The Toyota Fortuner has been a homerun success for the Japanese automaker in the Philippines. It’s the country’s best-selling midsize body-on-frame SUV or pickup-based passenger vehicle (PPV) as it’s called in our region. Even though it’s such a highly successful model, Toyota isn’t resting on its laurels on the Fortuner. Instead, they gave it a mid-cycle update for the 2021 model year. This is the 2021 Toyota Fortuner LTD variant to be precise, which receives the bulk of the nameplate’s updates.
One look at the new Toyota Fortuner LTD is enough to make you notice that this is the facelifted model. As a new, sportier variant, the front fascia looks handsome in my eyes. The sporty front fascia looks nice, and it gets an aggressive gloss black grille to match. This is then flanked by a pair of sleek LED headlights, though I personally prefer the new Terra‘s elegant quad-LED lighting.
The side profile is largely the same as the pre-facelift model, except for its striking two-tone roof effect and those snazzy 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels. Do note, however, that in Thailand, these are in 20s, though I wouldn’t want to know how this will affect the Fortuner’s already firm ride. More on that later.
Moving towards the rear, and you’ll see more sporty elements ranging from the black tailgate garnish and the new, sportier rear bumper. Equally striking are its full LED taillights, which feature sequential LED turn signals. As a whole, the new Fortuner LTD variant is definitely one of the most handsome PPVs out there, right along the lines of the new Terra to my eyes.
Interior changes for the new Toyota Fortuner LTD are much more minor. Continuing with its sporty theme, the 2021 Toyota Fortuner LTD dons a black interior with red highlights. Material quality is above average for the class, with its hard plastics on top of the dash and doors, but this is compensated by the soft leatherette wrapping the center stack and the lower dash. Though, at this point, I personally prefer the new Nissan Terra’s interior a bit more. One nifty feature that this LTD variant has is its white LED ambient lighting, which adds a subtle but classy ambiance.
Another upgrade made to the interior is its new 8-inch touch screen infotainment system, which for the first time in quite a long time for a Toyota, is something that I actually like. It’s not the locally sourced touch screens that Toyota keeps on insisting, though the G and V variants’ screens are still locally sourced. But in the case of this LTD and also the Q, you’re blessed with an infotainment system that’s logically laid out, reasonably responsive, and one that’s finally integrated into the Fortuner’s various vehicle functions. Its resolution is not as crisp as Nissan Connect though, nor as responsive as Ford’s SYNC3, but it’s the best infotainment the Fortuner ever had.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, but its true pièce de résistance is the infotainment system’s 9-speaker JBL sound system. The bass is punchy and the high-frequency notes are crisp, with little distortion at high volume. I haven’t tried the 8-speaker Bose sound system from the new Nissan Terra 4×4 VL, but it’s safe to assume from my past experiences with a similar system that it should be as good as JBL’s.
Moving on to the second-row seats, there’s a good amount of leg and headroom for the outboard seats. The middle seat, however, due to its raised design, cuts headroom. I’m 5’10” and sitting in the middle is not a pleasure at all. At least the outboard seats are supportive and provide good lateral support due to their sculpted design. And then as for amenities, there are two fast-charging USB-A ports and rear aircon vents.
As for the third-row seats, there’s not much in terms of room, but it’s not the worst in its segment. The Fortuner is quite wide, meaning there’s a good amount of shoulder room back there. There’s a bit more headroom here compared to the Nissan Terra’s, while legroom can be adjusted by the sliding second-row seats.
My major gripe with the third-row, however, is its old-school folding mechanism. Sure, it’s now spring-loaded, meaning it’s easier to stow it on the sides now, but it’s far more cumbersome than what the Nissan Terra or Ford Everest is able to offer. As a result of these seats, the Fortuner has the smallest trunk behind the second-row seats at just 716 liters, which is down more than 100 liters compared to the Everest. Once you tumble forward those second-row seats, you only get 1,080 liters of space, which is significantly smaller than the Everest’s 1,796 liters of space.
