Best sedan and truck picks

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Feb 23, 2011

Hi, Botchi!

I'm a third-year high school student. I'm a car fanatic and I'm also an avid reader of your magazine (I especially like your articles). I may seem a bit too young to be asking about the best car to buy but I'm the only petrolhead in the family so I was tasked to scout for our next car. I may have some knowledge but I need an advice from an expert like you.

My dad currently drives a pre-owned 2004 Chevrolet Optra LS with automatic transmission. I liked the car because of its aerodynamic shape and the fact that it's a reasonably-priced car. But as the years went by, it started falling apart. The windows can't be rolled up anymore, the gear lever can't be shifted to Parl, it breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It has been towed and repaired several times. I heard some reviews saying the Optra has electrical and mechanical issues, and that it's made by Koreans. Soon after my dad read some of my magazines, he thought of replacing the Optra with the new Chevrolet Cruze LS with manual transmission.

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Meanwhile, my grandparents are also looking for a new vehicle--preferably a pickup truck or an SUV. They currently have a 1994 Nissan Sentra LEC but they've realized that a sedan is not ideal for their needs. They are now looking at a brand-new or a pre-owned Nissan Navara 4x2 and an Isuzu D-Max LS.

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I hope you can give short reviews about the cars soon. Suggestions and recommendations can be a big help. Thanks and more power to you guys!


Hi, Amir!

Thanks for your email.

It's unfortunate that your dad's Optra has been a pain over the last few months. It is definitely time to replace it with a newer, more reliable vehicle.

While the Chevrolet Cruze is definitely a good car, it is heavy and it will make you feel like you're driving a much bigger car. A lot of older folks prefer this as the added weight and heft gives a car a luxurious ride as opposed to a much lighter car, which tends to get upset easily on our pot-hole riddled roads. Good if it's for your dad, but it might not be the best in terms of dynamic handling and responsiveness. I'm pointing this out because I'm assuming that in a few years you'll be borrowing your dad's car for the weekend gimmicks with your buddies and you'll probably want something flashier.

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Aside from the Cruze, I'd recommend the new Mitsubishi Lancer, which is very stylish and youthful-looking, not to mention it is probably the best handling sedan in its class in my opinion. Another option is the Honda Civic, which, despite being somewhat common, is really a good car. It's as luxurious in feel as the Cruze, and almost as sporty and dynamic as the Lancer. Both are very trusted Japanese brands and have in recent times offered far more reliability and better resale value. These two brands also offer a far bigger dealership network so you can shop around different showrooms to see which one will give you a better offer in terms of pricing and discounts. Above all, they can offer service quality you can truly be happy with.

As for your grandparents, looking at used cars introduce a lot of variables. I have not tested the latest Nissan Navaras yet so I am unfamiliar with their performance. I just know that they are best suited for on-road highway driving rather than off-roading and trail-riding. Their back-seats are pretty tight so that's something I factor in when considering a pickup purchase.

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The Isuzu D-Max would seem to be a better choice because a D-Max would make for a perfect candidate for a workhorse. It's been tried and tested. Isuzu is well-known for excellent (if noisy) diesel power-plant technology and the D-Max has been in the market for a very long time, offering numerous simple yet important refinements to the interior, suspension and powertrain (engine and transmission), which help make it a much more well-tuned, developed, refined and honed vehicle. As a deal-maker, the D-Max has far better, more comfortable and refined interior and a roomier rear seat accommodation.

Don't forget to look into the Mitsubishi Strada 4X2 GL, which is below P900,000 brand-new, and a used Toyota Hilux. Both are excellent vehicles, with the Strada being my favorite because it has the best and roomiest interior of all pickups.

Good luck with your car shopping!

Best regards,

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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