Of cars & men: Toyota & Honda – (2)

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It is time, if not long overdue, to take a break from the country’s current state of affairs. Anyway, there has been no improvement in governance in the past years and there will be more of the same to come in the remaining months of the Aquino administration.

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The first and the last time I wrote on my special interest in automobiles was nine months ago on November 1, 2014. It was a welcome break from my end and truly enjoyed writing the article and the research that went with it.

What makes the automobile scene exciting are the new models that have come out and those to follow in the coming months until early 2016. It is like there is now a new generation of sedans, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) Multi-purpose Vans (MPVs), vans (regular and mini) and pick-ups! What a great time to buy these cars if you have the means.

Toyota Hilux, Fortuner & Innova
Toyota Motors has released its new Hilux pick-up model that was designed by Toyota Australia, which unfortunately will close down by 2017 due to unsustainable high labor costs there. Toyota’s new pick-up is bigger than the previous model that can better compete in the market with the popular Isuzu D-Max, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara.

The new front-grille and hood of the Hilux has a masculine, sporty design with a wide cab at the back. I find the interior – from the dashboard to the upholstery – to my liking. Of course, I would go for it rather than the D-Max, Ranger and Navarre although these three other brands are great and have been received quite well by the market.

However, what is most exciting with Toyota is that after 10 years the new models of its smash hits Fortuner SUV and the Innova MPV are coming out in early 2016. The all-new Fortuner is already for sale in Australia and Thailand where it is made for the Southeast Asian market. It is a sleek, sexy model with some semblance of the high-end Lexus SUV and with a matching attractive interior.

For sure, loyal Toyota Fortuner owners will most likely buy the new model. Of course, many others – a myriad ! – like myself would also want to own the new Fortuner. Based on the photos published in the newspapers and also shown in the Internet, it is a captivating design whose time has come and worth the wait of one decade.

The other good news about the new Toyota SUV is its new diesel engine with a displacement of 2.8 liter (2,755 cc) and a maximum power of 174 HP. This new engine will replace the current 2.5 liter and 3.0 liter CRDI of the 10-year old Fortuner. We can expect even a better performance with improved fuel efficiency and power combined.

On the Innova MPV, there are no pictures yet, which Toyota Motors seems to be keeping a secret. But I was shown the new model on the computer monitor using the Internet and I liked what I saw. Like the new Fortuner and Altis, the new design of the Innova – proudly made in the Philippines – is surely scintillating that would enthral buyers.

Like the Fortuner SUV, the sales of the Innova MPV has been phenomenal. It is simply amazing how many of them are on the road. So ubiquitous! As an owner of a 2005 Innova, it is really exciting to see the new model once it is released. Our 10-year old MPV has given us superb performance at reasonable costs of maintenance through the years.

Honda Odyssey, Pilot, & Mobilio
The 2015 “ALL-NEW” Odyssey was launched two months ago in June. However, there was NO unit available in the Honda showrooms to see at the Bonifacio Global City (GBC) in Taguig City, Magallanes in Makati or in Alabang in Muntinlupa.

Last Sunday, Honda Philippines placed a half-page advertisement in the leading newspapers. Their “Executive Suite” model was described as “topnotch comfort, luxurious styling, designed with prestige and passion the executive class truly deserves.” It captured the essence of “The All New Honda Odyssey” as in “Elevate Luxurious Travelling to a New Level.” Sounds exciting with its fantastic, futuristic design.

For me, what I like about the new Honda Odyssey is its new engine, body and lower price. The new Odyssey will now have a 2.4 liter engine as compared to the 3.5-liter model from the United States. Thus, more people will now buy the Odyssey since it will be more efficient unlike the old bigger engine. Likewise, to be able to have a much smaller engine from 3.5 liter to 2.4 liter, Honda also designed a smaller-sized body from Japan.

The price will be more affordable at only P2.3 million, as compared to P2.8 million of the previous model. However, the new Odyssey is shorter than its predecessor and its third row is rather tight with the two captains seat in front of it. It is now cheaper by close to P1.0 million compared to the new Toyota’s Alphard minivan at almost P3.3 million.

Another exciting new model is the 2016 Pilot that has a complete new design that is no longer like an armoured personnel carrier or a tank in a box- shape. It is lighter than its predecessor by 300 pounds and longer for a comfortable third row for three passengers.

First introduced in 2002, this stunning third generation model will be a sure winner when it is launched here later this year. The new 2016 Pilot is an ideal three-row SUV that can seat seven to eight passengers. It has a new V-6 diesel engine (3,500 cc) from the EarthDreams family with a six and nine speed automatic transmission that will further enhance fuel economy on top of its engine deactivation feature.

Finally, the much-awaited seven-seater Honda Mobilio has reached our shores and will give the Toyota Avanza a run for its money. The sales of the Avanza will surely suffer once the Mobilio gets into the market. Unless the Avanza is re-designed, it will continue to lose its market share. The Avanza is widely used here as a taxicab. Thus far, the Avanza now has three major competition: Mobilio, Chevrolet Spin and Suzuki Ertriga.

Among the four seven-seater models, my choice is the Honda Mobilio. So that makes it the second Honda vehicle that I will opt for. The first one is the Honda Odyssey, which has a proven track record of performance in the past two decades.

Vans: Toyota Grandia & Nissan Urvan
There is no word yet from Toyota Motors on the new Grandia model, which has the shape of the boring refrigerator-box. A new stylish design is long overdue. In the meantime, the Hyundai Starex continues to eat into the sales of the Toyota Grandia in spite of its proven superior performance. Perhaps a new van model in the last quarter of 2016?

Nissan recently proudly released its new 15-seater van. It was a disappointment. The length of the Urvan was increased to accommodate a five row, but the width has remained the same. It is as narrow as the 15-seater Toyota Commuter. Nissan surprisingly just repeated the same mistake of Toyota with its HiAce Commuter van in the Philippines.

rbrpilipinas@gmail.com

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4 Comments

  1. there has been no improvement in governance in the past years and there will be more of the same to come in the remaining months of the Aquino administration……

    ….Mr Ramos, you are probably not a resident of the country, please read the content oh your gmail re- Makati Business club rating