Which cars stood out best in different categories this year?
2022 can be well and truly said as the year when things have started to go back to normal. Schools have begun holding face-to-face classes, employees were asked to report back to their respective offices, and thankfully, the low daily cases and positivity rates meant we were able to enjoy our holidays and gatherings without having the need to wear face masks.
While the high fuel costs, the war in Europe, and the accompanying rise in prices of commodities were not what the doctor ordered, this year has been the closest by far to the pre-pandemic years. The same can be said in the automotive industry, as we saw the return of major car shows like PIMS and MIAS that added to the countless physical launches and media drives we've covered.
There was no stopping car manufacturers from bringing in new model offerings, as consumer demand for vehicles continued to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Industry players remain confident of exceeding their sales forecasts for the year, and that is despite having issues with vehicle supply caused by the global chip shortage and continued lockdowns in other countries.
With that said, it's time to choose which models stood out above the rest with our Editors' Picks for 2022. But this year though, we're mixing it up and doing it differently from our past editions of the Editors' Choice awards.
A lot of new models have been introduced this year, and we've decided to award them based on the 7 categories that we came up with. Like our past editions of the Editors' Picks, the ground rules for this year are that the list should only include vehicles launched in the country in 2022, plus we should have already tested and reviewed the model.
And for our overall winner this year, we pick which vehicle launched this year had the most significant impact on the automotive industry. With that said, let's get to it. Shall we?
Editors' Pick - Electrified Drive
Winner: Audi 55 e-tron
The first award we have is the Electrified Drive. As we all know, a lot of electrified models from mainstream car manufacturers have entered the market this year, and most of those were shown at the 2022 Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) and the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit.
While the country is still on its way to having sufficient infrastructure for EVs, the EVIDA law has been passed to popularize the use of these vehicles. As such, we decided to pick which electric vehicle in the market impressed us the most, and at the same time offers customers a close to a seamless transition from combustion to electric power.
With those criteria laid out, we voted the Audi 55 e-tron for the electrified drive award. The BMW iX may have impressed us with its aesthetics and its curb appeal, but the Audi 55 e-tron edged it out as it was the EV that better exhibited an air of familiarity, or the more user-friendly of the two; something we consider as an important factor when shifting to EVs.
Editors' Pick - For The Family
Winners: Toyota Avanza & Veloz
From compact MPVs to pick-up passenger vehicles (PPVs) and even minivans. the 7-seater craze is very much alive and kicking in the Philippine market. And because of that, this was the award where we had the most candidates, and had the most difficulty declaring who the winner is.
A lot of 7-seaters had the potential to win, but we believe the Toyota Avanza / Veloz is the most worthy of the For The Family award. Toyota may be trying to separate the two, but really they are inextricably linked.
It's just as well because if considered together, the Avanza and Veloz give the customer a wide range of flexibility in terms of pricing and features. Ranging from PHP 833,000 in the base Avanza to PHP 1.265 million for the top-spec Veloz, Toyota was able to pull off a price point that gave the Avanza/Veloz a wider appeal to more customers wanting to have their own seven-seater family vehicle.
Editors' Pick - Adventure Vehicle
Winner: Ford Ranger Wildtrak
Now that we've made it out of quarantines and forced isolations, more and more people are exploring the outdoors to get away from the concrete jungle. Thus, overlanding has become a popular recreation in the country, which led to 4x4 setups with awning tents and camping gear becoming a common sight on Philippine roads.
When it comes to selecting the best adventure vehicle, however, we laid out some important things to consider: off-road tech, functional features, versatility, and aftermarket support. And upon running down the candidates for this award, we decided to give it to the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4.
The reason behind this is that the significant changes made to the Wildtrak made it more capable off-road, as a utility truck, and as a daily driver. Ford added some well-thought-out features such as the C-clamp pockets, power outlets, and rear box steps that added to its functionality.
