Usually, we recommend the best in the business in our listicles. However, there is a place for underdogs in the industry. Since the landscape of the Philippine automotive market is very competitive, it is easy for a lot of cars to get overshadowed by the bigger and more established brands.
So let’s shine the spotlight on some of the underrated models in the market today in a list.
While other more common models like the Honda Brio and the Toyota Wigo get all the attention, the Kia Picanto is actually one of the less common but better small hatchbacks out in the market. Equipped with either a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine or a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder, you get up to 83 hp with this model and 121 Nm of torque. On top of that, you get great build quality and a chassis that is very stable and planted even at highway speeds. You also get good sound insulation.
Engineered to take on the higher speeds of European highways, the Kia Picanto’s biggest and most valuable feature are its chassis and driving dynamics. On top of that, you also get some features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and to add icing on an already tasty cake, fuel economy isn’t half bad at 12 km/L in the city and 25 km/L on the highway.
Now here is another car that isn’t really talked about. The Suzuki XL7 is often overshadowed by its more successful brother the Suzuki Ertiga, but it is by far the better option between the two. Equipped with a taller suspension setup resulting in a 200 mm ground clearance figure, the XL7 is nearly as tall as your regular SUV, but it has the unibody chassis that makes it more comfortable.
It does cost more than the Ertiga, but for about P100,000, you get enhanced looks, better features, and the same stellar fuel economy. In an XL7, you can expect to do better than some subcompact vehicles that are lighter and have the same amount of displacement. In the city, expect to do 9 km/L, then once you get on the highway, you get up to 20 km/L which is even better than some diesel SUVs.
While it is from a very hyped-up brand in the Philippines, the Azkarra is an uncommon choice for the discerning shopper, mainly because it is overshadowed by the Geely Coolray’s hype and features, as well as the Okavango’s big size and exceptional value for money. All Geely vehicles are equipped with the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that’s mated to a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT), however, the Azkarra has two powertrain options, the gasoline-only variant, and the 48V EMS mild-hybrid variant.
While you may find that the Azkarra is a bit on the expensive side topping out at P1,598,000. It’s a little expensive, however, if you are specifically looking for a hybrid vehicle, at around P1,600,000, you will end up with a sedan with a rather bland interior. At least in Geely’s case, they know how to make you feel special while you’re in the car. In terms of charm and sophistication for the price that it commands, the Azkarra is a bargain. Blindfold someone, don’t tell them it’s a Geely, and they might even think it’s a Volvo, which it kinda is.
Chery Tiggo 8
Whenever you think of 7-seaters, you might think of the Toyota Innova, or the Toyota Rush, or even a Mitsubishi Xpander. Either way, all those models are MPVs and aren’t nearly as plush or as comfortable as a crossover. However, given how much a 7-seater crossover costs, affordable models are few and far between.
One of, if not, the most affordable midsize crossover in the Philippines is the Chery Tiggo 8. A 7-seater with a unibody chassis and a fully-independent suspension, the Tiggo 8 also comes with enough features to keep your drive from being too basic, as well as a good amount of space for all your passengers. You can also expect good aftersales services and assurance thanks to Chery’s 3-year service plan, 5-year or 100,000 km general vehicle warranty, and 10-year or 1,000,000 km powertrain warranty. On top of that, it only costs P1,280,000 for the base model that’s already plenty-equipped or the top of the line that costs P1,340,000.
The Ayala Corporation has a lot of brands under its belt, and with a lot of marques in its portfolio, it’s easy to overlook a few diamonds in the rough or so the saying goes. In the Maxus lineup, the Maxus G50 is literally overshadowed by the rest of the bigger models in the lineup. The V80 alone could cast a shadow that engulfs the G50, but in terms of value for money and features for a passenger car, the G50 is worth considering.
It’s not a 7-seater, but an 8-seater, It looks like a van, but it’s an MPV with a suspension that is pretty comfortable and NVH insulation which is top-notch. These traits are unexpected in a car that costs P1088,000 for its base model and P1,288,000 for its top of the line model. It comes with all the high-end trimmings that you can expect from a crossover from a Japanese brand and more, but for a price that is more accessible than most. On top of that, you’re getting a turbocharged engine for the same amount that a Japanese manufacturer would bill you for a naturally-aspirated gasoline engine.