Thursday, June 14, 2018

4 Thoughts on the Foton Toplander 4x2 EX A/T


Without a doubt, the Foton Toplander is the mid-sized 7-seater SUV segment’s most pleasant surprise. Together with the TransVan and Traveller MPVs, it’s responsible for elevating Foton from just a workhorse brand to a bonafide family-oriented one. We’ve driven the 4x2 EX A/T extensively once before but given the chance to drive it once more (now within the confines of Metro Manila), we’ve re-discovered 4 things about this peculiar SUV.



#1. It has the best gearbox in its class

The Foton Toplander’s most obvious headline-grabbing feature is its 2.8-liter Cummins ISF engine. As Cummins’s biggest customer for this powerplant, it offers a respectable 161 horsepower while still being up to 20 percent lighter than its main competitors. However, the Toplander EX A/T tops that with a Daimler-sourced 6-speed automatic. Not only is it one smooth gearbox, but it actually complements the engine excellently. It keeps engine revs low, pushing fuel economy up (8.62 km/L at 18 km/h) and the audible ruckus down. Yet, it’s quick to respond, especially on the downshift keeping the entire Toplander driving experience surprisingly lively.



#2. An honest-to-goodness machine

Despite the Toplander’s American-designed engine and German-sourced gearbox, make no mistake: the Toplander is still an honest-to-goodness machine. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s good enough for the daily drive. The engine is noisier-than-average, the ride’s on the choppy side, and the interior made of hard plastics, but it does have solid ergonomics, good visibility, and maintains its maneuverability even during parking. Build quality is also quite decent, though there’s a knob or two that wasn’t working on this particular test drive unit. However, when the going gets tough, it relies on Foton’s commercial vehicle expertise by offering 220 millimeters of ground clearance and 600 millimeters of water wading.



#3. Cargo is flexible, but you have to work hard

The Toplander mostly succeeds in providing for a roomy and practical cabin, but because of its high floor design, knees for occupants across all three rows are slightly bent up. Still, everyone’s comfortable with generous head, shoulder, and leg room. Well, perhaps everyone except those in the third row. Admittedly, with the second row not being able to slide fore and aft, the last row is best reserved as jump seats. Oh, and unlike some other mid-sized SUVs, the Toplander offers a flat cargo hold that stretches two rows. However, you do have to work hard for it. Folding the third row for example isn’t a single button or lever affair. Two levers are required; one to spring the seat cushions up and another to bring the seat backs down.



#4. A genuine surprise from Foton

Priced at P 1,488,000, the Toplander 4x2 EX doesn’t come cheap. But go beyond the price tag and you’ll see that it’s actually well-loaded for the price. Dual airbags? Check. Anti-lock brakes with EBD? Check. Stability control? Check. Rear parking sensors with camera? Check. Leather seats? Check. Its pedigree might still be questionable for now, but for those willing to take the chance, it’s a solid and practical choice. And with 29 dealers across the country, parts and service support is readily available.


27 comments:

  1. Yes it is very affordable but the question is that is it a reliable vehicle?????

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    Replies
    1. We sort of answered it in the story:

      "Build quality is also quite decent, though there’s a knob or two that wasn’t working on this particular test drive unit."

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    2. So that pretty much says that reliability is shit.

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    3. Check didn't clear?

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  2. It actually undercuts the competition with what it offers. Yung iba puro, "ANG MAHAL NAMAN NIYAN" but doesn't take into account the amenities or simple things it offers. At that price, the Fortuner still offers fabric seats, no backup camera, and terrible 3rd row room, no stability control, but it ups its ante by offering navigation and 6 airbags.

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  3. There won't be any problem in the engine and transmission department as these are dependable brands. But a car is not only engine and tranny affair, there other parts to consider. The author said some knobs wren't working. That should ring some bells already. Then there is the resale value to consider. You may have saved around 200k but that's not much if one considers the other factors. Huge depreciation of the resale value alone can cover that initial price difference already.

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    Replies
    1. If you think about it - they were handed a test unit. Prior reviewers may have abused the thing. Silly that Foton didn't check as it would give a negative perception, but shouldn't be a basis for evaluating the rest of the units rolling off the assembly line.

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    2. I've never heard test units from other well known brands failing in their buttons, knobs and switches tests. Not an excuse, they should withstand abuse.

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  4. You're better other brands than this piece of crap.

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  5. This brand has a capabilities and the engine is cummins, you will never disappointed because of its class and save budget. Euro 4 emission standard that complies to safe environment. There is a lot of best factors to compete branded car but the bottom line is you could drive safe, effecient and good performance. Try it first before you close your judgemental negative thinking. Perhaps, you would say THIS IS BEST.

