Kaicene CX70 – A new challenger in affordable 7-seaters

2018 was the last time new names entered the affordable 7-seater segment when the Mitsubishi Xpander and Toyota Rush came into the country. Before that, there was the Toyota Avanza and Suzuki Ertiga. Some members of their segment were phased out while others, like the Xpander, moved up in price range. Those left behind have been pretty much the same, with no new contender joining their ranks.

That changed late last year when Kaicene unveiled the CX70 – a 7-seater crossover that slots in under P900k. It’s a very interesting proposition especially with its size measuring up against an Innova, yet it’s priced along the lower variants of an Avanza. I drove it for a few days to find out if the rookie can upset the status quo.

The CX70 is a bit of a looker thanks to its front clip that’s similar to that of a known British brand. I also like that Kaicene’s logo is somewhat camouflaged in the grille leading to a utilitarian look.   It has a great stance despite the lack of bulging flares or outlandish character lines. The headlights are halogen but there are LED daytime running lights, LED taillights that are a wee too small for its size, but regains its poise at the back with its faux skid plate. There’s also power folding side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, and roof rails for additional cargo.

Inside, you’ll be greeted with leather upholstery and the Tesla-esque huge touchscreen at the center of the dash. Only when you turn it on will you realize the screen is normal-sized at 8-inches and the black portion below it are the touch-based aircon controls. Up top is the sunroof and in front of the shifter are the buttons for the push-start, window defoggers, traction control, and blind spot camera.

There’s also no Apple or Android for the head unit which is good or bad depending on how dependent you are on smartphone connectivity. It must be said though that it comes standard with its competitors. The gauge cluster for the driver is analog with a small trip computer at the center gauge. No fuel consumption indicator though so if you’re particular about that, you’ll have to do things manually like I did.

Space is definitely generous for all occupants. The front seats are very accommodating even for a wide man like me, and it continues to the second and surprisingly even the third row. Having adults at the back is no problem at all.

Speaking of the second row, it has rear air vents behind the center console and a center armrest with no cup holders. The quirk about this is, the air vents are placed at seat height, so once there are occupants on the second row, these two small vents are blocked. Even if they’re not, they’d have a hard time getting air onto the third row, which is why it gets hot back there. Other MPVs in the segment have their second row vents on the headliner so air gets to the back easier. This makes the third row ideal only for quick jaunts or night drives.

Seasoned drivers might not take a liking to the CX70 out on the road. The steering is light and firms up on the highway. The other side to that is it has a lot of play, meaning you’d have to turn it more in order to make the car really change its direction. It also has a blind spot camera to show you the front right of your car, not the rear right which is more important especially since the C and D pillars are really thick leading to a huge blind spot.

Another catch of the CX70 is the brake. The pedal itself is stiff but the brakes bite softly making you press the pedal deeper than usual. It also has this electronic ‘assist’ that latches on when you’re fully stopped, allowing you to just use your foot’s dead weight on the pedal. The annoying thing about it is it leads to abrupt stopping sometimes, and a very jarring release once you step on the throttle again. It also makes 2 and 3 point turns a hassle since this mechanism activates at every stop. There’s no button for it since the handbrake is manual, but you can hear it activating if you don’t have any music on.

If you can get past those traits, the Kaicene CX70 is a pretty nice ride, at least for the passengers. The cabin is quiet with wind noise only creeping in at 90kph and above. Ride comfort is also good with the soft suspension that takes road bumps well including the harsh sunken manholes on the streets.

Its ace is in the engine. It runs on a 1.5-liter turbo with 148 horsepower and 230 Nm of torque, paired to a 6-speed automatic. Ideally that should be a bad combination but during my drive, it returned 7.7km/l in the city despite the traffic. That’s on par with smaller crossovers with a non-turbo 1.5L engine. Just be lenient with it on the highway because you can feel the engine straining past 80kph, compromising fuel efficiency.

The Kaicene CX70 is a polarizing choice for P879,000. It’s too big for its price point and is complemented with good fuel efficiency even in traffic. The other side of that is the quirks it has that only affects the driver and not much for the passenger, except the third row which can be forgiven if you won’t utilize it often.

At the end of the day, the Kaicene CX70 fulfills its duty to be an affordable 7-seater without burning gas money often in your pocket. It’s not perfect, but everything else is trivial if you’re in dire need of space at this specific price point.

Most Popular


More Articles Like This