Automotive

First Drive: Nissan Terra 4×4 SUV

It’s a powerful ride on- and off-road

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When we’re not reviewing the latest smartphones, cameras, or laptops, we go for long drives and that’s exactly what we did earlier this week as Nissan officially introduced its new vehicle.

Having been revealed in China earlier this year with slight differences in specs, Nissan chose the Philippines as the official venue to introduce its new Terra SUV to the ASEAN region.

Delegates were flown in for this two-day event and escorted straight to Clark, Pampanga. Here, the company set up an outdoor space to ensure the new mid-size SUV had a sizable area to play around in.

Terra up close

We had our first encounter with the Terra right after the launch was done. All five variants were there and as soon as the closing remarks were said, media representatives were lured to the vehicles like moths to a flame — only it didn’t burn us.

Although it takes a lot of cues from the Navara, you’ll know the DNA of the popular Patrol has been passed down to the Terra. Standing before it, you’ll be staring at its V-motion grille that has been a signature look of the company for quite a while now.

Boomerang-shaped LED headlamps with daytime running lights also made their way to the new Terra while wheel arches remain bulky just like its pickup sibling. The lamps at the rear are also as eye-catching as the ones in front.

Inside, the layout of the dashboard and its instrumentations are straight up similar to the Navara. I personally like the layout of the truck since it’s simple and I know exactly where to look. Although it might be for the exact same reasons that a potential buyer might get turned off.

The Terra seats seven people (unlike its Chinese counterpart). Now, if you’ve ever ridden on the last row of a seven-seater SUV before, you’re familiar with the effort it takes to flip over the second-row seats just to get in and out of the vehicle. Nissan made things easier with the use of a button right beside the driver. With one press, you can fold and tumble either side of the seats on the second row — no elbow grease needed.

The launch event in itself was already a treat, and though I already knew the second day will be an off-road test drive, I never thought it would be an experience to remember.

Highway cruising

My schedule dictated that I belonged to the last batch of media to drive the Terra off-road. And right before it was our turn, light rain started pouring in. As the rain died down a bit, a fleet of brown, muddy Terras with step boards covered in sand started rolling in to the hotel’s driveway.

We were all given the top variant 4×4 VL Terra with 7-speed AT and as soon as we got inside our designated SUVs, we were off for the trails.

From Clark, getting to the site is via the SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway), so we got to experience the Terra for some highway driving.

One thing everyone in the vehicle immediately noticed was how quiet the ride was. Nissan says they implemented a three-layer dampening system to keep the cabin as quiet as possible and it was evident — at least during the few hours of us riding in it.

Both the new Nissan Terra and Navara pickup share the same 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine at their cores. The Terra didn’t even break a sweat getting the needle up the speedometer. Stepping on the gas pedal increased the speed effortlessly to the point that I had to be extra aware to keep it within the speed limit.

We also got to try out some of the vehicle’s safety tech from the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite. Together with its Blind Spot Warning, changing lanes without flipping the signal light will activate its Lane Departure Warning through a series of beeps. These aren’t new features, but we appreciate these models all coming standard with bells and whistles.

Off-road adventure

After having our short drive on the highway, we finally reached our kick-off point for the day’s main adventure.

Aerial view of the site. Can you see the line of Terras?

The site is called Sapang Uwak – Delta V Circuit and is one of the more challenging trails that lead to Mount Pinatubo — an active stratovolcano in the northern Philippines.

We were no longer on paved roads, but we started the convoy on a relatively wide course which quickly escalated to a narrow crawl of uneven terrain. Slow and steady, we inched our way through the first stage. We also transitioned to 4WD and the SUV’s differential lock system was already put to use early on.

The Japanese company has some interesting tech up their sleeves and we’re already quite familiar with the Around View Monitor from when we were at Mt. Malasimbo. It once again proved useful during this trip. The trail was narrow enough for only one vehicle, and its Intelligent Rear View Monitor turned from a normal mirror into a display that shows up to four different angles when you need an extra “spotter” for common blind spots.

One view is through a back-facing camera just beside the third brake light. Nissan says this would help drivers see the rear better at night. There’s also a rear bumper view for backing up, and the Around View Monitor switches between a bird’s eye view of the Terra, as well as a closer view of the right front wheel to completely eliminate blind spots.

We eventually reached the lahar-covered riverbed which is what the area has been known for. In other words, it was when the real fun started.

Lahar, having the same consistency as sand, tends to easily sink big cars and is usually a challenge for off-roaders. There were also shallow bodies of water and huge, sharp rocks scattered along the way. The Terra didn’t back down or show signs of struggle as we followed the trail — no, not even once.

