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Top Gear Philippines

Dear Botchi,

I'm looking for a family car, preferably a seven-seater. A van would be too big for me, and I'd look stupid driving it alone. What do you think of Nissan Grand Livina and the Toyota Innova?

Thank you.

Arj

Hi, Arj!

The Nissan Grand Livina and the Toyota Innova are great choices! Unfortunately, they are underrated, especially the Grand Livina. Amazingly, both MPV's are really fun to drive, thanks to powerful engines that provide just the right amount of grunt to give decently rapid progress.

I've topped out the Livina on the SCTEx before authorities introduced the official 100kph speed limit, and went twice that speed on the dot for about five minutes. Sure it doesn't have the final say in absolute driving feel, the brakes are mushy and the steering's a bit wooly but, overall, it's a fantastic package. The third-row seat is tight and is best left for kids but somehow sneakily roomy--you don't realize how much space there is in that thing until you actually get in, sit down, close the doors and move off. I found myself quite comfortable in the middle-row despite my heft. Did I mention that despite my driving antics, I still managed to do 15km/liter?

The Toyota Innova feels brawny. It is of course bigger and will ultimately offer far more versatility than the Livina. I've driven the Innova from Dumaguete to Cebu via the RO-RO at Santander then along the island's beautiful coastal mountain highway that follows the rolling, curving mountain face on one side, and the sea on the other. About the only thing I don't like is the beige interior. The diesel D4-D 2.5 liter CRDi turbocharged engine is well matched to the Innova's weight and transmission, making it responsive and rapid, much more so than what you would expect from a diesel MPV.

The Nissan Grand Livina is great. Personally I'd go with the base-model Livina thanks to the available six-speed manual found in it. Novelty or not, with six gears, you always have ample power.

For the Toyota Innova, I'd push myself to get the automatic diesel variant. With the gasoline 2.7 vvt-i, it feels lethargic.

Motoring will never be as versatile and painless as with these two value-packed multipurpose vehicles.

Keep in touch!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor
BBC Top Gear Philippines

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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!

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor
Botchi eats, lives and breathes cars (aside from hotdogs). Aside from wanting to drive any car, preferably through some scenic destination, he's always thinking of ways to "improve them" by modifying the (insert any car-related word here).
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