Words by Carlo G. Tirona Photos by Jerel Fajardo and Randy Silva-Netto
The getaway.. Easily the best way to wash off the hustle and bustle that the Metro blankets us with, day in and day out. We strive and wait in anticipation for that weekend or summer break that we long for, itching to head out to clear and sunny skies. The roads are long and winding, the company is excellent . Where the grass is greener, the air is a little bit lighter and somehow the beer is that much sweeter.
Just as important as your destination is the car that takes you there. With which it provides you freedom from all the chains that hold you down during a regular weekday. To break free and roam to your heart’s content, stretching its legs yet squeezing every inch of economy that you can to get as far away from your troubles and even for just a weekend. It has to be a spacious as well, able to carry necessities such as beer. There are other things too like food, luggage, outdoor & indoor paraphernalia. But most especially, beer.
It’s got to be quick too. Long have you waited to get out of the bumper to bumper traffic that plagues your daily drive, so the last thing you want is for you and four of your friends to be stuck with less than a hundred horses heading down to the beach or up towards the mountains.
Meet our contenders; a red trifecta of fine examples that can achieve the aforementioned complete with style and sophistication, loaded with complements and enough juice to keep your right foot happy. The Ford Escape 2.0L EcoBoost, the Mazda CX-5 2.5L Sport and the Subaru Forester 2.0XT. It is well to note that there are time gaps between these models, but they are our choices for a quick and fun getaway.
Our destination: Malabrigo Lighthouse in the quaint town of Lobo, Batangas. 131 kilometers from the nearest CBD via EDSA, SLEX, Star Tollway and the winding roads of Batangas’ mountains. All in all a perfect gumbo of soft road disciplines to see how each automobile responds to long stretches, quick turns and elevation changes. Not to be left out are also the patches of unfinished pavement and medium stoned turf leading up to our destination.
We knew immediately that the turbo-supported engines would do great on the long stretches. The smooth power would peak in properly and timely without a hitch. But how would they fare against a naturally aspirated engine when short bursts of speed are needed, specifically on straights and turns both uphill and downhill? Would they still be as efficient?
Let’s tackle the Ford Escape first; not exactly the oldest or the youngest in the bunch – but perfectly situated right in the middle. With its youth comes great lines, scintillating rims, a powerful stance, and loads of technologies that make it worthwhile. A term we often use is “all the bells and whistles”, something the Escape truly owns up to. From sensors to a sunroof to a power-lift tailgate and everything else in between, the Ford is a great package.
The interior may feel a bit daunting however. When you first step in, it takes a little while to get used to the instrument cluster of both dash and panel. There were so many buttons in so many different locations that it took us a while to get settled and work things, rather than being able to jump in a car and feel your way through the instruments without taking your eyes off the road. It is so competitively priced however, it’s hard to find more faults from the car.
Both the Ford and the Subaru Forester, fared very well on both fuel economy and performance when stretching their legs on the highway, but things started to change when it was time to apply more pressure on the gas pedal and turned towards the tighter roads traversing the mountain. And from the two, this is where the Forester most definitely had an advantage.
Symmetrical all-wheel drive and a turbo. What more else would you want. Lest you forget it’s a Subaru, you will soon be reminded when cornering and applying power. Planted would be an understatement, as too would be fun and ballsy when piloting the Forester to the tune of Danger Zone. Not bad for an older piece of machinery whose replacement should come and retire it soon. As it should, kinks in its armor abound.
The granddaddy of the bunch is the Forester; last updated almost two years ago, time has caught up with interior and it is starting to show its age. Though the instrument cluster is standard and serves its purpose, the rest of the interior is a shadow of its glory days. Weathered in time by natural progression of creature comforts offered by competitors, fans of the soon-to-be-outgoing Forester will soon be able to rally behind a new steed. We hope too that its price point is at a more competitive level.
Which brings us to the only naturally aspirated engine of the group, the Mazda CX-5. The Mazda had better combined fuel economy on this endeavor. It lost no ground when trying to keep up with its turbo counterparts on long stretches, nor the four-wheel drive capability heading all the way to the lighthouse.
Collectively, the first adjective we had to describe the interior of the Mazda was simple. Not to be confused with boring. A sense of familiarity comes soon as you enter the automobile. You may have never sat inside one before, but once you enter the cockpit it is clear which particular knobs and switches perform what specific functions you need done. There isn’t much else to be added when describing the exterior, which is beautiful. Kodo is truly abound.
The youngest of the bunch however, could learn a thing or two from the eldest in the group. For instance, a power tailgate can’t be found on the Mazda but is available on the aging Subaru. Sure, they’re creature comforts, but come on; that should be standard amongst these guys.
Value for money: a very pivotal point when choosing your ride. All things considered; drive, economy, styling, and performance, the Ford comes very close as our second pick, but we have to hand the win to the Mazda CX-5. Both Ford and Mazda will continue to improve even ever so slightly for these products to stay competitive with each another, if not for glory. They may be in the lead now, but count on granddaddy Forester to school them on his return.
Ford Escape 2.0L EcoBoost
Engine: 2.0, Inline-4, dohc, 16V, direct injection, turbo,
Max Power: 240 bhp @ 5,500 rpm
Max Torque: 270 lb ft @ 3,000 rpm
0-100 km/h [0-62 mph]: 7.2 sec.
Top Speed (km/h): 220 km/h (130 mph)
Fuel Milage (km/L): 9.8 km/L Overall
Price as tested: PhP 1,790,000.00
+: Value for money, bells and whistles, best rims of the three
-: Instrument learning curve
Rating: 9.0 / 10
2016 Mazda CX-5 2.5L Sport
Engine: Inline-4, 2488 cc, dohc, 16V, SKYACTIV-G, Direct
Injection, 6-Speed Automatic
Max Power: 185 bhp @ 5,700 rpm
Max Torque: 184 lb ft @ 4,000 rpm
0-100 km/h [0-62 mph]: 8.2 sec.
Top Speed (km/h): 210 km/h (130 mph)
Fuel Milage (km/L): 10.0 km/L Overall
Price as tested: PhP 1,695,000.00
+: Fit & finish, dashboard & function familiarity, Kodo lines
-: No power tailgate
Rating: 9.5 / 10
2016 Subaru Forester 2.0 XT
Engine: Flat-4, 1995 cc, dohc, 16V, direct injection, turbo,
Max Power: 240 bhp @ 6,200 rpm
Max Torque: 258 lb ft @ 4,200 rpm
0-100 km/h [0-62 mph]: 6.7 sec.
Top Speed (km/h): 210 km/h (130 mph)
Fuel Milage (km/L): 8.8 km/L Overall
Price as tested: PhP 1,868,000.00
+: Symmetrical all-wheel drive and a turbo
-: Dated interior
Rating: 8.5 / 10