For those who have money to spare, buying a car has become a priority even if it means driving in Manila means “getting stuck in traffic until the wee hours of the morning,” because having your own car still has its merits. Okay now, don’t throw words at me and say, “Sure, add more cars on the road for Carmageddon!” I’m just saying, if anyone can get a new car they would. The smell of new leather, the lure of going on road trips with family and friends, the freedom of getting somewhere at your convenience, the privilege of taking your date in a swanky new car or, if you’re like me – the joy of singing Backstreet Boys (or Spice Girls) songs behind the wheel and no one is screaming for me to stop.
If you follow my column you’ve probably read about my love and hate affair with a Ford branch dealership. This time, I’m not ranting about that establishment (that’s a different episode altogether) but talking about the joy of driving and owning a Ford SUV. It’s funny because I know nothing about cars, but I love a hot looking car and in a recent media fun drive I got behind the wheels of Ford’s latest SUV lineup.
As a proud owner of a Ford Ecosport (which I named “Snow”), I’ve broken in and tested my compact SUV for more than half the year. Flooding has always been my problem in Makati (or you can say the entire Metro Manila) and choosing the Ecosport was an easy decision. Its selling point: “It wades through flood.” They had me at the word “flood”! If you’re a city driver and your usual route is home and work, the compact-sized Ecosport might be your best partner in wading through flood and navigating the maze of traffic. Very easy to drive, and the size doesn’t make you feel like you can kill anything on the road without seeing it. For an entry level SUV, you get the tech for higher end cars – Smart Keyless Entry, rear parking sensors, SYNC technology that makes calling, playing music, or listening to your text messages hands-free (It felt weird the first time I talked to my car and it answered back – I felt like I had my own Herbie). Though it’s cute, compact and lovable, I have a few problems with it, like the engine, which has a hard time revving up to higher slopes, and changing to a faster gear because the engine is the same as a Fiesta, and with the Ecosport’s bigger body, it has a heavier pull. There’s also a blind spot on the left and ride side of the windshield and I sometimes miss the roof grip grab handle near the door that I use to pull myself up when I’m wearing a dress. But other than that, I love my car. The best part is it doesn’t guzzle up gas; a full tank costs P2200 and one time I was able to bring it from Makati to Nueva Ecija (4-5 hours drive) then to Dingalan (1-1.5 hour drive depending on traffic) and back to Makati – and I still had gas to drive around the next day after I got home, imagine that!
During the Ford #GoFurther drive, they made us try the new Escape, and boy, I was in love again! I wanted to trade in my white Ecosport for the sleek black Escape. Better engine, same technology, but more refined than my good old “Snow.” Oh, did I mention that I screamed when I saw the eyeglass compartment? Yep! The things I look for in a car, right? “Now it can hold my huge shades!” – and they all laughed at me. It runs so smooth I forgot I was behind the wheel as I talked endlessly while driving. I told my driver about it afterwards and he’s now forcing me to exchange the car. Really, kuya – maybe you can help with the mortgage. Then that head-turner Everest, a facelift from the last model, what a sexy car to use for offroad driving or road trips on holidays. Big enough for slopes, strong enough to pull extra carriage. And the sunroof extends to the backseat. My nephews would go crazy on that during road trips. I may not know much about cars but I think the suspension could use a little bit more isolation from road bumps and vibrations (just so I can sleep better at the back during long drives).
The last leg of the drive is a chauffer-driven ride with a Ford Explorer Sport and an Expedition. Huge cars for going down in heels and a dress but it makes you feel like a million bucks when you arrive in that sweet ride. It was raining a bit that night so traffic was a little congested. We got the Explorer and our driver said, “Naku sana walang baha,” and I answered, “Kuya so what? We have a huge expensive car, who cares if the road is flooded? You can drive through it!” And yes you can, the safety features is one to highlight – an Adaptive Cruise Control, Terrain Management System, Collision Warning with Brake Support, (that freak you out every time it beeps so you can be more careful), Speed Controls, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and an industry-first Rear Inflatable Seatbelts.
Today is the best time to test-drive those cars. if I had money I would buy the premium lines off the bat. But for now, a girl can dream, right? For the others, there’s no reason not to go further if you can.