This is it,In India, the Fortuner?s been a phenomenon. Maybe because sitting inside one makes you feel important. Maybe because it?s size becomes an extension of your ego. Maybe because it?s that misplaced thought that the hoi-polloi around you think you?re important if you?re seen in one. Whatever might be the reason for the T-Fort phenomenon, one thing?s clear ? you feel a bit uplifted as you climb inside one, like it?s the perfect accessory to announce your somewhat respectable social standing. And I?m happy to report that it doesn?t disappoint while delivering that sensory experience of feeling less plebeian.For style, Toyota really worked to bring a Fortuner that looks good both in photos and in the metal. The look certainly isn't conservative, and it starts with the eye-catching lower bumper; it seems to be inspired by the Toyota Mirai with those triangular slots for the foglamps and the overall attention to detail. The grille is smaller than before, but it accentuates the vertical chrome bars and the much slimmer LED headlamps.The interiors are where the Fortuner triumphantly overwhelms its predecessor. While the outgoing model?s cabin looked like the inside of a truck buffed to please the slightly uninitiated, the model brings in nothing but much needed luxury. For the top grades, there?s dual toned leather (black and brown) with contrast stitching everywhere, on the door trims, the dashboard and even on the centre console. Then there are traces of wood here and there, slivers of chrome, other metallic accents, along with more leather. The dashboard?s design is quite contemporary, while the waterfall-like centre console proudly flaunts the 7.0-inch touchscreen and the leather trimmed edges.The seating position is commanding and the view outside is plentiful, giving you a towering, above-the-road feeling. The massive, almost horizontal bonnet always hangs out in the line of vision like a ship?s bow from the Captain?s cockpit though. If you want to sink in a bit further into the vehicle, the Fortuner?s driver?s seat is eight way electronically adjustable. But for me, driving this sort of a vehicle always calls for sitting as high from the road as I can get, and look down on the minions, and thus, feel less plebeian. The top of the high-set, upright dashboard has a smaller area than most modern cars, because the scuttle and A-pillars of the Fortuner are pushed back; typical of truck architecture. So, there?s very less dashboard to view, a lot of bonnet and then the road. Personally, I like that kind of a setup better than trendy, cab-forward designs, as it gives a sense of purpose to driving a true-blue SUV.The steering wheel is wood and leather trimmed, laden with controls for audio/telephony and the MIDThe front seats are big, comfy and supportive, giving no cause for concern as you sink into them with your elbows blissfully resting on the leather on the door pads. The seats aren?t the thickest in the business though, but that doesn?t make them any less comfortable.The same can be said about the rear seat, a bench with a 60:40 split and a central armrest that can be dug out from the backrest. While the backrest felt a bit upright, legroom in the second row is plenty, while three occupants sitting abreast on the bench won?t be too uncomfortable either. However just ?stick? to short journeys in case you?re one of them. Legroom in the second row is good, but not great. Six-footers sitting upright will certainly feel the headliner (scooped) if they must scratch the top of their heads. They won?t mind though, as the headliner is quite nicely trimmed.Access to the third row is via tumbling the second row which is a convenient, one-touch operation.The third row, obviously, is the least comfortable place to be in, but not by much. The seat is flat, but legroom is decent if you?re not looking to spend more than a couple of hours, as there?s no space to stretch your legs beyond a certain point. The window-line sharply rises before the third row though, being a spoilsport when it comes to enjoying the view outside. The feature also leaves quite a bit of hard plastic areas for your sad elbow, but at least they?re dug out in the middle to store a 1-litre water bottles and maybe a paperback.The door pockets store 1-litre bottles without fuss, but there?s a bit of an ergonomic anomaly here. It involves fetching the bottles from the rear door pockets while the door is shut. You must bend your arm in ways you?ve never done before to reach the bottles as they disappear between the seat and the doors. Ideally, the positioning of the bottle holders in the door pockets of the rear door should have been where the speakers are, but that doesn?t seem to be the case here.Does the Fortuner run rings around its predecessor? It does. While I?d still prefer the butch looks of the outgoing model, it does most things better than the outgoing model. Drivability and straight performance has noticeably excellent, apart from the ride quality which remains firm. The interiors are way more upmarket, while the gamut of features make it quite competitive.
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