BACK in 2005, Toyota came out with a vehicle that set the market: the Toyota Fortuner. As the climax of the international Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) trio along with the Innova and Hilux, the Toyota Fortuner quickly rose up the sales charts, emerging as the most dominant model in the SUV category.
It has, however, been 10 years now since the Fortuner’s glory years. Take a look at the seven-seat Asian SUV category and you’ll find plenty of new options available like the Isuzu mu-X, the Chevrolet Trailblazer and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport; all of which stand as viable alternatives to the Toyota.
As a response to the challenge, Toyota has come out with an updated Fortuner, one that is more ready to take on its competition.
Setting that aside for now, the new 2015 Fortuner arrives as a modest design update. This is actually the second facelift of the Fortuner already; the first one was in 2008, this one was in 2012. Compared to the facelift that the Fortuner got back in 2008, Toyota really went to work on the outside of their best selling SUV, giving the car a more refined, more upscale look.
From the front, Toyota has remodeled the look of the Fortuner with new headlamps (smoked for this 2015 model), a new grille, and a newer, more modern front bumper.Towards the side, nothing much has changed, though Toyota have replaced the wheels with a new set of 12 spoke alloys. Over at the back, has also been redesigned with new taillamps (also smoked for 2015) and a few new touches like having the Fortuner name on the chrome garnish.
Toyota also gave the Fortuner plenty of updates and upgrades inside, with a redesigned dashboard and plenty of new touches. The steering wheel has been replaced with the same leather wrapped one found in the more upscale Camry executive sedan, and retains the user-friendly layout of the original Fortuner. All seats are also wrapped in leather for that luxurious touch. If you also haven’t noticed, this is the first time that the Fortuner has come with an all black interior; something that, in my opinion, does make the cabin look much classier.
Toyota outfitted the Fortuner with many features that can rival many executive sedans. The audio system has been upgraded with a two-DIN DVD touchscreen system. It’s got Bluetooth, satellite navigation, USB input, among others; and this is still a top spec version of the 4×2 model.
The same cabin layout assures great seating for seven passengers (2-3-2). Of course, for cargo duties, the third-row folds up while the second-row folds and tumbles forward for maximum room at the expense of passengers. What I didn’t particularly like was the system for stowing the third row, as it can be quite challenging and cumbersome for those of us who are about 5’6” tall or shorter.
Powering this Fortuner is the upgraded version of the 2.5 liter turbodiesel. Unlike previous Fortuner 2.5 variants that had 102 horsepower and 260 Newton meters of torque, this upgraded variable turbo D4-D engine makes an impressive 144 PS and 343 Newton meters; impressive given the displacement and a welcome boost in power for the heavy SUV. Mated to the 2.5 VNT D4-D engine is a 4-speed automatic gate-type transmission.
As a drive, don’t expect great performance out of it, though this upgraded engine does provide better power and fuel economy; in the city, it yielded 8.9 km/l (21 km/h average) and 12.3 km/l on the highway.
The real difference, however, is in comfort. When Toyota came out with the original Fortuner, numerous customers complained about the suspension; simply put, it was just too stiff. It was expected that Toyota would address the issue in 2008 when they came out with the minor model change of the Fortuner, but honestly, I couldn’t feel it. This one is different.
Everything that can transmit the road’s various imperfections to the passengers seems to have received quite a bit of work. The suspension (dampers and springs) have been softened to absorb more without being floaty, while the seats have been given better cushioning to be more pliant for the passengers. The difference is quite profound, and the result is a much more comfortable ride comparable to its chief rival, the Montero Sport.
When it comes to model upgrades, the usual list includes the addition of a new features and revising the look to compete with the newer models in the class. With the Fortuner, Toyota has gone further than the usual, focusing on what their customers really wanted, and thus ensuring that their best selling SUV is ready to take on the competition, especially with a salvo of new models (i.e. the Ford Everest) just around the corner.