A reader asks: Should I go for my dream SUV or a practical one?

Help your fellow reader by taking the poll
by Botchi Santos | Jul 20, 2014

Top Gear Philippines: Chevrolet Trailblazer vs. Subaru Forester XT

Sir Botchi, you have helped a lot of consumers make crucial decisions. I, for one, am caught in a dilemma. First, I need to disclose that I am a law student living off my parents' provision. I pay for my own gas and toll. This is important because I am writing with a question regarding desire versus practicality.

My dream car is the Subaru Forester XT. For months, I've been going to sleep knowing that it is the vehicle that I am going to get. My parents have already agreed. But after months of driving my 2011 Toyota Camry 3.5 V6, I've realized the struggles of paying for my own. Compared to my friends who drive Toyota Fortuners and Mitsubishi Montero Sports, my fuel costs are more than double, making my savings nonexistent. I've realized that maybe I should go for a diesel-powered vehicle. Since I don't particularly like the Fortuner and the Montero Sport, I have my eyes on the Chevrolet Trailblazer.

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So that's basically my question: Should I go for what I really, really like, which is the Forester? Or should I settle for something less due to financial considerations, which is the Trailblazer?

PS: I take my dogs out a lot--and they are huge--that is why I need a spacious car.

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Thank you very much in advance for your answer!

Sei Kawamoto

(Read our reviews of the Subaru Forester XT and the Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8L 4x2 AT)


Hi, Sei. Thank you for dropping us a line. We're always grateful to hear from our readers!

Prudence (do what's right), patience (wait for the right time and the right opportunity), temperance (limit what you do to what is just right and not go beyond it) and fortitude (endure taking your second choice, because things will get better in the future) often play a key role in the lives of budding car enthusiasts. We know what we want, but oftentimes we lack the resources to acquire what we want. I know how you feel about making ends meet while being a student and essentially living off our allowance--I was once a student myself. I guess the biggest difference was that back when I was an undergrad in the late '90s, fuel prices were below P20 per liter.

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So yes, my advice would be to take your second choice. Fuel prices won't be coming down anytime soon, but rest assured that if you do well with your studies, your income will skyrocket once you become a full-fledged lawyer. Once you're a lawyer earning big bucks, heck, you can buy any of the really premium SUVs from Porsche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover.

I recently test-drove the face-lifted Trailblazer, so I am happy to report that it drives really well. It has really good interior space, and the tall headroom gives it a very airy, spacious and luxurious feeling similar to the Fortuner (the Montero Sport has a relatively low ceiling versus the two), but with even more space.

The 2.8-liter VGT engine is still noisy, but in the end is a small penalty to pay for the very impressive power. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It also has the most safety equipment, combining ABS brakes with cornering brake control, emergency dynamic brake assist, panic brake assist, hill-start assist, hill descent control, traction control, stability control and, of course, dual front airbags.

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You also get a three-ton towing capacity, which is currently best in class, and a fording depth of 800mm, more than enough to tackle all but the heaviest floods of biblical proportions. Yes, the interior plastics still leave much to be desired, but overall it's a great SUV because of how it drives and its standard specifications and space.

Aside from the Trailblazer, you can also check out the Kia Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe. Both are crossover, sedan-chassis-based platforms, which offer better in-car refinement and on-road manners compared to the Trailblazer. The downside is that absolute off-road performance is less on these SUVs. Then again, how much off-road performance do you need?

I hope this helps. Take care and good luck with your studies!

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor


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