When spending over Rs 20 lakh on an SUV, the average Indian buyer would quite enjoy some convenience in his/her life. So far (rather perplexingly), Toyota thought people buying a four wheel drive Fortuner wouldn't need an automatic gearbox in their lives, and so, sold it with only a manual. That's changed now, with the introduction of an auto on the burly 4WD Toyota. Are we happy? Well, yes and no. Yes because giving some rest to the left foot and omitting frequent gear changes can never be a bad thing. And no because, after making us wait for so long, Toyota has brought in an old-school five-speeder for the Fortuner. While other manufacturer's have gone in for seven or even nine ratios, Toyota's engineers have stuck to a modest five. But, is the five-speed slush box quick? No, it isn't lightning quick. It's the kind that'll get the job done, but won't make you too happy as it does its thing. Unlike most boxes, this one has gates for the lever, but the good part is that you can manually choose the cog best suited for the job if you wish. This comes in handy when you leave the tarmac and things get mucky. Having an old-school five-speeder mated to a huge 3.0-litre oil-burner means you can't expect it to be too fuel-efficient. It returns only 12.7kmpl on the highway and 8.4kmpl in the city. The 3.0-litre, by the way, cranks out 169bhp and 343Nm. This one's 0-100kph dash timing stands at 11.73 seconds. We reckon, if a quicker box had been employed, it would cut that time by at least a second, if not more. The Fortuner displays the pedigree of a real beast off the road, something it inherits from the LC Prado. High ground clearance, a low-range transfer case and a full-time 4WD system, it's got it all. And now, the auto makes off-roading easier than before. Visually, the only difference between the manual and the auto, apart from the badging, are the new matte-black alloys. Trust us, they look good. Apart from that, nothing changes. Unfortunately, the ride is still awfully choppy even on well-finished roads, and the cabin is too similar to the Innova's. The middle row can't be called spacious, and the third row too isn't all that comfortable. Given that the Fortuner is a tall, heavy SUV, there's going to be ample body roll. The steering isn't very light, but it weighs up well and offers decent feedback. This is the most expensive Fortuner, and boasts a Rs 26.5 lakh (Ex-Delhi) price tag. That makes it a hefty Rs 3.4 lakh more expensive than its closest rival, the Ssangyong Rexton RX7. That too gets an auto box, a decently-long feature list and loads of road presence. Is it worth the extra dough we think you're better off with the Korean. The numbers 4cyl, 2982cc, 169bhp, 343Nm, turbo-diesel, 5A, 4WD. 0-100kph: 11.73 s, 30-50kph: 2.16s, 50-70kph: 3.32s, 80-0kph: 25.16m; 2.25s, city kpl: 8.4, highway kmpl: 12.7, Rs 26.5 lakh (ex-Delhi) The verdict The auto box adds a fair bit of convenience, but isn't electrifying in terms of performance.
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