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April 21, 2003

Review: 2003 Toyota Revo 1.8 SR

There’s always something alluring with the girl next door.  She may not be the prettiest, sexiest or richest, but somehow she always manages to lift your spirits with her honest to goodness smile.  It seems that you’ve known her all your life—she’s dependable, reliable and trustworthy.  In short, she’s like a Toyota Revo.

The Revo is the AUV next door.  It’s certainly not the prettiest or the best handler of the lot, but with a total 2002 sales figure of 11,715 units—it managed to beat the competition, undoubtedly thanks to a well thought-out package.

The Revo has gone a long way since its bare essential taxi-fleet days.  Now, especially in the top-of-the-range SR guise, it gains certain design cues that were once reserved for Lexus 4x4s.  Though not obvious to the casual observer, certain detail elements are nicely integrated.

The headlamps are now bigger and flush better with the grille, creating a streamlined look.  The lower bumper has been changed as well, to incorporate front fog lamps and a chin spoiler that’s not too different from the Camry's.  The grille has been given a ‘honey-comb’ design—accentuated by a single chrome line cutting through the middle with a huge Toyota badge.  From the back, it’s trying to emulate a Lexus LX470 with its new rear lamp cluster.

Obviously done to attract the Zigen set are some of the typical AUV tricks of the trade: two-tone paint scheme, over fenders, added body cladding and stickers, plus the ubiquitous rear spoiler.

Toyota has moved the Revo SR up the luxury scale by adding two-tone perforated leather seats as standard.  Though not entirely comfortable on long journeys, this is the best cow hide to ever grace the interior of an AUV.  The RAV4-style, fat three-spoke leather steering wheel combined with the metallic center console and air-conditioning vents provides some ample sporty flair.

Beyond the funky new CD/VCD player, dual 5.6-inch LCD monitors, and all power amenities, the real highlight of the interior is the flexibility.  The front bench now offers an arm rest with dual cup holders, while the second row can now slide, recline and fold in a 60/40 ratio.  A common feature in European cars, this can create additional room for luggage by merely flipping over a section of the seat.  This increases load lugging without sacrificing much of the passenger hauling.

For all of Toyota’s improvements and fine-tuning, the Revo SR, still remains an AUV at heart.  Like its truck based competition, it suffers greatly from poor mechanical refinement when compared to a passenger car.

The gasoline-fed 1.8-liter OHV inline-4 is gruff and boomy.  Though generating a considerable 94 hp, it fails to push the 1435-kilogram SR with any considerable ease; mated to a hard-shifting four-speed automatic makes for a less than desirable experience.  Mileage is unexceptional, managing 8.12 kilometers per liter.

Beyond the insipid engine and transmission combination, the Revo is a pleasant surprise with its nimble and predictable handling and more-than-adequate brakes.  However, it’s worth noting that the steering is a bit flabby, but has less of the center dead-zone when compared to its rivals.

The SR rides surprisingly well, given that it’s riding on a rudimentary Double Wishbone / Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs set-up.  Nonetheless, because of the body-on-frame nature of the AUV, it easily suffers from minor squeaks even if the odometer barely reads a thousand km.  Moreover, tire and wind noise (particularly from the exterior mirrors) is obtrusive even if traveling below 60 km/h.

Like the girl next door, the Toyota Revo is certainly not for extroverts.  However, if a lifelong commitment is in question, then there’s no denying that with its handsome details, great interior flexibility and the longest warranty, the Revo certainly makes an excellent choice.  Careful, I can hear the wedding bells ringing already.

Toyota Revo GLX 2.4 Diesel

Like choosing how you’d want your coffee in Starbucks, picking the right Toyota Revo takes some serious thought.  With a vast line-up of 12 different variants, what could be the best choice for a value-oriented everyday commuter that’s as painless to own as it is to drive?

A good starting point would be the 727,000-peso 2.4-liter Diesel GLX.  Though not as sporty and luxurious as the SR inside and out, the GLX is still some distance away from the mega-taxi crowd.

Under the hood is a frugal 2.4-liter diesel with 86-horsepower.  Though the power isn’t that much, the pulling strength is better than the smaller displacement SR thanks to the engine’s nature as well as the 5-speed manual.  The GLX manages to nip around town with considerable ease, albeit in a noisy fashion.  Like with most diesels, expect lower fuel bills and fewer trips to the pump.

In terms of exterior looks, the GLX doesn’t have the same visual flair as the higher variants.  However, front fog lamps and the license plate garnish still come as standard.  Inside, it’s the same story, as it doesn’t have the bells-and-whistles of the SR.  Nevertheless, it still contains the essentials such as high-quality fabric seats, an in-dash CD player, the revolutionary flexible seating system and even standard keyless entry with immobilizer.

So, if you’re after a secondary workhorse of a car, which can handle the kids during the school run as well as sacks of rice for your side-line business, look no further than the Toyota Revo 2.4 GLX.

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