Ford updated the Explorer last year without much fanfare. The 2019 Ford Explorer available locally showcases a retooled front bumper and grille that is immediately noticeable and imbued with more oomph, heightened by stylish L-shaped fog lamps that replace the bland C-shaped unit found in the predecessor. Conventional slats replace the outgoing model’s honeycomb grille design. At the back, the Sport trim is given a more distinct look courtesy of quad-tip exhaust pipes.
Inside, the 2019 Explorer lies a dashboard stitched with leather inserts, giving the cabin a genuine plush feel. Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is ever-present, complete Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, linking to a Sony sound system with 12 speakers. Other noteworthy features include a dual panel moonroof, powered front seats, rear seat entertainment, 180-degree camera, and the nifty terrain management system (TMS).
The fact that it is made by one of the most reliable names in off-road tech makes the Explorer a worthy midsize SUV for a trek-loving family. It’s available in two trims: the Ford Explorer 3.5L V6 EcoBoost Sport AWD AT (PHP3,178,000) and Explorer 2.3L Limited EcoBoost AT (PHP2,798,000).
Should you feel that the Explorer is not for you, here are some of your best alternative options.
The two available variants of the Hyundai Santa Fe are powered by a 2.2-liter CRDi diesel engine the delivers 197hp and 442Nm of torque. This engine is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive being optional—although the latter doesn’t appear to be available locally.
The fascia of the 2019 Santa Fe is striking, starting from the slim LED headlights with dynamic bending function, to the wide grille, large bumper, and on to the LED fog lamps. Turning to the side, the vehicle is characterized by sharp lines, which gives it an overall crisp look; and who would miss those prominent wheel arches and stylish two-tone 19-inch alloy wheels? As for the rear, it comes with wrap-around LED taillights, spoiler, and a muscular bumper finished off with dual exhaust pipes.
Inside, the Santa Fe looks every bit as premium as its counter parts, which may convince many folks that its two-million-plus price tag is reasonable. Onlookers will enjoy the three-spoke steering wheel with audio/phone controls, leather seats, and power/electronic front seats, among others. The star of this SUV's interior is the tablet-like seven-inch infotainment system (with Apple Carplay or Android Auto) that's placed in the middle of the dashboard. The vehicle also has a seven-inch LCD instrument cluster and an electronic parking brake.
With the release of the Mazda CX-9’s 2020 model, the sleek SUV receives some key updates that elevate its premium feel, including a hands-free power liftgate, high-tech off-road traction assist button, second row captain's chairs, and i-Activsense safety suite.
The powertrain also receives a few notable updates, including a bit of tweak on the turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5T engine that now delivers a slight torque increase. Specifically, the new engine is capable of a 13.6Nm torque improvement over the outgoing model when 93 octane gasoline is used. The rest of the powertrain is made up of a 6-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission and Mazda's predictive i-Active all-wheel drive, available as standard on the top-of-the-line Signature trim and as option on all other trim levels.
A richer look permeates in the 2020 Mazda CX-9's better-appointed cabin, starting with the captain's chairs and on to the rest of the rows. Standard features have also been updated on all trims, with all CX-9s now sporting a power driver's seat (with lumbar support), heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto on/off/high-beam headlights and heated rearview mirrors.
The Land Cruiser Prado offers buyers with a choice between a 4.0-liter gasoline DOHC with Dual VVT-i (271hp, 381Nm)and 2.8-liter DOHC turbocharged diesel engine (201hp, 500Nm). For shifting, the Prado relies on a 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift feature. Both engines provide plenty of power for decent acceleration. Chassis support consists of a double wishbone independent at the front and a 4-link type at the back. These are enhanced by kinetic dynamic suspension system stabilizers.
Cabin-wise, premium is the first word that pops in your mind once you view the Land Cruiser Prado interior. Every seat designed to lull you into a heightened sense of relaxation. Leather upholstery, multiple accessory power outlets, dual auto climate control, and a hi-definition 6-speaker audio system give occupants plenty of opportunities to sit back and relax for the ride ahead.
Before the Montero Sport came to prominence, the Mitsubishi Pajero was the SUV nameplate most synonymous with the Three Diamond brand. Despite being outshined, the 2020 Mitsubishi Pajero remains a formidable off-road machine powered by a 3.2-liter in-line 16-valve turbocharged and intercooled VGT Di-diesel engine that churns out 189hp and 441Nm of torque. This engine is mated to a an INVECS-II 5-speed automatic with Sports Mode, aided by a Super Select four-wheel drive system that offers reliable off-road performance.
The latest Pajero’s cabin welcomes occupants with a new 6.9-inch touchscreen interface that links to a multi-media entertainment system with GPS navigation functions. Interior comfort is enhanced by the addition of power-adjustable seats (10-way for driver, 4-way for front passenger), rear aircon vents, audio/video jack, USB port, and genuine leather upholstery.
The Kia Sorento has entered its fourth generation in the global markets, but we don’t have that model yet. Instead, we still have the last of the third generation. Even if it’s an “old stock,” the 2019 Sorento model is a looker, so buyers probably won’t be disheartened by it.
A lone 2.2 CRDi Diesel engine that delivers 197hp and 441Nm of torque powers the two variants in the Sorento lineup, which includes a 4x2 and 4x4 unit. This engine—the same one installed in the Hyundai Santa Fe—is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic feature.
The Sorento interior reveals a spacious interior that can fit seven adults comfortably. Driver controls take on an intuitive and ergonomic design, with folding seats that provide ease of entry and exit for rear passengers, not to mention boost cargo storage immensely. Exuding an “elegant and comfortable functionality,” the roomy interior is made more welcome with comfortable seats and tasteful appointments such as a 7-inch infotainment screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, automatic climate control. Safety systems include electronic stability , hill start assist, and an advanced high strength steel body.
Photos from Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi