These are the Best Vehicles Your P1 Million Can Buy


Christmas is just around the corner and that means the government-mandated bonus is coming—13th month yes, but for the lucky few 14th, 15th, and maybe even 16th.

Your mind is probably already racing through a list of things to buy and if that includes replacing your old jalopy with a brand-new car, that’s going to cause a serious dent on your budget.

But if you’re already resigned to the fact that you’ll be parting with an auto-downpayment-sized chunk of your moolah, we at Esquire have compiled THE list for you to peruse.

For the sake of brevity (and we did mention this is a “Best” list), we’ve excluded manual transmissions (because we know you city-types prefer an AT) and a few brands and models that still have some ways to go.

That doesn’t mean it’s a short list. Whether it’s compacts, subcompacts or even crossovers, from Japanese, Korean, and even German automakers, we’ve got everything covered right here.

Small cars and Subcompacts

Toyota Wigo 1.0 VVT-I G A/T


Photo by TOYOTA.

The 1.0L engine tells you everything you need to know about the Wigo. An already thrifty engine got even better with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence, which increased mileage by 1.2 km/l, plus, it even picked up a four-star rating from the ASEAN NCAP (New Car Assessment Program).

If looks are too plain for your style, get the one with the TRD kit (front lip spoiler, side skirts, rear bumper extension with a diffuser, decals, and a rear chrome badge) for only P696,000.

Toyota Vios

Photo by TOYOTA.

This isn’t the country’s best-selling car for nothing. It’s large enough for families going on long weekend trips and yet compact enough to be an economical city car.

Two Vios trims to consider are the 1.3 XLE A/T priced at P841,000 and the E Prime at P936,000.

The latter comes with more amenities like the remote trunk unlock, and a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and iOS and Android device compatible.

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Both use a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and come with Vehicle Stability Control and Hill-Start Assist.

Yaris 1.3 E CVT


Photo by TOYOTA.

If you’re all about style and sportiness, get the hands-down cutest mass-market hatchback out there, the Yaris 1.3 E CVT.

It’s a winner with the Citrus Mica Metallica hue and it wears Toyota’s “Keen Look” design philosophy much better than the Vios, in my opinion.

But it’s not all about looks either. It can fit 326 liters of cargo and sports a seven-inch touchscreen system with Bluetooth and a USB port.

Suzuki Dzire+ 1.2L AGS


Photo by SUZUKI.

This is one compact that knows how to use all of its 2,450 mm. It looks small on the outside but spacious enough to allay fears of claustrophobia in the cabin.

It features Suzuki’s AGS (Auto Gear Shift) system, which is technically a manual transmission without the calf pain that comes along with it when you’re stuck in traffic.

Manipulate the throttle like you would a manual and watch your consumption go up to 12 km/l.

Suzuki Swift GLX 1.2L CVT


Photo by SUZUKI.

The all-new design is so sporty, with a bigger grille, “floating roof” illusion, including the uniform circular shape of vents and gauges in the cabin.

It weighs less than the previous generation thanks to the Heartect platform making it lighter by 30 kilos, which allows it to average some nine km/l in pure city driving.

Handling is fun and easy with a 4.8-meter minimum turning radius.


Suzuki Ciaz GLX 1.4L AT             


Photo by SUZUKI.

Styling is not too fancy as it goes for a more simple and straightforward design but it more than makes up for it with a large cabin, owing to the Ertiga platform it uses.

Engine has a 1.4L displacement and can hit a high of 20 km/l on the highway.

Honda Brio / Amaze

Photo by HONDA.

Go for the top Brio trim, the 1.2 RS Black Top CVT and it will only set you back P735,000.

People have been commending its new, sleeker front, the rear spoiler, and the “shapelier” hatch, which has everyone calling it a “Baby Jazz.”

It now uses a CVT paired to a 1.2L engine with i-VTEC technology.

If you’re more inclined to get a sedan version, there’s the Amaze that’s priced at P848,000.

Honda City / Jazz

Photo by HONDA.

It’s very hard not to fall in love with these two Hondas. They’re aesthetically beautiful, yet functional in many ways.

The City 1.5 VX Navi CVT, priced at P985,000, has a trunk and looks much more sophisticated. Something you can take to work every day and also on long trips with the family out of town.

The slightly more expensive Jazz 1.5 VX Navi CVT at P998,000, is the more utilitarian of the two with its ULTRA cabin configuration (Utility, Long, Tall, and Refresh).


Both use a 1.5L engine mated to a CVT and tech-wise, and have a glossy seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth, and USB and HDMI ports.

Mitsubishi Mirage GLX 1.2 CVT / G4 GLX 1.2    



It’s the 1.2L three-cylinder engine with MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) that has people gushing. Paired with an INVECS (Intelligent & Innovative Vehicle Electronic Control System) III CVT and you’ll easily average 9.5 km/l even in daily gridlock situations.

The GLX hatch is priced at P760,000 while the G4 GLX (sedan) comes in at P869,000.

Performance of the aircon, even in humid Metro Manila conditions, is superb.

It has Bluetooth technology already, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, and even audio controls on the steering wheel.

Mazda 2 SkyActiv +   

Photo by MAZDA.



