Our job as motoring journalists often brings opportunities to help our less fortunate countrymen. Before the National Capital Region (NCR) was placed under the so-called “NCR Bubble” lockdown towards the end of March 2021 to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, we were tasked to chronicle Bridgestone Philippines’ donation of classrooms to the Talogtog-Bateng Elementary School in Mangaldan, Pangasinan through a series of video productions.
Since we will be travelling with our video team, we wanted to ensure that we maintained social distancing even inside our vehicle and determined that we need to go to Pangasinan in a passenger van. We called our friends from Maxus Philippines and asked if their 2021 Maxus V80 Comfort 13-passenger van was available for a weeklong test drive. Fortunately for us, the van was available and they were more than happy to lend us the van after we told them the purpose of our out-of-town drive.
Perfect Companion for Pandemic Travel
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wearing of face masks inside a vehicle, as well as keeping distance during the ride, has become the norm. Our white Maxus passenger has an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat and dual seat for two front passengers, with all three front occupants secured by 3-point seatbelts. Rear passengers get to choose over ten individual reclining seats with 2-point seatbelts distributed over three rows.
The large sliding door on the passenger side provides unimpeded entry into and exit from the van while an automatic retracting electric step board ensures easy access to and from the passenger compartment. There are sliding windows in the rear to let fresh air in but the front and rear air-conditioning system easily provides cooling comfort for all occupants. The seating arrangement of the V80 Comfort is more than optimal for our team to have a row for each person and maintain social distancing. While it may be a lonely way to travel with friends, we’d all rather not succumb to social pressure and watch out instead for the health and well-being of each other.
“It’s Not That Big, Honey…”
When we first took delivery of the V80 Comfort, we thought that it would be difficult to drive in tight quarters because of its size. While it is tall and a bit wide, it is not a long vehicle, measuring just under 5 meters in length. In fact, it still falls under the “Class 1” category at the toll ways. Maxus engineers simply created space by expanding upwards, which explains the van’s height of a little over two meters. Moreover, the 4-spoke steering wheel is connected to a hydraulic power steering system to make this van easy to drive anywhere, even in narrow streets.
Our drive from our base in Quezon City to our hotel in Calasiao, Pangasinan took a little over two and half hours with the front McPherson struts, rear leaf springs, and tall sidewalls of the 215/75R16 tires absorbing most of the road undulations to provide us with an almost smooth and comfortable ride. Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) help the front ventilated discs and rear solid disc brakes stop this front-wheel-drive (FWD) passenger van effectively and safely, even during emergency braking.
Nice and Easy Does It Every Time
Our white V80 Comfort made easy work of the 250-plus-kilometer distance between Metro Manila and Pangasinan, thanks to its 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine with common rail injection (CRDI) that churns out 134 horsepower at 3,800 rpm. With only four people, some camera equipment and a couple of luggage on board, the van didn’t even have to summon all 330 Newton-meters of torque to traverse hills and up-ramps on the way to our destination. Power is transferred to a 6-speed manual transmission that is coupled to one of the most easily-modulated hydraulic clutch pedals we’ve ever had the privilege to step on.
Convenience, Safety and Space Galore
We appreciated each and every feature of the V80 Comfort such as the rear parking sensor, central door locks, front power windows, and the power side mirrors with separate lower mirrors that allow us to see the the lower parts of the van. There are airbags for the driver and front passengers and an immobilizer in case somebody would attempt to steal the van. However, we feel that the factory audio system needs to be upgraded. The AM/FM reception is weak and the USB and Bluetooth functions takes some learning to be navigated easily. The sounds coming out of the 4-speaker system is nothing to write home about.
What we’re very fond of are the rear dual swing-out doors because they open up wide and can even be unhinged to swing open even wider. With the doors wide open, there is easy access to the bottom of the rear seats where small luggage, boxes and short items can be stored. If needed, some or all of the passenger seats can be unbolted to create a cargo area that can accommodate large bulky items. Of course, there’s the other V80, the Flex cargo van that was built specially for logistics, but that’s another story.
From a Mere Coverage to a Mission
We were given a warm welcome by the principal and faculty members of the Talogtog-Bateng Elementary School and even more so when they realized that our video can gather attention for their students’ plight when it is posted on the websites of Bridgestone Philippines and their tire dealership network, and on our own Power Wheels Magazine website and Power Wheels TV-Cruise Control YouTube channel. We also realized that more than just additional classrooms, the school also needs books for their library, a proper medical bed for their clinic, which temporarily shares a room with their Math and Science displays, among others. We vowed to donate children’s books for their library and a folding bed for their clinic when we come back.
As we drove back to Manila that night, we appreciated the halogen headlights, the front and rear foglamps, and the front and rear room lamps of our Maxus V80 Comfort. We appreciated the things that we often take for granted because we’ve gotten used to them just being there. We appreciated the efforts of our parents who worked hard to make sure that we went to good schools for our education. We fully appreciate the privileges handed to us, including the use of test drive units like this Maxus passenger van.
Most of all, we are thankful for the opportunity to be part of this mission that helped open our eyes to the needs of others. We hope that we can share our God-given privileges to help others – like giving hope to the children who go to school at Talogdog-Bateng Elementary School by giving them learning aids that were denied them in the past.
Vehicle category: 5-door 13-passenger van
Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo Diesel Common Rail Direct Injection
Power output: 134 hp (136 PS) @ 3,800 rpm
Torque: 330 Nm @ 1,800-2,600 rpm
Emission standard: Euro 4
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Steering system: Hydraulic power-assisted
Suspension: McPherson struts (front); Independent parallel leaf springs (rear)
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front); Solid discs (rear) with ABS + EBD
Wheels: 16-inch alloy wheels
Fuel tank capacity: 80 liters
Length: 4950 mm
Width: 1998 mm
Height: 2132 mm
Wheelbase: 3100 mm
AC Motors, an automotive division under the Ayala Corporation