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Reader test: Toyota Fortuner

2009-11-18 10:27

Tim Curtis

After much deliberation I decided to sell my 10-year old Audi Quattro Avant. I loved that car. Unfortunately I needed something more practical for my lifestyle.

I started out looking for a second hand Toyota Fortuner, but the resale values were so good that I thought it made more sense to buy new. The new ‘facelifted’ model had just been released with all sorts of extras, most importantly stability control, six airbags (up from two) and a larger fuel tank (80l up from 65).

It is nice to have the controls for the stereo/CD and trip computer on the steering wheel. Other changes are 17 inch wheels, better dual air-conditioning control for passengers in the back, and climate control. I also think the new grille and headlights are slightly nicer than the earlier model.

I was aware that some of the earlier models had had handling problems, particularly on corrugated roads. Whatever the reason, I can say that I have had no problems traveling on such roads and the car feels good at speed on gravel.

To be honest, I have never been fond of Toyotas. Their interiors are too plasticky and their styling is often very boring and conservative. But money is an issue and I needed something that was practical and reliable, but also good to drive in the city and off road.

4X4? 4X2?

So I bought a brand new Toyota Fortuner 3.0 D-4D Raised Body 4X2 manual, the most basic spec I could get. I agonised over whether to get the 4X4 or 4X2. I have done extensive traveling around South Africa and Africa and can count on one hand the amount of times that I actually really needed a 4x4. It is nice to have, but for an extra R35 000 I decided against it.

What I really wanted was ground clearance and a strong engine with lots of torque. Also, the two-wheel drive models come standard with a diff lock so should I run into a sticky spot it is comforting I have that to help.

So now I can say I sold my 4x4 (Audi Quattro) and bought a 4x2 to go off road.

It is a very roomy car for passengers, though the third row of seats is only suitable for small children. It is a pity that they don't fold into the floor. I have actually taken them out as they are just a nuisance. With the 2nd row of seats folded there is a very good load space, but my one big gripe is that the floor is not flat, which can be very annoying at times.

There is only one choice as far as interior colour goes. I would have chosen something darker, but I plan to get some canvas seat covers for those weekends away.

Fake wood

It took a little while getting used to driving it. The plastic interior with the fake wood still bothers me, but the leather seats with the high riding position are wonderfully comfortable.

The suspension is quite hard for everyday city driving but after a while one doesn't notice it too much. On rocky and sandy roads it is fantastic and just glides over everything. The engine is fantastically capable whether city driving or going up a steep dusty incline, it feels good to have that big torquey engine underfoot.

Fuel economy is good. I get 9.5l/100km in the city and I make no attempt whatsoever to drive economically. It is a good all rounder, is reliable and does what it is meant to do. A plus, too, is that in years to come when I sell it, given the resale value of Toyotas, I will not lose too much, relatively.

I surprised myself by buying something that does have many cons but it has far more pros, namely price and it really is good at what it does, the rest is really just window dressing.

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