All-new Toyota Fortuner – Cool, capable and classy

Toyota SA are on a roll. Last month they launched the all-new Hilux and clearly people are loving it; the  Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in SA last month, moving a healthy 3,273 units. Now Toyota are set to close the deal with the release of an all-new version of their highly popular Fortuner SUV. 

We feel confident that buyers will flock to it, as it shares many characteristics of the Hilux, not least the same engines. Even more so than the Hilux, however, the Fortuner is a vehicle that truly enables the South African lifestyle, with its love of adventure and the great outdoors. Versatility is undoubtedly the key to its success, as Toyota SA describes it: the Fortuner can ‘transform seamlessly from a sophisticated urban warrior to a fierce bush conqueror”.

An automotive success story

The Toyota Fortuner is one of South Africa’s biggest automotive success stories. In the decade since it was first introduced it has become a fixture on our roads in every province. People all over the country love its versatility, spaciousness, reliability and reasonable price tag. And of course they also love the brand. That being said, the Fortuner has always had something of an Achilles Heel - it wasn’t exactly the most attractive vehicle on the road.

The last version before this new one had some very odd-looking tail lights and the interior was the colour of… sand. So we’re very happy to say that with the latest model that has now all changed. Not only does the new Fortuner boast new engines and a new suspension but it now looks as good as it drives. At last this noted ‘tough guy’ can now also be described as handsome.

So what can you expect with the new Fortuner? As noted, it is based on the same platform as the Hilux so the dimensions are much the same – 4,7 metres long by 1,8 metres wide by 1,8 metres tall with a wheelbase of 2,7 metres. This means it has a longer (by 90mm) and wider (by 15mm) stance than the previous model, for a more spacious interior. They have made it more capable in just about every way. Not only that, but its more luxurious inside and has handy features galore. In fact, given its heritage and Toyota’s blue chip brand status in SA, it’s hard to find a reason NOT to buy one if you’re in the market for a SUV.

The art of looking good

But first, let’s consider the looks. First off, the back end is now much neater looking and the round tail lights are no more. The new ones are much more subtle, with a graceful, wrap-around shape. In general, viewing the vehicle from the back, it just looks much neater and more together than the previous model. The spoiler, shark-fin antenna, black pillars and integral rear windows enhances the sporty look. Badging is subtle, with a chrome strip featuring the Fortuner logo. Above this is a small Toyota badge.

This style is echoed in the front, with similar narrow, raked back headlights, buttressing a trapezoidal prominent chrome grill with deeply recessed fog lamps (also surrounded by chrome) on all grades another prominent feature. All models have LED stop lamps; LED tail lamps and bi-halogen headlamps are found on the 2,8 diesel and 2.7 litre petrol models. The 2,8 litre diesel and V6 feature high-beam LED headlamps. Finally the stylish new multi-spoke 17 inch alloy wheels round out the picture of a capable utility vehicle with lashings of sex appeal.

What’s inside?

The interior is refreshingly simple, yet places a lot of emphasis on comfort and convenience. The sand coloured upholstery is gone replaced by a more practical and pleasing chocolate brown. Premium soft-touch materials abound in key contact areas around the dash, windscreen pillars and door trims. These are off-set by metallic accents and woodgrain detail.

The prominent ‘floating’ centre console is flanked by vertical columns covered in soft touch material. These provide leg support for the folks in the front. Seating is key for a family utility vehicle that will likely be used on long trips and the Fortuner does not disappoint. There is space for seven people over three rows. The front seats are flared at the shoulders and have bolsters for maximum support.

Seating is a marvel of versatility so you can also use your Fortuner for a variety of tasks. The second row seating is split 60/40 and features a slide function and reclining backrests. Third row seating is split 50/50 and has a recline function for when the little ones want to catch a nap.

You can stow both rows of seats with just one touch to provide added luggage space and the second row seats can be tilted and tumbled forward individually. But that’s not all! Two halves of the third row can also be stowed to create more storage space.

Mod cons aplenty

All models feature audio systems with four to six speakers and an Aux/USB port. The 2,8 diesel and V6 models have a DAB+ digital radio with 7” screen that has DVD compatibility and a reversing camera display. The V6 model adds SatNav.

Further features include Bluetooth, steering wheel audio and phone controls, power door locks, windows and mirrors. Aircon is standard and there is separate controls for second row passengers.

You always want lots of storage space in a vehicle like this and the Fortuner delivers in spades. There are cup and bottle holders, compartments, hooks and pockets everywhere. In addition there is an air-conditioned compartment above the glovebox which can heat or cool items.

All models feature THREE 12-volt sockets – under the centre cluster, in the rear of the centre console and in the rear luggage area.

Tough enough for anything

To ensure that the Fortuner can handle SA’s rough country just as easily as it cruises down the main drag much attention has been placed on the frame and suspension. Comfort, safety and durability are the holy grails that motivate engineers.  The starting point is a solid frame, where the goal is to maximise strength and torsional rigidity as well as to ensure the materials are as corrosion resistant as possible. All this while meeting stringent weight targets. To ensure occupant safety in the event of a collision, the new frame has reinforced side rails and cross-members, while the body uses high strength steel.

The chassis frame and body is the platform for the Fortuner’s new suspension. This comprises a double wish-bone front suspension and a four-link coil-spring rear suspension, both with stabiliser bars.

