Having two similar yet different choices in the Toyota Rush lineup poses a huge dilemma for someone who’s up to buy the entry-level SUV: Should I go with the more affordable 5-seater or should I splurge and get the range-topping 7-seater? It’s a tough call, considering the things that come with the top-of-the-line G variant that I reviewed before, I’m thinking that there might be a number of features that will be missed when going for the lower variant. Or, will it, really?
Toyota Motor Philippines handed over the keys to the 2018 Rush E AT for a full review. Little did I know, it would be a pleasant surprise - P82,000-worth pleasant, that is.
Frankly, the 2018 Rush E is hard to differentiate from the G variant. It has the same “Baby Fortuner” look with its high 220mm ground clearance, and beefy goodness that imposes an SUV appeal which a lot of people adore. It would take an eagle-eye individual to spot the differences between the two, which are actually just the smaller 17-inch rims, missing roof rails, and non-dark-chrome of the E variant here.
Even better, the E variant comes with LED taillights and headlamps with line guide that illuminate the road well at night. With these intact, the heavy flush of chrome on the fascia is very forgivable and easy to live with.
The interior of the Rush E closely resembles the G trim, sans the three-spoke urethane as opposed to the leather type of the pricier option. The generosity of the cabin space up to the second row and the flexibility of the seats (fold and stumble) put a smile on my face, along with the 13 cupholders found inside the car. As it is a 5-seater, there’s no third row, replaced by a huge 514-liter cargo space that could even rival compact crossovers.
Even the letdowns are carried over, though, such as the non-telescopic steering wheel (for easy adjustment of driving position), the shower of hard plastics, and the white faux-leather accent that breaks the dark flow of the dashboard and doors.Ride comfort, on the other hand, isn’t better with the lighter 5-seat E variant, but filling it with passengers would greatly improve the case. Multi-link rear suspension plus body-on-frame construction is a bouncy combination, really, more so on a lighter car. Good thing, NVH is well-isolated inside the car.
With the Rush E’s less price tag comes fewer convenience features for the driver, but that’s not a problem at all. The manual air conditioning works fine even at high noon, and so are the manual headlamps and wipers. Handsfree call buttons are also removed on the steering wheel, but audio controls remain. The Optitron gauge clusters and LCD multi-information displays provide sufficient driving information as it is easy on the eyes.
As for the infotainment system, it’s the same good-looking 7-inch touchscreen that’s filled with bright colors. It has the same connectivity via USB (for Apple only) and Bluetooth. Sound is then produced via six speakers, which is two-speaker less than before. It’s still decent-sounding, though.
This is where it gets interesting. Though the 102-hp 1.5L 2NR-VE Dual VVT-i gasoline engine is present throughout the Rush’s lineup, the E variant drove differently – it’s way, way better. You can attribute this to the lack of a third row, which made the car lighter.
With this, it wasn’t hesitant to move from a standstill; the 134 Nm of pulling power was easily felt at the earlier parts of the RPM range. But just the same as the G, the limited range of four-speed automatic transmissionproved to be a weak point as the Rush can only do so much at higher speeds. Braking, on the other hand, was safer and easier with the lighter body to put to a halt. Handling was also better and more precise than before, but can still be improved when running at speeds. But then again, just keep your hands on the steering wheel to keep the car composed, especially on highway runs.
As with most of the newly-launched Toyotas this year like the Vios and the Yaris, safety is the top priority with the 2018 Rush. Even as a lower variant, the E trim gets all the safety goodies that the ranger topper has, and that include six airbags, vehicle stability control (with Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, and Emergency Stop Signal), and the standard ABS with EBD. It also comes with alarm and immobilizers. These things aren’t readily felt when you drive the car, but it’s nice to know that they’re there in case the push comes to shove.
What you’ll miss in the E variant, though, is the rear parking camera. You’ll have to settle with proximity sensors on this one, as is the lack of smart entry, which isn’t really a problem since you can still use the remote to unlock the car.
Since the Rush E is lighter, it also returned better fuel economy numbers than the heavier 7-seater variant. An hour of driving on a traffic-laden EDSA returned 7.9 km/L, while faster runs at around 60 km/h read back 11.2 km/L. Highway speeds at an average and kind-of-steady 90 km/h registered 15.2 km/L. Not the best out there, but still way better than the G trim.
The 2018 Toyota Rush E AT has a price tag of P988,000, which is admittedly attractive because it doesn’t cross the seven-digit price point. Going for the manual variant will save you P40,000 and you’ll pretty much get the same features. Now, with all the things that it can offer, is it really the better and wiser choice? Cliche as it may sound, the answer would really depend on how you aim to use this car. If you’re a big family or a typical Filipino family who’s close to the titos and titas, lolos and lolas, the seven-seater Rush would be the suitable choice. However, if there’s absolutely no need for seven seats and you’ll likely bring more stuff in your car than people, the Rush E is definitely the real deal. With rear-wheel-drive, bigger cabin space, and more flexibility, it can even transcend segments and rival the staple subcompact crossover nameplates.