The Decision

A Top Gear PH reader asks: Which SUV is good for my parents?

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Hi, Botchi. I am an OFW who plans to buy a car next month for my parents and for myself, of course (for vacations in the future). I\'m confused about which SUV to buy: the Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo SE or the Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS-V 4x2.

Our travels are usually from Batangas to Pangasinan, and to and from the airport--involving a lot of people and luggage as well. This vehicle purchase would also be my gift to my folks, so I hope to buy something durable, comfortable and entertaining during long drives.

I narrowed down my choices to the two because of Isuzu\'s reputation for toughness, and the Sportivo has entertainment amenities despite the tank-looking exterior. The Montero Sport, meanwhile, offers reliability, elegance, safety features, GPS navigation, and other tech options. But of course, I don\'t want to overspend, too.

I hope you can help me pick the right SUV since next month is coming near and I have to contact a dealer soon. Thank you very much. I would highly appreciate your kind feedback.

Romar Bautista


Hi, Romar. Thanks for your e-mail. It\'s heartwarming to know that someone is taking the time to buy his folks a present as a token of gratitude for all the good things they have done for you. Truly, you are a good son, not just to your parents, but to your country as well.

While the Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo might look a bit like your typical seven-seat SUV, it is technically an AUV (or MPV, if you want to be precise about it), which is designed to be a simpler, more basic means of transportation. But times have changed. If you\'re looking to get an Isuzu, look at the Alterra, which is the direct competitor of the Montero Sport, the Toyota Fortuner and the Hyundai Santa Fe, to name a few.

The Mitsubishi Montero Sport remains to be the king in this segment because of the great value for money proposition it offers. The VGT-equipped engine, with its 176hp and 400Nm of torque means the Montero Sport will easily make mincemeat of long highway stretches, running out of steam at around 170kph, but will probably continue on until about 200kph. It\'s an equally great performer on light off-road and dirt roads, where its rally heritage will shine. And it comes with GPS navigation in GLS-V trim, handy when finding your way around deserted pronvicial roads between Batangas and Pangasinan. My family has owned two; that\'s how much we love the Montero Sport.

The Toyota Fortuner, revamped and updated for 2012, now offers GPS navigation as well, and has gotten a softer suspension over the years. But unless you get the top-model V variant, the lower 2.5 D-4D engine isn\'t as impressive as the Mitsubishi engine. It has seen a power hike for the VGT-equipped variants for 2012 and now offers impressive midrange pull (but lacks the top-end pull you get from the Montero Sport\'s engine. It is significantly better in more extreme off-road conditions, but then not everyone plans to go mud-plugging in their SUV.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is perhaps the smoothest, fastest, most refined and comfortable road-based SUV. If the Montero Sport has 70 percent on-road and 30 percent off-road intended use, and the Fortuner has 60 percent on-road and 40 percent off-road, the Santa Fe has 85 percent on-road use and 15 percent off-road use. It\'s a more focused road car, being built like a proper car. Hence, it is a crossover rather than a proper ladder-frame chassis-based SUV like the Montero Sport and the Fortuner. This makes the Santa Fe far more comfortable, and it offers significantly more interior space. But all that space, comfort, refinement and power (194hp from only a 2.2-liter R-eVGT engine) comes at a premium: The base 4x2 Santa Fe is more expensive than the top-model Fortuner and Montero Sport (but worthwhile in my opinion).

A dark horse is the Kia Sorento. A big, roomy seven-seat SUV based on the older Santa Fe platform (Hyundai owns Kia), it\'s great value for money, and offers more space and refinement than both the Montero Sport and the Fortuner--all at a bargain price of under P1.5 million for the 4x2 five-speed automatic. It\'s made to feel like an American car, so it\'s a bonus, too, as both the Japanese cars feel very Asian, while the Santa Fe is made to feel like a European car.

I hope these choices help you out, all being below P1.5 million. Keep us posted on your decision and good luck!


Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor

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