You’re in the market for a new family mover. The kids need more space now with all their sports equipment, the roads are getting worse before they hopefully get better. Also, Colombo seems to flood at the slightest hint of rain so you want something with a bit of clearance! You need to think about resale, but can’t be bothered taking a leap of faith with hybrids, and want something reasonably economical as well. So what do you get??
Well, Toyota seem to have an answer. In a market obsessed with the Toyota brand and mini/urban/SUV/CUV type cars, they have managed to fill a void with their latest entrant. Built in Indonesia by subsidiary, Daihatsu; Toyota have revamped the popular Rush compact SUV. If you do remember the previous Rush, then it would bode well to let go of that memory, as the new one is a wee bit different.
For starters, now the Rush is based off the Avanza MPV, and from certain angles it does show. Using the same unibody platform, it is available with a tried and tested 1.5 unit, the 2NR-VE, mated to a 4 speed automatic transmission, which drives the Rear-wheels! In an age when many manufacturers tend to move towards compact utility vehicles driving the front-wheels due to various reasons, by aiming for economies of scale, Toyota have managed to retain the traditional view that rear-wheel drive is better at lugging around loads. This is true of course, as evidenced by the Ashok Leyland Vikings and Comets that terrorize our roads.
Great! So you have an option besides the run of the mill Vezel/Premio set. But is it good value? Is the Rush really worthy of your attention and hard-earned money? Is it really up to endure the challenges of the rat-race we run? Let’s find out. Toyota Lanka have enjoyed such a Rush (pun intended) from customers that we couldn’t get a car from them for test as they, well, had none. So we got one from Milindu Mallawaratchie of Mal-Key Rent-a-car (he bought a fleet of Rushes from Toyota Lanka), so all worked out well.
Funky, is probably the first adjective that will come to mind, as the Rush, in contemporary Toyota fashion, cuts a sharp figure. It is a striking design that fits right in with the current trend of design language seen in this segment, especially of Asian origin.
Up front the Rush has your typical wide angle Toyota grill, which is capped with a rather handsome contoured bonnet that makes the Rush look like it means business. The jagged character line that ascends as it runs the course of the side of the car, and the pronounced wheel arches, add a sense of toughness that was definitely not a part of the previous generation Rush’s design brief.
The rear is finished with prominent horizontal tail lights that are bigger, but similar to those found on the current generation Rav4. The well-proportioned windows around strike a great balance between size and design, as overall the Rush looks very sleek, though it sits tall. The rear three-quarter view however, while being the best perspective to view most cars, in this case does not do the Rush justice, and the proportions from this angle betray its Avanza origins. No matter though, as this fact has resulted in a lot of positives for the Rush.
In general the car exudes a sense of ruggedness, and this is demonstrated by the raw plastic bumper ends and corners, relatively steep approach and descent angles, and sporty 17 inch alloy wheels, further accentuated by generous ground clearance all around.
Mechanicals & Technology
The 2NR-VE engine is a 1.5 litre (1496cc) in-line four cylinder DOHC petrol engine, pushing out 104PS (102HP) of peak power at 6000 rpm and 136Nm of torque at 4200rpm, equipped with dual-VVTi, or variable valve timing, mated to a traditional 4 speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels in the Toyota Rush.
The tech doesn’t sound all-new, and it isn’t. Toyota have gone with the ‘no school like the old school’ mantra and stuck to what works best in this part of the world, even ensuring that the engine block is high-tensile steel, known to be more durable in commercial applications and less susceptible to overheating.
There is nothing commercial about the chassis and suspension, as the Rush boasts a unibody construction, as well as Macpherson struts up front and a 5 link/Multi-link setup at the rear, garnished with coil springs and stabilizer bars all around. The Rush has the expected front disc/rear drum combo for braking. For all the 4x4 impressions the Rush emanates, its chassis and suspension sound very car like. How does this translate in real world situations? Motor took the Rush through its natural habitat to find out.
The driving position is good, as you sit higher up, although the steering wheel can be adjusted for tilt, but not reach. That’s bad news if you have long legs but shorter arms. Still, it’s not a bad place to be. All the instruments are well lit, and legible even in the sunniest weather, and the 3 spoke steering wheel is sporty with a good amount of buttons (no multi-function overkill here), faux aluminium and leather stitched. The cabin is airy and has great visibility all-around, with an A-pillar that isn’t too obtrusive.
Our test run started off through the beginning of school traffic, the perfect conditions to test the Rush, as this is poised to be a school-run superstar. The high seating position is a boon, as you can experience the command driving position of an SUV, towering above the average motorcar. Note that this is no small city car, this is a proper 7 seater (we’ll get to that bit in a while), and as such the Rush has the dimensions you would expect. We found ourselves checking for any tuks and bikes that got too close, although the Rush does have a generous application of plastic on the bumpers; probably meant for this sort of traffic which is quite common in this part of the world.
The engine has decent steam to get the Rush moving, although it is advisable to really plan your overtakes and activities like merging onto the highway, and work that 4 speed automatic to the hilt, using all the available options of manipulating downshifts, like the quick slide over to 3rd from D. Still, if driven smart, you should be able to manage. Also, peak torque comes in pretty high in the rev band, so the engine really needs to be given a bit of a whipping to get moving. Nevertheless, the 2NR-VE works well in urban spaces.
For such a tall vehicle, the Rush handles corners quite well. It isn’t a sports-car, but the stabilizers and coil-sprung corners do work hard coupled with the real 5-link suspension to present a stable ride, with a smidgen of controlled body roll. The Rush also deals with ruts and potholes well.
