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Toyota Rush – Don’t rush into buying one until you read this

The Toyota Rush is Toyota’s answer to the Honda BR-V. Both models follow the concept of offering a quasi-SUV looking body with seven seats. It’s essentially an MPV for people who don’t want an MPV.

Sounds like a great concept, except for one problem, and it’s a very huge one too. The Perodua Aruz is essentially the same as the Toyota Rush, except for some minor details. Both cars are made at the same Perodua plant in Rawang.

The Perodua Aruz is, as you would expect, costs a lot less too. So why bother with a Toyota Rush then? Read on.

Is it actually a Toyota or a Perodua?

Neither. It’s actually a Daihatsu. The Toyota Rush/Perodua Aruz is developed by Daihatsu. The car started life in Indonesia as the Daihatsu Terios, where the Daihatsu plant in Karawang also makes a Toyota-badged version of the same car.

Indonesia's Daihatsu Terios

The same arrangement is adapted in Malaysia, with Daihatsu’s Malaysian outpost Perodua doing the manufacturing, selling it under the Perodua (and Toyota) badge.

Same cars with different names.

But the engine is from Toyota?

Yes and no. The Toyota Rush’s 2NR-VE engine is co-developed by Toyota and its subsidiary Daihatsu.

In Malaysia, the engine is built by Perodua, at the Daihatsu Perodua Engine Manufacturing (DPEM) plant in Sendayan.

And contrary to what Wikipedia and many other websites say, the engine 2NR-VE is an aluminum block, shared with the Perodua Myvi. It’s also shared with the Toyota Yaris and Vios, despite using a slightly different 2NR-FE code.

Both the 2NR-FE and 2NR-VE have the same 1,496 cc displacement, uses Dual VVT-i and aluminum block construction.

In Malaysia, the two engines come from the same DPEM plant in Sendayan. The difference in codes is only to differentiate between Toyota-developed models versus Daihatsu-developed models. Otherwise, the two engines are identical. 

Is it underpowered?

To be clear, there is no such thing as an underpowered car. If a car is underpowered, it wouldn't be able to carry its own weight up an incline, something which even the smallest Perodua Axia has no problem doing. Fast and slow is relative.

Yes, a 1.5-litre engine can easily move a fully loaded 7-seven seater - people who say it can't, don't understand how gear ratios work.

However as a direct result of the lower gear ratios used, the engine speed can be quite high at highway speeds, which affects fuel consumption.

As expected, acceleration is average but comparable to its rivals in this segment. Our own 0-100 km/h tests reveal a time of 15.7 seconds, while 0-100-0 km/h is done in 19.3 seconds.

Is it better to buy the Perodua Aruz or the Toyota Rush?

The Perodua Aruz. For obvious reasons. The Perodua Aruz (tops out at RM 77,900) is over RM 20,000 cheaper, and it matches the Toyota Rush’s (tops out at RM 98,000) offering, except for three items:

  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • 360-degree camera
  • Dual-tone dashboard with faux stitching

Unless of course you have no interest in stepping inside a Perodua service centre and prefer Toyota’s after-sales, which is still the best in the country.

To each his/her own.

Is it a Toyota Avanza underneath it?

Yes. The Toyota Rush (and Perodua Aruz) is essentially a rebodied Toyota Avanza, itself started life as a Daihatsu Xenia. In fact, our Toyota Avanza is imported from the same Daihatsu plant in Indonesia that makes the Daihatsu Terios/Toyota Rush for the Indonesian market.

The Toyota Avanza/Daihatsu Xenia forms the basis for the Toyota Rush/Perodua Aruz

It even uses the same 1.5-litre engine and 4-speed automatic rear-wheel drive transmission.

Does it drive the same as a Toyota Avanza then?

Despite using the same powertrain, the Toyota Rush drives rather differently from the Toyota Avanza, mainly due to the former’s bigger wheels - 17-inch versus 15-inch.

The bigger wheels make the Rush felt more planted at highway speeds so it’s slightly more comfortable than the Avanza but the wider tyres are also more sensitive to uneven road surfaces, thus requiring more minute steering corrections.

Fuel consumption will also see a corresponding increase, but only slightly. Expect about 8- to 9-litre/100 km, depending on your driving route and throttle habits.

At highway speeds, it’s also a bit quieter than the Toyota Avanza, but it still can’t match the Honda BR-V.

The bigger tyres also compromised the Rush’s turning circle, which in the rear-wheel drive Avanza was a super-tight 4.7 metre - probably the best in any car - to a rather average 5.2 metre, meaning that it isn’t any better than a front-wheel drive Perodua Myvi.

It is however, still better than a Honda BR-V’s 5.58 metre.

Is it suitable for families?

Yes, but only if you are not carrying elderly family members or toddlers.

With a 220 mm high ground clearance, the Toyota Rush is not bothered by flash floods (within acceptable limits of course).

However, that ruggedness also makes it more difficult for less mobile elderly or toddlers to climb into or exit the vehicle.

The Honda BR-V’s 201 mm high ground clearance is more manageable but if ease of access is a priority, nothing beats MPVs with sliding doors.

It’s a shame Toyota no longer sell the Sienta (many local consumers have yet to learn to understand the benefits of sliding doors) but you can still find used ones.

Otherwise, the Toyota Rush is a very spacious car. Even the third-row seats are suitable for adults of up to 170 ++ cm tall.

Access into the third row is easy enough, as the second-row seats can slide forward and back, fold and tumble.

Is it safe?

It’s actually quite good. Nothing exceptional but very acceptable for its price.

It has a 5-start ASEAN NCAP score. It scored a highly commendable 31.14 points out of a maximum of 36.00 points for adult occupant protection and 41.81 out of 49.00 for child occupant protection, covering both frontal and side impact collisions.

You get six airbags, electronic stability control, ISOFIX anchors for child seats and even autonomous emergency braking (Pre-Crash).

You also get blind spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert (useful when reversing out into a busy street) and a 360-degree parking camera – all of which are not available in the Perodua Aruz.

Does it have 4WD?

No. It’s only a two-wheel drive (rear) vehicle. However when compared to the Honda BR-V, or even the Proton Exora, the Toyota Rush is better suited for rough, pothole-ridden roads. It is afterall, designed with Indonesian roads in mind. 

There are two variants of the Toyota Rush, which one should I buy?

If you have decided on the Toyota Rush, just go for the 1.5S at RM 97,000. The difference between the two variants is only RM 4,000.

The additional money buys you the Pre-Crash safety feature, which works as claimed, as well as leather seats, automatic headlamps (LED is already on the 1.5G), and additional control buttons on the leather wrapped steering wheel (urethane on 1.5G) for Bluetooth telephone.  

Is the fuel consumption high?

The new aluminum block engine is actually a lot better than the previous iron block one used by the Avanza, and thus it’s actually not bad – not exceptional but acceptable for a seven-seater.

Estimates are around 8- to 9-litres/100 km in the city and 7-litres/100 on highways, all depending on driving habits.

Either way it’s still a lot better than the Proton Exora – the other popular 7-seater in this price range, but can’t match the Honda BR-V, which is still the most efficient.

Is it comfortable?

It’s surprisingly good. Nothing exceptional but definitely very acceptable for what it is.

As expected, it’s more bumpy in the third row but for everyone else, it gives a rather supply ride.