Category Archives: Test Drive

Top 5 Cars for Pinays – by Pinay Auto Blogger

Whoever said that all women prefer clothes and makeup over cars should go out more often. Many women love cars just as much as men do. The main difference lies on what women look for when choosing a car.

I, for one, look for a car which is fuel efficient, spacious, reliable, and of course, stylish. I don’t really know much about engine displacement, dipsticks or fenders; but I do know that fuel efficiency is important since I know how much I pay for gas, and something that isn’t easy or fun to drive is a car I wouldn’t want.Speaking of style, it’s mostly the guys who like to trick out their prized vehicles. As the fairer sex, though I’d like my car to be stylish, I’d still want it to be practical, thank you very much.

So let me present to you a short list of cars in the Philippines that I think are easy on the eyes, perfect for a girls’ lifestyle, well-priced, and generously outfitted with the right amount of features – the cars I would recommend for Pinays. Continue reading Top 5 Cars for Pinays – by Pinay Auto Blogger

Thoughts on restoring the Mitsubishi “box-type” Lancer — a non-expert car review

Just last week, some friends asked me if restoring the box type Lancer would be worth it. One friend was particularly interested in giving a car like this to his “first-time-driver” son for his college commute. It got me thinking about my very first car which I got almost 20 years ago. Here’s my non-expert take on this “almost-classic” car.

Mitsubishi Lancer box type

Photo Credit: By VolkswagenKing28 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

The first car I ever bought was a 1986 Mitsubishi Lancer SL with manual transmission. I got it in 1994. At that time, it was a popular car. It was boxy and it was cool. During that time, a brand new Lancer EL cost P300,000. The then-8-year-old box-type was selling for P150,000. Continue reading Thoughts on restoring the Mitsubishi “box-type” Lancer — a non-expert car review

Test drive: Ford Everest 2nd Gen. 2007-2010 — a non-expert car review

I didn’t like the first generation Everest. To me, it was too much like a truck. Compared to the Pajero and Fortuner, the 1st Gen. Everest looked uninspired and quite dated. I somewhat get this feeling that around 10 years ago, Ford was just desperate to offer an SUV alternative cheaper than the Expedition or Explorer that they took the Ranger Pick-up and fused a campershell to make it resemble a wagon. The result was a “Sport Utility Vehicle” which was a lot more “Utility” and not really that “Sporty”.

Then came the 2nd Gen. Ford Everest. This one is a much better designed vehicle. Smooth, rounded where it counts, and still massive like a Ford SUV should. It still has a truck feel, but this truck is a fashionable one.

Ford Everest 2007 2010
Ford Everest 2007 to 2010. Copyright 2012

Being a “sedan” guy all my life, I found this vehicle initially hard to handle. Driving a car which is long, wide, and tall, I couldn’t see a good part of the road right in front of me; I can barely fit on the narrow side streets in Project 4, QC; and I am sure to scrape a pipe or the ceiling in many of the parking lots in the metro. And don’t even think of parking in Shangrila Edsa Plaza, Citibank Eastwood, or Rufino Tower — the side walls of the parking ramp will most likely be covered with your paint color before you get through. Honestly, for a while then, I was afraid that if I ever lose control of the vehicle, I would literally squash a few cars beneath me. But when i got the hang of it, it totally changed my view on SUV’s.

Continue reading Test drive: Ford Everest 2nd Gen. 2007-2010 — a non-expert car review

Test Drive: Nissan Grand Livina

The family has been looking into a car upgrade, especially with the kids growing fast, and our most recent addition. We recently had the chance to test drive the Nissan Grand Livina, which was delivered right at my doorstep by the folks from Nissan Mantrade.
Nissan Grand Livina

Creative Commons License photo credit: Auswandern Malaysia

What catches one’s attention most is the Livina’s tagline:

Drives like a sedan, you’ll forget it’s an MPV.

If you’re used to riding or driving MPVs like the Toyota Innova, Mitsubishi Adventure or the Isuzu Crosswind, you’ll be familiar with the less-than-soft ride, due to the body-on-frame construction. These MPVs are meant more for utility rather than comfort. And so, given the high center of gravity, and the fact that construction is body-on-frame, you would expect a harsher ride and a higher than usual level of body roll when riding an MPV. Not with the Grand Livina, though. As advertised, the ride is as car-like as you can get.

That’s the advantage of passenger sedans over most MPVs. The ride is comfortable, so even after extended rides (which is common with traffic in the metro areas today) you won’t feel too stressed and shaken. But the disadvantage with a passenger sedan is most definitely the limited seating and cargo space.

Enter the Nissan Grand Livina. It’s not your usual MPV. Because of its monocoque (or unibody) construction, road vibrations are not as pronounced as with MPVs with body-on-frame construction. Because of the low center of gravity, there’s less body roll. And unlike your usual passenger sedan, it can seat seven people comfortably. has a lengthier review here, but here are some notes from my experience driving the Livina.

