Suzuki Minivan, My Favorite Car

In 2007 we bought a Suzuki Minivan in Mandaue City for P160,000 or about $3,000 U.S.Dollars (exchange rate at that time was P50 plus to one dollar) and it has worked out great for us.  The minivan was a surplus unit from some other Asian country and was completely rebuilt with new parts and new paint and came with a 3 month guarantee (big deal in the Philippines).  We paid cash although they would finance it with monthly payments to what ever you could pay per month (with appropriate interest of course).  I did get facing folding rear seats for additional P200 and got aircon also for about P500. The unit is great on gas (doesn’t use much that is), has a three cylinder gas mid engine (6 valves) that fits under the driver and front passenger seats with easy access with 5 forward speed manual transmission.  Would like to have one more overdrive gear tho for even better gas mileage.

The minivan can hold 4 big Americans with luggage or cargo or 10 Filipinos with bags only.  Speed is an amazing 100 kph but you can rarely do that on the roads in Cebu.  Mostly it cruises at a comfortable 60 kph and has enough power to go uphill and pass trucks when necessary.  I usually leave Virgin Beach Resort early in the morning (usually by 4 a.m.)  and miss the traffic into Cebu City and can make the 120 km in 2 hours easily.  I can make a round trip on less than P1,000 in fuel.  By leaving early I not only miss traffic into Cebu, but get to Mc Do in Mandaue near the Shell Station by 6 a.m. if I don’t stop…that leaves me plenty of time for breakfast and ATM at BDO nearby, then to Makro (new name now tho) near S.M. Mall (Shoe Mart Mall) that opens at 7 a.m.  The Shell station takes credit card as well as Makro.  Then I go to Citi Hardware in Mandaue on the return for other materials/supplies we need since they open at 8 a.m. and take credit cards also.  Reason I use credit cards is so I don’t have to always go to the ATM.  I’m usually finished by 11 a.m. or noon if I have other appointments in the city and can make it back to Virgin Beach Resort early afternoon and avoid traffic going out also.

This minivan is great for families and great for our Resort.  Usually our pick up at the airport or Cebu City hotels for our guests is for one or two and that will handle the luggage ok.  I personally love this minivan as it doesn’t show to the general public that we are rich and therefore are not a target for hold-up or other schemes.  It is typically Pinoy.  The ride is smooth and it is easy to maintain.  Tires (13 inch) are usually about P1,000 to P2,000 each depending on the brand and we generally get about 20 to 40 thousand km for a set of tires.  I never let them get that Italian racing tire look to them…you know  “very baldi”, lol.

Parts are easy to come by and it seems everyone knows how to work on them now.  We rebuilt the engine last year for about P5,000 and had the few rust spots removed and “wash over” paint (painted same color without sanding down to bare metal) for P5,000.

Another great feature about this car is that it is narrow and if you meet a bus passing a car or truck you can still stay on the hiway without crashing on the side.  This car is great for Cebu traffic and is easy to drive.  I do recommend you check the water and oil before each trip, even tho you may not have to add anything…i just don’t trust the gauges even tho they appear to be working ok.  Just a habit I got into when I was growing up in California…saved me lots of problems later on.

You can find lots of “used” units in Cebu Classifieds for around P100,000 or less.  Of course, you may end up spending the difference in the amount of a newly refurnished one.  But with the low cost of labor, I wouldn’t hesitate getting another used one at a bargain price.

Enjoy the videos of driving from the airport to Bogo and from Bogo to Virgin Beach Resort…a tropical paradise.


NOTE: Ron I have one also but it is completely worn out now.


  1. Ron,
    I added one photo under the videos of our little van. It is no longer running now engine failure due to no oil flow inside the engine, possible oil pump failure.
    We may have it refurbished. OR just get a new one.

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