I swear to everyone that if I were Toyota, I would tone down my marketing expenditures for the Toyota Fortuner, because I am willing to bet, even if Toyota doesn’t advertise the Fortuner, it’d still sell by the truckloads. As it stands, the Toyota Fortuner, now in its second generation, has become the country’s best selling SUV, and the second best selling vehicle overall, after the top-selling Toyota Vios. In a world that we at Go Flat Out thinks is too obsessed with SUVs, this review gives reasons why the Toyota Fortuner has a solid reputation.
The second generation Toyota Fortuner looks great, sharing nothing with its looks from the 1st generation model it replaced a year ago. It has an elegant, sophisticated look that’s complemented by sleek lines, bold curves, a sexy rear, and a floating roofline design. I prefer crossovers over SUVs in this class, but the Fortuner injects some crossover vibe to make it look better proportioned than before. The two tone 17-inch alloy wheels are handsome for a base model. As this is the base 2.4 G, there are no LEDs to talk about up front, as the headlights and foglights are all halogens. The rear, meanwhile, comes standard with sleek LED tail lights that wrap around the Fortuner’s rear. Contrary to most Japanese cars, the Toyota Fortuner is devoid of any badging to indicate the variant, which is very European if you ask us. From the rear, you wouldn’t know what variant you’re looking at. Only a careful second look will you notice that the lower window belt line isn’t finished in chrome, indicating that this isn’t the V variant.
The interior is also completely different from the 1st generation model. Unlike before, when the Toyota Fortuner and Toyota Hilux has almost the same interior, which may be a good or bad thing depending if you’re asking a utility truck driver or a bank manager, this new one strays far from the Hilux. The interior looks and feels contemporary and reasonably plush, mainly thanks to neat design details like soft padded materials in key touch points in the dash. The leather and soft fabric surfaces, which include the dash, door pads, and seats, are wrapped in a brown color, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. Matte faux wood finishes that look real make the interior more welcoming and less tacky than the previous model with glossy faux wood. Unfortunately, the automatic climate control, which was standard on all variants in the first generation Fortuner, has been removed in this generation, replacing it with a tacky 3-knob manual air conditioning system which looks out of place in an otherwise modern interior. The upcoming 2018 minor update ditches the brown interior for a more subdued chocolate brown interior that is also found in the V variant.
Space and Practicality
As this is a truck-based midsize SUV, the step in height is of course, quite high, which means older people might struggle to step into the vehicle. Thankfully, there are grab handles on the A and B-pillars to make ingress easier. There’s decent amount of space on the first and second rows, but for some reason, headroom in this iteration of the Fortuner seems less than the previous generation. Third row space, meanwhile, can sit small adults or children comfortably, or tall adults on short journeys before they scream for help. Also, these third row seats have a higher seat height, making it feel less like having your knees to your ears. If you want to access the third row seats, a one-touch fold mechanism of the second row seats has been added to make the experience easier.
It’s no surprise to find out that there are plenty of storage nooks and crannies inside this Fortuner. There are of course the usual cupholders, a decent sized glove box, and finally, cupholders in the armrest, as the first generation Fortuner didn’t have one. There are also small storage places in the third row, including 2 cupholders.
The trunk space is of a decent size. Good, but nothing groundbreaking. There’s 200 liters with all seats up, 716 liters with the inconvenient-to-fold third row seats folded, and 1,080 liters with the second row seats folded. More on how the third row seats fold later.
Features, Infotainment, and Safety
The Fortuner is decently equipped, with projector halogen headlamps, LED tail lights, foglights, a TFT LCD display sandwiched between the gauges, a 6.5-inch touch screen infotainment system with navigation as an option. As for safety, there’s nothing groundbreaking to talk about, with only 3 airbags, and ABS with EBD. At least it has ISOFIX child seat point anchors in the outboard rear seats. More on safety later.
The Fortuner’s infotainment system is sourced from local infotainment manufacturer AVT. Unfortunately, it also means it’s not the system we like using. With a weird user interface (UI) design, not so quick response, crunchy graphics, and lack of Apple Carplay/Android Auto support, it’s not exactly what you call class leading nor cutting edge. In this regard, Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system which has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and is still the best in class in terms of touch response, UI design, and graphics. On the bright side, it can be fitted with navigation for a fee, but really, if navigation is an extra cost, I’d rather use Waze, which available for free in my smartphone. Also, as a dealer option, it can be fitted with a rear view camera.
The Toyota Fortuner is powered by Toyota’s new GD line of diesel engines. The 2.4 liter D-4D 2GD-FTV 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine produces 147 hp and 330 Nm of torque (400 Nm at overboost). It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which enables this Fortuner to sprint from 0-100 kph in around 13 seconds.
