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REVIEW | The Toyota Rumion is a sensible wagon for cost-conscious families

Toyota's all-new compact MPV is based on the Suzuki Ertiga.
Toyota's all-new compact MPV is based on the Suzuki Ertiga.
Image: Supplied

The SA population is expected to reach 61.9-million by the end of 2022. How apt then that the arrival of the seven-seat Toyota Rumion test car coincided with the census people knocking on my door to verify this increase in fellow South Africans.

Based on the Suzuki Ertiga seven seater, the new Toyota Rumion replaces the Avanza and belongs in the people carrying multipurpose vehicle (MPV) category which is available in small, medium and large sizes. Historically, this is a segment that was popular and then it dwindled in numbers but seemingly it’s on the comeback trail.

Customers today are able to choose between seven-seaters such as the Mitsubishi Xpander, Honda BR-V and the Ertiga, all of them with starting prices of around 300k. If this exceeds your budget there are also the Renault Triber and Datsun Go+ seven-seaters to consider, offering less power and selling for around R200k.

The Rumion is tested here in high-spec TX specification and is powered by a 1.5l four-pot engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission. However, the all-important asset is seating for a driver and six others.

There’s lots of space for average-sized adults on lightweight seats that move back and forth to help everyone get comfortable. It’s not a wide car but head and elbow room is sufficient. The rearmost three-seat bench is slightly limited in space for adults but it’s an ideal place for smaller family members, or to be flattened and used to create a bigger boot for more luggage.

The Rumion offers seating for seven people.
The Rumion offers seating for seven people.
Image: Supplied

Interior storage space includes door bins and other nooks and crannies. It’s good but not impressive as there is no large and lidded storage bin that doubles as an armrest. You sit in a slightly commanding position but lower than you do in SUVs. The cloth-covered chairs are comfy and you’re unlikely to suffer from backache on long journeys.

The TX model comes standard with a good list of technologies. It has a start/stop button, power windows and mirrors, rear park distance control and a reverse camera, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth and a colourful touch screen display compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay devices.

Safety is taken care of by two front airbags and ABS brakes, but there is no traction control.   

These small MPVs are sought after by budget-conscious buyers looking to maximise on family practicality and running costs yet diesel engines don’t feature at all in this niche. It’s only one choice of a petrol engine for the Rumion range — a naturally-aspirated 1.5l motor with 77kW and 138Nm.

Despite its small size it isn’t a harsh-sounding motor nor did it feel underpowered. Though I didn’t get to fill the cabin to the brim with passengers it felt strong enough to handle a load, and when occupied with the driver only it scuttled along briskly on roads.

The range-topping Rumion TX has a professional looking dash with an impressive list of features. Picture: SUPPLIED
The range-topping Rumion TX has a professional looking dash with an impressive list of features. Picture: SUPPLIED

You can have it automatic guise and I often wondered if this might have suited the Rumion better. But there’s a case for the five-speed manual. It’s cheaper to buy and is helped along by a light clutch and smooth gear action. Never did it feel that it’ll be a bother in congested traffic.

The drive quality is refined and the car consumed a frugal 7.0l/100km. General handling is good in this front wheel drive car and it is poised and confident at highway speeds. 

The Rumion may subscribe to niche expectations of school-run usability and approachable prices but there are one or two nonconformists in this group. The majority of protagonists including the Rumion offer more of a road-biased 180mm of ground clearance.

The Mitsubishi Xpander and Honda BR-V offer an SUV-like 210mm and this makes this pair more versatile and viable for exploring further than tarmac routes. This is a trait that will be appreciated by adventurists who are willing to pay extra for them.

As an affordable and compact seven-seater the Toyota Rumion ticks the right boxes but would I buy it over its Suzuki Ertiga twin? I’m that cost-conscious buyer mentioned earlier who is responsible for a robust number of spawns.

The Ertiga is nearly R20k cheaper and better value. Despite the Toyota Rumion's more handsome looking façade and a wider dealer footprint, its three-year/100,000km warranty also trails the five-year/200,000km warranties of the Ertiga and the Honda BR-V.

It's a relatively roomy seven-seater cabin for seven on hardy but neat-looking seats. Picture: SUPPLIED
It's a relatively roomy seven-seater cabin for seven on hardy but neat-looking seats. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Four-cylinder petrol

Capacity: 1.5l

Power: 77kW

Torque: 138Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Five-speed Manual

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Front wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 175km/h

0-100km/h: N/A

Fuel Consumption: 6.2l/100km (claimed), 7.0l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 146g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Seven seats, USB ports, electric windows front and back, multifunction steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, Toyota Connect with Wi-Fi hotspot and complimentary 15Gb data, automatic air conditioning, keyless entry, start/stop button, remote central locking, ABS, two airbags, isofix child seat mountings, park distance control with reverse camera, electric mirrors, cloth upholstery. 

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Three years/100,000km

Maintenance plan: Four services/60,000km

Price: R316,800

Lease*: R6,825 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Toyota Rumion 1.5 TX

WE LIKE: Practicality, build quality, usable power

WE DISLIKE: Price and warranty

VERDICT: A sensible family wagon 

Motor News star rating

Design * * * * 

Performance * * * 

Economy * * * *

Ride * * * * 

Handling * * * 

Safety * * * 

Value For Money * * * 

Overall * * * * 

Competition

Honda BR-V 1.5 Comfort, 88kW/145Nm — R348,900

Suzuki Ertiga,77kW/138Nm — R297,900

Mitsubishi Xpander, 77kW/141Nm — R311,995


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