It has been a challenging year for the Philippine economy. Rising prices of goods, a weakening peso, alongside the newly implemented tax reform have affected consumers across all industries. For automobile manufacturers especially, an additional excise tax placed on top of existing car prices have challenged the industry to offer the best model lineups and deals to entice prospective buyers.

The industry has put its best foot forward this 2018, with cars that are powerful, efficient, reliable, and affordable. Here are, in no particular order, some of the best and most desirable of them.

Mazda 2 

The subcompact sedan Mazda 2 remains one of the most in demand cars under the P1-million mark in the country. The updated model is equipped with Mazda’s proprietary SKYACTIV with G-Vectoring Control that optimizes the car’s dynamics control for better ride comfort and stability. The technology gives the Mazda 2 a high compression ration to produce more torque and better responsiveness even at low revs.

The vehicle also sports the eye-catching KODO: Soul of Motion design that carries confidence wherever it goes. With improved fuel efficiency, uncompromised engine power, and enhanced safety measures, the Mazda 2 still lives up to its promises of an impressive driving experience on the road.

Suzuki Ciaz

The newest version of Suzuki’s Ciaz compact car model was designed to excel. Receiving a whole new look, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz seeks elegance by combining a driven sportiness with stylish, sophisticated flair. A lean and expansive exterior is complemented by the spacious, relaxing atmosphere of the interior cabin, with ergonomically designed seats that aim for comfort in both the front and the rear. In addition, an enhanced rigidity and tuned suspension, and reductions made to noise and vibrations make for a smooth and quiet experience for drivers and passengers.

The Suzuki Ciaz also pulls no punches with a refined K14B engine, which with the car’s aerodynamic and lightweight body, provide a certain dynamism and efficiency on the road. The combination of the suspension and rigid body provides a perfect fit that enhances driving stability and NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) performance.

Ford EcoSport

The popular street smart compact SUV from Ford returns with a refreshed design and improved performance, justifying its popularity with Filipinos everywhere. Comfort and convenience has also been enhanced for families. Every inch of the new EcoSport is designed for action, giving its drivers the energy and power to do more and move more freely. The sub-1.0L engine has been named the International Engine of the Year six times for its fuel economy and its capacity to deliver with the power you want on the road.

The EcoSport Titanium model also comes with a new 6-speed automatic transmission, giving drivers easy maneuverability and control for a unique, powerful driving experience.

Honda City

The Honda City, seeking to emulate advanced mobility, utilizes cutting-edge driving innovations and outstanding comfort features to retain its place as one of the most popular cars in the subcompact sedan segment. Designed with angular lines and sharp creases guarantee an aerodynamic driving experience with an effortless efficiency. Meanwhile, a cabin with generous space and ample storage can seat guests and valuables with ease.

The City is also equipped with the Euro-4 compliant 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine that, in combination with the variable valve timing and lift electronic control technology, optimizes responsiveness based on the driver’s instinct and intuition. The result is a spirited vehicle dynamic with impressive fuel economy to boot.

Toyota Vios

Among the most popular vehicle in the country, the Toyota Vios is one of its company’s most successful creations. The subcompact sedan, which has been in the market for more than a decade, has been driven and tested by thousands of drivers, and it still remains relevant to this day. Part of the reasons are Toyota’s unique 1.3 and 1.5 Dual VVTi engines that provide speed, responsiveness, reliability and impeccable fuel economy unlike any other. The Vios also comes with either a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission, alongside standard safety features like stability control, brake assist, and air bags.

The design of the updated Vios aims to provide pleasure in driving. Practical in design, simple in functionality, and spacious where it counts, the Toyota Vios is described as a “compact saloon” that sets a new standard for enjoyable and luxurious driving.

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai ends 2018 with a blast, launching the newest version of its Accent model. Designed with personality at the forefront, Accent’s radiator grille has been improved exclusively by installing the traditionally clean and refined style of the headlamps and rear combination lamps. The 1.6 CRDi diesel engine with VGT promises power, producing a maximum 136 ps at 4,000 rpm and 30.6 kg·m (DCT) torque at 1,750 — 2,500 rpm or 26.5 kg·m (MT) torque at 1,500 — 3,500 rpm.

The Accent’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) is developed to keep its optimal rpm when driving, and provides superb fuel efficiency, acceleration performance, and smooth driving experience. The 6-speed manual transmission, meanwhile, provides smooth, noiseless gearshifts thanks to a key and ball-type synchromesh, optimized gear tooth shape, and precision machining. There is also a 7-speed Double clutch transmission (DCT) available.

Mitsubishi Xpander

Phasing out its popular Adventure AUV this year, Mitsubishi has launched the new Xpander model with a cleaner 1.5L DOHC gasoline engine. This new engine comes with the signature Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) that can produce 105 hp and 141 Nm of torque, and can be paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.

The Xpander builds on Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield Design, producing a masculine, aggressive appearance with large bumper headlights and a skid plate. As a seven-seater MPV, the Xpander comes with the creature comforts expected from its class, with interior space that offers a luxurious and comfortable design. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran