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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Review: 2004 Ford Escape V6

There are several ways of waking up in the morning, from the unpleasant blare of an alarm clock to the stimulating aroma of breakfast cooking in the kitchen.  A leisurely breakfast is all fine for the weekend, but for rush-hour workdays, a quicker solution is warranted.  That's where coffee usually comes in: one gulp and when the caffeine warms up the veins, so too does the brain.  Now what of us who are not partial to hot Java?  We discovered something just as effective: seeing a bright yellow compact SUV parked in our garage did the trick.

Monday, July 7, 2003

First Drive: 2003 Toyota Vios 1.5G M/T and A/T

Let’s face it—we’re going to be late again.  Rushing through a mid-afternoon’s Metro traffic, our humble Toyota Echo zipped between bigger motor vehicles.  The 1.3-liter engine was clearly given a thrashing as the responsive four-speed auto ‘box gave us much needed accelerating power.  We subjected ourselves to a slightly sore backside for the sake of motoring journalism.

Review: 2003 Nissan Urvan Estate

Given a fixed length, width and height, the most efficient shape to enclose a space is that of a box.  That's something that appliance designers, modern architects and seasoned travelers know only too well—we don't see too many cylindrical refrigerators or triangular office towers.  Passenger vans have to follow the same rule, so don't expect anything other than a refrigerator on wheels when you go shopping for that 12-seater.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Review: 2003 Volvo S40 T4

Now, more than ever, the lines of automotive design and engineering are beginning to blur.  American sedans, once noted for their crudeness are gaining European sophistication; Korean reliability and durability is heading well into contention with the Japanese; the British, for all their pride on identity is starting to get a bit Teutonic.  Even the quiet Scandinavian nation of Sweden isn’t spared from this inevitable global trend, and the new Volvo S40 T4 can attest to this.

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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Review: 2003 Toyota Camry 2.4V

It seems that Nostradamus is right after all.  Our world may not have ended with the now infamous Y2K debacle or with a Nuclear Holocaust, but continuously watching CNN would have anyone thinking that every day is a disaster.

Review: 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer MX

When a promised gift arrives later than it should, it can be frustrating and exciting at the same time.  The same sense of anxious anticipation pervaded our wait for the 2003 Lancer.   This was not helped by the sight of gray-market Evo VIIs burbling around Manila.  The Lancer's rivals had certainly advanced the 1.6 liter game, and, good or bad, we wanted to know how the Lancer would stand up to the challenge. As the New Year rolled in, Mitsubishi Motors eventually delivered.

Monday, February 3, 2003

Review: 2003 Isuzu Crosswind XUV

Even as Isuzu struck success with its first Isuzu AUV, the Hi-lander, it was already developing its second iteration, the sportier, sleeker Crosswind.  Soon after, Isuzu brought the Crosswind to the next logical step in its evolution, the XUV.

Review: 2003 Ford Expedition

I’ve always taken a liking to bright, red wrapping paper.  There’s a sensation of butterflies in the stomach, coupled with anticipation that makes the entire experience worth it—it’s just short of actually crapping in the pants.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Review: 2003 Mitsubishi Pajero Field Master

James Bond is one cool guy; there’s no doubting that.  Everything from driving (and subsequently wrecking) his Aston Martin V12 Vanquish to having any girl he wants, he’s surely any man’s fantasy life personified.  However, there’s a greater chance of seeeing pigs fly than for us slipping into a Brioni suit armed with an Omega Speedmaster with standard laser gun.  So what’s the next best thing to Bond?  McGyver.

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Review: 2002 Nissan Cefiro Brougham VIP

The Cefiro Brougham VIP, since its 2000 launch, has carved out its own market niche, that of a limousine-like conveyance with features that could only be found in European sedans costing two or three times its price. Thanks to the electronic gadgetry, bag loads of space and of course, that legendary, silky-smooth 2.0-liter twin-cam 24-valve V6 VQ engine, the black-and-gray sedan found a steady market.   With the 2002 Brougham, Nissan Motors Philippines is hoping that lightning could strike again.

Review: 2002 Opel Astra Club Sedan

It was around two years ago when we last stepped into an Opel.  As competent as the Astra was, back then we concluded that the Honda Civic and the Ford Lynx—our top two for the 1.6-liter segment had nothing to fear from this diminutive German car. However, much like enjoying a good French wine, a single two-hour sitting may not do enough justice to this car.  So this time, we’re taking a four-day affair in the hopes of confirming our original findings—or else swallow our pride and admit  that we made some booboos before.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Review: 2002 Honda Civic Type-R

Honda Civics stuffed with DOHC VTEC engines have earned a reputation for being the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the compact car world.  Behaving not much differently from its more docile stablemates, the Civic undergoes a transformation once you spin the engine past 6000 rpm.  The second VTEC cam profile engages, the engine note turns into a Formula-One soundtrack, and you have about 2000 more rpm to go before reaching for the next gear.  Suddenly the unassuming little Honda can give a BMW 325i a run for its money, at least on this side of 100 km/h.

