NEW FORTUNER GOES EPIC: Toyota has added style enhancements to its popular Fortuner in the form of the new Epic edition. Image: Toyota
Toyota has given its popular Fortuner SUV a cosmetic upgrade featuring exterior and interior enhancements and badged it the Epic. Is there higher praise? DAVE FALL took a drive..."This 'Go Anywhere, Do Anything and Do it in Style' character of the Fortuner perfectly complements the lifestyle of outdoor-loving South Africans who need the dual-purpose capability of a 'bush and boulevard' cruiser.
Toyota confirms that the Epic treatment will be applied to "50% (over two months of production) of all 3.0 D-4D and 4.0 V6 derivatives".
Up front it gains a chromed nudge bar with "Epic" branding, new headlights (with black details) and teardrop-shaped chromed bezels around the front fog lights. Its side mirrors are chromed as opposed to body-coloured.
'BUSH AND BOULEVARD'
Epic units gain a tow ball as well as a rear sill protector and sport dark grey 17" alloy rims. The rear lights have the same black detailing as those up front.
Kerry Roodt, general manager of marketing communications for Toyota SA, saaid: "It's the consummate all-rounder, suitable for use in a number of conditions from urban highways through rocky mountain passes to sand dunes and the bushveld.
"If ever there was an apt tagline then the Fortuner's got it - "Freedom is indeed beautiful'."
IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 Toyota Fortuner Epic edition
A look at the Fortuner's history reveals a number of modifications since its South African debut in 2006.
Roodt added: "The voice of the customer is critically important and has to a large extent dictated many of the revisions that have been made to this best-seller."
Wheels24 correspondent DAVE FALL was at the launch for us and filed these ride-'n-drive impressions:
One thing’s for sure the evergreen Toyota Fortuner sells in big numbers each month – never less than 900 a month since it was introduced here in 2006 – and that’s no idle boast – because they really seem to be prolific on our roads.
As production gets under way, the new Epic derivative will be instantly recognisable with its tell-tale insignia badging below the chunky, standard fit, bull bar.
Without doubt the Fortuner range has huge street cred but what’s it really like when the going gets tough?
On the road the Epic certainly impresses with its smooth and comfortable ride; hit a corrugated gravel road and one is immediately aware of the almost non-existent levels of additional noise, vibration and harshness.
Making our way over towards a private 4x4 circuit in the Stellenbosch region was surely going to be ‘meat and drink’ for this rather rugged SUV all-rounder. A ‘walk-around’ the dozen or so obstacles planned to take around 1.5 hours was accomplished in just 45 minutes – the ‘Epic’ living up to its name in spades (if you’ll excuse the pun).
With generous approach (30°), departure (25°) angles, along with 220mm of ground clearance, some serious wheel articulation manoeuvring throughout the exercise produced little more than the odd creaking sound by way of suspension protest.
Incidentally, in 4x4 guise, the Fortuner Epic has full-time AWD with low range and a Torsen limited-slip centre differential with lock. 4x2 versions are still well equipped enough to go bundu-bashing when the need arises – courtesy of a rear differential lock.
Another factor underpinning the Fortuner’s popularity is that it’s a proudly South African model. Produced at Toyota’s Prospecton plant in Durban, the Fortuner is built on the IMV (Innovative Multi-purpose Vehicle) line alongside its Hilux sisters.
• Pricing of the ‘Epic’ derivatives starts at R461 800 for the 3.0 D-4D 4x2, rising to R544 500 for the flagship 4.0 V6 4x4 auto (see below).Timeline for the Toyota Fortuner in SA
2006 - SA-assembled Fortuner debuts in SA alongside the seventh generation Hilux.
2009 - Spec change sees stability control and 17" alloys.
2011 - Refreshed design and several comfort items added. A value-oriented 2.5 D-4D manual model was added to the line-up.
2012 - The 2.5 D-4D auto was introduced.
2013 - "Ltd Edition" offered on 3.0 D-4D and 4.0 V6 models.
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x2 Epic - R461 800
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x2 a/t Epic - R474 700
Fortuner 4.0 V6 4x2 a/t Epic - R493 100
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x4 Epic - R513 400
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x4 a/t Epic - R526 500
Fortuner 4.0 V6 4x4 a/t Epic - R544 500