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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Review: 2005 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer


Elvis Presley, James Dean, Clint Eastwood—men with very different backgrounds, and yet, all have become at least during a part of their lives, the epitome of American cool.  Despite their varied styles of performing, they’ve managed to engrave themselves into the hearts and minds of one of the world’s finickiest markets: the United States.  Even more remarkable is how their topics of rebellion, realization and self-preservation translate so well even to the Filipino setting.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Review: 2005 Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8G


Five to ten years ago, the choice for a first car was as diverse as the colors on a Charlie Chaplin flick: it was either the Toyota Corolla or the Honda Civic.  Sure enough, sales figures and market shares simply swung back and forth, while the rest were just content with whatever table scrap that’s left.  Fast forward to today, and things couldn’t have been more different.  Aside from a resurgence from the likes of Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan; these two Japanese automotive giants are facing competition from the Americans, namely Ford and Chevrolet.  Add the fact that there are now excellently built sub-compacts, microscopic SUVs and a zillion other choices all catered to making every buyer happy.  Now, the question beckons: can the Toyota Corolla keep up with the changing market place?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Review: 2005 Mitsubishi Adventure Grand Sport


The wonder of an effective marketing campaign is that it sticks right in your head, whether you like it or not.  And while Vinchie and the rest of the Parokya ni Edgar strut their stuff, kissing and rapping their way to the beach, I can’t help but imagine a similar scenario climbing onboard the 2004 Mitsubishi Adventure.  While I have no intension of kissing a fellow man, I do have every intension to test this heavily revised AUV in a field it does best: ferrying people.  When the need of carrying 7 people to the Car of the Year Awards – Philippines test venue was raised, guess which one was the vehicle of choice: the Mitsubishi Adventure.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Review: 2004 Ford Escape 2.3L


It’s a fact that ninety-five percent of SUV owners haven’t even thought of going off-road.  They probably avoid the smallest of potholes and slow down to take the highway metal joint.  That said, the discussion of whether to have this or that all-wheel drive system is as important as what color of socks you should wear for the day.

Review: 2004 Mazda3 1.6 and 2.0


A long, long time ago in the Kingdom of the Philippines lived Mazda 323.  It lived simply, toiling around the busy city streets, bringing its occupants and luggage wherever the driver pleased.  It was reliable and complacent, never even once raising its voice in anger, as long as it was fed with premium unleaded.

Friday, April 9, 2004

Review: 2004 Peugeot 206 1.4


Once upon a time there was a man who loved driving cars.  He wanted a car that was just right for city driving, that didn't eat up too much fuel or the big part of his monthly salary.  That usually meant buying a sedan from the land called Nippon.  Now the small Nipponese sedans that he saw on the road were innovative and pleasant to look at and drive.  There was one he liked called the City, which had a clever CVT and safety features usually found only in more expensive cars.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Review: 2004 Nissan Sentra 180GT and GS


The last time a Nissan Sentra set foot on the Subic International Raceway was when the dollar exchanged for 26 pesos and the president still totted a cigar.  During this time, I was literally wearing shorts and learning about girls for the first time.  This clean-slate attitude probably makes me the most qualified in writing about the 2004 Nissan Sentra.

Review: 2004 BMW 530d


Every Terminator movie has a scene where Arnold Schwarzenegger gets hit with everything the enemy has.  His skin and human attachments rip off, revealing the glowering, gleaming metal underneath.  Imagine that happening to a car, and that's how the new BMW 5 series looks like—as if the attractively beady-eyed countenance of the old 5 gets blown off and out comes The Cyborg.  The angry eyebrows of the front headlamp clusters lead to a pronounced nose section and sharply creased flanks.  The shutlines are all trapezoids and the rear continues the bulky, angular theme.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Review: 2004 Isuzu Trooper Skyroof Edition


Imagine you’ve been working for a multi-national company, and after sweating it out for a couple of years, you’re about to get promoted.  Great.  Of course, with the additional benefits and cash at hand, there’s no better way to show off than a new set of wheels.  Riding around in your sensible Japanese sedan is fine, but it just doesn’t that x-factor anymore.  Opting for a German sedan is still out of your budget, and the running costs of those gigantic American SUVs still sting the pocket.  So, without sacrificing image, is there a vehicle that could provide everyday practicality, exceptional performance and good comfort?  Luckily for you, there’s the Isuzu Trooper.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

First Drive: 2004 Civic 2.0 i-VTEC


Japanese sedans used to be simple: three sizes with three different strengths: mild (1.3), regular (1.6), and extra strength (2.0).  You could only get the stronger flavor if you ordered the bigger cup.  German brew was much more interesting; they were not averse to serving heady 40-proof in a shot glass.  (Think C43 AMG.)

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.