We spent about an hour blazing through valleys with short breaks only to change drivers and take photos. It’s quite impressive, really, since the Terras were taking on the trail like a full-fledged off-road vehicle while running only on factory-fresh stock tires.

One of the driving marshalls even added that we were all driving pre-release models and the batch for dealerships will arrive with slight improvements and tweaks.

Mind you, we were not just crawling throughout the course. The marshall gave me a green light to floor the pedal and I did exactly that during a stretch. Needless to say, the Terra took beatings like a proper SUV and without losing significant traction on the surface of lahar.

Another thing I loved about the Terra was that even in these kinds of bumpy drives, ride comfort was still top-notch thanks to the company offering a coil spring rear suspension system. It’s been the same experience with the Navara, so I wasn’t really surprised the Terra inherited this trait.

Thoughts on the way home

After an entire day of being driven by four groups of thrill-seeking media reps and pushing the vehicles to their limits, there’s simply no argument that the Nissan Terra is more than capable of tackling roads less traveled.

We only used it for a couple of hours and though it might not be enough to give a complete verdict, believe us when we say it has a smooth ride on- and off-road, a quiet cabin, power on tap, and is equipped with tech for safe and convenient drives.

Although, since it was lifted from a Navara, similarities are found inside and out. This could either be a good or a bad thing for prospective customers. Another thing is that out of the five variants, only one has a manual transmission and it’s found on the base 4×2 model. The lack of a 4×4 MT variant could potentially drive away off-road nuts that still prefer driving stick.

The Nissan Terra might be facing an uphill battle being late to the game and skipping on features like sunroof or a power tailgate, but it’s a vehicle that specializes in conquering challenging obstacles.

Automotive

LG debuts world’s first curved OLED for cars

Featured in 2021 Cadillac Escalade

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Pretty soon, smartphones and televisions won’t be the only place you’ll find OLED screens in. The automotive industry is slowly perfecting the OLED screen for everyone’s cars. In particular, LG is partnering with a few car makers for this endeavor.

Earlier this week, Cadillac has launched the 2021 Escalade. Aside from what’s under the hood, the iconic SUV debuts the industry’s first-ever use of a curved OLED screen in a car. The massive 38-inch display houses LG’s P-OLED Digital Cockpit Solution. The all-new software displays the vehicle information and infotainment system.

The display itself combines three separate P-OLED panels into one. The largest panel measures 16.9 inches.

LG is also boasting a new augmented reality-enabled navigation system and night vision. Presumably, the new features make driving friendlier for any road condition and driving time.

With the 2021 Escalade’s debut, LG dips its toe into the automotive display market. It predicts substantial market growth in the industry by 2023. The display company is also expected to debut a similar display in Mercedes Benz vehicles later this year.

SEE ALSO: LG withdraws from MWC 2020 due to Coronavirus outbreak

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My favorite pony made more fun

The thrill of rolling on a top-down ‘stang

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No doubt, the most powerful car I’ve driven for the past year is the Ford Mustang 5.0 GT and it never fails to impress. This adrenaline-inducing speed machine was made more enjoyable as it now comes as a convertible. In my book, nothing else screams “fun” like this American muscle car.

The styling of the current model stays true to its heritage with that massive vented hood that gives the car a masculine and bold look. It has its intimidating headlamps along with an aggressive grille, broad shoulder and beltlines, and the iconic triple lamp tail lights which we all recognize.

Yes, this car looks stunning, but what Mustang enthusiasts are really after is performance. Ford has managed to fine-tune the current model to near perfection. Significant improvements and changes to power, handling, and safety of the vehicle were also ensured.

The updated 5.0 Coyote V8 is now fitted with high-pressure direct injection, bigger intake and exhaust valves, and increased compression ratios (12:0:1) boosting power to 460hp and 569Nm of torque with redline increased to 7500rpm and now mated to a 10-speed gearbox.

The sound of the engine alone is exhilarating as all that V8 goodness rumble. The independent rear suspensions, along with improved dampers, make this car very agile and easy around the corners.

In addition, you now have customizable steering settings that can change the steering wheel’s responsiveness and stiffness with a push of a button.

Other notable updates are the obvious facelift, featuring a newly designed hood with a lower grille and headlamps, new front and rear bumper and fender design, a more aggressive rear redesign with quad-tip exhaust and a sportier rear diffuser standard across all GT models.

Full LED headlights, a new full 12 inch LCD digital instrument cluster, and a 10-inch infotainment system with a 12-speaker setup are also what awaits you. You can even customize each selectable drive mode and get a number of performance metrics straight from your instrument panel.

Safety features also got an update such as pre-collision emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.

The interior also stays true to Mustang’s styling cues with those classic circular air vents, brushed aluminum accents all around, and soft-touch plastic and leather trims. Front seats are fairly comfortable while the rear may be a bit cramped especially if you’re tall.

