Toyota’s SUV line-up explained – see where Rush, Corolla Cross, Fortuner, RAV4, Harrier fit, plus rivals

Having lacked a genuine strategy in the SUV market for so long, Toyota now has a decent lineup of models on sale in Malaysia, covering a wide range of size and price brackets. From a (relatively) affordable car-based crossover to a more rugged body-on-frame 4×4 and even a couple of premium-priced offerings, there’s literally something for everyone here.

With so many new models having cropped up over the past two years, Toyota’s SUV range can be a little tricky to wrap your head around, so here’s a handy guide for you to see what each one offers and where they are positioned within the marketplace. While we’re at it, we’ll also give you a rundown on their main rivals so that you can make an informed purchasing decision. Let’s get straight to it.

Toyota Rush

Toyota’s SUV line-up explained – see where Rush, Corolla Cross, Fortuner, RAV4, Harrier fit, plus rivals

Toyota’s most affordable SUV model is the Rush, a utilitarian seven-seater SUV built on a ladder-frame chassis. A stalwart of the range, it has been been fairly popular over the years, particularly with budget-conscious families seeking no-frills transportation.

Introduced in 2018, the latest model features an edgier design, a more contemporary interior and a few new creature comforts – such as keyless entry and automatic climate control – compared to the original. It’s also powered by a new 1.5 litre 2NR-VE naturally-aspirated Dual VVT-i engine, producing 105 PS and 136 Nm of torque. Drive continues to be sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic gearbox. New for 2021 is Red Metallic paint, which replaces the previous Dark Green Metallic option.

Perhaps the biggest upgrades concern safety. All models now come with six airbags, stability control and blind spot monitoring, with the more expensive 1.5G variant also being equipped with autonomous emergency braking and Pedal Misoperation Control. These features contribute to the Rush’s five-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating.

Priced between RM88,314 and RM91,885 on-the-road without insurance, the Rush is actually quite a bit cheaper than before. However, its positioning in the marketplace has been spoiled somewhat by its twin, the Perodua Aruz, which is a good RM20,000 cheaper. The car is a rare sight on local roads as a result, but it apparently does sell better in East Malaysia, where Toyota’s brand perception is particularly strong.

Aside from the Aruz, the Honda BR-V is the Rush’s only other real rival, although that one is built on a monocoque platform with more car-like road manners; it also doesn’t come with as many safety features as the Toyota offers. As for the indirect five-seater competition, the Proton X50 offers a level of technology, performance and sophistication the Rush can’t match, while Perodua Ativa provides an even lower-priced entry into SUV ownership for those who don’t need three rows of seats.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Toyota’s SUV line-up explained – see where Rush, Corolla Cross, Fortuner, RAV4, Harrier fit, plus rivals

The long-overdue Corolla Cross, introduced earlier this year, finally puts Toyota right in the heartland of the SUV market. Competitively priced from RM124,000 to RM129,266, the car slots right at the upper end of the B-segment despite being half a size larger – and that’s before local assembly kicks off later this year, which should make it even cheaper. The car’s Goldilocks positioning clearly struck a chord with buyers as the entire CBU allocation quickly sold out, with the carmaker already taking orders for the CKD version.

Despite being based on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the Corolla Cross is cheaper to build compared to the model it replaces – the smaller but more expensive C-HR. That’s because it utilises a simpler torsion beam rear axle compared to the latter’s pricier double wishbones, allowing the car to retail a whopping RM20,000 lower.

Even though it carries the Corolla name, the Cross’ chunky design and large front grille means it bears more of a resemblance to the RAV4, which we’ll get to later. Owners of the sedan, however, will feel more at home on the inside, where the basic dashboard design is identical.

Both 1.8G and 1.8V models get leather upholstery, a powered driver’s seat and a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, although the V is the only one to receive LED head- and taillights and two-tone alloys that measure an inch larger at 18 inches in diameter. It’s also the only one to feature the full Toyota Safety Sense suite, including adaptive cruise control and lane centring assist.

The powertrain is the same as on the Corolla – a 2ZR-FE 1.8 litre naturally-aspirated Dual VVT-i engine sending 139 PS and 172 Nm to the front wheels through a CVT. A hybrid variant is expected to arrive with the CKD model, pairing 98 PS/142 Nm Atkinson-cycle engine with a 72 PS/163 Nm electric motor to deliver a total system output of 122 PS.

