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New Fortuner range driven

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Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Toyota
Model Fortuner
Engine 2.5D-4, 3D-4D, 4-litre V6
Power 106-, 120-, 175kW
Torque 343-, 376Nm
Transmission Five-speed manual/auto, four-speed auto
Fuel Tank 80-litres
Airbags Dual-front, side/curtain
Tyres 265/65R17
Front Suspension Dual wishbone, independent
Rear Suspension 4-link, lateral rod
Service Intervals 10 000km (diesel), 15 000km (petrol)
Service Plan 5-year/90 000km
Warranty 3-year/100 000km

Lance Branquinho

Constituting 34 percent of the total new SUV sales (Toyota sold an inexplicable 1 712 units during the pre-facelift August roll-out period), Fortuner is very much "the tail that wags the dog" which is the South African SUV market.

Even the most trivial upgrades make a big difference to most SUV buyers, and as Fortuner is top of everyone’s shortlist, what's the deal with the new one?

Well, the exterior design changes to the Fortuner tally new bumpers front and rear, more defined fenders and some rather garish chrome detailing applied to the grille and light clusters, both fore and aft.


The most noteworthy change to Fortuner is the range having grown from six to seven derivatives with the introduction of a new engine option, a pretty neat variable-nozzle turbocharged version of Toyota’s (Hilux) 2.5-litre diesel engine, good for 106kW and a torque peak of 343Nm – similar to Fortuner’s 3-litre D-4D.

The new 2.5D-4D’s only available in two-wheel drive and specification’s not as comprehensive as the larger-engined Fortuners: there is no cruise control, privacy glass, powered driver seat, six-speaker audio or side airbags. It’s hardly utilitarian though. Infotainment’s buoyed by the presence of a trip computer and MP3-enabled CD front loader (there’s USB/auxiliary input convergence too) whilst a full suite of dynamic safety features (vehicle stability control and brake assist-powered ABS) ensure high-speed dirt road cruising is vice-free.

For the established 3-litre D-4D and 4-litre V6 Fortuners, power- and drivetrains are carried over – which is just as well, as the 120kW/343Nm 3-litre D-4D is a byword for durability in African off-road conditions. Although engine outputs remains unchanged, there’s been a generous increase in braked trailer towing capacity for new Fortuner, improving (finally) from 1.5t to between 1.7- and 2t, depending on the engine derivative.

Unfortunately, the two-pedal turdodiesels still drive through a rather antiquated four-speed automatic transmission, never a hindrance for low-range off-road work, but that additional ratio (or two) would be most welcome for highway cruising, in the interest of lowering fuel consumption…

Something I have always liked about Toyota’s Fortuner is its small-lever transfer case, which has been carried over. A superiorly robust (and more secure shifting, especially in broken terrain, when in danger of being cross-axled) alternative to other SUVs with their push-button (solenoid actuated) transfer case engagement, it remains (to my mind) the most reassuring way to select low-range, when the terrain calls for it...

”SAND BEIGE”: New steering wheel satellite control and infotainment display is ace. The trim colour and chrome detailing? Well…

Additions to the specification sheet are highlighted by auto headlights (featuring high-intensity xenon' illumination) and a rear-view camera (functioning via the upgraded larger format audio display).


Toyota optioned to launch the new Fortuner in Zambia, and if you’ve ever driven there, you’ll know how maddening the heavy-duty trucking traffic can be.

On the highway stretch from Lusaka to Kariba I was at the helm of the new 2.5D-4D, which effortlessly kept up with the convoy of 3-litre D-4Ds and 4-litre V6s – the 2.5’s overtaking prowess is impressive, which is hardly surprising as its 343Nm worth of torque is identical to the 3-litre D-4D.

On the reverse route back it was mostly off-road, including a crossing of the Kafue river. Simply slotting the 3D-4D’s transfer case lever into centre-differential locked “high-lock” enabled a surfeit of traction (especially dovetailed with the traction control system), and in low-range, with the rear differential lock actuated, you would have to string together a series of bad off-road driving errors of judgement to get a Fortuner stuck.

Though I dislike the audible warning bong when it engages, Fortuner’s vehicle stability intervention systems have the dynamic likeness of a sentinel. Despite serious throttle and steering input taunting, it’s essentially foolproof, applying corrective brake force to the necessary wheel time and again.

Issues? Well, the cabin trim is still way too light given Fortuner’s utilitarian capabilities, and the chrome accents are a touch too Chinese in terms of design language…

Toyota says the euphemistically named "Sand Beige" trim is now a few tones darker than what went before. Point is though, small children could practically dirty Fortuner’s cabin by just looking at it. Plainly, the new colour is still not nearly dark enough to be dirt proof in the bush or even in general use. If facelifted Hilux Raider can have a dark grey interior option - with leather seats - why not Fortuner?

One new trim feature, which nearly usurps the interior’s one-valet-a-week-to-keep-it-clean colour hue as a trim debit, is the inexplicable Japanese "teak" blackgrain wood fascia inserts.

Why Japanese manufacturers feel the need to embellish the interiors of low-range equipped vehicles with peculiar wood inlays is a mystery of epic proportions. It looks silly, especially more so because the Hilux-sourced interior is actually one of Toyota’s better designs in terms of texture and shape co-ordination. Why the Hilux’s silver or black trim finish could not have been carried over is beyond me. Even tuna-scale trim would have been more acceptable and less desperately Eurocentric…

Although it’s well tailored for South African buyers as a seven-seater urban runabout with properly robust off-road ability, Foruner’s not perfect.

Toyota’s upholstery designers need to turn the page of their trim colour supply guide brochure and realise "Sand Beige" is not where it’s at. Oh, and a horizontally split tailgate would be nice too, for the convenience it provides with regards to extra seating and shading when pulling up next to the road for lunch or staying over in a bush camp.


Fortuner 2.5 D-4D VNT 4x2 RB            R325 500
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x2 RB                   R395 000
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x2 RB AT              R406 300
Fortuner 4.0 V6 4x2 RB AT                  R422 300
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4x4                        R439 800
Fortuner 3.0 D-4D 4X4 AT                   R451 200
Fortuner 4.0 V6 4X4 AT                       R466 900

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