As a budget compact car maker, Perodua has another winner on its hands going by its specifications and pricing.
Perodua is no stranger to the SUV segment, having produced the Kembara in 1998 and followed up with the Nautica in 2008.
With hatches, sedan and MPV in hand, the Aruz marked the return of a Perodua SUV that plugs the gap in the brand’s line-up.
In term of pricing, the Aruz wins hand-down as the cheapest 7-seater SUV in town, topping the likes of Honda BR-V or Toyota Rush.
It is offered in two variants – 1.5 X at RM72,900 and 1.5 AV at RM77,900. Our test unit was the 1.5 AV.
Tall and narrow on the outside, the Aruz is nevertheless an attractive vehicle, with bonnet, sides and rear receiving stylistic folds and creases to add light and shadow play on sheetmetal. It certainly isn’t bland.
The Aruz is based on the more upmarket Rush, with the latter also being produced at Perodua’s Rawang plant.
The Aruz has shades of an MPV in its side profile but Perodua would rather you call it an SUV instead.
In keeping with the trend, the top variant is equipped with automatic LED headlights with follow-me-home function, rear LED combo lamps, and foglamps with a snappy-looking bezel.
Chrome accents are prevalent in the grille and windows. Black cladding on wheels arches and lower body, along with roof rails, confer the rugged look.
Front and rear bumpers get a two-tone colour with silver painted diffusers.
With sporty 17-inch alloys as standard, the Aruz has the biggest wheels of the five models in the stable.
Decked out in leather upholstery, the cabin is a pleasant space that looks modern, functional and practical with side pockets and cubbyholes in all rows.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel comes with call-receive controls.
It also gets an integrated driving video recorder, HDMI, Smart Link, Bluetooth and navigation.
Dashboard plastic is hard but doesn’t look low-rent.
A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit with reverse camera display, digital air-conditioner with two memory settings, air vents for rear passengers and a built-in toll card reader are standard across variants. All rows get charging ports.
The second row is split 60:40, while the third row is 50:50.
Both rows can slide, fold and tumble, offering various seating and loading configurations.
Seats in first two rows are comfortable enough but some have complained shoulder support is limiting in first.
Second row seats can be railed back for even more legroom.
As for third row, smaller-sized adults or little tykes would fit there.
Android phones are supported via Smartlink, while Apple CarPlay only works with Bluetooth but not a wired connection.
In the case of CarPlay, you really have to wind up the volume to hear anything through the basic stereo system.
If you switched back to radio, just make sure to turn the volume way down or you are going to burst your ear drums.
The Aruz uses the similar 1.5-litre engine as the Myvi, mated to a four-speed automatic that sends power to the rear wheels.
The mill makes 101hp at 6,000rpm and 133Nm of torque at 4,200rpm. Official fuel consumption is 15.6km per litre.
The engine is eager to rev and pulls strongly at mid-range speeds allowing it to overtake and build up more speed easily.
In urban settings, it’s highly manoeuvrable and parking or doing U-turns is easy.
External noise are kept in check though adding the optional insulation paddings would improve noise and vibration control somewhat.
With the Aruz, one has to get use to the occasional drone at low rpms, and a whirring sound in the rear, which we attributed to the prop shaft relaying power to the rear axle.
With a truck-based frame, the Aruz has some degree of swaying at low speeds when going over uneven surfaces and is not as refined as a crossover that uses a monocoque chassis.
Body roll is well controlled in corners but the rear can feel skittish unless the SUV is at or near full load.
There’s just about enough power for the Aruz to climb hills with seven people onboard.
No one expects fantastic driving dynamics out of a people hauler like the Aruz. But as a family-oriented vehicle, safety takes priority.
The Aruz earns a 5-star Asean NCAP safety rating and has Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Isofix and six airbags.
This variant also has an upgraded version of the Advanced Safety Assist (ASA) active safety suite, called ASA 2.0, which adds pedestrian detection (up to 50kph), Pre-Collision Warning to 100kph and Pre-Collision Braking to 80kph, Front Departure Alert and Pedal Misoperation Control.
The Aruz is offered with a 5-year warranty or 150,000km, whichever comes first.
Taken as a whole, the Aruz has more pros than cons. It will prove compelling for the budget-conscious buyer who’s looking for a 7-seat SUV that provides a rich feature set backed by superior safety gear.
Perodua Aruz 1.5 AV
Engine: 1,496cc, 4-cylinders, DOHC with dual VVT-I
Maximum power: 101hp at 6,000rpm
Maximum torque: 133Nm of torque at 4,200rpm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Fuel Consumption: 15.6km/l
Features: Eco Idle System, Multimedia system with 6 speakers, navigation, 'Smart Link' (for Android) & HDMI, LED headlights with follow-me-home function & light guides, Smart Entry & Push Start/Stop Button, 2 USB ports, reverse camera, Advanced Safety Assist (A.S.A) 2.0, Hill-start Assist, ISOFIX system with top tether, ASB with EBD, BA, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) & Traction Control, Alarm with immobiliser, Integrated Driving Video Recorder
Price (OTR without insurance): RM77,900