How It Drives
Hopping in the Fortuner is a bit of a step up, and once I’m in, and I start the engine, the sound from the 2.4 liter diesel engine is quite muted compared to other diesel engines in this class. It sounds quieter and more refined, something I’ve noticed ever since the new Innova, Fortuner, and Hilux came out. Especially at idle and at low engine speeds, it almost matches the level of quietness found in Honda, Mazda, Volkswagen, Peugeot, and the diesel engines from the three luxury German juggernauts. As I drive off, the Fortuner pulls well for its size, and despite the Fortuner gaining mass from the previous generation model, it isn’t really that much felt due to the engine having better response and a better torque curve. I first started driving in Eco Mode, which neuters the throttle, gearbox, and automatic transmission for a much more fuel efficient drive. Bury your foot in the throttle, and the Fortuner feels surprisingly decent in Eco Mode, whereas most cars feel very lethargic in Eco Mode. Pressing the Eco Mode button again brings it back to Normal Mode, and the different is almost negligible. Switching it to Power Mode, and the throttle becomes a tad too touchy, and the gearbox holding onto gears more enthusiastically. The Fortuner then becomes very brisk, accelerating willingly, and as you go faster, you notice the ride also becomes better, in which you now finally have an excuse to a police officer why you’re speeding.
Speaking of the ride, it’s a slight improvement from the previous generation that was notorious for its stiff ride. I say slight because at low speeds, almost all bumps are still felt, and the ride is still not that composed, rocking you from side to side if you go through really uneven pavement. As mentioned, the faster you go, the ride becomes better, unlike in the previous generation model, which is stiff whatever the situation. What this means though, is that the Fortuner feels decently stable due to the stiff suspension being able to control the body from rolling and pitching under brisk maneuvers. It’s still not a sporty and fun to drive SUV through bends, and it will never be, which is also due to the steering that isn’t lightning fast and accurate. A compact compact sport oriented crossover SUV like the Mazda CX-5 or Subaru Forester is a better choice if you’re into that kind of thing. At high speeds, the Fortuner is a lot more stable and well insulated than before. The body doesn’t feel nervous, and the steering doesn’t feel twitchy and disconnected to the front wheels once you are past 100 kph. One thing that astounds me with this new wave of pick-up based midsize SUVs are the levels of refinement they now have. Crossovers still feel more sophisticated and refined though, but these class of SUVs are getting there. Quirks like vibrations coming through the accelerator pedal when you mash the throttle are signs that you’re still driving a pick-up based vehicle.
The Fortuner’s steering, which is still a hydraulic rack and not an electric power steering system found in the Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Montero Sport, is the heaviest among these new crop of SUVs, but not overly heavy that it’s cumbersome to drive. What it means though is that, unlike most electric power steering systems, which feels like a video game steering wheel, the Fortuner’s steering still has a lot of feel. However, when you’re in roads with many bumps or you’re tackling off-road courses, the steering bobs from side to side when traversing large rocks, unpaved roads, and uneven pavement. Nonetheless, it’s just a slight negative from what is an otherwise competent and refined midsize SUV that’s able to carry 7 people in relative ease and in relative comfort.
On The Downside
Let’s go back to those third row seats. They still don’t lie completely flat. Instead, they are still hanged onto the side, which eats up trunk space, though this system provides third row passengers a better seating height, due to the thicker seats. A spring mechanism makes it easier to lift the seats, unlike before wherein you have to clamber yourself inside the trunk in order to do that in a dignified manner. The seats, however, are held by a cheap velcro strap, and in a few occasions, a sharp bump is enough to bring the seats crashing down.
And speaking of crashing, the Fortuner doesn’t have critical safety features found as standard in an increasing number of cars nowadays that will mitigate a crash from happening in the first place. Traction control or any other similar system is not available on all but the top spec 2.8 V 4×4 Fortuner, something that is offered as standard on all variants of the Ford Everest. If you want basic, and we really do emphasize the term “basic safety features”, such as any form of electronic stability control and traction control, you have to buy the 2.8 V 4×4 variant at P2,168,000, yet at that price, still doesn’t have automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and lane keeping assist, something that all of its top spec rivals have. We’re disappointed in this regard, as we believe that any form of electronic stability control should be standard on all cars, regardless of price.
The Toyota Fortuner is a strong seller due to its solid reputation. Even if other competitors are better equipped, the Fortuner still is an unstoppable force in the sales charts. To many people, an SUV that looks good, rides well, drives competently, is fuel efficient, and more importantly, has bulletproof reliability, is all that it takes for them to find that perfect SUV. The Toyota Fortuner is a competent and capable midsize SUV, being worlds apart from the generation it replaces. Now in its second generation, it has overtaken all of its rivals in terms of sales. If only it is equipped with critical safety features, the Fortuner would be one of my top picks in the class.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 3.9 out of 5