Let’s get down to the driving experience. As soon as you get on the driver’s seat, you kind of feel a connection with the car and it just gives you an extra confidence boost.

Turning on the engine was already an exhilarating experience for me. And when I took it to our favorite scenic road in Sierra Madre on Normal Mode, it felt surprisingly comfortable for a sports car.  It was smooth, quiet, and tame.

However, the whole car transforms completely once you set the driving mode to Sport+ Mode. It becomes a proper race car with power that just blows me away. We are talking 0-100 in under four seconds.

Throttle response is more sensitive while gear shifts are more delayed. And to top it all, drive it with the roof down and you will have the time of your life — I know I did.

A piece of advice though, try not to use its paddle shifters on Normal Mode. You downshift second gear using the paddle shifter and the car disapproves of your choices. It has a mind of its own and will immediately put you back into third gear making the maneuver super slow while simply making its engine grunt. It’s better to just floor it. And with the roof down, people will definitely remember your face, the guy in a Mustang who failed overtaking a Corolla.

Overall, the Mustang GT Convertible is probably one of the most fun cars I’ve driven. It can drive like a tame and normal vehicle and be as brutal as a race car.  Given the new updates, you are getting more tech for your money. Fuel economy is not the best, but people buying this car will probably not mind, given what this car has to offer.

If you’re only after the looks of the Mustang, probably get the Ecoboost variant for better fuel economy, but Mustang enthusiasts will definitely enjoy the 5.0 V8. In my opinion, this model is very much worth the upgrade from the 2015-2017 Mustang.

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Automotive

New Ford Ranger FX4 is an updated workhorse truck

Ford’s truck lineup offers a Ranger for everyone

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Ford Philippines has just introduced a new model for its already successful lineup of pickup trucks. Called the Ranger FX4, it exudes toughness with its bold design, work-ready performance, and smart technologies.

It also adds to the company’s Ranger portfolio making it the automotive company with the widest lineup of pickup trucks in the country with 13 available variants.

Ford Ranger FX4

The new FX4 still maintains the Ranger’s general appeal but it comes with unique 18-inch black alloy wheels, door handles, front and rear bumpers, and fresh fender features.

Decals along the lower doors and a 3D badge on its tailgate make sure that onlookers will know this is the updated model.

Stepping inside, you’ll be welcomed by Fx4-embossed leather seats, FX4-branded floor mats, and sporty dark environment highlighted by race red stitchings on the soft top instrument panel, center console, gear shifter, and door trims.

In terms of features, we know that Ford doesn’t skimp on the essentials. The new FX4 carries an infotainment system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on its 8-inch touchscreen display.

Powering the Ranger FX4 is the company’s 2.2-liter Duratorq diesel engine mated with a six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, producing 160PS of power and 385Nm of torque.

The new Ranger models are now available in Ford dealerships nationwide. Pricing is at PhP 1,256,000 for the 4×2 MT model and PhP 1,316,000 for the 4×2 AT variant.

They’re available in five colors — Absolute Black, Aluminum Metallic, Arctic White, Meteor Grey, and True Red.

An updated lineup of trucks

  • Aside from the new Ranger FX4, Ford Philippines is also introducing a series of enhancements and upgrades to its entire Ranger lineup.
  • Ranger XLS variants now come with a new 8-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Apple Carplay and Android Auto Capability. A new Ranger XLS Sport 4×2 A/T variant is added to the Ranger XLS products available to customers.
  • Ranger XLT variants also come with a new 8-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Apple Carplay and Android Auto Capability.
  • Ranger Wildtrak 4×2 variants now have a new wheel design and LED headlamps. The Wildtrak 4×4 also has a new wheel design, LED headlamps, camera-based Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection and high-mount USB feature to support various dashcam models.
  • Ranger Raptor now comes with a camera-based Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, high-mount USB, and LED headlamps.

Test drive Ford’s trucks for yourself

The launch of the Ranger FX4 also marks the official kick-off of the Ford Island Conquest event this year. The first leg of the experiential test drive will happen on January 24-26, 2020 from 9AM to 9PM at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds in Pasay City.

During the three-day event, customers have the chance to test drive the Ranger FX4 and other Ford vehicles on a specialized driving course that will showcase the vehicles’ best-in-class features and capabilities.

Customers also have the chance to avail of exclusive offers and deals when they purchase a Ford vehicle. This includes a PhP 10,000 outright cash discount and pick-a-prize cash discount of up to PhP 100,000 on top of existing promotions for the month. Over Ph 1.3 million worth of cash discounts and prizes are up for grabs during the Ford Island Conquest kick-off.

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