This has everything other, more expensive Mazdas have, but in small doses.

It sports the very sexy Kodo, Soul of Motion design philosophy on its diminutive body, which, if you’ve seen any Mazda recently, is just a great look.

Controlling the infotainment system is the brand’s very intuitive Mazda Connect that allows you to use the seven-inch touchscreen or the Command Controller much like a BMW.

Finally, a small 1.5 SkyActiv engine and even G-Vectoring Control. What else can you ask for?

Kia Picanto 1.2 EX AT


Photo by KIA.

Its 1.0L engine matches its pint-sized body that can fit 5, although it might be a tight squeeze.

The small cabin doesn’t scrimp on amenities though as it comes with a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 2.6-inch gauge LCD in the instrument panel, steering wheel audio controls, and even a USB port.

Rear seats split-fold 60:40 to accommodate cargo, plus it boasts of a whopping 4.7-meter turning radius.


Kia Soluto 1.4 EX AT


Photo by KIA.

This unit is more colorful inside than out. The exterior is plain-looking at best but the spacious cabin comes with two-tone seats that blends nicely with some of the interior panels.

It also comes with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a very snappy OS, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Powertrain is a very economical 1.4L engine with continuous variable valve timing (CVVT) paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel consumption in the city is 8.5 km/l.

Volkswagen Santana GTS


Probably one of the best-selling VWs right now, Filipinos love the Santana for the performance more than anything else.

It doesn’t have outstanding exterior features but get it on Drive and you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.

The 1.5L engine sends 110 PS and 150 Nm of torque to a six-speed transmission but the availability of the torque and power at the low end of the RPM is what makes it exciting to take around.

Suspension is stiff enough to give a proper hatchback performance without sacrificing comfort one bit.

MG 5 1.5L CVT Alpha                  


Photo by MG.

One of the newest kids on the block, this compact vehicle has some catching up to do but it is not without tools to do so.

It has LED headlamps, an engine Start/Stop button, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree camera, an electric sunroof, a 512 liters of trunk space.


The 1.5L engine is mated to a CVT.

Crossovers/MPVs and Compact SUVs

Ertiga GLX AT


Photo by SUZUKI.

Despite the plain grille, the nose of the Ertiga is probably the most stylish on this list. Slim halogen projector lamps, with fog lamps, are complemented very nicely by deep character lines, chrome accents, and handsome L-shaped LED taillights.

The cabin’s layout is very attractive and keeps to the beige hue by incorporating some faux wood trims on the dashboard and door panels. It has a 10-inch touchscreen, Start/Stop button, a D-shaped steering wheel, and even ventilated cup holders in front.

Power comes from a 1.5L engine that sends 103 PS and 138 Nm of torque to a four-speed automatic transmission.

Vitara 1.6L AT


Photo by SUZUKI.

Labelled a crossover after shifting from a ladder-frame chassis to a unibody construction, this unit still has considerable buzz more than a year after its launch.

It has LED headlamps with energy-saving technology and LED daytime running lamps (DRLs) too, right at the bottom beside the fog lamps.

One of the cabin’s main features it the extra-large panoramic sunroof that starts from the front and extends all the way back to the second row.

The 1.6L engine returned 10.4 km/l on pure city driving.

Mobilio 1.5 V CVT


Photo by HONDA.

It may be the lesser brother of the BR-V, but don’t overlook the humble Mobilio, especially if you strictly want to keep to your budget.

The front design is modest but looks good on the strength of the Solid Wing Face grill.

Cabin features you’ll love are a seven-inch touchscreen, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth connectivity, and a USB port.


Fuel consumption is around 9 km/l from its 1.5L engine and continuously variable transmission.

MG ZS AT Alpha


Photo by MG.

If all other crossovers are wearing a suit, the MG (Morris Garages) ZS (pronounced “Zed S”) is most assuredly in a tux. It’s compact, yet packed with enough flair to fit a bus, and then some. Top to bottom, front and back, plus side to side, this vehicle looks good from any angle.

Inside you get leather seats (with visible white stitching), soft-touch materials, metallic accents, and faux carbon fiber trim around the eight-inch touchscreen display. The 1.5L engine is good enough for the city but the four-speed automatic transmission deserves an upgrade in the future.

Just a shade over a million

If you can spare a few more shekels, these units are definitely worth considering:

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T                   

P1.008 million

Photo by TOYOTA.

Can’t go wrong with Toyota’s durability and reliability.

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Trend AT                 

P1.030 million

Photo by FORD.

Highly compact with considerable ground clearance.

Suzuki Jimny GL Monotone 4AT          

P1.035 million

Photo by SUZUKI.

Comes with off-road capability, plus design is total eye-candy.

How far can P1 million take you?

The answer is “very far,” based on this list. You can go small or even choose to go big.


With a very robust automotive market, there are a lot more options now and they’re even more affordable than ever before.

The list is long so choose carefully and more importantly, wisely.

Take the opportunity to test drive the units and feel them out for yourself. Ask around about the performance and ride from friends or people you know who own the vehicles on this list.

In short, make an informed decision to make sure that whatever you put your hard-earned money on, is money well-spent.

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