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December 8, 2021

Review: Kaicene CX70 1.5T

The Kaicene CX70 is the newest sub-compact 7-seater SUV in the market, and it pretty much does what it’s set out to do: offer a top-of-the-line SUV experience for three-quarters of a Toyota Rush or Honda BR-V’s price. Despite its winning price and high value for money quotient, it does, however, fall short—way short—of delivering three-quarters of its competitors on-road refinement and dynamics.

The biggest problem of the CX70, aside from its Mazda-aping model name, is that it suffers from what’s called in colloquial Filipino, “silaw.” If the specs, taken vis-à-vis with its price, were the only criteria, then this would win hands down. Sadly, this SUV ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

Compared to what the Japanese could come up with, this monocoque (no body-on-frame BS here) SUV comes with a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic driving the rear wheels. With 150 horsepower and 230 Nm, the CX70 sure has enough grunt to run circles around the competition. It’s also a size larger with a wheelbase reaching mid-sized MPV/SUV levels. This gives it enough interior space to truly be practical.

So, what went wrong? Well, it seems Kaicene forgot to loop their engineers in on how to dial the way the CX70 drives. Its biggest flaw is that the entire drivetrain feels so incongruous that every single aspect—engine, transmission, suspension—all feel like they’ve been forced together in a Frankenstein sort of way without any consideration for fit. Again, if you expect mobility in the most basic sense, then this SUV will serve you well. It’s better than walking or taking public transportation, and it happens to shield you from the elements. However, once you expect something more—that’s when the promises fall short.

The CX70’s modest sound deadening is expected in a vehicle in this price range, so there are no qualms or criticisms against that. But the countless little sounds like the clicks from the solenoids, switches turning the AC compression on, or even the audible spring whenever a steering wheel button’s pressed are constant annoyances. It also lessens your faith in the overall build quality even if the construction is quite alright. There’s this constant fear that something might just break loose on you when you’re on the road.

Speaking about being on the road, things get even more problematic for the CX70, especially in stop-and-go traffic. The engine and gearbox rarely click. Finally having a 7-seater SUV fitted with an automatic at this price range is great for consumers, but the constant gear hunting would make you want a manual instead. As it stands, it’s rarely in sync with what you want. Instead, it seemingly has a mind of its own, opting to give you too little, or too much power often at unexpected times (when was the last time you had a car give you an upshift mid-corner?).

The same problem affects the steering. Again, its positioning as basic motoring fare means having to dial down the expectations. But good god—even then, there’s something wrong. A compromised driving position is almost expected at this price point (you tend to sit a bit too close to the offset pedals), but the CX70 finds a way to throw your “tanchameter” out of whack. The steering starts out quick near the center, slows down and turns all mushy mid-turn, and quickens again towards the end. This, together with the weak-ass brakes and tendency to drift even at moderate speeds doesn’t inspire confidence even when doing simple maneuvers like U-turns. And it’s a shame because the ride’s soft enough (but not plush) with none of the unfiltered jolts that would affect other small MPVs and SUVs. There is a notoriously large blind spot too at the right rear quarter.

For those who’re not so concerned with the way it drives, the CX70 is a well-thought-of package. It’s pretty obvious that the Kaicene people paid more attention to that aspect.

Starting with the most important part of any people mover, the interior, you get three rows of seats. It won’t give mid-sized SUVs a run for their money, but there’s ample space—be it head, shoulder, or leg room across all three rows. Moreover, the second row has a center arm rest and a 60/40 split-folding and sliding function. The second row doesn’t tumble forward (the recline is adjustable though), but getting into the third row is easy enough thanks to the wide opening doors. The third row itself also folds in a 50/50 split and even tumbles up. The execution’s crude and all, but it does lend some usable space.

Then, there’s the list of standard features. Mind you, this is priced like a basic 7-seater SUV, but for as long as you don’t mind the handful of mis-spelt English words in the dashboard, you get leather seats, a touchscreen-based entertainment system (sorry, no Apple CarPlay) with 6 speakers, a dual aircon setup (no ceiling-mounted vents though), passive keyless entry with a push button starter, and heck, even a sunroof. Plus, it comes with stability control with hill start assist, rear parking sensors with camera, and even a right-side curb monitor.

In terms of looks, again, don’t expect too much since the CX70’s shaped more for function over form. Still, it’s pleasant enough and in some quarters, tends to look inspired by Land Rovers. Whatever you think of the shame, it does have LED daytime running lights (the headlights are halogen units though), front and rear fog lights, and in a pleasant surprise, 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with a tire brand befitting a Shang-Chi villain: Chao Yang.

At this point, it’s easy to dismiss the Kaicene CX70 as a godawful choice. True enough, for those with more sophisticated taste in cars, this SUV won’t be enough. It’s a sad drive, and that’s even for a class of vehicle not usually known for dynamics. But before dismissing or dissing it altogether, it still has its merits—and that comes in the form of its value-for-money positioning. Yes, you can certainly go for a used MPV or SUV at this point, but for those who’ve set their sights on buying new, it’s hard to beat. It looks and drives like a penalty box, but surprises with its combination of features and price.

2022 Kaicene CX70 1.5T

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Ownership 2022 Kaicene CX70 1.5T
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 150 @ 5,500
Nm @ rpm 230 @ 2,000-4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 93~
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.95 km/L @ 18 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,705
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,775
Wheelbase (mm) 2,780
Curb Weight (kg) 1,490
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Manual
Tires Chao Yang SU318 H/T 215/60R17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Curb Camera (Right)
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 6-way, Manual
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual
Seating Surface Leatherette
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40, sliding (2nd row),
50/50 (3rd row)
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Manual w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity None
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. It will be better if they add Apple Carplay and Android Auto to this vehicle.

  2. If people based on its dimensions written on-paper, it's as big as the first innova and almost as big as some of the previous-gen ppvs lol.

    1. It is big. No criticism against interior space. It's flexible too.

  3. maka land rover ang peg sa front hehehe. And you know what's concerning is that this brand doesn't even have an official website....even globally.

  4. This Kaicene CX70 is a Good alternative CAR Choice for Family looking for 7seater Capacity. And those who can't afford the Best selling Mitsubishi Expander. With Turbo Power and LR Euro Look Body design it's a Winner.

  5. You're very harsh here Sir Uly, but that is what makes you an authentic car reviewer Sir. Thank you always for your honest reviews :)

  6. it seems that you have reviewed a defective test drive car.

    1. Not possible. I got the unit right after another major publication reviewed it. We talked about our findings privately, he had the same observations I did. Only difference? He pulled his punches in his review. I didn't.

  7. Hi Sir Uly... Can I ask its build quality? Like if you pass through on not so smooth roads, does the dashboard and other plastic parts makes a sound or clutter? Thanks

    1. The demo unit felt pretty well screwed together. There were some minor creaking sounds, but nothing major.

  8. Will this do as an alternate option to the suzuki apv glx? Both are priced at around 800k. Thanks!

  9. salute to you sir uly. I've read so many car and motorcycle reviews but the one you have here is so direct to the point and very honest. you are so brave to write the cons without hesitation. this is the reason why I started to hang here in carguide. ph.


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