The Decision

A Top Gear PH reader asks: For a family vehicle, MPV, SUV or van?

Help your fellow reader by taking the poll

Hi, Botchi. I hope you can help my family pick the right vehicle. We are a family of four, including two children below two years of age. Thus, we need a vehicle that will hold two child seats, but at the same time seat five to six persons, including the two children (during times when we have guests visiting Manila or when we have a driver). I am looking at MPVs and SUVs (Nissan Grand Livina or Mitsubishi Montero Sport), but I do not know what the best choice is. Because child seats take up much space, we need a vehicle that will allow access to the rearmost seats easily, without having to collapse the middle row since the child seats are already installed there. Can you recommend one within the P1,000,000-P1,200,000 price range? I\'d be open to one that\'s priced higher if it is really optimal. Thanks!



Hi, Crew. Thanks for your e-mail. This one has even me stumped!

A quick review of the cars in your budget means even the seven-seat SUVs will be quite difficult to fit in that requirement, given your other criteria. And if you need to bring two child seats in a car, a van is your only bet.

I recommend two Korean vans: the Kia Carnival LX LWB and the Hyundai Starex TCi.

The Kia Carnival is an impressive car, highly underrated and often overlooked. It has a 2.9-liter CRDi diesel engine powering the front wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. It comfortably seats eight people and is luxurious in an American-car sort of way. I\'m a big fan of this car, and I\'m surprised nobody ever considers buying one. It drives well, too, like a proper American minivan.


The Hyundai Starex is even bigger, but has a more basic, utilitarian feel. The engine is the non-CRDi and VGT-equipped variant, and will feel underpowered when fully laden and when going up and down steep ascents like Baguio and even steep mall carparks. I only listed this as an alternative if you are not too concerned about the lack of power.

My vote goes to the Kia because it is well-equipped.

As for the typical seven-seat SUVs? If you will be carrying six to seven people regularly, forget it as the third row is tight. And once everyone\'s fully buckled up, it\'s far harder to move around in it than in a proper van.

A Toyota Grandia is also a viable alternative, but it is bigger, less wieldy and harder to handle in tight parking spaces and when weaving through traffic.

I hope this helps. Good luck, and God bless you and your family!


Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor

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