Raizing the Stakes
Did you know that Toyota is one of the earliest pioneers of the crossover? While the brand may be known nowadays for models like the Vios, Fortuner, Innova, and even the Wigo, they also have the RAV4. It might not be the brand’s best-selling vehicle today, but if it weren’t for the Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive (Yes that is its real name), we might not have so many crossovers out on the road today.
From the Geely Coolray, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, and even the Hyundai Kona, all owe their existence in part to the Toyota RAV4. But while the RAV4 used to be a small crossover back in the day, it has grown in size over the years and is now a much larger vehicle. From starting out as a tiny 3-door the size of a Suzuki Jimny, it’s now a 5-door compact crossover SUV that sits alongside the likes of the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, MG HS, and the Nissan X-Trail.
This opened a gap in the brand’s lineup for a small, subcompact crossover that is affordable, practical, and fuel-efficient. That gap was filled by none other than the Toyota Raize. Also known as the Daihatsu Rocky, it fits Toyota’s need for a high-riding vehicle that won’t break the bank and is a step up from the much-loved Vios. But does it have what it takes to fight the likes of the Kia Stonic? Hyundai Venue, and the MG ZS?
Let's start by talking about the vehicle's sleek looks. Despite serving as the brand's smallest crossover, Toyota did not skimp on making the Raize stand out. With its split-type LED headlights, large sporty grille, and eye-catching LED taillights, the Raize is a looker from any angle. This particular variant we tested is also the only one to be available in this distinct color simply called 'Red 2'. Combined with its black roof, black body claddings, black side mirrors, and black accents found throughout the vehicle, the Raize gives off a striking and sporty look.
But since this is not the Turbo variant, it only comes with the smaller 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 205/65 tires. Despite having smaller wheels, Toyota says that all variants of the Raize come with 200mm of ground clearance. Not only will this give drivers some peace of mind when going over uneven terrain, but it will also give them the ability to cross shallow puddles of water in case of a downpour.
Overall, I like the styling direction Toyota made for the Raize. The car is not overly-styled or too bland that it will blend in with other vehicles on the road. And despite being a crossover, they were able to give it styling elements from SUVs which gives it an unmistakable look.
Pop the doors open and the vehicle greets its passengers with an ergonomic and stylish cabin. Yes, it has a predominantly black finish along with extensive use of cheap plastic, but it gets some touches of faux metal accents that brighten up the interior. These can be seen on the doors, center console, aircon vents, and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
But what I really liked about the inside of the Raize are the black fabric seats. Sure, they may not come with leather, but the seats are comfortable, especially for the driver sitting behind the wheel. The red piping on the fabric seats adds some extra zing to the vehicle's aesthetics. Speaking of aesthetics, the Raize also has some faux carbon-fiber trim on the gear selector for added flair.
Drivers will also be glad to know that it has a digital instrument panel. While I prefer a more traditional set of analog gauges, the one on the Raize is pleasing to the eyes. What's more, is that drivers can actually select what type of gauges they can have. With just a press of a button, drivers can choose from several types of displays to show the tachometer, speedometer, and even the trip meter and average fuel consumption for the multi-info display.
In case you need to haul cargo, Toyota's latest crossover can carry 369-liters worth of luggage. Not bad for a crossover that's just over 4 meters in length. But in case you need to carry more cargo than usual, it has 60:40 split-folding rear seats which greatly expands the crossover's cargo-carrying capability.
While the heavy use of cheap plastic in the Raize might put off some customers, I’m happy to report that the Raize comes pretty loaded with features and amenities. For starters, it gets an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.
It also comes with a 6-speaker sound system, automatic climate control, and a push-start button. There's even a USB charger on the center console, and a 12V power socket in case you have passengers that need to charge their mobile devices.
There's also the smart keyless entry system which for me is always a must-have. Instead of having to press the unlock or lock buttons on your keyfob, the smart entry allows you to unlock and lock the vehicle by just touching a special panel on the driver's side door whenever you need to. This makes entering and locking the vehicle faster and less of a hassle, especially when you're carrying plenty of bags.
