Toyota Motors Philippines Corporation (TMP) once again held a very successful ride and drive event early this month with the staging of the 12th Toyota Road Trek (TRT) to highlight the key strengths of their vehicle line-up.
This time around, Toyota brought the IMV Project range of vehicles to Palawan for the motoring journalists to experience “A Life Full of Drive” with the all-new Hi-lux, the all-new Innova and the all-new Fortuner—which is a 300-kilometer jaunt from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. IMV stands for Innovative International Multi-Purpose Vehicle.
Commencing at the sprawling Toyota Palawan dealership, 34 members of the Philippine motoring media, who were flown to Puerto Princesa the day before, enjoyed the traditional Palawan breakfast prepared by dealer owners.
The Road Trek is not all driving. The Toyota marketing team comprised of Ariel Arias, Jade Sison and Jigo Vidanes prepared physical and mental challenges to make the driving component more fun and exciting.
After the hearty breakfast, the motoring hacks were grouped into fours then drew lots in what IMV vehicle to drive.
The first challenge of the day was a fuel economy drive from the Toyota Puerto Princesa dealership to the Astoria Palawan Resort. The fuel economy run took the participants along 53 kilometers of flatlands and boonies along the Puerto Princesa North Road. Hyper-miling was prevented as a one-hour time limit was imposed on all the participants.
My group, which was composed of Sunshine Television’s Butch Gamboa, Jenny Bleza, Wee Gamboa and Matt Mallari, was able to get the Toyota Hilux 2.4 G DSL 4×2 AT (automatic transmission) for the first challenge. We decided to leave the dealership first so the others won’t slow us down. We also had to contend with the regular traffic along the route so we decided to run faster at 60 kilometers per hour in while in fifth gear. But lo and behold, we forgot that the Hilux had a six-speed auto transmission: it was only during a downhill part of the drive that the transmission shifted into sixth gear as it reached a speed of 70 kph. Running faster at a lower engine speed (or revolutions per minute) meant better fuel efficiency. So from that moment on, we ran an average of 70 kph and were able to complete the 53-kilometer challenge in just 52 minutes. After the run, we posted an average fuel consumption of 17.9 kilometers per liter (our team actually won this challenge overall).
Snacks were served at the Astoria Resort in preparation for the first physical challenge. There, teams had to outdo each other in shooting ping pong balls into a trash bin while passing the balls using cardboards. Obviously, we didn’t do well in this challenge so off to the next challenge.
For the next part of trip, we were able to get the petrol-powered 2.0-liter Innova with a six-speed automatic transmission. The next challenge was to drive 150 kilometers to our lunch destination and identify the names of establishments that we get to see along the way from a long list given to us. Once again, I took over the driving duties as we wanted to get to the lunch venue fast, for the much praised seafood lunch at the PEMS Restaurant. PEMS is located next to the historic Taytay Fort or Fuerza de Santa Isabel in Taytay, Palawan.
The drive was a bit long but was very comfortable as the Innova provided a very smooth ride. Even for a multi-purpose vehicle, the Innova rode and handled like a sedan and provided a good view of the road ahead as well as the coastline on the side. Fuel efficiency was not as good but still decent as it was able to post an average consumption of 10 liters per 100 kilometers. The Innova is also available with a 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder diesel with 16 valves, DOHC and variable nozzle turbocharger with intercooler, which we were not able to try. Our colleagues who were able to do so, however, swear that it posted a consumption of 17 kpl. Very impressive, indeed.
From Taytay, we drove another 90 or so kilometers until we reached the Lio Airport in El Nido Palawan where our 300-kilometer road trek came to an end. Work for us stopped at the El Nido airport. After the long drive to the northern-most tip of Palawan, it was now time to put away our note pads and cameras for the much needed R and R at the nearby Lagen Island resort.