The Search for the Best Family Car Ends with…

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I wasn’t really into cars because I feel it’s not something I need for every day but I realize now that it’s probably the right time to reconsider my car-less lifestyle. The fiance and I decided to finally get one in anticipation of building a family. My parents are also older now so they need a car to go places, so that’s another thing.

Right off the bat, we didn’t want a tiny car, we want a truck that can seat at least 6 peeps. Here in the province, it’s rare for people to get a cute car because there’s not a lot of space to move around during long drives. We prefer trucks and SUVs because they are roomy, sturdy, and they are made for rough terrain.

My first choice is a Chevy. We have our hearts set on the Trailblazer because it is a gorgeous truck and interiors are just as fabulous. I mean, look at that face:

tral

Unfortunately, the reviews are pretty bad. Although the 2017 Trailblazer is set to debut this September, rumor has it that it will sport the same 4-year old engine so performance is the same as with older models.

Our second choice was Ford Everest. The front isn’t as imposing as the Trailblazer’s but the interiors are luxurious. Our only gripe is the fuel efficiency. This thing is always thirsty so it will cost us more if we use it all the time and we don’t want that.

2.2-&-3.2-Titanium_0809,1

We “settled” for the Toyota Fortuner and I have to admit, I was not enthused at the idea. Everyone owns a Fortuner and I didn’t want to be just like everyone else. We went to our local dealer to check the *second model* to the top tier and was massively disappointed with the interiors.

We were surprised to learn that at PhP 1.5 million, the car does not offer leather seats, something that Ford and Chevy offer in their second-tier models. Chevy even threw in free leather seats for the base model. The Fortuner looked and felt cheap, which mystified us because this was not the base model. At that price point, we expected more. And it had this ugleh, shit-colored fabric accent that goes all the way to the inner sides of the car doors, which really made it ten times cheap-looking! Pic below:

toyota

That interior looks nice because it’s leather. Now imagine that in a neoprene-like material in the same color. Que horror. The cabin also looked dated because it had dark, wood-like enamel accent on the dash.

For those who are detail-oriented like me, the Fortuner is not intuitively designed. For one thing, I have issues with the lever that enable the back seats to fold down and up so people can get in and out the rear seats.

When you pull the level, watch out! The folding motion is very aggressive. I knew about the lever because I read a couple of reviews that mentioned it. Wanting to try it myself, I pulled said lever. Lawrd, the springs were extremely robust to a point where it’s scary to fold the seats.

The sales rep literally looked worried because he thought my hand got caught in there as the seat folded so viciously. I was startled myself!

fortunner rear

Speaking of rear seats, they don’t lie flat on the floor unlike the TrailBlazer and Everest. Instead, they fold to the sides, which let’s be honest, looks ugly as fuck (and dated). When the seats are folded, it blocks the view of the side windows as well. There has to be a more aesthetically-pleasing approach to get the rear seats out of the way that this.

Worst, the sales rep himself was urging us to go for the top tier model, which retails at PhP1.7 million, partly because the first model we checked was disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, as far as features and specs go, the first and second tier models are not that different. But the interiors on the cheaper one are just way too dated for us to ignore. If we were to get a Fortuner, we have no choice but get the more expensive one, which is way off our budget.

On the same day, we decided to pay our local Mitsubishi a visit. We’re not expecting much because the Montero model (AKA PAjero Sport) had troubling acceleration issues in the past and we had no plans of getting one. We dropped by to compare the Montero to the Fortuner. We didn’t expect to be wowed at all. Not one bit.

montero 1

The GLS Premium (second tier model) was a hundred times better looking than the Fortuner on the inside. The seats are covered with supple black leather. With sleek piano black and aluminum accents, the cabin looked straight up futuristic, hahaha! The more expensive variant comes with woodgrain accent, which I don’t care for.

montero 2

Inside, the Monty is pretty spacious, especially in the backseat. In the rear seat area, it can be a bit cramped for an adult taller than 5’4. I’m tiny so there’s ample leg room for me to get comfortable.