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    Replies
    1. Chinese haha.. Sa grammar palang

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    2. It's shit.. Only stupid people will buy this LOL

      It's like saying would you rather buy an iPhone or some cheap Chinese knock-off? The answer is blatantly obvious.

      For the money I'd rather buy a Fortuner. Though it may not have all the bells and whistles, I can be assured of SAFETY, RELIABILITY and RESALE VALUE.

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    3. Having a brand new car with malfunctioning knobs is evident of the quality and efficacy of this vehicle, just like this guy's grammar. Who knows what else could break in the long run?

      Euro 4 was implemented in 2005.. Even local gas stations offer Euro 6 as standard.

      Engine and better specs alone doesn't sell a car, it's more than just an amalgamation of good bits and pieces, an tbh the car's looks are quite evident of that. Stalwarts such as Toyota and Honda, which are more than just brands. Perhaps, I would say THIS IS A JOKE.

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    4. To the iPhone guy: you do realize that iPhones are made in China, right?

      Why, the very gadget you used posting has China components in it.

      Can you elaborate the assurances you're getting on the qualities in question? Please share so we might be persuaded.

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    5. Whilst majority of iPhones are ASSEMBLED in China, its not the only place where: Thailand, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Singapore, and even the Philippines have assembly plants. And news flash: China isn't the only place everything is made; iPhone components hail from several regions namely European, American, Australian and Asian (excluding China) sources.

      Design-wise, it is still from Cupertino and an American product from an American company with worldwide patents and copyrights.

      Qualities are self evident, just look around you: everyone drives a Toyota . Even just the resale values on the pre-owned market speak for themselves.

      A naive person can easily surmise that iPhones are Chinese, but it's a complex, nuanced worldwide effort to manufacture all the parts that go into making an iPhone.

      You're probably a pathetic Foton dealer who siphons diligent Filipinos their hard earned money. Sad

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  6. is this using a fix geometry turbo or variable geometry turbo?

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  7. Many decades ago they said the same things about the German, Japanese and Korean mainstream brands of today.

    Now whether we like it or not, the Chinese brands are here to stay. It will only be a matter of time before they catch up. They're buying off everything. Just look at the ownership of several European marques now - you're sure to find Chinese backing. And one day, they will be "more than just a brand".

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    Replies
    1. But that's the thing. They haven't catch up. And they're still miles behind. These cheap ass products should not be compared to german, korean or japanese. Tata siguro pwede pa.

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    2. Rather than bash, shouldn't we try and patronize them? After all, they can only improve if given the chance. If enough buy their goods, they'll make a profit and direct those to research and improvement. Same with others.

      Here we have an affordable SUV, assembled locally, with specifications comparable to mainstream, (if not better) and "acquired" lineage of proven components (by buying or investing on the owners of the technology).

      It basically ticks all the boxes, if you think rationally. The alleged missing thing is the pedigree. It's like generic medicine - works just as well, costs less, but not popular because it's not branded. Unfair, in my view, and I think I speak for the hundreds of hardworking Filipinos employed by Foton in their Philippine facility.

      It'd be good to remember that the big brands got their start as an obscure player, then built up their reputation eventually over the years. This isn't any different - only it is at the start of its journey while the others have gone far. Consumers have a hand building up the brand - making it popular or killing it. Are we giving this new entrant a chance?

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    3. Good point but they should offer something that has a competitive advantage other than just price advantage alone. Hyundai did it first with their 5 year warranty to reduce the notion that korean cars are unreliable, same with what MG is doing now. As for me? I picked Mazda due to its brand known for sportiness, design and exclusivity that my car isn't like the hordes of civics or Corollas that flooded the market due to brand prejudice.

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    4. But maybe that is their special trick - well spec'ed yet affordable.

      Draw in customers whose primary concern is price, show that it ticks all the boxes and has an investment in the country. The Cummins and Daimler and reputation on UV Express will do the talking on reliability.

      It takes an open mind, could be a diamond in the rough.

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    5. Ugly, unreliable, questionable build quality, unrefined, underpowered, uncomfortable, seemingly well priced but actually lacking in the specs department (2 airbags? wtf), and last but not least.. it WON'T get you laid.

      Nuff said.

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    6. To Nuff said: most cars here in this third world shtheap have two airbags.

      Your conclusions are based on what exactly? Have you owned one for a considerable period to conclude it's unreliability or uncomfortability? Share your wisdom, oh wise one, so the public might benefit.

      Delete
    7. All your questions can be answered by reading the article. Ride is jarring, the engine is noisy, and knobs aren't working. Uncomfortable, unreliable, and most importantly it will not, in any scenario or situation, get anyone laid.

      Delete
  8. If they do at least 4 stars on ASEAN NCAP, then that will do it for me.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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