heavy body and 1.6 engine combo in stop and go traffic.

Exterior and Interior
Oh, the coincidence here, it was nearly a year I reviewed the pedestrian model Lynx. So, the different bumpers give a touch of aggressiveness, a standard rear spoiler, and a mesh grille to distinguish it to its lower brethren are some highlights. Just remember that RS models are sold in red while Centennial edition ones are in black.

No leather seats come standard since fabric ones with red and silver stitching comes standard. To know if you're buying a genuine one, the front backrests and floor mats must have an RS label. The gauges are the highlight of the interior since you are informed if you are fast enough, but the green lighting at night isn't appealing to some. Other things to remember to see if the unit you are examining is an RS/Centennial Edition are the stitching in the gear stick, silver trim in the door handles and arm rests, and aftermarket type pedals. There are some distractions for the driver especially when opening the fog lights located near the left knee of the driver and the volume and on/off function placed in the rightmost portion. Occupants have ample room inside the cabin, so four can also hop in and enjoy the driving pleasure.

Exclusive in this trim model is the FSDE 1,991cc I4 with 143hp at 6,000rpm and 192Nm at 4,500rpm. The great thing about this engine is it can reach 6,000rpm redline with an accompanying noise thanks to the VICS mechanism. This can be a practical partner, especially when driven prudently, can reach a decent 9km/L in the city.

Driving Impressions
Definitely something fun to drive, with its solid and lightweight chassis which befits this vehicle. When on the road, ruts are tolerable but don't drive in the rough ones since the noise and vibration generated isn't music to the ears. Steering is an entertainment but braking is a mixed bag, with a spongy reaction when encountering deceleration from triple digit speeds. The shifter is somewhat clunky though, but nevertheless the key to driving excitement.

Imagine a pocket rocket at prices where plain Jane sedans exist, what more can you ask for. Unlike the SiR whose resale prices are still high despite being as old as a high school student, the RS is a wonder that can be a practical city driver.