Car names have run automakers into trouble over the years with some badly translating badly as they cross language and cultural boundaries – one merely has to think of the Chevy Nova and Mitsubishi Pajero – while others have, for whatever reason, signalled the death-knell of the model; here think Edsel.
Why exactly Toyota chose to name its small SUV the Rush is not clear, although clearer is the fact it is generally not in one!
Rush as a word tends to indicate speedy, whereas the Toyota’s mini Fortuner is an urban creeper and pithed very specifically at that market where it faces off against the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Ford EcoSport and even the Renault Duster.
The Rush is also limited to a five-seater, keeping it clear of competition with the seven-seat Avanza on the local market, although it is sold in that format in other markets. While it also shares much with the Avanza, the Rush is more of the Daihatsu Terios, a company that sits within the Toyota stable.
The Toyota Rush features a prominent angular design with pointed, upswept LED headlamps and large trapezoidal grille. The grille features wide horizontal slats finished off in dark grey and a centrally mounted Toyota emblem. An inverted contour line separates the upper and lower air-dams and creates a triangular space which house the fog lamps. A silver-hued skid plate and twin hood bulges round off the front façade.
From the side that front end looked to me as if the bumper was falling off – my wife, however, saw an eagle in flight. Eye of the beholder and all that.
The rear design centres on the LED-equipped rear lamp clusters, which carry strong horizontal lines and a similarly inverted contour line flowing from the bumper to the rear diffuser area.
Overall the Rush presents a neat and tidy package as able to grace the parking lot of an upmarket bistro as it is the dusty roads of a wildlife haven.
Inside, the upper dashboard houses a touchscreen audio system, equipped with Bluetooth, USB and Android Auto Plus Show/Apple CarPlay functionality. This audio unit also offers a user-customisable layout and ‘apps’ – a must-have for any millennial customer.
The lower dashboard contains the dual-zone electronic climate control, 12-volt accessory connector and storage area.
High-contrast taupe trim and chrome accent pieces are utilised on the facia and door panels to add an air of brightness to the cabin and the 3-spoke leather steering wheel with tilt function and remote switches provide the driver with a firm grip of the road.
For taller drivers telescopic reach on the steering would be a bonus, although I had no problem as an average height person finding a truly comfortable driving position.
The instrument cluster features legible graphics with a cool blue semi-circular motif and chrome surrounds. A centrally-mounted multi-information display relays user-selectable information to the driver, which includes a colour Eco indicator.
Road trips require ample cupholders and storage compartments and Rush certainly delivers on this front. The front door pockets make provision for two bottles, whilst the rear doors feature a cupholder integrated into the door handle which is supplemented by a traditional low-mounted bottle holder. A 12-volt power outlet is also provided for rear occupants, bringing the tally to two.
The centre console provides three more cupholders, accessible from both front and second row seats, while a 6,4-litre glove compartment and driver-side storage binnacle, place items out of sight.
Some 609 litres of luggage capacity is provided, and the rear seats can also be folded forward independently to further boost cargo space.
A broad array of safety features are included in Rush; the active safety systems include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), anti-lock braking system and Hill Assist Control (HAC).
The passive safety systems comprise a total of six air bags which protect occupants in the event of a collision – driver, passenger, side and curtain air bags are provided.
Interfacing with the smart entry system, an alarm and immobiliser, as well as auto door lock function control vehicle access.
Drive is provided by a 1,5-litre four-cylinder DOHC engine, with outputs of 77 kW at 6 000 r/min and 136 Nm of torque at 4 200 r/min. The engine utilises Toyota’s VVT-i system to boost efficiencies.
Buyers have a choice of either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic – driving the rear wheels.
The gear ratios are exceptionally short and the Rush hurries to peak revs in each gear and then highway cruising in fifth is achieved around 4 000 r/min accompanied by an uncomfortably loud engine noise, as irritating as it is unnecessary.
I seriously hope Toyota looks at this and considers either a six-speed manual or altering the ratios to give longer legs from first through second, third and upwards. Wheras the Avanza may carry sdeven passengers or large loads in the panel van, the Rush is meant to be a pleasant cruiser.
That said, it is no slouch and will bolt off the line with the best of them and sustain highway cruising without the need to make too many downshifts to cope with undulating terrain.
Fuel economy saw the Rush using 6,9 l/100 km, which is not far off Toyota’s claimed figure of 6,6 l/100 km – obviously, thrashing the life out of it on the open road will change that quite dramatically.
Following the front engine, rear wheel drive layout (FR), the suspension system consists of McPherson struts up front and a Multilink design in the rear. The suspension setup has been engineered to offer good rough-road damping and be complaint on mixed surfaces (tarmac, gravel and dirt).
One of Rush’s key features is the generous 220 mm ride height, which combined with a 31-degree approach and 26,5-degree departure angle, allows easy traversing of mixed surface roads. An impressive 600 mm wading depth affords Rush the capability to tackle most water crossings.
No quibbles with this setup and the Rush played nicely on fast long corners and behaved suitably thrown into the twistier ones – always bearing in mind what it is and where it is aimed in the market – so the sum call of all road surgfaces and use returned a verdict of ‘very capable’.
A six-services/90 000 kilometre service plan comes standard, backed up by a 3-year/100 000 km warranty. The service intervals are set at 15 000 kilometres.