Multipurpose vehicle or pickup truck: What will last longer?

By Botchi Santos

Hi, Botchi!

My husband and I find your column very helpful and entertaining. We hope that Top Gear can include at least two Wrong Car, Right Car articles in every issue.

We plan to purchase a vehicle that can stand the test of time--say ten years. Our shortlist consists of two cars: an MPV (Innova J diesel) and a pickup truck (Strada GL). We are also looking at the facelifted Toyota Altis G with manual transmission that now has the 1.6-liter dual VVT-i engine and the 1.6-liter Ford Fiesta five-door Powershift Trend-variant that was recently released.

Since we plan to use the vehicle for a long time, the main factors we consider are safety features, maintenance cost and fuel efficiency. We understand that diesel is cheaper than gasoline, however, when it comes to the maintenance cost. We heard that diesel vehicles are more expensive to maintain.

We'd appreciate if you can share your thoughts about these four vehicles. Also, please feel free to recommend others cars that are below P860,000.

Thanks very much and more power to you!


Hi, Stephanie!

Thank you very much for the kind words! While it would be great if we could do two WCRC features in each month, it will unfortunately be the death of me. Getting one done each month already takes quite a bit of herculean effort form the entire team, which is basically spent prodding me to turn in my late assignments and articles!

Now as for your query, a vehicle is unfortunately a wear-and-tear item. While most vehicles, particularly highly-engineered luxury cars are designed to last roughly 25 years, getting one reliably past five years, let alone 10 years, is difficult indeed. It is crucial to follow the preventive maintenance schedule religiously so both you and your husband don't end up PMS-ing many years into the car's service life. Never go cheap on the fluids (engine oil, transmission oil, engine coolant, hydraulic fluid for the brakes and power steering, etc.) plus always use original or high-quality aftermarket filters (air, fuel and oil) and consumables (tires, brake pads and discs, etc.).

Having said that, there are some basics you need to recognize.

1.) The less automated moving parts, the simpler the car will be;
2.) The simpler the car is, the easier it is to repair;
3.) The simpler the car is, the less chance there is of anything in it breaking down; and
4.) The simpler a car is, the more chance you get for having it fixed by almost any half-decent mechanic by the road--and quite cheaply, too.

What are the simplest cars? Most cars in the B-segment are simple, such as the Toyota Vios and Yaris, and Honda Jazz and City. Going upscale, the Altis 1.6. Stick with a manual transmission-equipped car if you can bear with the third pedal everyday and, simple in-car electronics, avoid cars with traction/stability control and ABS-EBD-CBC-equipped brakes.

When a car has more features and options, there is greater chance something will mess up in ten years so go easy on the electronic doodads.

What car comes to mind that suits all of the above aforementioned criteria? A Toyota Vios 1.3-liter variant with manual transmission. But life's boring and we always like to complicate things so scratch that and let's go diesel power.

Aside from following your service schedule with fanatical fervor, be prepared to gas up in a clean, new-ish gas station in a densely populated area with high turnover of customers. When you have these factors, it's hard to beat a diesel. That said, the base model Mitsubishi Strada GL 4x2 with manual tranny is the only car that slots into your budget. It is built like a tank to withstand 10 years of use and abuse, and has the amazing power and efficiency one can expect from a modern CRDi turbocharged diesel engine. With the release of premium diesel fuels such as Petron's Turbo Diesel and Shell's V-Power Diesel, your CRDi equipped-vehicle can breathe easier. These diesel products are designed to keep CRDi engines running cleaner and more efficiently. The Strada is also the roomiest pickup particularly the back seats. It has a tall ride height to brave the nastiest of flash floods. It offers excellent resale value and great pricing on after-sales servicing.

Want a smaller vehicle? My favorite is the Honda Jazz 1.5V with automatic transmission because it has excellent and highly-enjoyable driving dynamics, has a very versatile and roomy interior that can haul very long, tall or bulky objects, and it offers loads and loads of space for big boys like me and my toys (well, car parts and accessories mostly).

To sum it up and confuse you further (sorry about that) your fanatical following of the service schedule will be based on how complicated the vehicle you plan to buy will be. The more complicated the car you buy, the closer your relationship should be with the service adviser, the local tow truck company and your mobile phone service provider, especially after its fifth year of use or after traveling about 80,000 kilometers.

If you can be more specific in detailing your needs, I'm sure we can help you narrow down your choice further.

Any car can last ten years so long as you have it serviced religiously. Take good care of it, observe proper warm-up and cool-down for the engine, and give it some stick (i.e. drive it hard once in a while) to clear up carbon buildup inside the engine.

Keep us posted, take care and good luck!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor


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  • rey_hizon Oct 28 2010 @ 06:48pm
    hi botchi! i observed that Honda Jazz 1.5 a/t is always on your top list recomend cars. its really a special car.? i own one. its indeed a car every filipino should own one.
  • 6thgear-nitro Oct 28 2010 @ 09:20pm
    i have a question... is honda jazz 1.5V only available in 4 Colors? Helios Yellow, Polished Metal, Taffeta White and Crystal Black Pearl??
  • chujosh Oct 29 2010 @ 08:41am
    The best talaga Jazz. Powerful for its size. And has a swagger on the road.
  • dtkiko Oct 29 2010 @ 02:40pm
    For a pick-up truck, there's no other choice but the Isuzu DMax ---- Find out more from this link posted by Manila Bulletin just so recently after the conclusion of the 3rd-leg Isuzu Challenge ----
    Manila Bulletin, 29 October 2010....

