Shopping for a people-carrier doesn’t necessarily need to be a costly affair. Here are all the seven-seaters you can buy brand new in Malaysia right now without breaching the RM100,000 threshold…
Words: Arif Sharif
1. Perodua Aruz (RM68,526-RM73,226)
The Toyota Rush-based Perodua SUV packs a 1.5-litre Dual VVT-i mill that channels 102PS and 133Nm of torque to the rear wheels (yup, it’s RWD). Though it lacks outright firepower, it makes up for it with a comprehensive suite of safety features.
With six airbags, ABS, stability control, and traction control, the Aruz is one of the most affordable sub-RM100k seven-seaters with a five-star Asean NCAP rating in the local market. This may explain why it was the best-selling seven-seater below RM100k after it was first launched; the ASA driver assists systems are only available on the AV variant though.
As the Aruz sits on a body-on-frame platform, its ride and handling may not be on par with its unibody rival, the Honda BR-V. The latter also provides up to 539 litres of boot space with the third row folded down, slightly more than Aruz’s 514. Nonetheless, the Aruz superior safety equipment and price advantage are among the contributors to its popularity amongst Malaysian families.
2. Honda BR-V (RM86,726-RM93,420)
This Japanese seven-seat crossover is available in two trims: the entry-level 1.5L E and the full-fledged 1.5L V. Underneath its hood is a 1.5-litre i-VTEC mill that outputs 120PS and 145Nm of torque. Thanks to the Brio chassis it sits on, the ‘Bold Runabout-Vehicle’ is endowed with a compact car-like dynamic that gives it an edge in city driveability over its ladder-framed rivals.
Commendably, Honda has worked its packaging magic to great effect, ensuring the crossover won’t feel like a closet on four wheels. It boasts 223 litres of space with all seats up and 539 litres with just the third row folded down. Thanks to its height, all three rows should seat seven people in relative comfort.
It has a decent list of safety equipment to boot, which includes Isofix, stability control, traction control, ABS, and brake assist. However, the BR-V only has two airbags and lacks Honda Sensing, which is now offered even in the brand’s more affordable models such as the City (RS).
3. Toyota Avanza (RM77,963-RM84,849)
The facelifted second-gen Avanza starts from the entry-level 1.5E to the range-topping 1.5S+. The price point puts the Avanza neck-and-neck with the Perodua Aruz and Honda BR-V. Its 1.5-litre Dual VVT-i mill makes 105PS and 136Nm, which isn’t exactly a headline figure.
The Avanza’s main forte is its boot space. With all seats up, it merely offers 128 litres of cargo versus the Aruz’s 213 and BR-V’s 223. Fold all of the rear seats down and it turns the tables with a whopping 1,424 litres of space, which is about twice the Aruz and BR-V as only the third-row seats are foldable in the latter two.
Its safety offerings fall short of its rivals, though. ABS, ISOFIX and reverse sensors are standard across the range, but there are only two airbags and no traction and stability control to date. The top-spec 1.5S+ tries to make it up with a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
4. Toyota Rush (RM88,314-RM91,885)
The very model that the Aruz is based on is currently made up of the base 1.5G and top-of-the-range 1.5S. The Rush runs on the same engine as the Avanza and incidentally has a similar power figure as the latter. Unlike the Avanza, sheer cargo haulage isn’t exactly its main talent. However, it’s certainly better endowed on the safety front.
Listed on the Rush’s safety sheet are ABS, brake assist, stability control, traction control, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, ISOFIX, 360-degree monitor, digital video recorder, and six airbags across the range. Pre-collision braking is also available, albeit only in the 1.5S.
It’s a largely similar package to what Perodua offers in the Aruz, bar a few minor details. So, it really could all come down to brand inclinations and resale value projections when the time to sign on the dotted line arrives.
5. Mitsubishi Xpander (RM91,359)
Currently, only one variant of Mitsubishi’s Toyota Rush fighter is on offer at the moment, powered by a 1.5-litre MIVEC mill that makes 105PS and 141Nm. In contrast to the Rush, the Xpander is miles ahead in terms of boot space. With all seats up, there are 495 litres of space, about twice the Rush’s boot space. Thanks to the ability to fold down the second and third-row seats, maximum boot space becomes a massive 1,630 litres.
It is relatively well-equipped safety-wise, with ABS, brake assist, stability control, traction control, rest reminder, and ISOFIX all part of the package. However, the two-airbag trade-off that seems to plague MPVs in this price segment affects the Xpander too despite it being priced on the higher end of the spectrum at RM91k – the Toyota Rush offers six for less than RM90k, which is what you should be after if airbag count is a priority.
6. Proton Exora (RM59,800-RM69,800)
The oldest entry on this list is ironically the only sub-RM100k seven-seater with a turbocharged engine, making it the most powerful in its segment with 140PS and 205Nm of torque. The Malaysian MPV is currently offered from the base 1.6T Executive all the way to the range-topping Black Edition. At this price point, the Exora takes the Perodua Alza head on.
Proton’s packaging offers relatively comfortable seating for seven, with the trade-off being minimal cargo space in the back. Its safety features average at best too. Stability control is only available from the 1.6T Premium variant and above while the entire range has to make do with an archaic two-airbags plus ABS setup. At least the infotainment greets you at the sound of “Hi, Proton”.
7. Perodua Alza (RM49,944-RM60,525)
The Alza is the cheapest sub-RM100k seven-seater you can purchase brand new in Malaysia. The MPV’s line-up starts with the base 1.5S manual and works all the way up to the range-topping 1.5AV automatic. Its 1.5-litre DVVT mill makes 104PS and 136Nm of torque, which is on the anaemic side but it is an MPV designed for practicality on a budget after all.
Safety features are rudimental, and include just two airbags, seat-belt pretensioner, ABS and Isofix across the range. Since it is a much older Perodua model – try 12 years – ASA is nowhere to be seen. Its age and compact car underpinnings also mean that the Alza isn’t the most spacious car on the list. But in staying true to the idea of getting what you pay for, there’s really little reason to complain given its affordability.