The Corolla Cross’ closest competitor is the Honda HR-V, which is slightly cheaper but is also smaller, lacks the Toyota’s active safety features and is due for a replacement. The Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona are priced in the same ballpark but are much more cramped on the inside, while the comparably-sized CX-30 is quite a bit more expensive. The Toyota also provides a compelling budget alternative to larger C-segment models like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

Toyota Fortuner

Toyota’s SUV line-up explained – see where Rush, Corolla Cross, Fortuner, RAV4, Harrier fit, plus rivals

It’s safe to say that the Fortuner is the default choice if you’re looking for a pick-up-based 4×4, based on the proven underpinnings of the Hilux. Having been on the market since 2016, the second-generation model has just received its mid-cycle facelift, adding a whole host of new safety features.

Beyond the usual aesthetic upgrades, the Fortuner also receives a range of Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features, including autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. This makes it the only model in its segment to feature these technologies, which come on top of the standard seven airbags and stability control (Toyota has come a long way from the days of only two airbags on the base model).

In fact, now that the Isuzu MU-X has been discontinued, the Fortuner is the only player in this space. Well, it’s the only player worth mentioning, given that the Ford Everest – now available in just a single 2.0 litre twin-turbo variant – is knocking on the door of a scarcely believable RM100,000 premium.

Contrast this to the Fortuner, which starts at RM172,244 for the 2.7 SRZ petrol model and rises up to RM203,183 for the 2.8 VRZ diesel with a new and more aggressive front fascia all the bells and whistles, including the safety tech mentioned earlier. There was also a RM167,357 2.4 litre diesel, but that was only offered in East Malaysia and had since sold out.

The engines on offer are a 2TR-FE 2.7 litre petrol producing 166 PS and 245 Nm and a 2GD-FTV 2.8 litre turbodiesel churning out 204 PS and 500 Nm. The 1GD-FTV 2.4 litre oil burner for Sabah and Sarawak, on the other hand, made 150 PS and 400 Nm. All are paired to a six-speed automatic and standard part-time four-wheel drive.

Toyota RAV4

Toyota’s SUV line-up explained – see where Rush, Corolla Cross, Fortuner, RAV4, Harrier fit, plus rivals

Barring a brief period in the 2000s, Toyota has long shied away from offering the RAV4 here officially, even as rivals like the CR-V have been running away with the market for decades. Now that it is finally offered here as a permanent fixture of the lineup, we can see why, as the lack of local assembly and the latest model’s sophisticated TNGA platform have priced the SUV out of its own segment.

Imported all the way from Japan, the fifth-generation model is priced at RM215,665 for the 2.5 litre variant, with the 2.0 litre version having already been discontinued. This puts the C-segment SUV right in the line of fire of premium German brands, sitting smack in the middle of the two BMW X1 models.

To offset the significant pricing disadvantage, the RAV4 comes packed with kit, including LED head- and taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable leather seats with memory, a hands-free powered tailgate, a 360-degree camera system and a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen.

The latter is linked to an OEM system not found on any other Toyota model in Malaysia (barring the Camry and new Harrier) – not even the much more expensive GR Yaris hot hatch. The full Toyota Safety Sense pack is also fitted, adding driver assistance systems not found in any of the Teutonic models in the price range and only matched by those in the Lexus UX and Volvo XC40.

With the base model now dropped, the sole engine option is a A25A-FKS 2.5 litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder with direct injection. Unlike the turbocharged premium models in this price range, however, the RAV4 is naturally aspirated, which means that while output figures of 207 PS and 243 Nm are competitive, the engine needs to be worked hard to extract its performance. At least it gets an eight-speed automatic instead of the CVT of the 2.0 litre car, adding a bit of that premium feel back into the car.

Toyota Harrier

Toyota’s SUV line-up explained – see where Rush, Corolla Cross, Fortuner, RAV4, Harrier fit, plus rivals

The Toyota SUV to end all Toyota SUVs, the Harrier has always been a popular grey import car and the third-generation model, which finally entered this country through official channels in late 2017, carved out its own niche of the market based on the nameplate’s goodwill alone.

Launched in April, the new fourth-gen car is actually priced slightly cheaper as the old range-topping Luxury variant at RM249,707. Against similarly-sized premium models like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Toyota represents quite good value, but things aren’t going all its own way.

That’s because the outgoing Harrier’s turbo engine has been dropped. In fact, the Harrier is less powerful than the cheaper RAV4, getting a M20A-FKS 2.0 litre Dynamic Force mill making 173 PS and 203 Nm, as well as a CVT. Only time will tell if the new Harrier will sell as well as the old model with this engine and gearbox combination.

More so than its smaller sibling, the latest version is loaded with kit and toys to compensate, with features that include matrix LED headlights, a Qi wireless charger, a head-up display and a cool electrochromic glass roof that can be frosted on demand.

GALLERY: Toyota Rush 1.5S

GALLERY: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8V
GALLERY: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 VRZ
GALLERY: Toyota RAV4 2.5L

GALLERY: Toyota Harrier 2.0 Luxury

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