When Wheels24’s journos took it for a spin at the launch, they had to say about the suspension:

“Toyota's engineers have done a superb job developing the new SUV's chassis and suspension. The ride is smooth, comfortable and overall a great improvement compared to the harsh on-road manners of its predecessor.

“Despite its size, it's surprisingly composed through corners with minimal body roll. Steering is adequate, if somewhat disconnected and its suspension is supple, capable of absorbing bumps and undulations with aplomb.

“The huge investment in chassis and suspension pays off as Toyota's new medium-sized SUV handles particularly well, though if you're travelling at moderate to high speeds you need to be mindful of its bulk through twists and bends.” High praise indeed!

Plenty of power on tap

As mentioned above, the Fortuner features the same new engines as the Hilux. The cream of the crop are no doubt the new Global Diesel units, in 2,4 and 2,8 litre outputs. These are all about torque output and low-speed tractability. In other words, they will get you into and out of the rough stuff - no problem!

The 2.4 GD produces 110kW@3400 and 400Nm between 1600 and 2000rpm. The 2.8 GD – which is undoubtedly going to be the most sought after model - has a stout 130kW and 420Nm from 1600 to 2400rpm in manual guise on tap.

Toyota pegs their fuel efficiency at around 7 litres/100km for the 2,4 litre and 7,9 litres/100km for the 2,8 litre. Your experience may differ so be sure to do your homework.

If you’re keen on petrol the revised version of the familiar 2,7 litre VVT-i is no slouch, producing 122kW and 245Nm with a 10% improvement in fuel economy, thanks to lighter valvetrain components, a newly shaped intake tumble port, reshaped combustion chamber to support a high-compression ratio and the adoption of VVT-I for the exhaust side, turning it into a Dual VVT-i.

For true power freaks, there’s the range-topping 4.0 litre V6, delivering 175kW and 376 Nm.

Towing capacity is 2,5 tons for the 2,5 GD and 2,7 petrol models and 3 tons for the 2,9 GD and 4.0 V6. Ground clearance is a very decent 279mm. Just in case you do hit a very rocky patch they have ensured the undercarriage is well-protected with extensive use of undercoating and chip-resistant coatings. Comprehensive anti-corrosion measures includes use of galvanised steel for most of the vehicle's exterior panels and cabin.

Wheels24 had this to say about the new 2,8 litre GD engine: “The new 2.8-litre turbodiesel is noticeably smoother and more refined than the 3.0-litre unit it replaces. Coupled with the equally new six-speed auto and you're presented with a comfortable, powerful SUV. There's a hint of turbo-lag, but once it gets going there's plenty of mid-range grunt. Despite its size, it's surprisingly composed through corners with minimal body roll.”

The engines are controlled by Toyota’s latest six speed transmissions, which have been designed to optimise both take-off performance and fuel economy when driving at speed.

The 2,8 diesel has Toyota’s new intelligent manual transmission, which matches engine revolutions to transmission revolutions for smoother shifts. Shift feel has been further improved with a short gear-shift lever.

Active and passive safety measures

The Fortuner features a veritable blizzard of standard safety and driver assist features, including Vehicle Stability Control, Active Traction Control, Trailer Sway Control, Hill-start Assist Control and Drive Mode Select. 4X4 models also get Downhill Assist Control.

Braking is provided by ventilated discs. When braking sharply, the hazards will flash automatically to warn other drivers.

Other safety and security equipment that is new to this generation includes a driver knee airbag, speed-sensing auto door lock, an anti-theft system and Trailer Sway Control.

There are three grades of Fortuner to choose from:

Entry grade (2.4 GD-6 and 2.7 VVT-i) which has the following features:
•    Push start
•    Tilt and telescopic steering column
•    Cruise control
•    Speed sensing auto door lock
•    Front and knee airbags
•    Illuminated entry
•    Chilled glovebox
•    Front fog lamps
•    Rear spoiler
•    Roof rails
•    Side steps
•    17” alloys
•    Full alloy spare wheel

Standard grade (2.8 GD-6) which adds:
•    Leather upholstery
•    Front, knee, curtain and side airbags
•    LED headlamps
•    Follow-me-home auto lights
•    Auto air conditioner

High grade (4.0 V6)
•    All features of the standard grade
•    Power back door

•    Navigation system


Clearly there is a lot for the motorist to be excited about in the new Fortuner, including the affordable pricing, with the 2,4 litre GD-6 Manual starting at only R436 400. That said, the 2.8 GD-6 Manual at R513 400 is probably the pick of the litter. With the upgraded power under the hood, and the extra niceties like leather upholstery, this is a fantastic all-rounder with everything you could possibly want in a family utility vehicle.

To make an appointment to test drive the new Fortuner, contact your local Bidvest McCarthy Toyota dealership. You can find them here:

2.4 GD-6 Raised Body Manual:     R436 400
2.4 GD-6 Raised Body Automatic: R453 400
2.7 VVT-i Raised Body Automatic: R429 400
2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Manual:     R513 400
2.8 GD-6 4x4 Manual:                    R571 400
2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Automatic: R531 400
2.8 GD-6 4x4 Automatic:                R589 400

4.0 V6 4x4 Automatic:                    R633 400

All models come with a three year/100 000km warranty and a five year/90 000km service plan.


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