Car-like ride and comfort. From my experience with the family in test driving the 1.8 Liter XL “Luxury” model with automatic transmission, the ride is most definitely car-like. The Grand Livina’s suspension absorbed bumps and humps as if these were non-existent. The air conditioning system was also arctic-cold as with most Nissan cars–the Grand Livina has air-conditioning vents at the second row, and not just the front.

Third row and cargo space. Two folks from Nissan accompanied us during the test drive, so our early grade-school-aged kids had to be relegated to the third row. They were most comfortably seated, and they definitely enjoyed having their own space at the back. I doubt, though, if two adult-sized individuals would enjoy being seated at the back for extended periods of time due to the limited legroom, which is a bit short, but still serviceable. The width of the third row is a bit narrower than the second row, owing to the fact that the sides contain humps where the rear wheel wells are.

I would think, though, that there is a tradeoff between the third row and cargo space. The “trunk” space is a bit limited if you’re using the third row. With the third row folded down, you have ample space for your golf bags, strollers, luggage or groceries. But with the seats in use, you’d have to stack your cargo on top of each other (as recommended by the Nissan sales manager who demoed the unit to us). However, it’s still good to have the option of space vs. seating capacity.

Driveability. The Grand Livina feels light and nimble. You don’t feel as if you’re driving a truck, as with SUVs and some MPVs. The electric power steering is feather-light, and excellent for city driving. What worries me, though, is if one intends to use the Grand Livina for hauling light cargo, or for wading through flooded streets (another common occurrence in many areas in Metro Manila). You don’t have the ground clearance like the Crosswind, Adventure or even the Innova. And you don’t get a diesel option, which can stand flooding better.

Value for money. The Nissan Grand Livina defintely offers value for money. It offers a comfortable ride, and flexibility just when you need it. My only concern would be resale value five years down the road. In this country, only Honda and Toyota cars (as far as I know) enjoy high resale values, mostly because of reliability, ease of maintenance and low cost of parts (with a lot of aftermarket parts available).

I’m not so sure if the Nissan Grand Livina will enjoy this, as well. But if you’re going to enjoy your ride every day for the next few years, then I don’t think “resale” should be a concern at point of purchase.

At the end of our test drive, my kids and wife missed the ride. Even my four-month-old sonwas squealing in delight, seated with the wife at the second row. The Nissan Grand Livina is a good fit for a growing family that needs space, space and more space.

Prices for the Grand Livina are almost at direct competition with most of its MPV counterparts from other brands:

  • PhP 858,000 for the 1.8L XL M/T ELITE
  • PhP 908,000 for the 1.8L XR A/T LUXURY
  • PhP 978,000 for the 1.8L XV A/T ELEGANCE

For inquiries or test-drive requests, you may get in touch with Mr. Elmar Malabriga of Nissan Mantrade at (632) 843-3316 to 23, or email at nissan_mantrade at

Test drive a Ford and Get a Chance to Win a Focus

I’ve been on the hunt for great car deals lately, and when I saw and ad on the newspapers for the Ford Buy One, Drive One, Win One promo, I thought this would be a good opportunity to check out Ford’s offerings. The family had been eyeing a bigger car for a few years now (we’re ever growing!) and one of the nicer options we’ve been looking into is the Ford Everest.

And so the family headed over to Ford EDSA to test drive the Everest. Of course a test drive wouldn’t be complete without the whole family. We needed to see if we’d all fit! Sure, it’s just the wife, the two grade-schoolers, the baby and myself. But you never know how much space you need.

Ford Everest

Ford Everest

We test drove the 4×2 AT variant. I’ve never actually tried driving an automatic-transmission diesel-powered vehicle before, so this surely is a big change for me, coming from one used to a manual-transmission VVTi powered compact.

Perhaps we can leave the full review to the experts. My take: it’s a comfortable ride, especially given the supposed tuning/upgrade the Ford engineers did with this edition. The previous Everest models were said to have stiff suspensions, but this one is more car-like. Folks used to driving cars would definitely need time adjusting to the high driving position. It makes one feel more confident, especially when driving alongside those darned city buses and trucks. In a few words, it’s tough, it’s stylish, and it’s spacious.

Ford Everest badge

Ford Everest cabin

The Everest costs about PhP 1.35 M for the entry-level manual variant and about PhP 1.44 M for the automatic variant. The quote given to me was for PhP 220,000 down payment, which is inclusive of LTO registration, one-year comprehensive insurance and chattel mortgage. This also includes a further PhP 60,000 discount, since 20% of the sticker price amounts to about PhP 280,000. Not bad!

Now I do hope I win that Ford Focus!