Review: 2002 Honda Civic VTi-S vs Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8G

Ever since the introduction of the Honda Civic back in the early 1990s, it became an overnight success.  The ‘bug-eyed’ generation seemed to have no end as it seemed that everyone owned a Civic, whether it was an LXi, VTi or SiR.  Funny thing is that when Toyota released its Corolla back in 1998 it had all the safety equipment and some of the luxuries like better plastics and an upgraded stereo system.  Nonetheless, the Civic still ran away with the sales lead.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Review: 2002 Ford Lynx Ghia

Critics said that it was the rear end that did it in; some claimed it was borrowed underpinnings; some even proclaimed that it was due to having only one displacement available.  Whatever the reason, the Ford Lynx, after making a big splash in September 1999, soon became close to extinct in the 1.6-liter segment.  Despite combining the sporty attributes of the Honda Civic and a bit of luxury and class that became the trademark of the Nissan Exalta, it didn’t quite threaten the leaders in its class.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Review: 1997 Porsche 911 Cabriolet

When we hear the word Porsche, three adjectives immediately spring to mind: air-cooled, rear-engined, and flat-six.  With the advent of the latest Porsche products, each of these trademark characteristics has come under assault.  Noise and emissions regulations have led to water-cooled engines, the Boxster has its engine in the middle of the chassis, and the upcoming Cayenne will be powered by a V8 engine.  Hey, the Cayenne is even an SUV, for crying out loud!  To those who might wonder what a Porsche truly is, to what the brand really stands for, they should go back in time, just a few years to the last of the “true” Porsches, the previous 911, codenamed 993.

Monday, January 21, 2002

Review: 2002 Ford Ranger 4x4 XLT

The wind buffeted even more as the tire noise filled the cabin.  I knew for a fact that this vehicle was being driven at its very limit.  The odometer indicated a mere 3,525 kilometers—pretty young to undergo such a harsh treatment.  The stiff ride sent every single road imperfection straight to my spine and into my brain, registering with great tenacity like hot needles on cold, bare skin.  My pulse quickened as I gripped the gear lever trying to find another gear—I wanted to go faster—I needed another upshift.  To my surprise—that was it.  Only five gears?

Monday, March 12, 2001

Review: 2001 Mercedes-Benz MB100

Weekend getaway to Tagaytay:  long stretches of highway culminating in steep mountain roads with plenty of hairpin turns.  Fresh air and cool weather, too!

Review: 2001 BMW 523i vs Honda Accord VTi-L

We know what’s circulating in your minds: here’s another crazy match up between a BMW and a Honda—an uneven match-up, much like letting Mike Tyson go against Yukozuna.  On paper, there’s actually nothing the same with the Honda Accord and the BMW 523i: the German is rear-wheel drive, powered by an inline-6 and costs three million bucks.  On the other hand, the Accord is the typical exec-sedan of choice offering front-wheel drive, powered by an inline-4 and priced at half of the Bimmer’s list price.

Monday, February 5, 2001

Review: 2001 Toyota RAV4

Niche market vehicles are usually developed as an afterthought.  Sure, manufacturers have to develop a new shell and body panels, but essentially, the basic frame and the engine were all sourced from existing parts. The story is no different when the cute-as-button mini-SUVs began to invade the market.  The Toyota RAV4 for instance used a modified Corolla chassis and was powered by a Corona engine.  On the other hand, the Honda CR-V was based on the Civic chassis and engine.

Review: 2001 Toyota Corolla GLi

The battlefield of the 1.6-liter sedans has never been this big.  Long before, people had only two choices: the Mitsubishi Lancer and the Toyota Corolla.  Pretty soon, other car manufacturers came into the picture offering their own brand of compact-sized family car.  Now, the field has no less than seven competitors: Chevrolet Cassia, Ford Lynx, Honda Civic, Mazda 323, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.  This huge array of choices makes buying a compact-sized sedan much more difficult than shopping for hotdogs at a local supermarket.

Monday, December 18, 2000

Review: 2000 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

In biology, hybrids combine the best characteristics of different variants.   So it is with cars.  Witness the success of the car-based offroaders.  They combine the compact dimensions and good handling of a car with the high ground clearance and wagon configuration of a traditional offroader to endear themselves to many owners and climb steadily to the top of the sales charts.

Saturday, May 13, 2000

Review: 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer GSR

Monet replicas are everywhere.  You see them in offices, elevators and yes, even McDonald's restaurants.  Has it ever occurred to you why such an excellent artist as Monet had to be contented on seeing his works displayed along side Ronald McDonald?  The answer is simple really: it's inoffensive and bland.  Much like a Big Mac or McChicken is bland, a Monet doesn't really stand out.  It may look great to the art critic's eye, but for the rest of civilization, it's nothing more than a piece of decoration: greatly unnoticed, ignored and never appreciated.  What a Monet replica is in the world of furniture, is what the Mitsubishi Lancer GSR is in the world of automobiles.

Sunday, February 20, 2000

Review: 2000 Honda Civic VTi

With the amazing debut of the Ford Lynx Ghia, one begins to wonder if Honda's grasp on the 1.6-liter market would begin to fade.  In terms of market share, it seems that it hasn't happened just yet.  In fact, Honda has maintained a healthy second place in sales for the 1.6-liter segment despite having a car that is nearly five years old and is becoming too common to be called different.  So what makes the Honda Civic a big seller then?  Why do people keep on flocking Honda's way when they could get cars with much more features for the same price?  I decided to find out for myself.