The Montero Sport also features a lever that folds the backseat up and then down to make way for rear seat passengers. But once the lever is pulled, the back seat folded smoothly, there was no fear of injuring yourself in the process! That’s how it’s done, Toyota, damn.

montero 3

The rear seats folds flush on the floor (more or less) so it doesn’t look too busy when it’s loaded with stuff:

montero5

In terms of fuel efficiency, the Montero is comparable to Fortuner, according to reviews (and I read a lot). Fortuner’s edge over Montero? The top tier model comes with a rear door that automatically opens and closes with a touch of a button. Plus, extra airbags for the driver’s knees and a more advanced control system. But all these features are a given when you’re gunning for the best model in the line.

Side by side, the cheaper version of the Fortuner pales in comparison with Mitsubishi’s second tier Montero Sport. I read comparison reviews on both models and Montero Sport always came on top. Our only gripe is that the driver size is a little cramped because of the wider console in the middle of the cabin. But this is not a deal breaker at all.

In the end, we went with our gut and chose Montero Sport AT GLS Premium in Mystic Blue (simply Sapphire or midnight blue, really). Still way off our budget but considering what we’re getting, the extra expense is well worth it. It helps that we know someone from the inside so we got a better deal.

Our new car should arrive this month so hopefully, in time for the wedding.

Tina Lee

Tina Lee-Almazar is a writer with an insatiable appetite for all things bright, shiny, and beautiful. She's a beauty junkie, a shopping connoisseur, a book collector, a purse addict, and a budding mom-tepreneur. Tina has a long-standing (and well-documented!) but one-sided love affair with cats. Special talents include: the ability to eat again an hour after eating, shopping at 3 different malls in 1 day, and taking a 3-hour power nap every day including weekends.

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Comments

  1. Hmm…great to know you got the Montero, despite the SUA issues. 🙂 Just a question, though: did you pay a small amount for the DP? My dad warned me about the affordable DPs for some models; maliit nga yung cash-out sa una, tatagain ka naman sa malaking monthly.

    • Hi Monching 🙂 I’d say we paid a decent amount for the DP on top of getting a great deal from the bank that financed the loan (BPI) to keep monthly costs down. I will say that, if you pay less and you get the premium model, maluluha ka sa monthly payments on top of the additional costs like insurance and so on.

      As for the SUA issue, I’m one of those folks who believe that SUA is caused by driver’s error, this after doing lots of research.

      The fact that the car owners were not demanding replacement after the incident hints that there were reasons why their Monties became out of control.

      Usually kasi, to repress bad publicity, brands would offer a replacement, free repairs and other incentives to make it go away. Ako nga nung nasira iPhone ko, mega demand ako ng replacement sa Apple (which I got, lol) because they knew my unit was defective.

      I believe di nag offer si Mistsu ng ganun without an investigation first. Cases against Mitsubishi were dropped after the investigation was completed. That says a lot.

      Of course, I’ve no idea what deal Mitsu made with those who complained but reading TopGear, their complaints have no merit because they likely stepped on the gas, not the brake (judging by the rear lights as the vehicle bucks) and maybe after the investigation, nahiya sila kaya inurong na lang ang kasi nalaman na mali naapakan nila, just personal speculation lang naman.

      Trailblazer and Isuzu have cases of SUA btw, but these never made the news. Tas wala ding ganyang issue sa same models abroad, dito lang sa Pinas, not even in neighboring countries like Thailand. O di ba haba ng explanation ko, lol.

      • Well, those are possible – especially pag A/T ang kotse (good thing I drive a manual and doon na rin natuto XD).

        In other countries, talagang total recall + refund ang ginagawa nila once there are defective units (as in the case of Toyota and the defective airbag scandal, in which nag-testify pa yung mismong CEO nila sa US Supreme Court.)

        Actually, may nabasa nga akong isang post sa TGP (Top Gear PH) about a Fortuner daw na nag-SUA…but apparently, nagtatali pala ng sapatos. Ginamit pang palusot ang SUA!

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