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10 Best Cars for Under P1 Million

10 Best Cars for Under P1 Million

Who would have known that cars costing a million pesos are considered “affordable” in this day and age? It seems only yesterday that seven-figure price tags were the market of the well-heeled. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Fortunately, a million dollars today would still get you a nice piece of four-wheeled machine. That’s almost a revelation when not too long ago the best-selling Toyota – at least for a short time – was the Fortuner.

These days, for a million dollars, you can only get half a mid-sized SUV, which seems to be the dream car of most Filipinos. But with that same amount of money, you can still take home a winner of a car. Here are 10 examples, arranged alphabetically, that give maximum value for your million dollars.

Chery Tiggo 2 Pro
(P818,000)

The Chery Tiggo 2 Pro stands out as the country’s lowest-priced crossover with an automatic transmission. But that shouldn’t be enough to make it worthy of a listing in a 10 Best list. What would make it worthy – taking into account our P1 million price cap – includes high build quality, solid driving dynamics (acceleration, braking and handling), decent fuel economy and a fair number of comfort, convenience and safety features – all of which make the Tiggo 2 Pro offers with confidence. Throw in some handsome Euro-inspired styling and the industry’s best warranty – a whopping 10 years/1 million miles for the engine – and you’ve got a shoo-in to this list.

Geely Emgrand
(P753,000 – P999,000 for all 3 variants)

Geely Emgrand

Geely may be best known for its popular Coolray crossover, but it’s the brand’s sub-compact model, the Emgrand, that stands out above its weight. Significantly larger than many of its rivals, it looks almost as big and roomy as compact sedans. It bears a very strong resemblance to the three-class larger Volvo S90 full-size sedan. Best of all, three of the available variants slip below our 1 million peso ceiling – unlike some models with a scarce entry-level variant that will slip below 1 million, while the other variants climb all the way to P1.2 to 1.3 million.

Honda Brio
(P650,000 – P808,000 for all 4 variants)

Honda Brio

In the early 1990s, the small hatchback was the entry-level model. Today it still is, but with a huge difference from its now-old-school predecessors. The hatchbacks now offer more features than the luxury cars of just a few decades ago. Among the current crop of hatchbacks in our 1 million pesos price cap, the Honda Brio is easily the best. The overall build quality is excellent (for its price). The interior space is amazing (for its size). And the performance is absolutely delightful (for its size and price). Buying a Brio is in no way a compromise in comfort, performance and space. It really is a budget Mini Cooper. I have three grown children and am practically an empty nester; I’d get a Brio as a daily driver if I had extra cash lying around. The fantastic fuel economy is just the icing on the cake.

Hyundai Crete
(P998,000 for entry-level GL MT variant)

Hyundai Crete

I wanted to put the upcoming Hyundai Stargazer here. I’ve driven it and this new 7-seat sub-compact MPV, which starts at P998,000, is worthy of being included in this group. But it won’t be available for a few weeks. Which means the nod goes to the Hyundai Creta. Successor to Hyundai’s previous sub-compact crossover, the best-selling Kona, the Creta presents one of the most striking designs in its class (matched by larger-than-average 17-inch alloy wheels). It should be noted, however, that only the entry-level Creta GL with the manual transmission slips below our 1 million-peso ceiling. The cool features such as smart driver assistance functions, electronic parking brake, wireless charging and USB ports for the rear come with the higher-end variants reaching a height of 1.3 million pesos. But if you want a high-fashion crossover but have a million-peso budget, the Creta should make your shortlist.

Kia Stonic
(P835,000 – P990,000 for all 4 variants)

Kia Stonic

The fact that the Kia Stonic comes in four variants and all fit under $1 million is hugely impressive. It also has exterior styling that works in two ways: 1) it will resonate well with the younger set and 2) it will make the older set feel young again. The Stonic exudes the same atmosphere as a Mini Cooper: perky, lively and lively. For many, that’s enough, as long as it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which the Stonic has).

MG 5
(P658.888 – P938.888 for all 4 variants)

MG 5

The ZS crossover is what put MG on the map in the Philippine market, but it’s the MG 5 subcompact sedan that deserves a closer look. First, it’s quite large due to its sub-compact layout, giving it both extra road presence and cabin space. Second, it looks elegantly understated, almost like an Audi sedan. It doesn’t scream, “Look at me!” but it is this minimalism that keeps it looking fresh even many years later.

The front and rear LED lighting, the 360-degree camera, the huge 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 512 liter trunk, the power sunroof, the front/side/curtain airbags, the power driver’s seat and many more others.

Suzuki Ertiga
(P853,000 and P963,000 for the 2 MT variants)

Suzuki Ertiga

Did you know that of the nine Suzuki models, seven have a six-digit SRP? Only two exceed the one million peso mark. That made it a bit difficult to pick one for this list. But after looking at the roomy APV, the versatile Carry, the perky Celerio, the dependable Dzire, the cute S-Presso and the fun-to-drive Swift, my vote went to the best-selling and highly versatile Ertiga, a model that doesn’t introduction. It was – and still is – a benchmark in the subcompact 7 seater MPV market.

Mitsubishi L300
(starts at P813,000)

Mitsubishi L300

Here’s a vehicle that needs no introduction. The Mitsubishi L300 is the OG of this bunch. Heck, it’s the OG of ALL current car models, having been around in the form of Versa Van since the 80’s. The L300 as we know it today has been around for three decades and now has a clean and powerful 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine that meets the Euro IV standard and develops a strong torque of 200 Nm. Despite being a model old enough to be classified as ‘old school’, it is still one of Mitsubishi’s bestsellers – with over 200,000 units sold in its lengthy model run.

Nissan Almera
(P779.000 – P999.000 for 3 variants)

Nissan Almera

The previous Nissan Almera was one of the best cars in its class, with high build quality and refinement, a comfortable ride, a spacious interior and an economical engine. What it lacked was excitement in its ho-hum styling and in its lackluster driving dynamics.

Enter the new Almere. It has kept all its previous positives, but now also has much sharper and sportier styling and a much more exciting (but still more fuel-efficient) ride, thanks to a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that pumps out 160 Nm of torque (152 Nm for the CVT; the previous Almera had 134Nm). It also comes with a whole host of smart driver assistance features normally found in luxury sedans. All for a starting price of P779,000. The Almera comes in four variants; three out of four come in under P1 million. That’s a great value there.

Toyota Avanza
(P833,000 and P948,000 for the 2 1.3 MT variants)

Toyota Avanza

Easily the most improved player of the year, the all-new Avanza is the real swan (or silk wallet, depending on your literary reference). Eschewing the rough rear-wheel drive and stiff rear axle of the previous model (and its awkwardly long, narrow body profile), the new Avanza exudes a much more assertive and luxurious styling with a wider and longer body.

Still powered by 1.3- and 1.5-litre VVT-i inline-4 engines (but ditching the old 4-speed car in favor of a modern and much more fuel-efficient CVT), the Avanza suddenly shoots ahead in the sub-compact 7 seater MPV race. From a car you had to buy, the Avanza is now a car you want to buy. That’s a very big difference there.