Powering this 2021 Toyota Fortuner LTD is a 2.8-liter inline-4 turbo diesel engine that’s been updated to now produces 201 hp at 3,400 rpm and 500 Nm of torque at 1,600 to 2,800 rpm. These are very strong numbers, and it definitely makes a world of difference for the Fortuner. As a matter of fact, it’s my favorite engine now in this segment.
Unlike the Ford Everest’s twin-turbo diesel engine, with all of its 500 Nm of torque at the lower rpm ranges, the Toyota’s engine has a much wider torque band. As a result, overtaking with the new Fortuner LTD is a breeze. Even with two cars on a two-lane provincial road, the Fortuner LTD will simply surge past it like a locomotive. The accompanying 6-speed automatic is equally sublime. Sure, it doesn’t have eight or ten gears, but the gearing is so excellent, there’s practically no need for it. In addition, the engine’s revs are still kept low while driving on the highway in sixth gear.
Despite that powerful engine, fuel economy has actually been improved. My entire average with the Fortuner LTD is at 12.3 km/l, which is excellent for an SUV with this much power. Do note that I live in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where traffic is practically non-existent. For perspective, the new Nissan Terra managed just 9.9 km/l under the same circumstances, though that car still hasn’t been broken in even after a week’s use.
Toyota also did a bit of tuning to improve the powertrain’s refinement, and it’s hard to tell if there are any major differences in terms of engine noise. And while road noise is kept to a minimum, my issue on the Fortuner is wind noise. It’s not too obtrusive, but it’s far more noticeable now when you compare it to the Terra’s quieter acoustic glass. Overall, the Terra’s refinement is now the benchmark, but the Fortuner is still good in this day and age.
Now, as for ride, and this has always the Fortuner’s Achilles heel, it’s still firm, but not as “matagtag” as most would point out. I’ve always been okay with the Fortuner’s ride, and that still applies till this day. And being a body-on-frame SUV, vibrations are still felt around the cabin, unlike in a rigid unibody SUV like a Mazda CX-8. Even the Nissan Navara pickup has a better ride quality, let alone the Terra’s benchmark ride, but the Fortuner’s firmness actually has an upside–handling.
Surely, it’s no Mazda CX-9, but the firm suspension lets the Fortuner have one of the best handling among PPVs. It also does not dive under hard braking nor squat when accelerating hard. And then as you push this car into corners, its body roll is well controlled. Its hydraulic steering is still on the heavy side as well, but not as cumbersome as it used to be. As for braking, the Fortuner uses discs on all four wheels, and its stopping power is good for a PPV.
Last but not least, Toyota added a host of advanced driver-assist tech for the Fortuner through Toyota Safety Sense. This includes automatic emergency braking, radar-guided adaptive cruise control (though it does not work in stop-and-go traffic), and lane departure warning (via yaw assist). New for 2022, however, is the addition of blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. This makes the Fortuner LTD a fully-loaded package at this point.
The 2021 Toyota Fortuner LTD receives the bulk of the changes, and it clearly shows from the aesthetics, tech, and the upgraded engine. As a result, it’s not just one of the most handsome and safest out there, but it now objectively has the best powertrain in its segment. These upgrades, however, have pushed the Fortuner’s price tag to new highs. At P2,414,000 (P2,444,000 for the 2022 model year), it’s now the second most expensive PPVs in its segment, just below the all-new Isuzu mu-X LS-E’s P2,450,000 price tag.
Is it worth it? That depends on who you ask. If you’re looking for a premium SUV that offers a sublime ride and a true premium experience, we’d recommend the Mazda CX-8 instead. As it is, in my opinion, PPVs past P2 million are more of SUVs trying to be premium as their pickup roots do not match the refinement or even the premium amenities of something like a unibody CX-8. But, if you absolutely need a body-on-frame SUV’s ruggedness and the diesel engine that’s attached to it, then the Fortuner is our recommendation for a high-end PPV.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.4 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.
*A 2022 update has just been announced, and its price tag is now at P2,440,000.