Text: Raymond D. Young / Photos: Raymond D. Young | posted June 10, 2003 00:00
Toyota's AUV REVOlution
Backtracking to the late 1990s, the then KF/LF 80 series Revo was already the perfect platform for Toyota's AUV Revolution. Possessing car-like virtues, it quickly won the hearts of numerous Filipinos, whether the purpose of its purchase would be for private or public use. Luxury cues were inculcated in the Revo in its first facelift (KF/LF/RZF 81), together with the introduction of a new engine line-up (1RZ-E) to face the competition. Variants that carried the new engine was the GSX, 2.0 Sport Runner and the then VX 200. In the late portion of its existence the limited edition "J" series was also added.
Now, after another facelift (KF/LF/RZF 82), the Philippines' most popular AUV gets better than ever. It's also set to win the hearts of another batch of Revo owners, which are mostly comprised of budding families and entrepreneurs.
Telltale signs of age withstanding, the slightly revised exterior is well endowed with attractive creases that will put a shar pei to shame, but they are all in the right places. Items like the chrome grill, bumper, side and rear claddings are primary culprits of the lined styling theme. Supporting components of the new design are revised headlights, taillights, and the subjectively criticized rear garnish. Functional styling cues include a nudge bar with chrome accent, door visors and roof rails.
But what really sets the VX 200 apart from the rest is what Toyota calls the "exclusive paint scheme", a unique two-tone paint in the middle of the sheet metal, instead of on the usual coordinates. Exclusive as they are, they also bring back fond memories of Yankee-wagon-toting dads of yesteryears.
New design 15" wheels are also another revision, although it seems that its chrome trim from its predecessor had just disappeared and went to the other areas of the car, such as the side mirrors, door handles, and the rain gutter. Nonetheless, the refreshing design of the Revo will win the hearts of all the members of the family, young and old alike.
Steering response is definitely a notch above as the Revo employs a rack and pinion steering system, which translates to a more direct feel of the road. It is also one of the lightest wheels to turn because of its power steering system, although at times the wheel may feel too light during high speeds. Well, of course, at triple-digit speeds it is a must to hold it with two hands. The Revo's small turning radius of 4.9 m is perfect at tight situations. The new steering wheel's size is a perfect fit to the Revo with regards to its size.
Initial driving impressions reveal that the brake pedal is a bit soft but not to the point of being too mushy. But this could be used to one's advantage during driving, as it will be easier to modulate it so as to avoid seasick passengers. Pedal feel set aside, braking power is adept on normal road conditions.
The throaty 1RZ-E engine is not only grunt sound. Although engine figures are a little bit low compared to the competition, it really delivers especially in the low-end, where power is needed. Keeping the engine RPM between 1,500-2,000 rpm will bring out sufficient performance to pull this 1,505 kg. vehicle.
The double wishbone/leaf spring tandem is not too harsh in the typical Manila ride without compromising payload capacity. To say that the suspension setup is tuned for Philippine roads characterizes it. It also keeps the vehicle stable during high speeds. At times, body roll is noticeable but this is always a standard issue among utility vehicles.
The 4-speed automatic transmission with ECT and overdrive function makes driving a breeze, especially in stop-and-go traffic. As with Toyota automatic transmission units, shift shock events are tolerable and engine speed drop during shifting is minimal. Accelerator pedal pressure input is always a variable for the automatic transmission, so there's no fear of missed downshifts during overtaking or uphill spells.
Those who are accustomed to the bland, traditional interior of AUVs will be surprised upon boarding the VX 200. But before the eye could notice the new appointments, the distinct smell of leather greets every passenger.
At first glance, the metal trims for the air-con vents and center console breaks the myriad of black plastic and complements the loaded exterior fascia. Noticeable also is the new leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel (thank God it's not beige also) with the Toyota logo and the large-fonted gauge cluster. All-round molded door inserts complement the plush beige leather upholstery, although some may prefer that door courtesy lights be included to complete the handsome interior package.
The Revo VX 200 is home to the most car-like seating position among all AUVs. Probably it's one fact that lured owners into buying one and will endear this car to the socially conscious Filipino. The seating position allows the driver to see more of the road ahead; for the vertically challenged (like this writer) it means turning the height-adjustable driver's seat knob all the way up.
Interior versatility is raised another ante with the incorporation of sliding and reclining seats for the second row passengers. Still present are the split/fold-and-tumble seats just in case cargo gets in the way. After all, will an AUV be one without the versatility factor? For those always on the go, cup holders embedded on the front center armrest are welcome news. It could also double as a cell phone holder, if one it not comfortable placing it on the door assist grip. On the other hand, as with other Toyota's, the Revo has improved NVH figures, which is great for an egalitarian, mass-market vehicle.
Wait, where did the parking brake go? Where's the Pull and Turn lever? Hush, it's still down on the floor, but on the driver's right side. One need not bend down anymore to grasp a lever; it is now within the right hand's reach.
Looking more closely at the dual air-conditioning system of the Revo, this is by far the best setup among all other AUVs. The vents are located at the area where there's less heat, thus enhancing cooling capacity even more. Vent count is also raised to 6 as compared with the old design's 4. Incorporating a single-direction output design, as compared to the old's two-way output design, also eliminates "cooling split" between the second and last row passenger area.
An on-board VCD system and Kenwood 2-DIN 3-in-1 radio/cassette/CD combo are standard equipment on the Revo VX 200. The tech-savvy ones, meanwhile, could have their laptops or mobile phones powered through the auxiliary outlet located at the left rearmost part; to reach it an adapter with a long cable is needed.
In addition to the crumple zone and childproof locks, the Revo VX 200 is equipped with a back-up sensor to avoid unexpected brushes with unseen obstructions when going in reverse. The new design headlights provide excellent road illumination with the new multi-reflector design as assisted by the now bumper level fog lamps. Multi-reflector taillights and a high mount, third brake light help convey more Lumens to would-be tailgaters.
With a whopping fifteen variants to choose from, the Toyota Revo is crafted to cater to the needs of every Filipino, whether it be for private or public conveyance. Those wanting a vehicle with luxury trims but cannot sacrifice people moving or carrying capacity may venture with the VX 200 or the Sport Runner variant. For those wanting the 2.0-liter 1RZ-E power plant sans optional equipment may want to consider the GSX. Those inclined to tradition and basic utility and people hauling routines may want to consider the Spartan DLX, GL and GLX are also available, with the DLX now sporting multi-reflector headlights. Oil motor buffs are not left out because the Toyota Revo also has a diesel engine option (2L) for the DLX, GL, GLX, and Sport Runner trims.
After summing up all the features that the Toyota Revo could offer, is this really an AUV? Find out by taking a peek at the nearest Toyota dealer.