The Decision

A reader asks: What's the best vehicle for a budding entrepreneur?

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Hi, Botchi! Good day!

Can I have your expert advice on my first car purchase? I've been reading a lot of your posts and I think you are the best person I can turn to for advice.

I'm currently a second-year college student, and I have some money saved to buy a new car. I want to buy a car this early because it is hard to go to school commuting with a lot of books and a lot of meetings as I'm a project head in my student organization. I also have a very small milk tea business, where I have to deliver stuff--but only once a month. I've been seeing different promos from car dealers, and I think now is a good time to buy a car. My parents said they would only help me by paying a percentage of the car since they want me to get my car on my own.


I hope you can help me choose as this is one of the biggest choices I have to make. Given my limited budget and active lifestyle, my choices for my first car are the following: Toyota Avanza 1.3 E MT, Hyundai Accent 1.4 GL MT, Isuzu Crosswind XL, and Toyota Vios 1.3 J MT.

I will mostly use my vehicle to go to school and drive around the city for errands, but since this is a big investment, I was hoping I could also use my first car for other purposes. Also, I'm hoping to get a car with cheap maintenance and low fuel consumption because I'll be paying for these expenses. I want to push for a bigger car so that I wouldn't have a problem on space whenever I need to deliver equipment or go to the province for vacation, but the price difference is huge relative to the Accent or Vios.

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Perhaps my first choice is the Avanza, but my problem with the 1.3-liter Avanza is that it might be underpowered and unstable for long trips because of its shape and weight, but this is just a feeling I'm not sure of. If it is really impossible with my low budget to afford a bigger multipurpose vehicle, I'm fine with just getting the Accent, my second choice.

As a student, I plan to pay for this via financing using my brother's bank credibility. I think the best option for me is to get the car at 20% down payment and finance the rest of the amount in 60 months.

What do you think is the best for me? Or do you have other suggestions?

Thank you. I hope to hear from you soon.

Winchell Wong


Hi, Winchell. Thank you very much for your kind words.

Truth be told, our country needs more people like you: entrepreneurs!


I understand your financial limitations, so my first tip is purchase your vehicle via a lease-to-own program. Currently, only Toyota offers such a service through Toyota Financial Services. You can walk into any Toyota dealership, inquire about the lease-to-own program available for practically all Toyota (and Lexus) vehicles. You can get certain cars for a down payment as low as 10%, with a payment scheme of as long as 84 months. Aside from this, your interest rate will be lower than most banks so your monthly payments will be comparatively lower than traditional bank financing.

That aside, let's look at your choices.

The Toyota Vios is too small for a true business delivery/everyday vehicle. The Toyota Avanza will suit your needs better. I've yet to try the 1.3-liter Avanza, though. I have only tried the 1.5-liter version, and I found that mighty punchy even on the highway (and I'm not ashamed to rev the nuts off most engines). But the problem is really the short wheelbase and tall ride height: The Avanza tends to seesaw on the highway because the short wheelbase acts as a poor pivot point for the suspension (i.e., there's not enough leverage to keep the front and rear ends flat and planted relative to the middle when you're driving at highway speeds). Hence, the seesawing motion. I can live with it, but you might get annoyed by it if you'll be driving on the highway every day. But in the city, it's great and you can install a roof rack to increase cargo capacity.


The Isuzu Crosswind is a tight car for me, with a marginally underpowered engine. Give it enough room and she'll have a good go, but accelerating quickly with a heavy load is an exercise in patience, to say the least. Plus, despite being very affordable to own and maintain, it is quite difficult to drive and lacks refinement. The steering, clutch and brakes lack feel and are heavy in effort. It is safe and dependable, but it's indeed very long in the tooth.

Lastly, the Hyundai Accent. I really liked it. I was impressed with its features and liked the driving dynamics, better so than the Vios because the steering feels much more fluid than the Vios or the Avanza (and especially the Crosswind). The suspension is soft and comfortable, too. But it does lack space, more so than the Vios. Every passenger I've carried in an Accent test unit all complained that the rear seats were a tight fit. Keep that in mind. Otherwise, it's a great car if you'll be doing mostly solo runs especially considering its price.


For you, my top pick would still be the Avanza because it offers the best compromise for your split needs, with the Accent and the Crosswind tied for second. The Crosswind will suit your business needs better, whereas the Accent will suit your everyday driving needs better. The Vios a distant fourth because the Accent does the same job better and is more affordable. (Then again, there is now the all-new Vios.)

I hope this helps. Good luck, and I hope you become a successful entrepreneur!


Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor

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