A Jewel in the Rough » 2016 Toyota Fortuner

30-Oct-2016
Tested

With the new Fortuner, Toyota introduced its “Solid Fluidity” design language, one said to express toughness and a wider body through a number of key design elements like its trapezoidal front bumper, sleek headlights, v-shaped grille, flared wheel arches and a dynamic waist line. To us, the visual treatment has turned the rugged off-roader into a sleek SUV, significantly more up-market, elegant and purposeful at the same time. Most importantly, the new model is longer and wider than its predecessor, with increased ground clearance, making for great presence both when parked and in motion.

The side view is dominated by a dynamic waist line wrapped in a chrome-plated moulding that adds visual drama and a sense of forward motion to the already sharp silhouette of the new model. An extended roof spoiler, side steps and wheel arch lips complete the sides of the vehicle. The tested top-of-the-range VXR model was equipped with new 18" alloy wheels wrapped in custom developed all-terrain tyres."

More of the great things at the rear too, with sleek new wraparound tail lights, a large chrome accent that splits the hatch glass from the lower tail gate, a sporty roof spoiler and a Prado-like rear bumper, combining rough, practical design with newly found elegance and style. Black mud flaps and the under-trunk spare tyre complete a well resolved rear end."

And, as much as the exterior design was a game changer for the Fortuner, its interior is the reason it will attract more buyers over its predecessor, possibly even tapping into the Prado client database. More spacious and featuring a new design, the cabin of the 2016 model is well appointed, features quality materials, subtle colours, and mirrors the elegance levels seen on the outside. The comprehensive equipment list covers every imaginable option, with the exception of a sunroof, further boosting the desirability and ownership appeal of the new Fortuner."

The new dashboard combines leather and quality plastics with splashes of brushed aluminium. Also new are the multi-function steering wheel, bright blue speedometer, leather door cladding and the sleek but more comfortable front seats. The vertical centre cluster dominates the dashboard, and houses the climate control and tablet-inspired 7" touch screen, and extends into the lower console where the shifter is framed by a faux wood plate. The commanding driving position with excellent forward visibility is made even better by the car's increased ride height, offering a sense of security.

Unlike the previous model, the all-new Fortuner is packed with features, options and utilities, as experienced in this range topping VXR model, where a separate story would be required only to describe the extensive list of installed options, delivering new levels of comfort and convenience."

Toyota offers a choice of two engines on the new Fortuner, the familiar 2.7L 4-cylinder engine (164hp and 24.9kgm of torque) and the 4.0L V6 (235hp and 38.3kgm). Both are paired to a new 6-speed automatic transmission. All models are equipped with an electronic switch that lets you select between the 2WD, 4WD and 4WD Low modes, thus a differential lock button for extreme off-road situations. The driver can now select between Eco and Power driving modes as well, electing to drive efficiently or charge hard. The eco mode rewards clean driving with low consumption while offering sufficient power for effortless driving, be it around town or out on the open highways."

More pleasant surprises here as we take the new Fortuner for a road trip to the east coast, combining highway driving with winding mountain roads, twitchy local roads, gravel paths and some soft sands too.

With family and luggage on board, the drive to Fujairah went by in a whisk, thanks to the Fortuner's comfortable seats and well-equipped cabin. Great pace was maintained through the mountains without having to push the V6 motor too hard, while on the open road the cruise control was in charge most of the time, making for a comfortable and relaxed drive.

In the rough is where the old Fortuner used to excel, thanks to its sturdy drivetrain and its selection of off-road modes. Well, nothing has changed in that regard, as the new model sails through sand dunes, sandy beaches and climbs with ease in the rocky wadis, thanks to its great ground clearance. Great all-round performance, only made better by the added comfort and style. Win!"