Overall the Rush is a good vehicle to drive about, with great visibility all-around, only let down by the under-powered engine. If this car had 10HP more, and torque entering the room a little earlier in the rev-band, it would be perfect. Oh yes. All-wheel drive may have been a great addition as well, given that this car has better clearance than so-called rugged mini-SUVs, although seeing as very few people actually ever take their 4x4s/Crossovers off-road, the Rush being RWD isn’t so bad. Still, it is one point to the previous gen car, which had AWD capabilities.
Living with the Rush
The front seats are bolstered well, and are quite car-like, which might be preferred by many who make the switch from cars. The seats are not the most glamorous, but are very functional and equally comfortable. The dash is very well made, and while not entirely bare-bones, there are some nice touches, such as generous servings of piano black around the AC vents and entertainment console as well as leather-look plastic with faux stitching! The AC controls are clear and well placed, positive to touch and bring with them that sense of Toyota familiarity. You won’t find gadgets here, and this actually reminds me of the no nonsense Land Cruiser 70 series. Unlike that car though, there are some slithers of chrome that dart about the cabin. The door cards have a nice application of that faux-leather stitching which is a rugged but nice touch.
Cup-holders. Let’s discuss. How many would you think ‘adequate’ for a vehicle. Well the Rush’s development team seem to prefer to stay well hydrated, as seen by the multitude of cup-holders dotted around the cabin. The centre console has a useful rubberized tray for keeping your phone and keys, a small recess for a parking card sized item and THREE cup-holders. That’s just the centre console. The front doors. TWO on either side. The Rear doors have two in a bi-level set up. The third row has two as well. That’s THIRTEEN cup-holders, of varying sizes (Some can hold big bottles as well). Amazing!
Every row of seating has a 12v socket, perfect for powering devices that keep kids occupied and adults connected. Right above the second row is a row of AC vents à la Hiace Super Custom (Dolphin, obviously), quite welcome. You know development has taken place in the ASEAN region when you see features like these.
The 7 inch infotainment screen was a Pioneer unit, and was clear and easy to navigate through. The Rush boasts all the features expected in this segment, from IPOD/IPHONE connectivity (which can be conveniently placed in the rubberized tray and charged by the 12v socket placed right above), Bluetooth, radio, USD, CD, DVD, etc. Your favourite tunes can be pumped out of 8 speakers dotted around the cabin as well. The sound seemed quite well balanced as well to my lay ears, but being a Toyota, speaker upgrades can be done with ease. What was missed, was a central arm-rest/cubby for the front row, which could have been cooled as well for drinks, instead of the three cup-holders.
The 2nd row seats are comfortable and well contoured, although the middle passenger will have to deal with the transmission tunnel, this being a RWD vehicle. The 3rd row too, surprisingly is quite adequate for adults on the lower side of six feet. They should be able to manage a one hour commute to the city with ease. Should you find yourself needing to do an airport run, transport a bike or that second-hand Japanese lawnmower for service, worry not for the Rush has one of the most cavernous load areas in town. Folding the 3rd row and even the 2nd row will give you plenty of room to transport longer items. However, it would’ve been better to have a cleverer solution to make the load area flat, by folding the 3rd row up like in the Prado, or the ability to remove them completely.
Overall, the Rush’s cabin is finished well with rugged materials that are nice to touch, in typical Toyota fashion, and have been designed with families in mind. There was nothing flimsy about any bit of the airy cabin, and it goes to show that this car is designed to last.
The Rush comes standard with 6 SRS airbags, Vehicle Stability Control, indicators with all 7 seat belts (Which is perfect for big families), Anti-lock braking system, hill-start assist and an emergency brake signal ( very effective on the highway and sudden stop situations). This amounts to an ASEAN NCAP crash-test rating of 5 stars, which is reassuring in the current context of horrifying accidents we’ve seen recently. More than options and ‘gold-badges’ it would bode-well for the Sri Lankan consumer and authorities to focus more on crash ratings of cars to make our roads safer in addition to more stringent drivers education, as well as stronger consequences for those who decide to put lives in danger by driving home, intoxicated, no matter who they are.
Fuel Economy & Price
The Rush aims to strike a balance, between car-like usability, MPV-like practicality and SUV-like versatility. It does these well, returning economy figures of 9km/l on an urban cycle, very impressive for a car of this size. Recall that Toyota’s engineering boffins are fuel economy champs, extracting mild-boggling figures achievable by the average man or woman from regular 1.5L engines.
Price-wise, the Rush is priced at LKR 8.1 Mn rupees, which puts it in the midst of a lot of options, but for the reasons listed above, might be the wisest thing you can do with your hard earned rupees, if purely from an investment perspective. Also it’s a Toyota in Sri Lanka, so selling it on when the time comes would be a cinch and might even net you a small profit!
So how does the Rush compare? The Rush is a vehicle for the family, and a responsible choice from a financial perspective. Even from a mechanical sense, Toyota have not tried to re-invent the wheel but stuck to a formula that works.
Unsurprisingly Toyota are masters are perfecting a design/concept brief. They’ve had a host of hits over the decades, of cars that silently serve families managing only with basic, periodic service. Which it would’ve been nice to have a bit more power, the Rush excels in many ways as solid dependable transport, with oodles of practical touches. This is no Great Pretender, though it may look like a mini-Fortuner, the Rush is exactly what it is supposed to be. If you are in the market for such a vehicle, that will serve you without pretence, is well designed and straight-forward with what it delivers, look no further.
Thanks to Milindu Mallawaratchie and Mal-Key for the vehicle.
102bhp @ 6,000rpm
136Nm @ 4,200rpm
Rear wheel drive
Front – Disc
Rear – Drum
Wheels & Tyres
215/60 R17 all round
Top speed 165km/h
Kerb Weight: 1,870kg
Fuel Tank: 45L
Boot Space: 465L