A unique combination of 7 seats, automatic gearbox, off-road ability and ground clearance at this price make the Toyota Fortuner an appealing buy for those who don’t care for ride comfort.
Toyota Fortuner 2.5D Automatic review by John BealeI bet you had no idea that the Toyota Fortuner is still the best selling privately owned vehicle in SA according to Naamsa. What is basically a Hilux with a closed loadbed and extra seats, is one of the most successful vehicles from Toyota South Africa to date. December 2012 saw the entry-level 2.5 Diesel being added to the range at R357 000, making the range even more appealing to cost conscious buyers.
Exterior and interior features
Looks do not differ much from the more expensive variants, and I for one like the dual spoke rims, but cannot say I’m a fan of the aftermarket looking lights on the update. The interior is trimmed down to the bare minimum, with cloth (suade) seats, manual aircon but thank goodness, electric windows all round. The standard Cressida clock and on-board computer from 1996 is there, as well as Aux / USB ports in dash. There’s ample space for bottles / cups and a good size centre-console under armrest as well. It’s typical Toyota quality, with harder cream colour plastics, but everything feels solid and will appeal to those that have owned a Toyota.
Families will enjoy the versatility of the Toyota Fortuner, even this model sports 7 seats, the 2nd row folds and rolls forward with the 3rd row folding down from the roof. Getting the 3rd row down does require a bit of effort, but it’s fairly easy to figure out. The 2nd row of seats then folds forward for access, and also has the ability to roll forward to give the 3rd row even more leg space, something the Trailblazer doesn’t offer. Full separate airconditioning for rear passengers is also a welcome addition.
Keeping the family safe is ABS, EBD as well as Vehicle Stability Control and driver and passenger airbags. I was however surprised that there were no curtain or side airbags, which was standard on the Trailblazer.
The drive and handling
Drive is ok, thanks to fat rubber on the 17inch rims, but the Hilux chassis does still scuttle and shake in town. Sitting on a raised chassis, it doesn’t roll as much as I thought it would in corners. It is however a comfortable ride on dirt roads where it soaks up anything in its path. The steering and brakes communicate well (drum brakes rear) and get the job done.
The 2.5diesel puts out the same amount of torque (343Nm) as the more powerful 3D-4D but the lack in power (106kW) can be felt when pulling away, with quite a bit of turbo lag especially when mated with the 4 speed auto. That said, it is actually a great combo, with little effort required to get around town and on the highway, albeit not quickly. You do have to judge overtaking a little carefully as the torque and power band is slim, but for a lifestyle drive, this is all that you really need if you’re not really going serious off-roading. (Rear Diff lock is standard). On long distance I eventually got the claimed 10km/l, but city driving knocked that 7km/l. (Note KM/L)
The Toyota Fortuner conclusionAs an entry level lifestyle offering, with generous amount of space, the opportunity to seat 7 and go off-road until it gets pretty damn tough is appealing at this price. You probably don’t need the 4x4 D-4D, so just get this one and you’ll be saving a good R100K. The interior is a bit bare bones, it’s a mission to park without sensors, cruise control would be really nice Toyota, and no woman would be able to change a flat tyre …BUT … it’s an appealing offering to get into the range if you require the off-road ability, ground clearance, space and seating. I would also recommend the automatic, as it makes for a lot more relaxed drive.
Toyota Fortuner - PriceToyota Fortuner 2.5D-4D Auto 106kW/343NM – R357 000
5yr/90 000km service plan is standard.