As the automotive industry continues to tackle the rough global landscape that is transitioning into a new era of connectivity, safety, and value appreciation, how does the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro traverse through these concerns?
With the rapid evolution of technologies over the last decade, it’s no surprise that more than our digital devices, our vehicles also get huge spec bumps year after year. Cars are getting smarter, more automated, and more attune to our needs. But as recent global events have shifted our consumption habits, the automotive industry has been challenged to focus on three main factors for their latest models: connectivity, safety, and value for money.
Burgeoning manufacturer Chery aims to tackle all three of those pillars with its focus on a fun driving experience with integrated technologies, all while embodying luxury inside and out. The Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, one of the brand’s leading models, enters the market strongly with a promise of future-ready technology, user-friendly features, and safety built to the core. It has garnered high praise across various enthusiast circles for being the brand’s breakout model–but does it live up to days of real-world use in the new normal? I got to sit behind the wheel of the brand new Tiggo 7 Pro for four days to drive across cities from Antipolo to Alabang, covering over 200 kilometers of road. Roads varied from highways to streets, and conditions covered asphalt and concrete, while weather gave me the opportunity to drive on both wet and dry surfaces.
First Impressions: Stunning
In the culinary world, a common expression top chefs impart to their trainees is, “You eat with your eyes first.” For the Chery Tiggo7 Pro, its modern crossover body is a feast for the eyes. The face says it all–from a unique grill design that mixes matte and chrome for a multi-textural finish, to the menacing pair of sharp, matrix LED headlights. Silver accents that run across the bumpers and rocker panels, as well as line the top and bottom of the door windows boost its striking character. Blacked-out D-pillars give a very futuristic look with the illusion of a floating roof. The tail light bar designed to look like a single strip is reminiscent of luxury SUVs, while the mock dual exhaust vents give a sporty appeal.
Enter the cabin and you’re greeted with supple faux leather that envelops your body in comfort. Its luxurious trimming exudes character without being too overbearing. The two-tone color scheme in black and red that wraps around the seats, door panels, and front dash is juxtaposed by silver accents and faux brushed aluminum panels. Over your head rests a large panoramic sunroof, perfect to look at during long night highway drives.
Inside, this 5-seater carries more than enough head room and leg room to fit the average Filipino, and enough seats for the average family. But on the outside, the Tiggo 7 Pro is not one to shy away from its dominant personality. It’s big enough to command road presence, but at a compact enough size to fit in most home garages, indoors or open. 18-inch wheels may seem a bit small for a vehicle that’s proving to be sporty in appeal, but it’s design is far from antiquated.
Before The Drive: Comfort and Convenience
With the key fob in my pocket, proximity locking and unlocking of the door, as well as folding and unfolding the side mirrors, makes the transition from road to seat and vice versa a breeze. This function only backfired on me once, though, as the alarms fired off when I pulled on the door handle even if I was right next to the door with the key. Its automatic tailgate with a one-touch close, or even remote-controlled with the key, makes loading groceries effortless. It even has an automatic open feature when you stand behind the car with your key for three seconds. Powered adjustments on both front seats is a great addition for a comfortable drive, although for those who prefer a high leg raise to ease ankle or heel strain like I do, the adjustment may be too limited.
Right beside the stick shift is a wireless charging pad, which I can see becoming second-nature for me to place my phone on. Ample space is hidden beneath it with room for a small bag or purse, while the center console gives more space for today’s car essentials like wipes and alcohol.
The Driving Experience: Push to Start The Fun
With a foot on the brakes, and a finger on the engine button, just push to start the fun. Immediately, I was greeted with a 7-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch Infotainment display, but more on those in the next subsection. A full touch panel for the A/C controls continues the sleek, glossy look of the center controls, but tactile buttons would have been a safer choice for mid-drive adjustments.
The driving experience was excellent. Road noise was muted from the inside the cabin, and engine noise, even with powerful acceleration, did not annoy my passengers. With a T1X Comfort Chassis that uses the same tech found in Jaguar and Land Rover, how could you complain? Steering was smooth as butter with Electronic Power Steering on board, and turning the steering wheel from neutral to max corner radius was quick.
My biggest point of contention in the vehicle resided in the modest gear lever. Shifting between park, reverse, neutral, drive, and manual is all done digitally, meaning there isn’t any physical response of gears shifting and clicks engaging. Park has its own button, but moving from drive to reverse and vice versa can’t be done in one move, meaning shifting became more of a mental task rather than relying on tactile signals. Good thing this is an automatic. Although this is something you can get used to over time, it was quite a learning curve for a first-timer.
