Much to the dismay of commentators who regard it as nothing more than a tarted-up Hilux, the Toyota Fortuner is consistently one of the top-selling vehicles in South Africa. Its appeal is not difficult to grasp – it offers a spacious, seven-seat cabin, rugged off-road ability, powerful and dependable engines and, of course, the promise of unfaltering Toyota back-up. And now Toyota has added a new entry level Fortuner version, which looks set to grow the volumes even further. Is it the pick of the range?
No-compromise looksFollowing the recent facelift, the Fortuner is a far more upmarket-looking vehicle than ever before. For some the chrome grille is a little overdone, and the clear rear lamps perhaps look somewhat like aftermarket items, but there’s certainly more presence and a greater visual gap between it and its Hilux donor vehicle. We particularly like the way the bold grille flows into the bonnet (itself topped with an air-inlet), and the wide, hungry looking front airdam with its integrated fog lamps. The large 17-inch alloy wheels add plenty of visual muscle, too, and just about manage to sufficiently fill the flared wheelarches. A nice touch is that the side indicators are integrated in the rear view mirror housings. Roof rails are standard, too. There really is nothing that marks the 2.5-litre model out as the “cheapie” in the line-up.
Similarly, Toyota has not skimped on the interior. Early Fortuners had light beige trim that showed wear and dirt quickly, but the new models feature a grey/dark brown trim combination that doesn’t only look more upmarket, but should also stay that way for longer. A few alterations to the control layouts and instrumentation have also contributed to the Fortuner’s facia stepping out of its obviously bakkie-derived roots.
As before, the cabin remains a very practical one. Space all-round is good, but with seven seats up the boot space is obviously limited. Also, you either like the way the two rear seats fold up into the sides of the cabin or not. For us, the Fortuner design impinges too much on boot space. A nice touch is a separate air-conditioning system for the rear passengers.
Other standard features include air-conditioning, electric windows/mirrors, radio/CD player and multi-function steering wheel. The safety package is not as comprehensive as the more expensive 3,0-litre models, but there are still two airbags, ABS/EBD and a stability control system – the latter being an important feature given the reputation of early Fortuners for toppling over. The seats are covered in cloth upholstery, and the steering wheel offers only rake adjustment. Still, seating comfort is good and the driver will appreciate the visibility the extra height offers.
Superb new engineOf course, the big news with this Fortuner model is the fitment of the 2.5-litre D-4D engine for the first time. It is a modern unit, featuring common-rail direct injection, inter-cooling and a variable nozzle turbocharger, too. The outputs are impressive – the maximum power is 106 kW, and it delivers exactly the same amount of torque (343 Nm) as the 3.0-litre D-4D! The bigger engine obviously has a wider torque curve, but nevertheless, the 2.5-litre’s 343 Nm is available from 1 600 to 2 800 rpm. This translates into excellent performance in the Fortuner which just about matches the 3.0-litre! Folks that do a lot of towing, however, may still want to stretch their rands for the bigger-capacity engine.
The 2.5 is also a very refined and economical engine. You’re likely to achieve an average consumption of 9 L/100 km, which is excellent for this type of vehicle. In fact, you have to wonder whether the 2.5 is not perhaps too good. As it stands, it may well end up cannibalising sales from its bigger, more expensive sibling.
Certainly, there’s precious little that separates the two in terms of on-road manners. The 2.5 performs eagerly around town and maintains steady cruising speeds easily on the highway and holiday routes. The ride is, of course, relatively stiff compared with the soft-roaders that are priced at a similar level, but it’s hardly uncomfortable. Plus, the latest Fortuner certainly feels more stable and safe on the road.
And with a 220 mm ground clearance, as well as a standard rear differential lock, the Fortuner will go places where most all-wheel drive soft-roaders won’t dare to tread.
Toyota Fortuner 2.5 D-4D Raised Body - VerdictWe knew the Fortuner 2.5 D-4D Raised Body would be good, but did not quite anticipate it being this excellent. Buyers who opt for this entry level model will sacrifice very little in terms of real ability. The start of the show is undoubtedly the new engine – offering similar power and torque to the 3.0-litre, and with excellent refinement and improved fuel economy, it really deserves a round of applause. But it’s not only the engine… The specification level is comprehensive enough and the enviable on/off-road balance is intact. We expect the 2.5-litre model will swiftly dominate the Fortuner sales charts.
- High-value pricing
- Revised interior trim
- Excellent engine
- Standard diff-lock
- Bakkie-like ride
- Fold-up rear seats
Toyota Fortuner 2.5 D-4D Raised Body fast facts
|Engine||2.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel|
|Power||106 kW @ 3 400 rpm|
|Torque||343 Nm @ 1 600 rpm|
|Top speed||175 km/h|
|0-100 km/h||n/a seconds|
|Fuel economy||8 L/100 km|
The Everest has always faced a stiff challenge against the 3.0 D-4D Fortuner, and at its relatively high price compared with the new 2.5-litre model it is even more comprehensively outclassed. A relaxed companion, but outdated in most respects.
The Captiva is, of course, powered by a petrol engine, but in the Fortuner’s price range there aren’t that many seven-seaters around, so if that is a requirement, you can do much worse than this likeable offering. Not as spacious, though.
For significantly less, there is this modern offering from Indian brand Mahindra. It is powered by a surprisingly good 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine and also offers seven seats. The interior specification is comprehensive. But it’s still unproven in the local market.