Car News

This week in cars: Toyota Lite Ace launched in PH, all-new Honda CR-V unveiled

Hyundai has also unveiled its Avanza- and Xpander-fighting MPV, the Stargazer

The Toyota Lite Ace has officially landed in PH


“This is finally it. After some waiting, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has now launched the all-new Lite Ace.

“This light commercial vehicle is a returning nameplate in our market. But once known as a tiny and budget-friendly barkada-slash-family van, this vehicle now arrives as a light commercial vehicle ready to take on the likes of the Suzuki Carry.

“We know a lot of you are eager to learn more about TMP’s newest offering, so without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the Toyota Lite Ace.”

Feast your eyes on the all-new Honda CR-V

2023 Honda CR-V in action

“Honda’s crossover game has been on point as of late. There’s the all-new HR-V that was just launched a few months ago, and we’re looking forward to seeing the all-new BR-V make its local debut as well.

“Now, add this to the list: The 2022 Honda CR-V has finally been revealed in full.

“The sixth-generation CR-V brings a lot to the table, both in terms of face value and what’s underneath the hood. As far as design goes, you can argue this one is the most rugged the model has been in its lifetime.

“Honda has gone big with the face here, with bold headlights and an in-your-face grille with a mesh design. At the rear, you’ll find the model’s familiar vertical taillights and a body-colored roof spoiler, too.

“Opt for higher-end units like the Sport or the Sport Touring and you’ll get gloss-black accents on the front grille instead of chrome, rectangular exhaust finishers, and stealthier wheels. The last bit can be had as 18- or 19-inch rims, available with either a 10- or five-spoke design.

“The macho new look is fitting when you consider the CR-V has grown in size. It’s over 68mm longer and 10mm wider, and drives on a wheelbase that smidge over 40mm longer.

“Buyers get two powertrain options for this generation. The first is a hybrid setup that uses a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors to produce a total of 204hp and 335Nm. Option two is a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine capable of 190hp and 243Nm. A continuously variable transmission comes standard.”

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Meet the Stargazer, Hyundai’s answer to the Avanza and Xpander


“This is the Hyundai Stargazer, and yes, we think it’s coming to the Philippine market to try and conquer the local MPV segment.

“Why do we say this? Well, a couple of weeks ago, we were present for the official introduction of the South Korean brand’s new Philippine business unit, Hyundai Motor Philippines (HMPH). During the event, the company insinuated that it would be bringing in a brand-new MPV from Indonesia.

“The Stargazer was just launched in Indonesia.

“Okay, so it isn’t 100% sure yet, but we think it’s extremely likely this is the model HMPH was referring to.

“Anyway, this looks like it has the makings of something that can challenge the likes of the Suzuki Ertiga, Toyota Avanza, and Mitsubishi Xpander. The look alone would already be a standout in the local market.

“The face of the Stargazer carries an aesthetic very similar to that of its much larger sibling, the Staria. The tail end, meanwhile, flaunts a very futuristic appearance thanks to an H-shaped unified twilight design. It also runs on either 15- or 16-inch wheels.

“Inside is where this model can truly shine compared to what we’re being offered locally. The Stargazer is available in a six-seat configuration that features a pair of nice-looking captain’s chairs instead of the usual bench setup. There also appears to be a model dashboard design that features plenty of storage space, and a unique instrument cluster and touchscreen setup.

“The Stargazer comes equipped with a 1.5-liter MPI four-cylinder gasoline engine capable of 114hp and 144Nm of torque. You can have this paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or the company’s Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).”

Nissan confirms the Kicks is on its way to PH

Exterior of the 2023 Nissan Kicks e-Power

“Nissan Philippines (NPI) has been betting big on its e-Power technology. In fact, a camouflaged crossover bearing the e-Power logo was the brand’s sole display at this year’s Manila International Auto Show (MIAS). That teaser of sorts wasn’t just any old flex, either. We can confirm that the electric-powered system is indeed on its way to our shores, and we now know which model will be the first to host it.

“Next month, NPI will launch the Kicks, a subcompact crossover that has been available in other markets since 2016. It entered our region—and received the e-Power treatment—when it launched in Thailand in May 2020. 

“While details remain scarce at this point, what we can tell you is that the Philippine-spec Kicks e-Power will have a total output of 134hp and 280Nm of torque. All that potential is delivered by an electric motor to the front wheels. There is an engine onboard, but that’s only purpose is to charge the motor.

“The advantages of this setup, according to Nissan, include great fuel economy for the engine-slash-charger (22-25km/L) and superior acceleration versus, say, a 2.0-liter turbopetrol.” 

