Driving new family favourite reveals more than Toyota admits


It was one of those typical Cape days. Wet, cold, and muddy all morning and up to the top of a slippery Swartberg Pass. And hot, dry, and dusty down the other side. Four seasons in one day and beautiful scenery across all driving surfaces. In other words, perfect conditions to get to know Toyota’s latest Fortuner in its natural habitat.

Stylishly enhanced, the reimagined Fortuner sits above Urban Cruiser, Corolla Cross, C-HR and the RAV4, and under the Prado and Land Cruiser 300 in Toyota’s extensive crossover range. A runaway success since inception back in 2006, now in its second generation, the 7-seater Fortuner continues to offer a most popular mix of style, versatility, off-road prowess, and practicality. It’s quite simply South Africa’s staple SUV.


Driving Fortuner reveals bonus improvements

This is now the third and probably final iteration of that second generation. Toyota had surprisingly little to say about it in the curt product briefing, beyond the obvious. And that it’s pushed Fortuner even a little further upmarket. To catch buyers tumbling down with a product they will gladly stoop to. But there’s clearly much more to it than that, as our two days behind the wheel to Prince Albert and back so well proved.

Toyota says nothing of chassis, noise vibration and harshness tweaks in the media release. But clearly there are. It’s a significant step up from the old car in those respects. Same goes for the gearbox. The good old six-speed auto seemed a little more in tune with the 2.8 GD6 turbodiesel than we recall. But that’s a Toyota thing. Let the car do the talking…

What they did admit to is that the new car has a new ‘catamaran’ look. To give it a broader, more stylish look from most angles. No hiding from that. And it works. More lateral lines, a new grille between four-bar daylight running light full LED headlights with sequential turn signals in the 2.8 models, atop a far more gaping lower grille give Fortuner a completely new, far more contemporary look. Get used to it.


Geared up for the downscalers

There’s a new, more sculpted rear bumper too, revised taillights and darkened garnish. And you can add a bi-tone finish to the 2.8-litre models for a little premium. The face-polished wheels are new too, to give Fortuner a more upmarket look and dare we say, contribute to its enhanced stance. There’s no more external differentiation between the various Fortuner grades. They all look the same now, in an effort to give them all a more upmarket feel. For the downscalers, you know…

The VX grade added at the previous upgrade now gains a little extra luxury over entry and mid models. The range-topper of course borrows its VX badge from Toyota’s premier RAV4, Prado and Land Cruiser 200 range models. To denote the highest specification level on offer. Some things have not changed. Like the third row seats that still hang off the sides of the boot. They belong in the floor, Toyota. Really! We also missed a mobile phone charging pad that’s become an expected in-car necessity.

But then Fortuner carries far more great features over, too. Like its proven and user friendly Multi-Information Display Infotainment with seamless CarPlay, Auto, Bluetooth, USBs, and the rest. We’d prefer a few more USB ports to the extra one in the back and maybe a C version too, but let’s not split hairs now. MID has a splendid new 11-speaker JBL Premium Audio system with Apple Music, JOOX, Spotify and SoundCloud music library access. Navigation has been deleted. That’s a dying breed in cars with the upsurge of far more effective mobile maps.


NEW Fortuner has a well-equipped elegant cabin

The infotainment all works well, with buttons to shortcut to the main functions and knobs for the big climate and control functions. Bravo! The driver gets updated dials too and the cabin is finished in black leather across the range with the option of plum coloured inserts to break the monotony. Pretty neat, too.

Under the bonnet you’ll find the enhanced 150 kW 500 Nm 1GD generation engine with a great blend of performance, fuel economy and quietness in the 2.8 models that come exclusively with 6-speed automatic gearboxes. That engine also benefited a larger roller bearing turbocharger and 250 MPA common-rail injection system in Fortuner’s previous update for crisp, strong throttle response and that classic four-pot burble. It averaged under 9 litres per hundred in a quite demanding run over two days.

The six-speed automatic transmission appears to have benefited a further refresh, as does Fortuner’s double-wishbone suspension front and four-link the rear all-coil spring suspension. Toyota will get back to us on all that, but the car certainly felt more composed, better planted and at ease on the road than we recall! The 110 kW 400 Nm 2.4 GD-6 comes in the choice of the 6-speed auto and 6-speed manual transmissions.


All the spec you will ever need

Looking at spec, over and above the already mentioned aspects, Fortuner 2.4 GD-6 gets park distance control, one-touch power windows, a reverse camera and a tilt and telescopic multifunction steering wheel. There’s a cooled upper glovebox and a regular lower one partially filled by a proper old school owner’s manual, multiple power outlets and cup holders and the full array of airbags, ISOFIX child seat restraints and seatbelt pre-tensioners.

All Fortuners also come with ABS, EBD and power assisted brakes, traction, vehicle stability and trailer sway controls. 4×4 models add downhill assistance too. Add improved anti-theft, speed-dependent auto-door locking and keyless entry. And all Fortuners come with Toyota Connect telematics including in-car Wi-Fi and 15Gb complimentary data. Once linked to their profile, customers can manage their vehicle via the MyToyota App.

All Fortuner models come with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty. A 9-services/90 000 km service plan is standard on all models, all upgradable to extended service plans and warranty packages at any of Toyota’s more than 220 SA dealers, where new Fortuner is waiting for you right now. Go get it! – Michele Lupini

New Toyota Fortuner Pricing
2.4 GD-6              R653K
2.4 GD-6 auto         R677K
2.4 GD-6 4x4 auto     R709K
2.8 GD-6 auto         R794K
2.8 GD-6 VX auto      R837K
2.8 GD-6 4x4 auto     R873K
2.8 GD-6 4x4 VX auto  R915K
Dunlop Grandtrek
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