    Isuzu DMax runs 1,844 km on just one-full tank of fuel (76 litres)
  • dominic Oct 29 2010 @ 07:35pm
    try the hyundai accent, it has lots of torque and very fuel efficient engine
  • hopeless Oct 29 2010 @ 10:26pm
    Toyota Altis 1.6G is a good choice. Also, wait for the new Accent.
  • gerbo Oct 30 2010 @ 06:23am
    i think there is no other simple car mechanicals and cheaper maintenance than a Isuzu Crosswind.
  • gvm0116 Oct 30 2010 @ 01:04pm
    isuzu would be a good choice if longevity is your primary aim. its engines are quite frugal, too. the hyundai accent, on the other hand, may be torquey and frugal, i can't yet say about its long-term reliability. the engine may last long, but i'm not sure with its body and interior.
  • southboy Oct 30 2010 @ 04:17pm
    vios and innova for me..!
  • hopeless Oct 31 2010 @ 12:36pm
    Yes, Isuzu vehicles are very durable and reliable on the long run.
  • dtkiko Oct 31 2010 @ 02:54pm
    Agree with gvm0116 and hopeless re the frugal-fuel seepers and the long-term reliability of diesel-fed vehicles like the Isuzu's. For instance, while the latest DMax dura-mile challenge published by Manila Bulletin last 29 October 2010 showed an average fuel consumption of 24.26 km per litre over the course of 1,844 km covered in a single-full tank by the 3-litre DMax LX variant, my actual measurements on my 3-litre DMax LS model along the NLEX at speed range of 80 km per hour to 100 km per hour is 21.5 km per litre, while on a combined city-driving (Angeles City, Metro Manila, Cavite, and to my home in Quezon City) and off-city driving (NLEX and SLEX) on that same day i left Angeles City in the morning and did this continuous reading was 15.6 km per litre after covering about 251 km.... See attached photo links ----
  • cityxplorenet Nov 02 2010 @ 07:22am
    I pick STRADA, as to fuel efficiency compared to Isuzu, I believe it is depends on the driver's driving habits. As to longebility, still it depends to the owners/drivers. STRADA I think is a dependable vehicle as to UTILITY purposes as well as a LIFESTYLE pick up, considering its dynamic design. I agree on Botchi about this vehicle.
  • dtkiko Nov 02 2010 @ 12:17pm
    The 2.5-litre Mitsubishi Strada (or Triton) that we have here in Malaysia and the 3.2-litre that my friend owns in Philippines are NOT at all frugal-fuel seepers. Fuel-efficiency does NOT only depends on driving habits BUT also largely depend on the engine design. Both Strada's realise their peak torque range only at plus 2000 rpm, while the 3-litre DMax DDi-iTEQ is already suppling 100% of its peak torque at 1400 rpm. There are articles from overseas conducted by test experts how fuel-efficient the ISUZU DMax (even its more powerful variant, the 3-litre DMax VGS i-TEQ with even more better torque values) compared to all other diesel pick-ups, namely, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Holden Colorado, Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger, and Mitsubishi Triton or Strada.... AND also there are a lot of misnomer and CONJECTURES about the Strada as far as its fuel-efficiency is concerned, without even these people having the time to read and research about it.... i can even show pictures of our dashboard readings here concerning our Triton (or the Strada in Philippines). ISUZU's engine design is way better as far as low-down torque and fuel efficiency is concerned, although some pick-ups have higher horsepower rating at the peak of their powerbands than our locally-issued DMax DDi-iTEQ variant, BUT not so compared to the DMax VGS iTEQ variant that hasn't arrived yet in the Philippines.... I'm happy to share real-world shootouts and performance comparison here about all diesel pick-ups conducted just so recently in 2009 and 2010.
  • dtkiko Nov 02 2010 @ 04:05pm
    Here's another fact-for-fact ---- Top 10 cars in the Philippines in fuel economy (conducted by the Department of Energy)

    The TOYOTA Vios, the ISUZU DMax and ISUZU Alterra are listed in the TOP 10 most fuel-efficient, BUT NO Mitsubishi Strada, not even its 2.5-litre....

  • francis.buendia24 Nov 02 2010 @ 04:15pm
    we have a 1991 nissan sentra super saloon and up to now it is still working and moving like brandnew...but i am wondering why does the 2008 model sentra is not so good..
  • Ryan.A Nov 04 2010 @ 03:16am
    LoL. The Jazz makes the list... again. "Choosing between the Strada and the Innova?--get a Jazz" hehehe. Not that I don't like it but I have the same observation as the others.
  • wart_les Nov 04 2010 @ 04:35pm
    Go for ISUZU and find the range of your budget 850K Php...Tested in PHP and an average Mechanic down the road will readily fix it after 10 years?
  • warak1422 Nov 16 2010 @ 02:55pm
    ISUZU D-MAx the best
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