Toyota has been leading the charts from years now and no matter which aspect we pick for the evaluation, it is the best. Renowned for producing highly stable and reliable vehicles across the world, Toyota has appended its stable with another remarkable model in the name of Fortuner 2016. After accumulating love and praise for the previous model, the brand markets its latest version to the world for some more. It has been revamped to the core from its previous version granting customers an exclusive option while popping out the eyes of prevailing competitors of the market. In the Philippines, the all-new Fortuner is available in five variants, which are equipped with either a 2.8-litre or a 2.4-litre diesel engine. Adding to these is a third option for the customers who wish to buy this SUV, which is a 2.7-litre Gas variant. But, keeping aside the theory and facts, let’s see how it actually feels on and off-road. Being a Toyota product, expectations are huge but what it exactly has in store and is the big machine good enough to compete with the likes of newly built Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Everest, let’s analyze it in the following sections.
The time was set to roll and take it down the cemented as well as rough terrains. The task was assigned to me and my partner, Jake to have a feel of what this Fortuner 2016 has to offer. So, it was Monday morning and we got a white 4x4 V Diesel AT Fortuner as a test mule. On the outside the car was gross. The tall and aggressive road stance was good enough to blow my head out. It looked amazingly strong, rugged and capable to travel off-roads with ease. The heavily built structure, tough tyres, and impressive ground clearance of 225 mm were the key areas, which got me further attracted towards the new Fortuner. You got a plenty of color options to choose from, precisely 7 of them, black, gray, brown, bronze, white, and silver.
At the front, it was bold and pronounced with a three slat horizontal chrome grille that embodies the company’s logo at the centre while the upper end of the grille coincides the either of the headlamps giving an individual feel to the front profile. Fog lamps lower down the bumper were also garnished with chrome bezel. The Bi-beam LED headlamps with auto leveling were indeed good enough to carve our ways through dark tunnel roads. As we moved to its side profile, we noticed the chrome door handles, body colored ORVMs with LED indicators and big, tough 18-inch alloy wheels. The ORVMs were electronically operated. A side step has also been provided, which helped us both, me and Jake to enter the car with minimal effort.
The rear profile is groomed to perfection with optimum cuts and sleeks. The placement of license plate is finely crafted while the wrap-around LED taillights are sleek, which are connected via chrome bar that carries over the chrome love to Fortuner’s rear profile as well. The tailgate is motorized that is pretty easy to fold up while adding to its sporty appeal are the roof rails and rear spoiler with integrated stop lamp.
Everything inside the cabin was in place but there wasn’t anything spectacular which I would like to mention here. While all the controls, console, and clusters look in shape matching the style of the cabin, the one thing I wish to mention here is that the interior was well laid up. Before hitting the driver’s seat I hastened towards the rear seat to feel what it has to offer for the passengers at the back. I was pretty happy looking at the leg, head and shoulder room. Even when the front seat was pulled back to its limit, I was pretty comfortable staying at back as it offered considerable room for my legs. Next thing, which I noticed while sitting at the second-row seats were the separate cooling controls that’s become a handy option on long routes and trips. The second-row seating configuration also has an in-built armrest with two cup holders. Further for the convenience of the rear occupants, the top of the line Fortuner offers three 12 V outlets while an option of 240V plug is an added benefit for your bits and bobs. The second row offers a 60:40 split while the third row can be folded to its sides making a well more than 1000 litre of space, isn’t that good enough for stuffing your packages while on the go. Moving to the third row, the space offered there is a bit tight and can only be used by kids.
Now was the time to hit the front seats. Hand stitching is primarily popular starting from the seats to the gear knob, handbrake covering to the steering wheel and the doors. The overall look of the inside components is plush. The leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel has got precise cuts and supports, which is also fun to grab. A 6.5-inch capacitive screen has been integrated to suit the entertainment front and yes we enjoyed our tracks on the go. Trust me the surround sound experience was fabulous with 6 in-built speakers and the system comes with DVD, CD, AUX, USB, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. The screen also serves as a basis for GPS navigation too.
Storage inside is immense. You get a number of practically designed areas for the knick-knacks including a deep glove box, door pockets, compartments at the front as well as at the rear of the gear knob and a big cargo space when the third-row seats are folded up to either of its sides.
Under the hood, it is powered by a four-cylinder 2755cc engine, with power rated at 174 hp and a peak torque of 450 Nm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential control and paddle shifters. Starting off, the Fortuner looked pretty smooth, quieter and improved with driving dynamics. The steering was very responsive on high-speed roads as well through the city streets. It was light at low speeds while it gets good weight when we hit the expressways. Based on the Toyota’s famous pickup, Hilux, the new Fortuner offers much-improved suspension as compared to the Hilux. Being a rear occupant myself, I hardly felt any bumps on my journey and it was simply a pleasure ride for me as a rear occupant.
The gearbox mated to the engine is up to mark, although being controlled by the bizarre paddle shifters but as soon as you step on the throttle it gets along quite nicely and also helps in overtaking with ease. Handling is great as you always expect from a Toyota, but don’t expect it to maneuver like a sports car. It is certainly manageable through corners while the body roll has been kept in check by its front and rear sway bars.
After rolling it through the cemented tracks, it was then time to take it through an off-roading check. It responded to the check quite brilliantly on the rocky flat and inclined terrains. The amazing ground clearance of 225 mm ensured that we passed over the loose rocks without any hassle while the HDC (Hill Descent Control) feature took care of the tough inclined terrains, which were a challenge to pass by.
It was a downhill portion full of gravels that gave us a chance to test the HDC, which was certainly up to the standards. It took control of the vehicle’s speed and aided superbly to the cause. Another testing phase was on for the Fortuner when we took it to the areas of big rocks. Passing through them wasn’t a piece of cake and the car went on three wheels quite a few times, but thanks to its torque distribution, which transferred adequate amount of torque to grounded wheels with stability control and prevented the wheels from slipping. However, it was the hydraulic steering that causes a bit of worry as it didn’t catch up the uneven terrains at times creating a dead weight on the wheel disallowing me to move it. Although, it was for a split of a second and didn’t affect the driving performance of the car, but was certainly taking on my nerves.
Summing up, the experience was magical and it offered brilliant off-roading capabilities. Another important aspect, which I’d like to throw light on is the comfort of the ride. After quite a few hours of driving, we didn’t feel sore and are still up and ready. The seats were extremely comfortable, which in accordance with adequate bottom and side support provided a joyful experience even over the rough terrains.
Considering all-new Fortuner as an off-roader is definitely a wise option as the drive through the rocks, gravels and water were absolutely the experiences I can never forget. It was unruffled, calm and relaxed. The all-new Fortuner is definitely a buy for me considering its revamped looks, a pleasure to eyes interior and not to forget its amazing off-roading capabilities.