Toyota Fortuner review
Toyota Fortuner now gets an automatic gearbox.
Toyota Fortuner now gets an automatic gearbox. Now this is 2012 and we are well into the era of eight-speed autos and twin-clutch gearboxes, but Toyota’s automatic is pretty basic. This is strange, because competitors are literally throwing gears at their SUVs these days. The Ford Endeavour comes with a five-speed automatic, Hyundai’s recently launched Santa Fe comes with six and even the cheaper-by-half Scorpio Automatic has six gears. And the Fortuner has no paddle-shifters and no tip-tronic either. All you get are three regular forward gears plus one overdrive; as simple as a spanner. But simple doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
With 35kgm of torque produced from just 1400rpm, the Fortuner has plenty of pulling power, and that means Toyota can use tall gearing. So second on the Fortuner is as tall as third on the Endeavour and the gearing gets even more spaced out after that. What also helps performance is that this two-wheel-drive automatic Fortuner is 95kg lighter than the four-wheel-drive manual. So it feels pretty light footed and full of energy as you step off the line. Toyota’s 3.0-litre lump is also pretty smooth and so pottering around town, with the high-geared motor ambling along, is really relaxing. You can cruise up to speed quite effortlessly; you always feel like you have plenty of torque to dip into, and the leviathan really does feel effortless, even when pulling up inclines. Things are pretty relaxed out on the highway too. The Fortuner accelerates well on half-throttle, the big diesel motor merrily gurgling along, and getting to its natural cruising speed of approximately 130kph is no sweat too.
As facelifts go, this is a good one, especially from the front. Toyota has thought it important enough to upgrade the entire nose of the car and, as a result, looking at it head-on gives you the impression that this car is all new. Sharp lines replace the outdated rounded forms, the new Fortuner’s wider wraparound headlights and wider chin give it a fuller-looking face, and with cuts on the bonnet bumper and chin, this Toyota SUV looks more Land Cruiser than Fortuner. The chrome grille is now much wider, the rounded, pod-like Xenon elements in the headlights look good and the new alloys are smarter and lighter looking. The wheel and tyre size, however, are the same. Also the same, expectedly, are the doors, the general glass area, and the big wheel arches. Toyota has made changes to the rear too, but the changes here aren’t as well thought out or executed. The rear wheel arch now extends back into the rear bumper, which does look nice, and there is a new Land Cruiser-like bar of chrome across the tailgate. But the transparent tail-lights with their odd- looking red elements look distinctly aftermarket and cheap.
Toyota has updated the cabin of the Fortuner and though it hasn’t done as thorough a job as with the exteriors, perceived quality has gone up. The swathe of piano black wood running across the dash is quite impressive, the Camry steering wheel looks better than the Innova wheel used earlier, and the automatic gearlever looks pretty upmarket too. You get a reversing camera, powered seats and even cruise control. The double-DIN touch-screen audio system is easy to use as well, but the silver satin finish contrasts with the design of the interiors and makes it look like an aftermarket addition. The shiny plastic surrounding the vents is cheaper looking still. The seats of the Fortuner remain the same – the driver’s seat is supportive and adequately padded, there is sufficient room in the rear for three, though the third row is best for kids.