Toyota Fortuner 3.0 4WD Automatic: Expert Review
Things to look forward to:
-Effortless off-road capability
Things that would make you think twice:
-Bulbous size in traffic
The Fortuner has been the jewel in Toyota's crown for years now, and with gradual facelifts getting essentials like both 2WD and 4WD options earlier, and then later an automatic 2WD. The latest iteration gets an automatic gearbox with the 3.0 litre 4WD making it pretty much a complete off-road package.
Despite lurking in the sea of very potent competitors, like the Ford Endeavour, Santa Fe, Ssangyong Rexton, Isuzu MU7, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Chevrolet Captiva and Renault Koleos, the Fortuner has held stable sales for Toyota India. But moving with times most others have got updates. Hence, to soldier on the new Fortuner gets and automatic slapped with its 3.0 litre 4X4 power train and a few cosmetic changes.
Retaining its style, the Fortuner is a handsome looking brute with highlighted muscles all around its body. Though not many, the changes on the outside start from new smoked headlamp units look good, especially on the ‘bronze mica metallic' paint finish. The fog lamps get highlighting in chrome which is supposed to add class to the butch appearance, but frankly are unnecessary.
What does actually look nice is the new dark grey colour on the alloy wheels. The wheels now make the entire car look worthy of its off-road ability, sort of like workmen boots. Another new addition is the smoky flavour carried to the rear tail lamps as well.
Now these look way better than the previous shiny chrome inserted lamps. I also like the way the spare tyre is neatly tucked away under the rear bumper, bothersome to pull out, but this means the tailgate is easy and looks all the more better.
This is the best part; the interiors now get black as the dominating colour giving interiors much classy appearance than the previous beige combination. The dashboard is all-black with some fake-wood inserts here and there. The plastics are very sturdy and will last ages, but do lack flair in their touch.
Simply put, the fit and finish levels are excellent but there is now elegance in the touch and feel of plastics. The steering wheel and gear lever though have classy hold, as would have been liked on all the plastics. Also there are lots of pockets and cubby holes to put stuff around in the cabin.
Seats are very comfortable indeed and that too for all the three rows of seating. The driver seat gets 6-way electrical adjustment for people of every dimension possible. The height adjustment allows you to further lord it over other motorists, and gets handy in traffic.
The cabin is airy and spacious and the flexible seat layout allows you to convert it into a massive station wagon if you need to transport a lot of luggage. A new touch screen 2-DIN infotainment cum navigation system sits centre stage of the dashboard, with all possible connectivity options and a DVD changer as well. Again the system is sophisticated but slow and does not exude class as a quality product. For convenience there is also a remote control for rear passengers giving them some control on the audio system.
Engine and Performance (4/5)
The engine performing under the bonnet is a 2,982cc D-4D turbocharged diesel unit producing a generous 168bhp of maximum power and peak torque of 360Nm from as low as 1,400rpm. While driving away there is nearly no lag and the 2.0 ton Fortuner picks up its bulk at ease. The 4-wheel drive system works fulltime in ‘high' as standard and is mated to a 5-speed automatic with a conventional torque convertor.
Acceleration from standstill to a 100kmph takes about 12 seconds, but it feels like this mammoth will do it on any surface you fancy. The engine comes in its strides in the mid-range making overtaking manoeuvres effortless. Decent sound isolation keeps the coarse sounding engine and wind noises away.
The Fortuner 4X4 4WD automatic becomes a real treat when you show it some treacherous terrain. Any slope, any incline can be tackled by this potent SUV, with the 5-speed automatic literally making off-road driving easy. And if the going gets really high, you get locking differentials to tackle those. Slot it in ‘4 low' and slide the drive selector to ‘load' and it'll keep going.
The only problem might arise if surface gets very wet, as it still is running on Dunlops which are supposed to give you a mix of on-road and off-road performance. You could swap them for knobby off-road tyres to gain tremendous off road capability subject t requirements of the user.
Ride quality and safety (4/5)
Handling on tarmac roads is not exactly a strong point for high riding SUV's as there mass moves across the vertical ladder. But somehow, the Fortuner has always been surprising in the handling department. It does start bumpy but becomes plaint as the speed builds. And it just keeps getting better on any surface, as usually prevalent on our sub-urban and rural roads like, tarmac, rutted, mud and gravel.
The enormous bulk can be felt through the seat of your pants as you drive around corners. But then remember that this car will do it all on every surface possible. One real niggle I feel are the less responsive brakes. Don't get me wrong, they are very powerful and stop the bulk with ease, but lack proper graduation and feel. Despite having brake assist, they feel like a button that goes ‘on' or ‘off'.
The all-time 4WD system enhances drivability with the Traction Control System ensuring grip on all four wheels. Anti-lock brakes with brake force distribution come standard along with dual front airbags on the 3.0litre 4X4 4WD automatic. Steering wheel gets a voice recognition switch which enables the driver to control the navigation system. Also a turning circle of 5.9 metre is very handy when it comes to taking quick U-turns.
As before, Toyota still has a winner at its hands with the Fortuner and the company will continue to reap profits from it. It entices you as soon as you look at it, goes like it means business and will keep going as the terrain gets challenging. Toyota claims it'll give a combined fuel efficiency of 11.5kmpl, however, the trip computer on this test car stated 7.5kmpl on our part tarmac part dirt run. Might sound less but trust me is very impressive when you consider its 2.0 ton bulk and that massive 3.0 litre turbocharged engine. And also the rest of the competitors will have trouble reaching these numbers. And then is Toyota's impeccable reliability and service support that further pulls customers to its showrooms. Sure the automatic saps a bit of power, and costs more money, but adds a lot of convenience in lieu.