We can’t help but feel a bit sentimental around the Toyota Rush, simply because it’s been part of some very significant moments in Top Gear Philippines history. The last time we had it, it was being photographed for the cover of the final print issue of TGP. The Toyota Rush is also the car that ushered in a new era for us, as we went fully digital shortly after its magazine release.
It’s been roughly four months since we did that last, slightly emotional cover shoot (check out the #feels in this video). The team has had enough time to adjust, and we’re all-in for whatever challenges lie ahead. Misty eyes have dried and the digital dust has settled. We have the Rush again, so now let’s talk about it without the influence of any sappy feelings.
“Baby Fortuner” is a phrase that gets loosely thrown around in conversations about the Rush, and legitimately so. It’s not small, so it can command its own space on the road just like it’s bigger sibling. It’s not a fast car (more on this later), but has just enough size to have presence. More shared design cues with the Fortuner include the thin headlights, vented front bumper, high tail, rear spoiler, roof rails, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Yet, despite these, the Rush has a look of its own. High bodylines present a sporty look while creating the illusion of appearing taller than it actually is. The short nose gives it an almost toy-like quality, and this is further accentuated by the two playful 'horns' protruding from the car’s hood. The Rush is more fun-looking than the sterner Fortuner.
Two things drivers are constantly in contact with are the steering wheel and the driver’s seat, so let’s start with those. The Rush’s steering wheel isn’t made from premium materials, but the built-in audio controls are easy to use, so points for functionality (the speakers sound good, too). The seats, we actually like. The plushness is noticeable after a few minutes of being stuck in traffic. Also, Toyota seems to have added some extra layers of foam to the seat cushion so that you get this quasi-bucket seat feeling. The added support on the sides is good and it doesn’t feel overdone.
Headroom and legroom up front and in the middle row are more than adequate. The same cannot be said about the third row, but that’s expected. There’s still some space to move your legs back there, but it isn’t much. But, hey, at least the seats have that extra padding.
It was mentioned earlier that the Rush isn’t fast, and here’s why: It uses the same 1.5-liter DOHC Dual VVT-i gasoline engine as the smaller Avanza. The Avanza isn’t quick to begin with, and if you put its engine in the Rush, which is approximately 500kg heavier, you can expect the power-to-weight ratio to suffer. The Rush’s four-speed automatic gearbox is a bit sluggish, too. It doesn’t engage upon immediate input from the throttle, and doesn’t have the kind of acceleration that’s needed in quick overtake situations. Getting up to speed takes a while, and this is achieved only by mashing the gas pedal just to get the revs up.
Fuel consumption was an average 8km/L, but this can improve after understanding that this car isn’t built for speed. The Rush really can’t be rushed, so there’s no real need to push it and waste fuel in the process.
The Rush’s ride height gives drivers a commanding view of the road, and the 600mm wading depth capacity is just what every flood-faring Pinoy needs. But the taller stance also makes the Rush prone to body roll, so take it easy around the corners in this thing. A noticeably stiff suspension attempts to compensate for this instability, which results in a very bouncy ride. Passengers in the third row will notice this the most, as the back hops up on even the smallest of bumps. Thank God for that extra padding on the seats, right?
The Rush is only comparable to the Fortuner as far as styling and size go. Under the hood, the Rush can’t even be mentioned in the same breath as its big brother. But it has the size and the utility to get things done. And it’s A LOT cheaper, too. So, if you want a big car that doesn’t break the bank and don’t mind it being underpowered, then the Rush might just be for you.
Engine: 1.5 liter DOHC Dual VVT-i Gasoline
Transmission: 4-speed AT
Power: 102hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 134Nm @ 4,200rpm
Drive layout: RWD