Toyota Rush: Everything you want in your first SUV

Toyota Rush: Everything you want in your first SUV

As attractive as SUVs are for auto buyers, they’re not exactly the most affordable mode of transportation on four wheels. That distinction will go to the Wigo subcompact and similar models in that segment. But if you already have a small family or simply want to move up to a bigger vehicle there are very few choices in the P1 million price point.

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T side

Two years ago, Toyota launched the Rush. It’s an SUV that’s configured in either as a five- or seven-seater with the ground clearance that you want, cabin space you need, at a price that’s within reach. 

Without further ado, let me to tell you about my week with the Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T.

Exterior

Its body makes it look more like the multi-purpose vehicle Avanza than the RAV4 SUV but, and it’s been said before, it does have a little bit of the Fortuner in it especially when viewed from the side. No expense was spared to give it a body worth calling an SUV – with plenty of curves from the hood, along the sides and even the hatch, to make the basic, utilitarian shape appear more upscale.

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T rear quarter

Adding to the expressive surface is a shark’s fin antenna, a rear spoiler for added flair, blacked-out front/rear bumpers and rocker panels, plus skid plates that complement the body color very well.

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T wheel

Its stock wheel size is 16 inches, but seeing as the wheel well has extra space, it could definitely accommodate 18s for a more stylish look. Ground clearance is higher than the competition at 220mm, and it even offers SUV-level approach (front) and departure (rear) angles.

Interior

 You’ll notice it’s slimmer compared to the Fortuner or even the RAV4, but cabin space for five is still very impressive. Without the third row, which is only available in the G trim, the rear becomes a very large area for cargo.

How large? It’s massive in comparison to the Rush’s size and even to others in its class. I wish the driver’s seat was bigger, though. It feels just a bit too tight, which is surprising considering this model is not exclusive to Asia as it is also available in South Africa and the Middle East. At P1.008 million, you get a plain plastic dashboard in the cabin enhanced by different colored panels and chrome accents

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T steering wheel

The three-spoke steering wheel is simple and comes only with audio controls on the left spoke.

What I did appreciate about the cabin were the second-row aircon vents and the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with tilt function that allows you to angle the screen up or down to reduce glare.

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T screen 850 x 420

Engine

I would have personally preferred a diesel engine, but the gasoline engine is amply powered and perfectly suited for city driving. It has a 1.5-liter displacement and puts out 102ps and 134 Nm of torque.

It’s super snappy from a standstill and will do great in bumper-to-bumper traffic if you’re the type who likes to go with the flow during rush hour. Where it feels wanting is the four-speed automatic gearbox. It feels strained when I hit highway speeds and also stays maybe a second or two longer in second gear, that in turn brings the revs way past 2,000. I averaged 8.9 kilometers per liter in pure city driving, but I could have done better and saved a lot more fuel had I not pushed it a lot.

Ride and handling

It’s classified as an SUV, but the frame it uses is based on the Avanza. Seating is very comfortable for five with plenty of luggage space to boot, but expect it to be rigid and the suspension stiff, which will become more evident when you hit rough patches along EDSA.

Steering is tight, precise, and relatively light on the arms just like a proper SUV. Its slim body though combined with the high ground clearance doesn’t make for great rollover resistance. If you live in flood-prone areas or occasionally encounter really rough roads, you’re going to love the 31-degree approach and 26-degree departure angles that should keep you from getting bogged down.

Verdict

This unit is probably the perfect example why Toyota continues to lead the market in sales. As the demand for SUVs rise, they offer a product that allows people on a more limited budget to upgrade without giving up a kidney.

Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T cockpit 850 x 420

 Prior to the Rush, there wasn’t an SUV priced this low from a Japanese automaker. If you want to benefit from the features of an SUV without having to pay luxury prices through the nose, the 2019 Toyota Rush 1.5 E A/T could just be your ticket into the segment.

Photos by Eric Tipan

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