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December 29, 2023

Top 5 Picks For 2023


After driving 49 different vehicles this 2023, from A-segment mini hatchbacks to full electric luxury SUVs, it’s time for our Top 5 Picks of 2023.

Unlike how other publications do it, we pick our Top 5 differently. Instead of coming up with special awards and/or categorizing them to try to make everyone a winner, we lump them together to get the five cars that we thought we outstanding in the past year.

See the past winners here:
Our method is simple. First, we should have driven it extensively and on the roads that we’re familiar with. This means no around the block test drives (including track days), no “first drives,” and no junkets. Second, it should be somewhat attainable. For that, we capped off the maximum suggested retail price to P 4 million. Finally, it’s something we’d be willing to spend our own money own, and we’re willing to actually put one in our garage.

And without further ado, here’s our Top 5 Picks of 2023:


#5. Ford Everest 2.0 Sport 2WD

It’s often that car manufacturers only lend us the top trim of any model when it comes to test drives. Who could blame them? They’re typically the ones loaded with all the bells-and-whistles representing the best that that model has to offer. Surprisingly, when it comes to the next-generation Ford Everest, the Titanium 4WD is outshone by this: the mid-level Everest Sport 2.0 2WD. Despite its positioning within the Everest family, it outshines every other mid-sized pickup-based SUV when it comes to kit. Most importantly, the impeccable driving manners of the Everest is kept intact here; heck in some ways it’s even better. It does give up a bit of the tech, but again, by living up to the age-old adage of KISS—Keep It Simple, Stupid—it’s the Everest variant to have.

Full review here.


#4. Toyota RAV4 LTD Hybrid

The current-generation Toyota RAV4 is already four years old; an eternity in the car world. But Toyota has managed to teach this old dog new tricks by outfitting it with the engine it should have put in years ago: a hybrid powertrain. Not only has this given it a new lease in life, but it has made this so-so compact SUV into something that stands out from the crowd. Excellent fuel economy aside (figures of 16 km/L are normal), it’s well-built, spacious, and built for everyday life. While its exterior design is evergreen, its interior and tech are feeling the effects of father time, pushing its ranking here down. Still, all things considered, the RAV4 comes across as a smart and practical choice that helps you save a lot at the pump.

Full review here.


#3. Honda HR-V RS Turbo Honda SENSING

I’ll admit it: the Honda HR-V is likeable, but unlovable. Generally, they do a lot of things well, but none of them exemplary. It’s the student who doesn’t get As, but gets a solid string of B+s and Bs; the videogame NPC who spends time just being knocked over by the protagonist—kinda like me, I suppose. Unlike me, however, the HR-V got out of the mundane thanks to the arrival of the HR-V RS Turbo. Typically, I’m not a fond of sportified crossover, but here, the aesthetic changes do come with some work underneath. The result is transformative. Honda engineers seemed to have dulled down the rest of the HR-V line to save all their know-how here. The HR-V RS Turbo brings sharpened reflexes, better steering, and surprisingly, a better ride than the rest of the HR-V line. And that’s on top of the more clinical characteristics like having tons of space and the magic-like ULT seats.

Full review here.


#2. Honda Civic Type R

This is one car that needs little introduction: the Honda Civic Type R. Already a proven track weapon with far reaching abilities, the most surprising aspect is just how its breadth of capabilities extend to even Manila’s horrendous roads. Mechanically, the Type R FL5 isn’t the purest car you can buy (that still goes to the Mazda MX-5), but it’s engaging behind the wheel nonetheless. The ergonomics are spot on, the gearbox is slick, and the 320-horsepower engine is certainly sweet. Better? You can take up to three friends and their luggage with you. Best? Thanks to better integrated body panels, good luck in coming up with a “Type Rice” with this generation. The current Civic’s already great (it was our Top Pick last year), but the FL5 is just on a league of its own, both literally and figuratively.

Full review here.


#1. Hyundai Ioniq 5 GLS Long Range

Our Top Pick for 2023 also happens to be our first-ever EV winner: the Hyundai Ioniq 5. As the world marches towards electrified mobility, picking the Ioniq 5 could be seen as a symbol of that shift. More than that, it shows how Hyundai’s clean sheet approach to design and engineering could yield such an impeccable car. It offers performance that easily belittles its size and mass, while also having excellent range and efficiency, beating every European EV we’ve tested so far. Go beyond the fact that it’s a battery electric vehicle, and you’ll be stunned by its impressive looks, solid driving manners, and well-executed (and highly flexible) interior. Its integration and execution of in-car tech is also on point. No matter how we look at it, the Ioniq 5 is one desirable car. It’s one that puts everyone else on notice, and it’s the first EV we’d seriously consider owning.

Full review here.

16 comments:

  1. No Chinese cars. Good. 👍🏾

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  2. Cars that are very expensive,overpriced and hard to buy even if you have money
    Great choices this year

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  3. Top 5 Chinese vehicles?

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  4. Really happy with my RAV4 purchase.

    You might want you update your interior shot because they updated the infotainment screen this year.

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    1. Yes they did...but when we borrowed the RAV4, it had that same screen. Toyota Motor PH didn't activate any updated RAV4 unit.

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  5. It is his personal choice. This is just a list. Why the bitterness? You can make your own lineup. I think Uly prioritized driving dynamics and the overall experience over price. Anyway price is only relevant to the buyer's experience.

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  6. Disagree with #4 (too old, too expensive for that market segment) and #2 (not a mass-market car, you can buy a proper RWD sports car below 4M, this is a Honda ricer fanb0i car). No complaints with the EV being #1 despite the expensive Meralco rates and the small proportion of renewables in our current power supply sources. Maybe when the PH hits at least 50% renewable in our energy supply mix, these EVs would make sense. As of now, these cars are basically coal-powered.

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    1. Wish Honda let us drive the CR-V RS e:HEV...but they haven't (yet). Remember, first drives don't count. If they did, it might have not just displaced the RAV4, but it might have ranked high in the list.

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    2. Bruh. Are you ok? The civic is a hot hatch and does not compete with RWD 2 door sports cars.

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    3. Agreed on that point. The typical buyer would probably cross shop between the two, but a hot hatch serves a different segment than a RWD coupe. For instance, the Nissan Z is more of a grand tourer than it is a sports car...so it doesn't compare (only on paper).

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  7. As od this writing, I wonder how would electric vehicles be repaired and serviced, as well as price of replacement batteries.

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    1. Demand for EV's now on downward spiral, its only up to a good start bcoz of hype and govt subsidies in EU, CHINA,USA. But now EV buyers found out that its not practical for everyday use, demand is on downward even in USA. and once the subsidy will be gradually phased out, its goodbye EV. HYBRID and ICE still the king.

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  8. Let's see next year when the Honda CRV Hybrid variant become more available. While they arrived late than Toyota RAV4 hybrid, i strongly believe that its more exciting and sexier than RAV4

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  9. Just curious: why Everest Sport over Ranger Raptor?

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    1. If you happen to use it for daily driving in the city, pickups make little sense. Half of the vehicle is often underutilized or even unused. If ever, you end up having to buy a protective tonneau cover. This is why no pickup truck ends up in my Top 5 Picks.

      I understand for those who use them for hauling stuff and all, but if that were the case, I won't be choosing the Ranger Raptor due to its lower payload. I'd probably pick either the Wildtrak 4x2 at this point. Wildtrak 4x4 if I need the four wheel drive.

      Plus, the single turbo 6-speed AT combination is better suited to our road conditions than the bi-turbo 10-speed AT.

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  10. Quite surprised that there is no CX-60

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