A Whole Lot More Little Enhancements Simply Shift Fortuner Further Ahead

They say that the Toyota Fortuner needs no introduction. That this most popular SUV resonates extremely well with South Africans and their lifestyles thanks to continuously response to customer feedback and their ever-evolving needs in the pursuit of producing an ever-better Fortuner.

To that end, Toyota quietly ushered in a few new specification enhancements and adaptions late last year. So, what better way to sample it, than to push one of the newly endowed Fortuners to a vacation test?

A few more specification enhancements

Let’s begin with the upgrades then. First things first and just in time for the blistering summer, our VX benefited the added convenience of dual-zone climate control. It’s now standard across the 2.8 litre turbodiesel range. Our range-topping VX grade also gets a cool new selectable view Panoramic View Monitor and an 11-speaker JBL Premium Audio upgrade system. Splendid

They’ve however ditched on-board satellite navigation. But then who needs that with a better navi on your smartphone and the ability to connect to your Fortuner via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? That of course in addition to the existing Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Apple Music, JOOX, Spotify and Sound Cloud.

Speaking of Toyota’s ever-evolving infotainment system. That ongoing attention has turned it from the dreadful old original touchscreen only device into an intuitive and easy to use system. It now finds itself toward the front of the human to car interface pack. Toyota Connect telematics of course adds Wi-Fi and 15Gb complimentary data for the MyToyota App.

Even more safety added

Fortuner now also gets an enhanced security Smart Entry system, while our holiday VX variant adds additional Toyota Safety Sense functionality to its existing integrated pre-collision system with lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control and road sign recognition. It steps up to Blind- Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. That in addition to the existing full array of airbags, ISOFIX child seat restraints and seatbelt pre-tensioners and auto hold electric parking brake. Add active stability and traction control, ABS anti-lock with electronic force distribution and emergency assist braking.

Fortuner’s full leather interior comes with a hide-clad tilt and (slightly) telescopic multi-function steering wheel for audio and cruise control settings at your fingertips. There’s traditional blue dialled instrumentation with white needles, one-touch power windows and multiple convenient power outlets and cup holders. It’s a fine quality cabin featuring many a creature comfort, solid controls and a superior finish.

But it’s not perfect. There are a few annoying aspects. Like frustrating, confusing and mostly unnecessary alarm chimes and dodgy central locking logic. And the third row seats still hang off the side of the boot compartment. To steal space and block out the rear quarter windows. Really, Toyota, this is something we’ve bitched about for years. Enough already – it’s time to stow those seats the floor. Take note for your next round of specification enhancements!

So, what’s Fortuner like to live with?

So what’s Fortuner like to live with? Well, it of course comes with that practical and reliable Toyota pedigree. It’s handsome too – that facelift from a year or two ago added stature to an already good looking car. That of included a larger, blacked-out wave-mesh grille, sleeker daylight running Bi-LED headlamps, LED strip indicators and LED fog lamps. And cooler 18-inch alloys. You can also now have your VX in a new Platinum White Pearl hue. Although we quite liked our silver solution.

It’s easy to drive, has more than sufficient power and torque. That improved ride quality that arrived with along with the upgrade to 150 kW and 500 Nm a year or so ago, is also a boon. That said, Fortuner’s agricultural bakkie heart still delivers a slightly noisy ride and the engine is a tad rowdy. It’s also a bit on the big , and perhaps even cumbersome side for some mom’s taxi tastes. And it’s relatively thirsty versus some smaller, perhaps less versatile SUVs at the price. But as they say, you can’t win them all – you just can’t have your cake and eat it.

That creamy 2.8 GD-6 engine and six-speed automatic however bring good performance and fuel economy. Fortuner feels well connected to the road, it’s powerful and cruises with total ease. And while it can be noisy in acceleration, the cabin is quiet on the cruise.

Fortuner is an all-rounder of note

Boasting a 750 kg regular towing capacity, brake the trailer and Fortuner will tow 3.3 tonnes. That’s more than ample. And click it into 4×4 mode and its quite unstoppable. A 29 degree approach, 25 degree departure and a decent break over angled, a 219 mm ride height and 700 mm wading depth make it as good as pretty much anything.

Backed by a 3-year 100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty and 9-service or 90 000 km service plan, the Fortuner does come at a bit of a premium. But that’s more than well justified by its all-important ’Toyotaness’.

Fortuner also proved the perfect holiday companion. There were a few arguments across the age barrier as to whom would drive it on some days. Which also tells its own story. But as a family car, Toyota certainly has it taped with Fortuner. These latest upgrades just make that advantage even more apparent in this class.

Story, test & images: Giordano & Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 VX AT
Engine: 150kW 500 Nm 2.8-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 6-speed automatic 4x4
Braked Towing 3300 kg
0-60 km/h:        4.26 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.79 sec
0-120 km/h:       13.24 sec
0-160 km/h:       24.36 sec
400m time:        16.7 sec @ 136 km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.50 sec
120-160 km/h:     11.12 sec
VMax:             180 km/h
Fuel:             7.9 l/100 km
CO2:              209 g/km
Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/9s 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R837K
RATED:            8
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