Its PPV counterpart, the Ford Everest, was also impressive in its own right with its tech features, but we kinda already expected Ford to level up its premium features. In addition, the Jeep Gladiator Overland offered a lot of aftermarket support and its inherited go-anywhere capabilities, but overall we think the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 is the more attainable one, the more well-rounded, and ticks most of the boxes that you need for an adventure vehicle.
Editors' Pick - Smiles Per Gallon
Winners: Subaru BRZ & Toyota GR86
Our next category is the Smiles Per Gallon award. And as the name suggests, we give it to the car that left us smiling with the way it drives. Fuel economy is not being considered here; it's more about delivering the best overall experience behind the wheel.
We would have considered the Subaru WRX in this award, but unfortunately, we weren't able to review it for the year. And even if we did, one car still stood out with the way it was improved over its previous-generation model, and that's the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86.
We decided to award both since technically, they're the ToyoBaru twins from Gunma. It's really difficult to extract the different driving characteristics of the two unless you really push both cars hard. But really, you don't need to push both cars to experience the effect that the bigger engine made on the chassis.
The 2.4-liter unit made both cars livelier; you no longer have to rev it as high to do some sideways action. Its interior and exterior changes have also been a step forward from its previous model in terms of quality and aesthetics. That said, the BRZ/GR86 deserves our Smiles Per Gallon award.
Editors' Pick - Best Value for PHP 999k Max
Winner: Geely Emgrand
Due to inflation, fluctuating exchange rates, and all that sort of stuff, it's increasingly harder to find great brand-new cars for less than a million. And when you do, usually you won't get much of the features you want out of a car relative to the price point. This is why we want to give credit to car manufacturers who manage to cram as many creature comforts and amount of tech without breaking the PHP 1-million range.
Our pick for this award goes to the Geely Emgrand. At exactly PHP 999,000 for the top-spec Premium variant, the Emgrand exhibited levels of refinement and tech that punches above its segment. We commend Geely for being able to offer some premium features like a sunroof, cruise control, full leather seats, and soft-touch panels at a price point that was originally believed to only possess the bare essentials.
We also considered the Raize and its 1.2 G CVT variant which comes in at PHP 926,000. Having tested both examples, we believe the Raize is a solid subcompact crossover that Toyota came up with, and brought it closer to buyers who would want to have a vehicle with SUV styling. However, the ride refinement, quality, plus fit and finish of the Emgrand won us over.
Editors' Pick - Best Value for PHP 1.499M Max
Winner: Hyundai Stargazer
In terms of vehicle pricing, we consider the PHP 1.4 to 1.5-million range as the median, or the price range that strikes a good balance between having the latest intelligent features, a capable powertrain, and solid build quality. We can see it in the variety of choices that make this price range one of the most popular and competitive in the market today.
The Changan CS55 Plus is one of the vehicles in this category that wowed us with its powerful engine and the amount of tech it is packing. In addition, the Kicks in its VE variant also stood out in this price range due to its EV-like driving manners. However, what we really consider the most promising in this category is none other than the Hyundai Stargazer.
Hyundai made the most of coming late to the 7-seater MPV party to engineer the Stargazer well while offering features that go well above its intended market. We like the consistency of the panel gaps, the way the seats fold, its cab-forward design, and its futuristic design; that makes it the winner for the best value for PHP 1.499M max.
Editors' Pick - Car of the Year
Winner: Nissan Kicks e-Power
Out of over 20 new models introduced in the year 2022, it has come down to which car deserves the title of Car of the Year. And quite frankly, it was a unanimous vote – our AutoIndustriya.com Editors' Pick Car of the Year is none other than the Nissan Kicks e-Power.
With the industry moving towards electrified vehicles, the Kicks e-Power stood out as the model that could do what the Toyota Prius couldn't – and that is to bring hybrid technology to the masses. At an entry price of just over PHP 1.2 million, you're basically able to experience an EV-like driving experience without having to deal with the range anxiety that's normally associated with full EVs.
It breeds an air of familiarity with its ease of use, while at the same time showing how future electric vehicles would drive. For all intents and purposes, we see the Kicks e-Power as one of the vehicles that best represent the bridge that fills the gap between full combustion and full electric motoring.