So the Raize impressed us with its long list of features and ergonomic interior. But like most vehicles, it has some shortcomings. While I do like that it has audio controls on the steering wheel, it's not exactly intuitive. That's because instead of putting all of the controls on one side, Toyota placed them in two different places. The volume controls are on the left while the skip buttons are on the right side of the steering wheel.
There's also the matter of the USB port to enable Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Like the one on the Avanza, the USB port is below the screen itself. While this setup is easier to access, its placement means that when you have a long cable connected to the touchscreen, they will dangle around inside the cabin which can be quite inconvenient.
Don’t expect to find a four-cylinder powering the Toyota Raize. Instead, it has a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine called the WA-VE. It puts out a humble 88 PS at 6000 rpm with 113 Nm of torque and is paired to a CVT driving the front wheels. And like all Toyota engines nowadays, it comes with Dual VVT-i.
Out on the road, the Raize is quite zippy. It may not have the biggest engine under the hood, but what it lacks in torque it makes up for in RPMs. With just me inside the vehicle, the CVT was able to quickly pick up on the power whenever I plant my foot on the accelerator. The brakes are equally impressive as all it takes to slow down and stop the vehicle is a slight prod on the brake pedal.
When it comes to fuel consumption, customers looking for fuel-efficiency will not be disappointed. In light city driving, the Raize can easily return between 11.0 – 11.5 km/l (or more). It was even more impressive out on the highway as it was able to manage 18.0 to 19.0 km/l.
What's not to like with the 1.2-liter powertrain? It doesn't exactly have much low-end torque. If the car is filled with passengers, you'd have to mash the throttle in order to get the car going from a standstill. But then again, this is a naturally-aspirated three-cylinder engine. If you prefer a bit more power under the hood, there's also the 1.0 Turbo model, but we'll get to review that for another time.
There is another issue I have to talk about the Raize; its ride quality. While I initially thought it delivered a supple ride, I noticed that the front suspension tends to be floaty at times. This became more apparent whenever I had to go over road humps and pock-marked streets. This sensation makes driving the Raize feel slightly disconnected from the road which can be a concern for some.
On the flip side, those seated in the back will experience a stiff ride while inside the Raize. We're not entirely sure why Toyota set it up that way, but our best guess is that they deliberately made it stiffer in order to compensate for load carrying or when you have three passengers seated in the back. Perhaps Toyota can make the front suspension firmer while they can set the rear to be slightly softer in order to deliver a comfier ride.
As for its handling, the Raize is an easy vehicle to maneuver. With its small size and electronic power steering (EPS), guiding the vehicle through every turn is a cinch. However, I do wish it had more steering feel as it felt quite numb. I also wish that it came with a tilt and telescopic steering column and not just tilt-adjust.
Last but not least is the Raize's Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH). Yes, the vehicle was built to meet a certain price point, but Toyota (or Daihatsu) could have at least put more attention to making the vehicle have better sound and vibration deadening.
At PHP 906,000, the Raize 1.2 G CVT is quite the bargain. It comes with plenty of standard amenities, has a decent 1.2-liter Dual VVT-i engine, and is easy on the fuel bills. It also has plenty of safety features like anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist, dual front airbags, reverse camera, and rear parking sensors.
What needs to be improved on the Raize, however, is its lack of NVH insulation, uneven ride quality, and certain cabin ergonomics like the audio controls on the steering wheel. While this is still (technically) a Daihatsu-made vehicle, those familiar with the Toyota brand will expect a better quality vehicle.
All in all, the Raize 1.2 G CVT with its long list of features, fuel-efficient powertrain, attractive price point, and Toyota badge will surely give the competition a run for their money. But like the Avanza we reviewed several weeks ago, we believe they could do so much better if they were able to refine it further.
In case you're looking to upgrade from a hatchback or a budget sedan, the 2022 Raize 1.2 G CVT is a suitable replacement.