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Chris Van Hoven

5 Reasons to consider a Toyota Innova an SUV alternative

Ok, before you send me off in a strait jacket, allow me to explain. As a motoring journalist, we get questions all the time about what car to get in any given segment. A lot of those questions are about which SUV is the best of the lot, and while we know the Toyota Innova isn’t an SUV in the strictest sense, it does answer the needs of those who are looking for SUVs without the need for a four-wheel drive system. Here’s why.   Space for seven “I need an SUV for my family” is something we hear quite often. Most SUVs, such as Toyota’s own Fortuner, have the capability of seating seven people. And while it’s true you’ll be able to fit seven people in a modern mid-sized SUV, they’ll simply …

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Return of the tough trucks

Hear the word “Chevrolet” and two things will immediately come to mind: muscle cars like the Corvette and Camaro, or rugged pickups trucks and SUVs that tear up the countryside. Such is Chevrolet’s excellent brand recall and awareness that they’ve managed to train our brains to subconsciously link them to all-American muscle and hard-working trucks. It comes as no surprise then that when Chevrolet proudly proclaimed, “We know trucks” during the launch of their new Trailblazer SUV and Colorado pickup, we completely believed them. Oozing machismo Exterior changes are rather subtle, but are significant enough to make a noticeable difference. The changes are most apparent up front, with reshaped headlights with daytime running lamps combined with an aggressively large grille and hood enhancing its masculine features. Large 18-inch alloys adorn all higher-end …

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A worthy contender

When it comes to sub-compact cars, the Honda City and Toyota Vios are typically top of mind. But there’s one contender that’s begging for your attention, and it properly deserves it. Suzuki is no stranger to small cars, having manufactured some of the best in the industry, and while the Ciaz would hardly be considered small by today’s standards, Suzuki’s attention to detail and excellent build quality have translated nicely to the sub-compact.   Subtly stylish The Ciaz isn’t one of the flashier cars in the segment, but remains subtly handsome in its own way. Instead of following the trend of heavily stylized headlamps and aggressive front grilles, the Ciaz presents a pleasant, more mature fascia that emphasizes sophistication over flamboyance. Its well-proportioned side profile comes together with a slick rear end, complemented by …

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Ssangyong’s fresh slate

It’s been a tough road for Korean car manufacturer, Ssangyong, both locally and in their home country. Once upon a time, Ssangyong seemingly had a solid future planned out. A technological partnership with, at the time, Daimler-Benz, produced the Ssangyong Musso, which saw minor success in certain markets, thanks to the Mercedes-Benz dealer network. Ssangyong further benefited from the alliance with products like the MB100, Korando, Rexton and Kyron, each sharing different Mercedes-Benz technologies ranging from engines to transmission systems. The success was short-lived, as financial troubles hit the company. Ssangyong then changed ownership from one conglomerate to the next, until 2011, when Ssangyong was acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, with a fresh injection of cash, resources, and, after decades of bumps along the road, a renewed sense of hope and …

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No Compromises

Segment battles in the automotive industry are often won and lost by each manufacturer’s top-of-the-line offerings. It’s not entirely surprising, as car shoppers prefer to have the full-on experience of a particular model instead of a “half-baked” one. The mid-tier Ford Everest 2.2 Trend is out to make a case for itself as being the exception to the rule, where customers never feel that they’re settling for second best.   Simple but effective The Ford Everest 2.2 Trend lacks the styling flourishes of the top-of-the-line Everest 3.2 Titanium, mostly in the form of chrome details found in the door handles and side mirrors. The wheels are also slightly smaller at 18-inches as opposed to the Titanium’s 20-inch alloys. The differences should hardly be considered disadvantages, as some will actually find the body-colored details …

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On the go with Pokemon Go

You’ve probably seen them by now: dozens of kids (and adults) hunched over their phones, walking aimlessly in random areas of the metro, dangerously oblivious to cars and occasionally ramming into obstacles. Pokemon Go, the global phenomenon that has earned over US$200-million in revenue since its launch last month, is finally available for download in the Philippines for Android and iOS mobile phones. Its popularity is clearly evident in every park, church, mall and street corner. We at Manila Bulletin Drive have been bitten by the Pokemon Go bug as well, and we’ve discovered that playing Pokemon Go on the road can be a rewarding experience in the right situations. With that in mind, we’ve prepared some tips for all you Pokemon hunters out there who find themselves constantly on the …

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Don’t get caught driving distracted

If you’re one of those people who are so connected to their phones that they can’t leave them alone for more than five minutes at a time, then we have some bad news. The Anti-Distracted Driving Act, now officially a law, prohibits and penalizes drivers using their mobile phones while driving. To clarify, the law defines distracted driving as using a mobile device to write, send, or read text-based communication or to make and receive calls while driving a vehicle in motion or stopped in a red light. The law isn’t limited to the use of mobile phones, however. You’re also not allowed to use any electronic or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books or perform calculations. It’s a big adjustment to make for …

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The working class hero

The battle for PPV (Pickup Platform Vehicle) supremacy is in full gear and the verdicts have more or less been decided on by various media outlets. Most will tell you the same thing: the Mitsubishi Montero Sport is one of the best all-around PPVs in the market today. The GLS Premium variant is particularly attractive, equipped with a lot of kit for its P1,685,000 price point. Let’s delve a little deeper into what makes the Montero Sport worth owning.   Quality cabin To start off with some of the Montero Sport’s finer points, the cabin is an absolute joy to be in. The seats are the most comfortable in its class, with cushiony padding and generous side bolstering. The second row passengers enjoy the same comfort with plenty of leg room to spare. …

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Driving wet

There’s nothing quite like getting stuck in a three-hour traffic jam amidst pouring rain to remind you that the rainy season is upon us once again. Spending a lot of time on the road also gives you ample time to notice all the bad driving habits that still sprout out of Filipino drivers once it starts to rain. Whether you’re one of those people and just don’t realize it, or are simply in need of a refresher course, here are some helpful tips for driving safely in wet weather. The light stuff Keeping yourself visible during a torrential downpour is extremely important, but switching your emergency lights (hazard lights) on is the absolute worst thing to do. You might feel that turning on the emergency blinkers makes you more visible, but this …

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Promised performance

With an ardent group of fans bordering on cult status, the Honda Civic has made its mark on the Philippine automotive scene unlike any other before it. The fifth generation EG and sixth generation models ushered in the Civic’s golden age with something to offer both enthusiasts and casual motorists alike; but as the years went on, rivals started producing compelling alternatives that would end up diminishing the Civic’s almighty hold on the market. Determined to get that market back, Honda returned to the drawing board for the 10th generation Civic, with an all-new platform, a new 1.5-liter turbo engine and equipment to rival the best in the class.   Ins and Outs There’s no mistake that the Civic’s fluid lines, low ground clearance, and aggressive-looking front bumper give off an extremely sporty …

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