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Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 5 Picks for 2011

Photos by Ulysses Ang and Hyundai Press
At, we don't mince words and though we've existed for less than two months, we just had to come out with our very own Top 5 picks for 2011. Take note...these five cars were launched in 2011. At the same time, these are the cars we've managed to spend some seat time in--so Ferraris and Lamborghinis don't count.

Anyway, continue after the break to find out our Top 5 picks in preferential order.

#5: Mitsubishi Montero Sport 2.5 GT-V
Why we chose it: Before Mitsubishi Motors Philippines even refreshed its Montero Sport SUV; it was already the proverbial nail to its competitor’s coffins (you know who you are). And then, in what was the industry’s worst kept secret, Mitsubishi gifted the Montero Sport a brand-new heart. And what a heart it is: a 2.5-liter CRDi with VGT (variable-geometry turbo). Together with its 178 horsepower output, a new 5-speed automatic (now across the line) has bumped up the fuel economy as well. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

#4: Subaru Forester 2.0 XS
Why we chose it: Typically, car manufacturers concentrate too much on the superficial (i.e. bells and whistles) when it comes to mid-cycle facelifts. What surprised many with the Subaru Forester 2.0 XS is that the biggest change happened under the hood. The aging 2.0-liter “EJ Series” boxer engine has now been replaced with an all-new “FB Series”. Without getting too much into the technical details, Subaru maintained overall power, broadened the torque curve and bettered the fuel economy by 10 percent all at the same time. This crossover proved to be so impressive, that one Forester 2.0 XS in Spark Silver found itself in my garage.

Review here.

#3: Volvo S60 T6
Why we chose it: Volvos are often regarded merely as substitutes for the more luxurious German brands. With the all-new S60 (especially in T6 guise), it seems that Volvo has had enough, and decided to carve its own territory. It decisively embraced its Swedish heritage by employing simply elegant and clean design cues inside and out. It’s well-finished and very refined as well. It’s still not the best corner carver in the sports sedan category, but the 300 horsepower engine, Haldex all-wheel drive system and the myriad of safety features are nothing to sneeze at. Indeed, this is the thinking man’s sports sedan.

Review here.

#2: Hyundai Elantra GLS
Why we chose it: Sure, Hyundai has managed to give the Japanese brands high-blood pressure with its slew of excellent automobiles from the Tucson to the Accent and even the Santa Fe. But the final pork rind that causes the fatal heart attack is the all-new Elantra. Simply put, the Elantra easily outdoes everyone else in the compact car segment by offering a highly refined and fuel-efficient drivetrain wrapped around a sleek and sexy body. Plus, like all other Hyundai cars, it remains affordable and cost-effective to maintain (no other manufacturer offers a 5-year, 150,000 kilometer warranty). The supply shortage brought about by the Great East Japan (Tōhoku) Earthquake as well as the Thailand floods didn’t help the competition either.

Review here.

#1: Ford Explorer 3.5 V6
Why we chose it: No Top 5 List is complete without Ford’s all-new, revolutionary crossover: the Explorer. Despite sharing the same storied nameplate, the Explorer skips not just a chapter, but an entire ten chapters in its development by becoming the most advanced vehicle in its segment and even perhaps the entire industry. Everything from the engine, chassis, design, execution and even pricing is millimeter perfect; excellent for potential buyers, worrisome for the competition. I said it before and I’ll say it again: the all-new Ford Explorer and its complete re-engineering proves that a humble seven-seater crossover can be everything you need and everything you want, period. Truly, it can’t get better than that. It’s the year’s best.

Review here.

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