Dependable rides

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Among the most sought-after  and, incontestably, the most essential — features in a vehicle are those that pertain to safety, comfort and reliability. Automobile manufacturers heedfully make sure that their four-wheeled offerings, from entry level to top of the line, are safer and much more enjoyable to drive than their predecessors.

But there are autos that are head and shoulders above most everything else in terms of the three abovementioned areas. Here are a few worth noting:

Honda Odyssey

The latest variants of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc.’s minivan are aimed at answering the need for luxurious and comfortable mobility. Introduced late last year, they offer interior flexibility.

The EX-V Navi variant has a customizable, seven-seater capacity (2-2-3) layout, a full-leather interior, black wood and silver trim panels, and a large armrest with center console. The EX variant, meanwhile, features an eight-seater capacity (2-3-3) layout with soft fabric seats, integrating a 60:40 split bench seat to accommodate three passengers in the second row. Both EX-V Navi and EX contain magic seats in the third row.

Smart entry with push start system is now a feature shared by the two variants (only EX-V Navi had it before). Aside from that, they both possess a seven-inch touchscreen display system with Bluetooth for hands-free telephone functionality and audio streaming. EX-V Navi, however, has added entertainment features like a nine-inch rear entertainment system with DVD and HDMI playback.

Safety-wise, the variants have lots of safety technologies — airbags, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, speed sensing auto door locks, and multi-view reverse camera, among others.

Mazda CX-3

The small sport utility vehicle offering of Mazda, which is distributed by Bermaz Auto Philippines, Inc., makes driving hassle-free with its active driving display (heads-up display), a screen that pops up above the main instrument pod that shows information like vehicle speed and more to keep the driver’s eyes on the road.

It also has a driver selection switch (sport switch) that changes the driver mode. When in sport mode, CX-3 responds better against accelerator operation. (Disengaging from the sport mode is recommended when traversing slippery roads).

The G-vectoring control of the CX-3 is another feature that helps with driving. It uses the engine to enhance chassis behavior, handing and riding comfort. Particularly, it varies engine torque based on steering input to control lateral and longitudinal acceleration and deceleration forces, optimizing the vertical load on each vehicle and improving traction.

CX-3 comes with an infotainment system that allows access to music, streaming apps, and social media platforms all from touchscreen located centrally, within the driver’s field of vision. There is also a voice command feature for menu switching and audio.

Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki Motors Corp.’s Vitara, which made its Philippine debut last year, is equipped with a number of advanced safety features. One of which is the electronic stability program that, after detecting wheel slip, takes control of the engine torque and brakes to suppress the slip and help the driver stay in directional control.

Another is the brake pedal release system; the structure to which the pedal brake is connected limits the pedal’s movement toward the driver in the event of a frontal impact. In the event that the SUV comes into contact with a pedestrian, there is the pedestrian protection feature; the bonnet, bumpers and other parts of the body have impact-absorbing structures that mitigate injuries.

Vitara is roomy; luggage space is 375 liters, and even when the rear seats are not folded, a golf bag for instance, can be stored. But for storing larger items, the rear seats can be folded.

To create additional space and height for storing tall luggage, the luggage board can be lowered to the floor. It can also be temporarily locked at an angle to access luggage and tools below the board without having to hold it.

Volkswagen Jetta

Jetta, a sedan offering of the official importer and distributor of Volkswagen cars in the country, Volkswagen Philippines, has two variants: Comfortline and Highline.

Some of the sedan’s entertainment features include the Fender Premium Audio System (available in Highline), a 400-watt system that delivers uncompromised sound quality in high, low and mid ranges. Each of the eight speakers is carefully situated to give the best listening experience possible.

For comfort, Climatronic air-conditioning system, which comes as standard in the Jetta Hybrid, allows temperature to be regulated separately on the driver and passenger sides. It also allows the blower speed to be automatically adjusted to reduce noise levels at lower driving speeds.

With the blind spot monitor, as soon as another vehicle enters a blind spot, the Jetta driver is warned of a potential hazard by a LED indicator in the wing mirror that blinks and becomes brighter. This optional feature operates at a speed that is at least 15 kilometers per hour.