The Decision

A gift from dad: Ford Focus, Ford Ranger or something else?

Would you consider something from Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Kia?

Hi, Botchi!

Would you recommend a Ford Focus Trend 1.8 (five-door) or a Ford Ranger 2.5 XL for my son? He's 20 years old and will be a first-time car-owner.

Thanks a lot and more power to you.


Hi, Fran!

Thanks for taking the time to write to us. We've been seeing a lot of parents seeking for advice on what car to get their first-time driver kids.

The Ford Focus' gearing is way too long for city driving so you tend to consume a lot of gas just to get decently moving. Out on the highway, it is just fine. Another thing I don't like about the Focus is the slightly weird seating position. I get aches and pains on my knees, hips and arse after driving one.

The Ford Ranger is good but it might be too much of a handful for a first-time driver. I don't particularly like it among pickup trucks currently available in the Philippine market, but it delivers the most explosive punch in its class. The Ford Ranger is a good workhorse of a pickup but definitely not comfortable.

I would recommend something less expensive, easy to drive, offers lots of versatility and also cheap to maintain. Vehicles that qualify are B-segment cars such as:

Honda Jazz and Honda City. Both are great cars but the Honda Jazz is arguably the best in its class, thanks to its huge space, powerful yet fuel-efficient engines, engaging driving dynamics and feedback. Your kid will learn a lot of good things driving the Honda Jazz because the driving position is arguably the best, the controls for brakes, throttle, clutch and steering are very linear and progressive, and of course that H-badge street credibility is important for drives, both new and old alike. The Jazz is also more fun and youthful, whereas the Honda City is more somber and restrained.


Toyota Vios and Toyota Yaris. These cars are again great but the Honda twins trounce these two on just about every front. They claw back into the equation though,  thanks to their great pricing. In this segment, their price difference (roughly P50,000 cheaper spec-for-spec) is a deal-breaker/maker. I drive a Toyota Yaris everyday because it is decently fast, very fun to drive and the short rump allows me to park it almost anywhere. The only drawback is the tiny cargo space with the rear seats up: it's really small, enough for maybe four modestly sized bags piled atop each other. But like the Honda Jazz, the rear seats fold flat and you can convert your five-seater to a two-seater and give you ample space for cargo.

Mazda 2. This five-door hatchback has been in Mazda Philippines' showrooms since December and will be formally launched along with its sedan version on March 17. It offers more fun and funky styling, and a more youthful and extroverted vibe. However, it isn't as roomy inside and, in my opinion, it uses the cheapest-looking interior plastics. But it is fun to drive and the boot offers quite some space.

Another great car to look at and something your son might enjoy is the Kia Soul. It's like a hatchback/mini-sport-utility vehicle rolled into one. The Kia Soul has a lounge-like interior that's roomy. Other features include an iPod/MP3 connectivity and glowing speakers. It comes in funky colors, big wheels and wild exterior graphics which, thankfully, are optional.

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These are my suggestions. I hope you can take time to pick up a copy of our magazine for more reviews on these cars and keep us posted on what you finally do decide to get. Good luck!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

Lost in a sea of cars and not quite sure which one to get? Click here to email your car query so Botchi can help you pick the right vehicle!  

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