I've been an avid fan of Top Gear Philippines since 2006 and I really like your articles because they are very informative.
I'm writing now because I have plans of upgrading from a 2008 Toyota Vios to a sport-utility vehicle. I want one that I can use for both work and play.
As a flight attendant with irregular working hours, I would normally travel from Bulacan to Pasay about eight times each month. I like going on road trips on my days off.
With a budget of P1 million, I'm choosing between the Ford Escape and the Hyundai Tucson, but I will appreciate if you can suggest other options as well.
Please help me make a wise decision.
Thank you very much for your email. It must be tough being up in the air at odd hours all the time! Glad that you still like traveling on land, as must of us do!
Your budget of P1 million puts a tight cap on the sport-utility vehicles I can recommend. The Ford Escape is quite old, and I never really liked how it drove compared to its competitors.
The Hyundai Tucson may be had for right around P1 million, but only with a 2.0 liter gasoline engine and a manual transmission. You want to be looking at the Tucson with the R-eVGT engine and automatic. That's where it gets really fun, but it's closer to P1.4 million, 40% more than your original budget.
Something else to consider is the Mitsubishi ASX. It's a tad smaller and tighter than the Escape and the Tucson, but it is still a capable five-seat compact crossover SUV. While three adults at the backseat will be quite tight, two is more than comfy even for long drives. You also get a decent amount of cargo space, enough for a balikbayan box or two.
If you simply prefer a raised ride height, the Kia Soul is another good alternative. It's not exactly an SUV, but it rides taller than most sedans, putting it close to a compact crossover. This one suits your budget well, starting at just under P900,000 for the 1.6-liter variant. Cargo space out back is quite small, but since you didn't make mention of it, I guess you travel mostly alone so luggage space isn't a big concern. If you were able to make do with a Vios for a while, then upgrading to the Soul will definitely offer you even more space than the popular Toyota sedan.
A last, left-field entry would be a pickup truck. A Mitsubishi Strada starts as low as P900,000. With that, you get a really tall vehicle that is more than capable of tackling the most common flashfloods, bad road conditions, potholes, bumps and ruts in Metro Manila; have copious cargo space out back; and enjoy the roomiest interior in its class--comparable to or better than a lot of compact SUVs out there. It is also the tightest in class with a turning radius of 5.9 meters, which means maneuvering in tight spaces will be a breeze.
Multipurpose vehicles like the Kia Carens and the new Chevrolet Orlando also make excellent vehicle options. Unfortunately, they do not offer as much ground clearance. If space is of utmost importance, these two make very good candidates.
I wish I could be of more help. For now, with your budget and criteria, these are the best options I can recommend. I hope this post helps! Good luck, God bless and drive safe.
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!