Until recently, SUVs were niche products popular with “certain types” of people. These days, however, they’ve become the norm, and the Toyota Rush is the latest of this new normal.
The Toyota Fortuner is a phenomenon. It’s neither a rich man’s nor a poor man’s vehicle; you feel at home in it regardless of the state of your bank balance. It gets used as both a city-driving car that hardly ever sees dirt, and as a holiday vehicle with hundreds of thousands of kilometres on the clock. Yes, there’s a Fortuner for everyone. But it’s become too expensive for young people and pensioners who need to stretch their rands. And there’s an increasing number of people who realise that they will probably never use a Fortuner’s off-road abilities, or all seven seats. For them there’s a simpler, baby Fortuner: the Toyota Rush.
What do we have here?
The Rush is basically a Daihatsu Terios (which isn’t sold in South Africa anymore) with Toyota badges. ( The Daihatsu Terios is actually based on the Toyota Avanza, which is sold locally.) Despite the crossbreeding, the Rush won’t replace the Avanza in South Africa, and you’ll find both models in a Toyota dealership. The big difference between the Rush and the Avanza is that the Rush has a larger luggage space (609 ℓ versus the Avanza’s 128 ℓ). Toyota decided to remove the sixth and seventh seats to create a significantly bigger boot. There are still remnants of the Avanza’s third bench, such as the rear armrests and cup holders that now serve no one. The boot also doesn’t have a cover you can pull over, to hide your property from prying eyes and itchy fingers. Inside, the Rush is quite snazzy. There’s a big touchscreen in the centre console, with a media centre with radio, CD and MP3 player, satellite navigation, and a function that will mirror popular apps
from your Apple or Android smartphone; there’s also a reverse camera. The materials used can’t be described as luxurious, but they’re easy to clean. The dashboard is Kalahari dust-proof, and you can wipe the fabric seats with a wet cloth after your little one spills her ice cream.
The manual transmission’s first gear is rather short – it’s nice and strong, if you’re towing a heavy trailer up a hill, but it also means you have to switch to second almost immediately once you get going. The 1.5 ℓ petrol engine delivers only 77 kW, but the performance feels good thanks to the short gear shifts. At 120 km/h (4 000 rpm) it does sound like the Rush is losing steam, when you hear how the engine labours to maintain speed. But there’s still some oomph left, and a top speed of 165 km/h is theoretically possible. A sixth gear would have been great, even just to put a stop to the engine’s whining at 4 000 rpm. The Rush relies on rear-wheel drive, which is definitely not ideal for dirt roads and wet conditions, but it’s simple and dependable. And that’s exactly what you’re looking for in this type of vehicle.
The Rush will no doubt sell like hotcakes. Is Toyota cannibalising buyers from its own RAV4 market? We don’t think so; it’s probably more likely that Corolla sales will suffer. Because who wants to be limited by an ordinary sedan, if you can own an SUV for the same price?
NO-THRILLS SATISFACTION. The interior is at once basic and smart. Yes, the stitching on the faux-leather dashboard is fake, and the ‘metal’ is merely silver-painted plastic, but it doesn’t come across as deceitful. It actually seems appropriate and sensible to use hard-wearing, low-maintenance materials that are easy to keep clean.