We love to drive, so we don't exactly go head over heels over a van. But these people-carriers are essential, and we're intrigued with what's offered apart from the two default choices, the Toyota Hiace and the Hyundai Starex. These two have proven themselves over the years, so how will the Peugeot Expert Tepee fare against them?
A van is a van is a van. Sure, most vans tend to look alike. The French, however, are quite big on vans, and they design them rather nicely. The front of the Expert Tepee, in particular, reflects its manufacturer's design approach. It shares a similar fascia with Peugeot's sedans and MPVs. The uniqueness in design is mainly concentrated at the front, with the rest of the van naturally retaining the boxy look for maximum functionality. The taillights, meanwhile, give the vehicle a contemporary touch.
The nine-passenger cabin has a mix of hard plastics and fabric. There's a multifunction display that shows trip info, fuel consumption and audio details.
Particularly clever and practical are the storage compartments above the driver and the front passenger, as well as the cupholders behind the middle seats of the second and third rows.
The Expert Tepee is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel with direct injection, good for 163hp and 340Nm. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, we got the van not only on a weekend with horrendous traffic all over the metropolis, but with torrential rain on Saturday and Sunday. Which meant our fuel mileage couldn't do better than 5.8km/L. A pity, because for a van, this Peugeot seems aerodynamic. A separate test for our print edition will hopefully yield more realistic numbers.
RIDE AND HANDLING
Steering is light yet is nicely weighted. Handling is such that you don't feel the van's size. It feels car-like and has good visibility, thanks to the low beltline and the thin A-pillars. Suspension consists of MacPherson struts and double wishbones.
Trips with family and friends are more entertaining, thanks to the auxiliary jack and iPod connectivity. For safety, the Expert Tepee comes with front airbags, ESP and ABS.
Picking a van is becoming more monotonous with just the Hiace and the Starex as the usual options. The Expert Tepee makes for an intriguing alternative. It's early days for this van, but it's certainly a welcome addition to this segment. With its price point, however, expect it to have a closer battle with Volkswagen's own van--if and when the local distributor decides to bring it in.
SPECS: PEUGEOT EXPERT TEPEE
Engine: 2.0-liter turbodiesel I4
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 163hp @ 3,750rpm
Torque: 340Nm @ 2,000rpm
Photos by Jason dela Cruz