Not all SUVs are born equal—so to help you pick your ride wisely; we’re going to look at the top sports utility vehicle (SUV) models available in the Philippines.
Regardless of the worsening traffic conditions on Metro Manila roads, having a SUV in the Philippines can be advantageous. These vehicles perform excellently in any condition and they are ready for any challenge on the road.
Although they’re pricier than the more famous sedans and hatchbacks, the SUV is unparalleled in terms of performance, power, and comfort.
If you’re still in the market for a heightened ride, we’re here to give you some tips on how to pick the best SUV for you, what are the pros and cons of getting a unit from the said segment, and which among the SUVs in the Philippine market suit your needs best.
For our SUV picks, we chose units based on two factors: the most affordable ones and the most popular models in the Philippines.
Why should I buy an SUV?
SUVs aren’t just for politicians anymore. In the most recent years, the market has been flooded with a good variety of units as well as newer, more customer-friendly subsegments such as subcompact SUVs and crossovers.
To help you decide if an SUV is the vehicle model for you, we’ve covered some of the most common reasons why people who picked SUV’s found them a good investment.
1. To have a ride that can withstand flooding
In a country as flood prone as the Philippines, even light rains can cause water levels to riser and roads to become almost impassable. Your average family car or subcompact hatch may easily turn into a submarine during a flood, but not your trusted SUV.
To measure a vehicle’s flood-busting capabilities, you need to understand two factors that affect it: ground clearance, which is the distance between the base of the tire and the axle, and wading depth or the maximum water height a car can withstand with going inside sensitive components such as electronics, engine enclosure, and air intake.
On average, your typical sedan only has around 120 millimeters of ground clearance and its wading depth only a little over it due to its body style. Meanwhile, SUVs are specifically designed to have high ground clearance of at least 200 millimeters and a wading capacity of up to 800 millimeters due heightened suspension, large wheels, snorkel, and other features.
2. Space is king
If your job requires you to carry lots of items or equipment every day—in style, of course—then a sedan’s trunk or subcompact’s hatch is not enough for you. With an SUV, not only do you get bigger cargo space, but you can also configure your car’s space to suit your carrying needs.
For starters, SUVs have an average of 650 liters of boot space, which is more than enough for your needs. However, folding the rear bench will expand it further to more than twice its normal capacity. If length is all you need, then you can put down your truck’s rightmost seats (including the front passenger seat) for maximum carrying capacity.
Are you worried that your cargo may to heavy? Have faith in your car’s engine to do the heavy work. While some smaller SUVs have a minimum of 2.0-liter engine under their hood, more gigantic rides can have 6.2-liter V8 engines that can crank out at least 400 horsepower. That’s enough power to pull a mini dump truck with full load every day.
3. To own a people carrier
City cars like sedan and subcompacts are good for, well, city driving. If you own one, you can ferry up to five people without a hitch. However, those who have bigger families may tend to look at the SUV as their top vehicle choice for people transport—and we have a few good reasons why.
For starters, your midsize SUV can comfortably carry up to seven people with the 2-3-2 seating configuration. For full-size versions, the third row can accommodate up to three passengers, raising the seating capacity to eight people. A family of five can be comfortable with a midsize one and even carry enough cargo with them on the go.
Even compact SUVs have been trying to carry as much people as possible, with some units’ high-end trims offering a third-row seat as part of their package. Although it’s not as comfortable as the bigger ones, it can come in handy if you have kids on board.
4. Comfort, safety, and freedom
If features like performance or carrying capacity aren’t your priority, then there are other reasons why an SUV is a compelling drive for you.
For starters, SUVs offer higher ceilings and bigger legroom for their occupants, giving them a better onboard experience. If you have someone else driving and you want better seating amenities, you can convert middle seats into captain’s chairs for top-notch comfort—and leg rests. Who doesn’t want that?
For safety features, your typical SUV comes with all the features that can help your everyday driving secure: anti-lock braking system, airbags, and others. In addition, they also perform great during crash tests due to the distance between the impact and the front passengers being mitigated by the engine compartment. Other extra features that are offered to more top-spec brands include blind spot detectors, parking cameras, and other safety systems in place.
Finally, its ability to navigate any terrain offers the ultimate freedom wherever you go. Whether you want to do a weekend off-road challenge, or you just need to survive the hellish traffic in the country, the SUV is well-suited to do the task you need it to do.
The downsides of getting an SUV
Like everything else, SUVs are not perfect. Although they come with great advantages, some of their downsides might turn off potential buyers, especially if the latter outweighs the former. Since making decisions require you to also see the cons, here are some of the disadvantages you need to consider before deciding on an SUV:
1. They are expensive
Unlike smaller vehicles, you cannot own a brand-new mid-size SUV that is below the P1-million mark. For that amount, you can get compact variants and you can only snag one if you pay in cash.
2. They are heavy gas consumers
What makes city cars great is their fuel efficiency even during ¬a standstill traffic. SUVs, since they have bigger engines, do not have this advantage. There’s a reason why the term “gas guzzlers” is still latching on to the variant even with better technologies.
