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Top Gear Philippines

Greetings, sir Botchi!

Dude, I love your answers--they're very practical and objective. I'm planning to buy my first vehicle early next year, but the only vehicle I'm slightly knowledgeable about is Batman's Tumbler.

Can you please help me pick an ideal car for the flood-prone metro? I'm looking for a car that will do the following:

* Get me through floods and hole-ridden city roads (I know we should evade floods, but sometimes floods won't evade us).

* Help me be fuel-efficient.

* Work for country driving on holiday trips, and in case we have to escape there due to the zombie apocalypse.

* Enable my wife to drive it like a boss.

I also want it to be more practical than just pogi. I'd like to say I'm looking for the AK-47 of cars, but my budget is only around P1 million and change. Fortune favors the brave, but the Fortuner seems to favor those with a fortune. I have been researching, and these are my options, in no particular order:

* Mitsubishi Strada (I just don't know what I'd do with that semi-exposed flat bed even under a Thule);

* Hyundai Tucson; and

* Kia Sportage 

Are the exhaust pipes of the Tucson and the Sportage significantly raised higher than that of a sedan's?

Please feel free to give other suggestions. Should I get a manual or an automatic? Should I get the diesel or gas variant? A lot of filling stations get flooded, too.

Thank you in advance. And I salute you for your service.

Jude Lizard

 

Jude, thanks for your e-mail.

When driving through flood-prone areas and fording depth, all-weather ability is king. And if you want the missus to drive like a boss, then there's only one vehicle I recommend for you: the Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

It has arguably the best off-road ability out of the box; it has the looks that only a boss's whip can have; and its fording depth (the ability to wade through water) is a best-in-class 800mm. Ford says they've tested it to take much more than that (an unconfirmed third-party report lists it at well over 1m), but of course had to scale the rating back down for safety's sake. And its 3.2-liter in-line five-cylinder diesel engine is the most powerful in its class, too. Like a boss, you need the power and the ability to put it down to the ground!

Unfortunately, your not-so-bossy budget puts it out of your immediate reach.

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A compact crossover ute doesn't have the balls (or the ability for that matter) to live through a harsh condition that a typical pickup will be able to breeze through. Less so for a car. This leaves you with the Mitsubishi Strada.

The Strada's strongest suit is dirt-style trails and open highways, like a typical rally stage. It doesn't do as well in pure trail-riding off-roading (including winching), but for going through floods, it's more than enough. I own one myself and am very happy with it. It does have the smallest pickup bed in its class, which is okay since I don't load anything big enough to fill the bed anyway. But the interior space is the best, with the most comfortable, SUV-like rear seats, roomier than the Toyota Hilux (which is more expensive) and the Ford Ranger (which is the most expensive).

The cheapest Strada starts at P870,000. With the savings you get, you can buy a full-on Bilstein suspension kit to lift the Strada a further two inches (adding 50mm ground clearance, which should help you tackle bad roads and bad weather), and bigger, fatter tires to help increase fording depth even more.

With its 5.9m turning radius (tightest in its class), the missus/boss will have an easier time driving it as well.

I hope this helps! Good luck and be safe especially during the rainy season!

Do you want Botchi to help you pick the right car? Send your inquiry to topgear@summitmedia.com.ph.

Which flood-capable vehicle should Jude get?
Ford Ranger
Mitsubishi Strada
Hyundai Tucson
Kia Sportage
Toyota Hilux

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor
Botchi eats, lives and breathes cars (aside from hotdogs). Aside from wanting to drive any car, preferably through some scenic destination, he's always thinking of ways to "improve them" by modifying the (insert any car-related word here).
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car-shopping Ford Ranger Hyundai Tucson Kia Sportage Mitsubishi Strada pickup pickup truck SUV
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