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Toyota has unveiled the all-new Crown Crossover


“Toyota, after turning what is arguably its most popular nameplate (the Corolla) into a full-on crossover, has now done the same to one of its most luxurious offerings in the Crown. The rumors were true, then.

“The all-new Crown, however, will not just be a crossover—it’ll be offered in four different body types. But more on that later. For now, we focus on the model Toyota has just unveiled.

“The Crown crossover debuts with a very futuristic design. It’s got an aggressive-looking front clip that’s highlighted by a lightbar outlining the hood and stretching the width of the front fascia. There’s a pair of stylish swept-back headlamps, and underneath is a wide mesh grille.

“Thin, black plastic claddings add some ruggedness to the look, as well as the black trim on the doors. At the back is a swooping C-pillar with an equally futuristic liftgate. The taillight flanks the Toyota badge and also stretches the width of the vehicle.

“Two engine setups are available for the new Crown crossover. First is a 2.4-liter turbo-hybrid system that consists of a four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine paired with the latest eAxle electric powertrain and a new bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery—the first time Toyota has applied this combination to any model.

“The second powertrain, meanwhile, is a 2.5-liter Series Parallel Hybrid System with the same aforementioned battery. This one supposedly promises class-leading fuel economy, quietness, and smooth driving performance.

“The new Crown is also equipped with the latest Toyota Safety Sense package as well as advanced drive and advanced park automated functions.”

Suzuki teases the upcoming return of the Grand Vitara

teaser image of the Suzuki Grand VItara

“After Suzuki Philippines (SPH) announced the discontinuation of the Vitara, we’ve been looking at other models from neighboring markets that could serve as a good replacement, such as India’s new Brezza.

“However, an upcoming model in the Indian market has just been announced, and we reckon it could be the Vitara replacement we’re searching for: the Grand Vitara.

“Yes, Suzuki is reviving the ‘Grand Vitara’ moniker. It also looks like the new model will be sold under Nexa, Maruti Suzuki’s premium dealership arm. No details whatsoever have been revealed yet, but Nexa did give us a good look at the rear end of this new SUV. There are stylish horizontal taillights flanking the Suzuki badge, and we’re guessing those slats could be chrome bits plastered on the liftgate.

“Word is that the launch will be on July 20, and we know for sure that Nexa has already opened bookings for customers.”

The all-new, fifth-generation Range Rover is now in PH

Range Rover launch Philippines

Rolls-Royce and Bentley may have luxury SUVs of their own, but none is more linked to royalty more than the Range Rover. Nine months after its global premiere, the newest iteration of Land Rover’s crown jewel has landed in the Philippines. Not only that, there are several variants available for the local market.

“On display during the launch were the HSE (High Specification Equipment) and Autobiography, but the SV is also available. The HSE is as loaded as they come, packing the latest design language and infotainment system from Land Rover. As for the Autobiography, you can get that with a long wheelbase plus a pair of Ottoman-style seats for business-class luxury on- or off-road. As for the SV, that one gives offers more personalized and individual options to fit your preferences.

“Locally, there are two turbodiesel, one turbopetrol, and one plug-in hybrid powertrains available. The lineup starts out with the D300 with its 3.0-liter, twin-turbo in-line-six diesel that makes 300hp and 649Nm of torque. Moving up a notch is the D350 that uses the same block as the D300, but power moves up to 350hp and 700Nm of torque. But if it’s a V8 you want, that’ll be the P530 packing a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo gas engine punching out 530hp and 750Nm of torque.

“As for the plug-in hybrid, that’s badged as the P440e. It pairs a 3.0-liter, turbo-gas in-line-six engine to a 105kW electric motor. Its total combined output is 440hp and 660Nm of torque. All Range Rover models run on four-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic and Terrain Response 2 modes. We wouldn’t expect anything less.

“For the fifth-generation Range Rover, you get Active Dynamics that keep the ride as level and smooth as possible. Its air suspension system also features Dynamic Response Pro plus electronic active roll control to improve on-road handling. Not only that, the luxury SUV has four-wheel steering fitted standard across the range to make it more maneuverable.

“As for the infotainment, the Pivi Pro system packs a 13.7-inch 3D virtual instrument cluster, a 13.1-inch curved glass touchscreen, haptic touch panels, and more. The new software also benefits from faster bootup and loading times compared to the previous Rover. You can also get a rear entertainment system to cure boredom on long trips. And what about Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? They’re included, too.”

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PHOTO: Leandre Grecia, Honda, Hyundai, Charles Banaag
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