Destination: Panagbenga Festival, Baguio.
I made a last-minute decision to drive to Baguio last Feb. 25. I had set my sights on catching the Panagbenga Festival, not just to watch the parade, but because I’d heard that the floats of GMA-7 and ABS-CBN would carry some of their more popular stars.
After much dilly-dallying, I finally left my home in Pasig at 4 p.m. My target was to make it to the City of Pines by 8 p.m., spend a night at The Manor at Camp John Hay, and then catch the Panagbenga Flower Festival main parade at 8 a.m. on Feb. 26. Yes, I had made plans to drive back to Manila by 11 a.m. so as not to get stuck in the Sunday traffic from people heading back to Manila.
The ride: a brand-new 2017 Chevrolet Colorado, which boasts enhanced design, car-like refinement and improved drivability. Yes, I was going to do this drive solo — and the need to be seated in the cockpit of a safe vehicle was top of mind.
What helped boost my confidence was reading up on how the Chevrolet Colorado provides new levels of active safety features including Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Front and Rear Park Assist. Added to them is the comfort and convenience of Remote Engine Start, which would be good for me if I decided to make a pit stop along the way.
The Covenant Car Company Inc. (TCCCI), which is the exclusive importer and distributor of Chevrolet vehicles and parts in the Philippines, introduced its redesigned and updated 2017 Chevrolet Colorado.
I had a meal before I left for Baguio at about 3:30 p.m. I am the type of driver who doesn’t make pit stops when driving by my lonesome.
I drove down the NLEX without a hitch, as the expressway traffic that afternoon was free flowing. The Colorado settled into a smooth 100 kph throughout my drive, although I could hear the engine roaring for me to step on the gas. But: follow the speed limit, I did.
While cocooned in the cockpit, I felt the toughness of this Colorado Pickup on the outside, yet inside it was all comfort and easy to handle. It is true that the Colorado is a tough and capable pickup truck with a redefined design, superb engine performance and excellent handling.
After all, the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado offers better performance, improved fuel economy, and lower emissions with its upgraded 2.8L Duramax four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (VGT).
But it was the car-like comfort that got me relaxed and humming inside the Colorado. The Colorado pickup truck has a range of key engineering changes co-developed by an experienced team of engineers from Brazil, Thailand and Australia.
I did not feel any rough road patches in the Colorado. Some of its major changes have made its suspension system deliver improved body control and ride isolation to cope with the variety of our challenging roads.
I made it out of NLEX in about 45 minutes and then it was on to the SCTEX and the TPLEX. The only stops I made were at the tollgates. It was getting dark when I exited NLEX and, to be on the safe side, I stayed inside the Colorado.
I finally made it to Kennon Road at about 7:15 p.m. I was making good time. It was during the drive up Kennon that I appreciated the changes and hardware upgrades of the Colorado.
There are the new mountings for engine and transmission, while some body mounts have been changed from compression to shear mounts to provide a more composed ride with better isolation and control. The 4WD system was also great because of its transfer case control knob, allowing the pickup truck to adapt in various road conditions — from cement roads to the off-road spots on Kennon.
I drove up Kennon Road, even as it started drizzling. It was a smooth drive — with a slight traffic build-up on the one-lane portion of the road.
I got to The Manor by about 8:15 p.m. Not bad.
I was tired from driving and opted to call it a night.
I was up and about by 5 a.m. on Sunday. I went to the parking lot to take a look at the Colorado.
I really like the Colorado’s tough yet sophisticated appearance, with a press-hardened steel body and more angular lines and strong proportions. A distinctive and sporty front bumper design along with a muscular hood gives truck a tough stance. Combined with slim LED daytime running lamps, two-toned aluminum wheels, and chrome exterior door handles, the Colorado has an unmistakable road presence that makes it stand out from the crowd.
I was at the lobby of The Manor by 6 a.m. as I waited for the other people who were there to check out the Panagbenga.
We took a shuttle to Session Road and I was able to get pictures of some of the celebs and floats that caught my fancy.
I got what I came for — seeing the beautiful flowers of the City of Pines and, of course, catching some of the more popular stars on the TV networks’ floats.
We headed back to the hotel by about 10 a.m. with enough time to freshen up before heading back to Manila.
As I drove down Kennon Road at 11 a.m., I enjoyed the view from the cockpit — and also the drive, because it was pleasant: no traffic. The electric power steering is light to handle at cruising speeds and low-speed maneuvering does not require much upper body strength. The brake feel is good, and the ride is surprisingly comfortable even with a light load.
At the wheel I appreciated the driver aids like a nifty lane departure warning system and a rear-view camera — a godsend for big vehicles parking in congested lots and for overtaking, too. It also has a healthy allotment of cup-holders, cubbyholes and auxiliary ports to charge your devices.
I felt comfortable and safe inside this muscular pickup. And driving it, anytime of day or night, didn’t get me stressed out; rather, it was a pleasurable experience and a good drive for the long haul.