There are a couple of driving modes and assists available for trips in and out of the city. Eco Mode runs standard with every start to boost fuel economy. Most times, however, the drive felt too limiting in terms of acceleration, and gear shifts happened way too early to save gas. To punch the acceleration and tighten handling for open drives, I had to switch to Sport Mode. Uphill driving to provinces like Baguio or Antipolo is aided by its Electronic Stability Program with Emergency Brake Assist, Traction Control System, and Hill Assist Control.
Nighttime driving was a challenge with the dimmer-than-most LED headlights. Road visibility was something my eyes had to get used to, and the white light isn’t ideal for rain and fog. Ambient lighting inside the cabin, however, is a good touch. The color is customizable via the infotainment display, and can cycle through the spectrum to the beat of music playing through the speakers, like an intimate party in the car. The only annoyance was that because the light strip extended all the way to the left side of the steering wheel, it reflected on the driver’s window, disrupting my view of the left side mirror. It could be the unfortunate combination of my height and posture, but this ever-present streak of vibrant light to my left made me want to just turn off the feature entirely.
Smart Features: Is It Smart Enough?
A sizable portion of the vehicle’s smart functions reside in both the 7-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch Infotainment display. Overall, the layout of the vehicle’s vital information was great. Everything looked organized, and the signs and letters were easy to understand. Tire pressures, seat belt warnings for all seats, and trip stats are displayed neatly.
The main star is the 10.25-inch Infotainment display. Its user experience (UX) is intuitive and simple enough for anyone to use, whether it will be your first time with a touch display or not. However, the touch response has some latency to it, with every tap or scroll a split-second delayed. The user interface (UI), on the other hand, could have been maximized. Other vehicle info like A/C temperatures and fan speed can be useful in the ambient display rather than having to tap on the fan button or swiping down on the screen.
The multitude of customization options gives you control of almost everything, from display themes to even how high your tailgate opens. Toggling through various screens can also be done with a row of physical buttons just below the display, but they take a full second to register with every press.
Apple CarPlay is the main connectivity portal for music, podcasts, and navigation, but a big upset was the lack of Android Auto. As an Android user, I had to rely on their QDLink app, which took some time to set-up. It works, and this system can actually replace the entire infotainment display with what’s on my phone, but it’s just that—my phone on a bigger screen. The display turns into a projector with limited functionality and finicky controls as it relies on the tech that I own. Plugging USB devices for photos, videos, and stored music is another media option, but given how the whole vehicle is packaged as future-forward, this function seems rather dated.
Safety features are abundant in the Tiggo 7 Pro. Most visible of all is the 360-degree view of the vehicle on the Infotainment display, shifting focal points with every reverse for the back-up camera, and every turn for a third-person street view that shows everything around your car. The cameras only offer visuals, with no lane assist or tracking features with it. However, proximity sensors are on-board for guided parking. Under the hood, the Bosch ESP9.3 is a special processor that ensures speedy calculations and response times for risk management in vehicle control and brakes. Plus, answering today’s needs, the cabin air system is equipped with an N95 air cabin filter that blocks 95% of fine particles and filters out harmful gases, providing supplemental protection against pollution.
The Verdict and Recommendations
After almost depleting a full tank of gas, the Chinese manufacturer managed to impress. The Chery Tiggo 7 Pro carries most of the essentials a car made in 2021 is expected to have in an honestly surprising package. It’s a hefty unit suited for both personal and family use, and looks to fit and perform well on the road for years to come. Although its digital features like UX/UI and connectivity may be its biggest crutch, the undeniably comfortable and worry-free driving experience makes up for it pretty well. Best of all, this comes with an industry-leading 10-year engine warranty, five-year general vehicle warranty, three-year free preventive maintenance package, and three years of free roadside assistance.
With enough power and fuel economy for the city, comfort for provincial trips, and safety features to keep you at ease, this crossover is a great first experience in digital shifting and smart displays, or an addition to your expansive garage. Priced at PHP 1,198,000, this isn’t poised as a trophy car, but it isn’t a slouch either. The Tiggo 7 Pro can make a reliable family vehicle for afternoons at the clubhouse on your next tee off, or a weekend vacation at the outskirts of Manila. It’s the in-between of a daily driver for inter-city travel and a comfortable family mover for those spontaneous long trips. No need to bust out your prized coupé for solo drives, or the unnecessarily wide travel van for family outings. Take this out of the garage instead.
For more information, visit Chery’s website to browse through the full specs, request for a quotation, or schedule a virtual appointment.