Words and photos by Jose Carlo R. Sapera
 
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The first generation Nissan Murano arrived in the Philippines way back in 2006 via grey market importers. Powered by a 350Z-derived 3.5L V6, we thought of it as Nissan's very own sporty and classy crossover SUV -- it surely looked the part. Soon after, Nissan Motors Philippines Inc. (NMPI) got wind of this mighty SUV and began bringing it in themselves. But when it came to its successor, the Murano Z51, the local distribution switched over to Universal Motors Philippines (UMC), Nissan's local distributor of Light Commercial Vehicles. Technically, that shouldn't really change the buying and ownership experience, but we just wanted to get the word out. Now that we got that bit out of the way, we can start talking about the details.
 
This all-new 2011 Murano is based on Nissan's D-platform which it shares with the Teana. It has somewhat lost the old Murano's boy-racer appeal and now looks a lot more grown-up and sophisticated. Still, its unique futuristic styling makes it stand out from any crowd. So, does it still hold to its promise of being a classy crossover like before?
Words and photos by Eric Ayrton S. Soriano
 
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My first intimate encounter with a Hyundai occurred on the driver’s seat of its austere entry-level subcompact sedan last year. I wasn’t really impressed by the interior appointments of the Accent econo-car. That, plus Korean cars’ old reputation as cheaper but great-value alternatives to the Japanese mass-market brands, left me with modest expectations of the entire Hyundai lineup. 

Test-driving the Hyundai Veracruz and experiencing its remarkable fit, finish, and build quality in an opulent package was therefore quite a surprise to me. The more kilometers I logged on the seven-seater crossover, more of its stellar qualities shined through. It was like falling in love at first sight with your gorgeous blind date and later on discovering that she has great dancing, culinary, and athletic skills; a fantastic sense of humor; and a pure heart that nevertheless doesn’t keep her from turning on her naughty side. She may have a few imperfections such as a tad too much hair above her upper lip but you overlook those because like the Veracruz, all her other fine qualities outweigh these.
Words and photos by Eric Ayrton S. Soriano
 
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The Jeep Commander is not the typical American SUV your beloved high-ranking government official likes to glide through traffic with. Despite being a seven-seater, the Commander is not as hulking or imposing as the  Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban, which both dwarf the Commander. But what the Commander lacks in size, it makes up for with its off-roading might. 

Unlike Sarah Jessica Parker, the Commander begins to look a bit better the longer you stare at it. Then again, some of the world’s toughest SUVs such as the Land Rover Defender, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, and the AM Hummer put function before form too. The Commander’s taut proportions are quite purposeful as they lend it agility and nimbleness the Expedition and Suburban could only dream of when the going gets really rough.