I’m pretty sure the off-roaders among us already have a knack for handling SUV’s, so it was a welcomed experience to be in their element. The question now is: Do these SUV’s live up to their Herculean reputations?
Niky Tamayo, Bigbigcar.com Road Test Editor: 2011 Ford Explorer AWD Limited
The Ford Explorer is worlds better than the old car. Ford’s comprehensive new AdvanceTrac system effectively neuters oversteer and understeer at the limits of adhesion utilizing Ford’s signature rat-a-tat-tat ABS system. In the most aggressive off-road mode, the suspension relaxes to give you more wheel articulation. In “normal” mode, it stiffens up, allowing the Explorer to corner sharper than you expect a 2.2 ton tank to. Like a tank, it’s solid, unflappable, and has a tiny windscreen. The minor controls and the Microsoft Sync interface approach military-grade levels of complexity, as well, but in a world where people equate i-Drive with luxury, that’s about par for the course. Though with that fantastic interior, dual sunroofs, power everything, a sporty V6, and nifty chrome rims for less than P2.5 million, I can put up with a little control frustration.
Christopher Kho, Kotse.com Editor-in-Chief: 2011 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GTV
With the latest Montero Sport edition, Mitsubishi made the second best-selling car in the Philippines even better. Though the 3.2L Di-D engine has been replaced with a smaller 2.5L powerplant with Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT), the new 4D56 diesel actually puts out more power and torque than its predecessor. The GTV also now has a 5-speed automatic gearbox and a new multifunction touch screen multimedia system. The Montero Sport still is the bang-for-the-buck SUV that we've all grown to love. It rides well, looks good, and sits five (plus two children at the third row) in comfort. Mitsubishi hasn't touched its winning formula so I wouldn't be surprised if it wins the Mid Size SUV category again this year.
Ferman Lao, Kotse.com Editorial Director: 2011 Toyota Fortuner 3.0L diesel 4x4 V A/T
The Toyota Fortuner's been around for a long time and for 2011 it's been gifted with a minor model change. This gives it a fresh face and a much-needed rear suspension upgrade. The new front fascia certainly works by giving the Fortuner a more up-to-date look, while the rear end treatment will be more of a “love it or hate it” scenario for most. The big news here is the ride. They've improved it enough from the previous version that you'd no longer need to opt for the TRD suspension upgrade option made available a couple years back. In fact, the new Fortuner's ride feels suspiciously like it now sports the TRD suspension. Good job Toyota!
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