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FIRST DRIVE: 2018 BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition–The Second Coming

Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation (Bayan Auto), the official distributor of BAIC vehicles locally, recently brought an SUV that delivers more than a handful of features, contrary to the common belief about China-made vehicles. The BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition is packed with features that would break barriers and norms in the way we look at China brands.

BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition
© Ruben Manahan IV for CARMUDI PHILIPPINES

For starters, it has a rich collaboration of leather, piano key trimmings, and carbon fiber design in its interior, giving it a more Range Rover-ish look and feel. Such mix give it a clean and comfortable look, thus making the vehicle more appealing to the higher market. Throw in the keyless entry and push-start button and the vehicle has more than a dash of sophistication.

You would think that the BAIC BJ20 has 4×4 capability judging from its looks and design alone, but the build is more for city driving.

BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition
© Ruben Manahan IV for CARMUDI PHILIPPINES

The 215 mm ground clearance with an approach and departure angle of 24 and 30 degrees, respectively, could be a dead giveaway, but manage your expectations as the BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition seems to only be capable of tackling high floodwaters of the metro.

The overall dimensions give it more leg- and headroom for five occupants. On the outside, it would eat much space on the road due to wide and long design, (1,845 millimeter width, 4,451 millimeter length), which is good only if roads are not congested–especially now that the yuletide season traffic jam is being experienced.

Electronic six-way adjustment system, remote-control buttons in the steering wheel and the volume knob (that has power switch for the entertainment system) make this BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition’s orientation more driver-centric.

But despite that, roominess and comfort are two of the main selling points for the BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition. In other words, you would rather be the passenger than the driver in this crossover.

Apart from the gargantuan figure, it can still pass as a city slicker as it’s only powered by a 1.5-liter Mitsubishi 4A91T mated to a CVT with an autohold and hill-hold control.

BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition
© Ruben Manahan IV for CARMUDI PHILIPPINES

However, we noticed that when it comes to power, the BAIC BJ20 needs more improvement as even if there is hill-hold assist feature, the vehicle tends to slide back a little after being given a go at the throttle when climbing uphill.

On the expressway on eco-mode, the BAIC BJ20 seems to run only up to 100 kph, which is enough for coasting and gliding, but somehow insufficient when overtaking. Unofficially, there seems to be a two- to three-second lag before power starts to kick in.

The Park Assist seems to have a delayed reaction on the movements on the road, which could spell trouble, but other control and safety features for the BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition made up for it such as the Anti-Lock Brake System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Speed Alarm (to inform you that you are going above your designated speed limit), as well as the usual Cruise Control.

The infotainment for the BAIC BJ20 Luxury Edition comes with six speakers and a 10.1-inch touchscreen entertainment system with USB and HDMI interface.

While there are lots improvements made to ensure quality, the BAIC BJ20 Luxury gives more to ensure that it provides quality in its other offerings in its bid to compete in the much-tougher automotive market locally.

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