Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
ONE way to accommodate a group of people, whether family members, friends, or colleagues, on any road travel is to utilize a passenger van. However, most of these vehicles come with a maximum seating capacity, but have very little to offer in terms of convenience.
On the other hand, there are the luxury types that offer the suitability at the expense of load limitations. What if there is a way to combine those essentials in one vehicle? Peugeot’s answer to this dilemma is their eight-seater Expert Tepee. Aside from being the largest in the manufacturer’s lineup, its van-based dimension is also deemed as a multipurpose vehicle (MPV) because of its versatility.
When it comes to exterior styling, the front end holds the distinction from a design that is utterly unique in its own way, despite the mainstream wide, tall and boxy build. The upward positioned willowy halogen headlamps created a profile along with the upper side fender, which sits higher to the hood surface and complements the prominent front grille on top and within the bumper. In addition, there is a contour starting from the bottom part of the headlights stretched to the flanks and fashioned a waistline. With huge front and sliding side doors, combined with a high roofline, it makes every ingress and egress seamless for anyone, regardless of height and built.
Inside, the dashboard is somewhat a dual cockpit sedan-like layout minus the center console, which cleverly creates a pathway to the next row. Every driver will definitely experience a relaxed posture, thanks to the leather-wrapped captain’s seats in front, along with tilting/telescopic adjustable steering wheel, and the gear shifter closely positioned.
An eight-speaker audio setup is programmed with the touch-operated two-din infotainment equipped with Bluetooth connectivity. It may be quite unusual for the handbrake to be situated on your left, but it only takes a short while to get used to it.
The spacious rear cabin has two rows with three each of comfortable and modular seats wrapped in pelt materials, wherein both sides can be folded and lifted to create an easy access to the rear benches. Likewise, passengers will now enjoy the added entertainment systems mounted at the back of the front headrests. Once you open that large tailgate, you will find the cargo bay nothing less of an absolutely expansive area enough to lodge sizable loads.
On the road, the Expert Tepee bared sublime driving behaviors ahead of anyone’s expectations in a van. The 2.0-liter HDi turbodiesel powertrain that generates 163 horsepower with 340 N-m of torque is more than adequate to smoothly propel the massive frame. Forceful acceleration was evident starting at 2,000 rpm with the operation of the existing manual mode from the coupled six-speed automatic gearbox With the motor’s relatively smaller displacement with ample output, it will certainly lean toward better fuel efficiency, particularly when the cruise-control speed limiter and controller is engaged on freeways.
The ride comfort was even more astonishing as demonstrated by the combined front independent pseudo-MacPherson type and rear coil springs—replicating an executive sedan’s level of softness. Sufficient to say, those 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/60 series tires was able to absorb road imperfections and aided in producing that degree of coziness.
As for the level of tranquility, it is simply remarkable throughout the test period. What this writer ever heard was entirely the soothing music played from the audio system. Those broader-than-the-usual windshield and door glasses generated enough visibility and more natural light into the cubicle to compensate for the lack of sun/moon roof. Even companions cannot help but savor the coziness at the back with numerous individual ceiling air-conditioning vents that produced a cool ambiance. Standard security features are front airbags, electronic stability program, antilock braking system and dynamic stability control, among others.
While this updated version of the current Expert Tepee may not be the most stunning in the segment, nevertheless, it spawned a lot of attention on the road coming from that notable French heritage design. What makes this people-carrier worthy of a commendation is not just its solid build but mainly the exceptional delivery perceptible from the crucial aspects of performance.