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Taking the Suzuki XL7 Hybrid to Pico de Loro in Batangas

Be wary of the fuel-efficiency challenge results

The drive didn't pass through any toll roads. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The XL7 is the more upscale sibling of the Ertiga MPV. So, when Suzuki Philippines introduced the Ertiga Hybrid last year, the recent arrival of the XL7 Hybrid shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Similar to the Ertiga Hybrid, the XL7 Hybrid features a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with 103hp, as well as an integrated starter generator (ISG) and a 12V lithium-ion battery, which is charged via regenerative braking.

The XL7 Hybrid can’t run on electric power alone being a mild hybrid. Rather, the 1.77kW motor only provides assistance during acceleration to decrease fuel consumption. Meanwhile, the Engine Auto Start Stop System turns the engine off and on in stop-and-go traffic.

The Savanna Ivory Metallic paint looks subtle yet classy. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The media drive began at Suzuki Auto Kawit in Cavite with the endpoint at Pico de Loro in Batangas. Just like before, Suzuki Philippines conducted a fuel-efficiency challenge. With all test units filled to the brim, the objective was to drive around 70km to a Phoenix gas station in Nasugbu, Batangas, while consuming the least amount of gas.

This was problematic for a number of reasons. Air-conditioning was required. However, there were no parameters for the settings (such as fan speed and thermostat), and there was no way to determine if this was actually followed.

The route didn’t pass through any expressways, so traffic conditions varied greatly. More importantly, the calculation for the fuel efficiency was misleading. The winner topped up only 1.06L of gasoline after driving 72km, as recorded by the fuel pump and the odometer.

These figures translate to a fuel efficiency of 67.8km/L, which is not realistic at all. For context, the Automobile Association Philippines achieved 22.03km/L through internal testing on expressways.

The fuel pump doesn't tell the whole story. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

To accurately determine fuel efficiency, the tank had to be refilled back to the original amount after the vehicle had traveled a certain distance. That wasn’t the case as the cars were only filled until the automatic stop of the fuel pump.

This wasn’t an oversight, but a deliberate choice by the organizer to keep the competition fair and consistent. However, it was bound to be misinterpreted, which was why it had to be clarified more than once with the participants—who may have shared the results on social media without any disclaimer.

Since there was a certain amount of fuel left unaccounted for, I asked Kennedy Adia, head of the product planning group. And he told me that the gap was around 2L. Add that to the 1.06L consumed over 72km, and the fuel efficiency could be 23.53km/L, which is still hard to believe considering the hilly terrain and the slow-moving traffic.

I shared the results with my colleagues, and one of them summarized it nicely: “The comparison is valid, but not the values.” In the end, while we knew who consumed the least fuel, there was no telling what the actual efficiency was.

Cargo space is plentiful with the third-row seats folded. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Despite all of that, the Suzuki XL7 Hybrid is not a bad car by any means. The cabin was decently comfortable for the long drive with cold air-conditioning and a spacious trunk. The 10-inch infotainment system had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so navigating was convenient with Waze.

The vehicle wasn’t difficult to maneuver around tight and narrow corners, and there was just enough power to get over the rolling hills in Nasugbu. Upon arriving at the destination, parking was easy thanks to the backup sensor and the rearview camera.

The XL7 Hybrid is not a full hybrid, but it is still a practical car. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The term “mild hybrid” may sound like a turn-off. However, if the XL7 were a full hybrid, it wouldn’t be as affordable as P1,252,000 (or P1,262,000 for the two-tone version).

This puts Suzuki’s electrified MPV at a price point below that of its rivals such as the Mitsubishi Xpander Cross and the Hyundai Stargazer X. The mild hybrid isn’t coding-exempt, but it should still be more fuel-efficient—up to 13% more frugal in the city, according to Suzuki—than its ICE-only counterpart.

If you’re looking for a ride for out-of-town road trips with family and friends, the Suzuki XL7 Hybrid isn’t a bad choice. It isn’t the most advanced or luxurious vehicle out there, but it has the right features that make driving enjoyable and hassle-free.

Just don’t expect the mild hybrid to have the same perks and fuel efficiency as a proper hybrid.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.