3. They cost more to insure
Even when they depreciate, SUVs tend to have a higher fair market value than other vehicles. Vehicles with higher price tag have a heftier insurance premium. And for those who carry more than five people—the standard number of passengers covered by the auto personal accident coverage—you need to also pay for the rest of the passengers to make sure everyone is covered.
4. There are risks inherent in their design
SUVs are pretty hard to maneuver. Couple that with a high center of gravity and trying to avoid crashing into something and you have the perfect recipe for a rollover. It may not be common but there’s a possibility it might happen to you.
What should I look for when buying an SUV?
It’s easy to get swayed by sales talk if you don’t know what you want from a vehicle. To help you become more discerning with your search for your dream SUV, we’ve prepared some questions you should ask yourself and your salesman:
- Size: Should I get a five-seater subcompact SUV? Compact? Midsize? Full-size?
- Seating: Do I need only five seats? Seven? Eight or nine? Maybe the captain’s chair?
- Cargo: Do I want a huge compartment size? Should the back seats fold to the floor? Am I fine with split design for the third-row seats?
- Drivetrain: Should I get a two-wheel drive? Four-wheel drive? Part time?
- Performance: Do I prefer fuel economy over power or the vice versa?
- Safety features: Am I fine with basic features? Or do I want top-tier safety protocols like forward collision warning, parking assist, and others?
- Other features: Do you want a more expensive trim with other features like sunroof, more stylish body kits, upgraded tires, more safety features?
Top SUVs by price
1. Mahindra Scorpio Floodbuster
The Mahindra Scorpio may seem like a loving throwback to 90’s SUVs. However, don’t let its outdated aesthetic fool you. Its 2.5-liter turbodiesel engine is more than enough to take you where you need to go. This rugged ride has a ground clearance of 180 millimeter and can seat up to nine passengers.
2. Suzuki Jimny
The Suzuki Jimny is well loved not only by the kids who grew up watching Shaider but it has a certain unbeatable charm that most modern SUVs cannot get correctly. Powered by a 1.5-liter K15B engine, this four-seater subcompact cutie can go through any punishing its driver wants.
3. MG ZS
MG’s subcompact SUV may not be as popular as other entries in the division but the SAIC-owned vehicle can go toe-to-toe with others. Underneath its hood is fuel-efficient 1.5-liter inline-four engine that is powerful enough to create a thrust of 114 horsepower and 150 Nm of torque.
4. Isuzu mu-X
Price: P1.286 million
Compared to its competitors in the midsize subsegment, the mu-X is the cheapest you can buy without compromising quality and style, it’s also great when you need to navigate a flooded area. The cheapest variant you can get is a no-frills version that is powered by a 2.5-liter 16-valve engine that has excellent durability and performance the brand is known for over the years.
5. Foton Toplander
Price: P1.388 million
What can the Toplander’s 2.8-liter turbocharged Cummins ISF engine can do? Not only that it can push out 161 horsepower from its core but it can also be a great hauler thanks to its three-ton towing capacity. Although it is basic, the Toplander can is a cheap alternative to more famous midsize SUVs.
Top SUVs by popularity
1. Mitsubishi Montero Sport
Price: Starts at P1.499 million
Despite being marred by controversy of the past few years, the Montero Sport still sells like hotcakes and is touted as one of the best SUVs in its segment. The third-generation version of the model has a more aggressive styling with its “Dynamic Shield” grille, with its chrome-coated details giving its sportier look over others. Other features included are blind spot warning system, hill start assist and descent control, eight airbags, and forward collision mitigation for top-spec models.
2. Nissan Terra
Price: Starts at P1.504 million
Although it is new to the party, the Terra doesn’t pull its punches in terms of features. This Nissan SUV borrows the same wide profile the Patrol and Navara are known for. Underneath its hood is a 2.5-liter engine that can propel your vehicle with 190 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. Although the basic model only comes in manual transmission, more expensive trims come in automatic transmission with manual mode.
3. Ford Everest
Price: Starts at P1.521 million
You might peg the Everest as a nice family SUV given its durability and prevalence in the city. However, you can still slug it out against the horrendous traffic and it can carry you easily through sudden rainy day floods. The base version is equipped with a 2.2-liter inline-four engine that can produce up to 160 horsepower. If you’re not satisfied with the Ambiente 2.2L 4×2 MT, you can get the top-spec line for P2.288 million.
4. Toyota Fortuner
Price: Starts at P1.597 million
The Fortuner has always been one of Toyota’s top-selling units ever since it came out—and for good reason. This all-around midsize SUV is everything you can ask for: a robust 2.4 or 2.8-liter engine, a powerful dashboard, comfortable interiors, and Toyota’s unmistakable styling. There’s a reason why the Fortuner still remains as king even when its prices go up.
5. Chevrolet Trailblazer
Price: Starts at P1.618 million
Unlike other SUVs within its category, the Trailblazer tries to get away from the whole “macho” image of bigger rides. Its more angular lines provide a sleeker contour, yet it has a commanding presence thanks to its 253-millimeter ground clearance. You can choose between the 2.5 and 2.8-liter variant and the latter comes in four trims.
Other Sources: Carmudi