The evergreen Toyota Fortuner is so popular that it still sells up a storm – even though it is about to be replaced. The all-new version is waiting in the wings, and here’s what to expect from the second-generation version.
Due for launch in April, the all-new Toyota Fortuner replaces a model that has become part of the South African automotive landscape. Whether you’re venturing to the Southern Cape for a December holiday, or queuing in traffic during the school run in Sandton, you’re likely to be surrounded by Toyota’s iconic Hilux-based SUV.
As was the case with its predecessor, the new Fortuner will be built in South Africa, so it should be competitively priced against its direct (imported) competitors, the new Ford Everest, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, which itself is due for replacement this year.
In Australia, the newcomer is initially sold only with the brand’s new 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, but it has already been stated that the South African market will receive a bigger line-up. Note that the 2.8-litre engine’s torque output drops to 420Nm when coupled with a six-speed manual transmission.
The automatic transmission is also a six-speed unit, and is offered in Australia with steering-mounted shift paddles. The manual transmission features a system called iMT, which blips the throttle on downshifts to allow for rev matching and smoother progress.
With regard to fuel consumption, Toyota claims a very impressive 7.8L/100km for the manual model, and 8.6L/100km for the automatic.
The popularity of the outgoing 2.5-litre D-4D model makes a very strong case for a more affordable model powered by the new 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine. In the new Hilux this engine develops 120kW and 400Nm of torque. Sales of the 4.0-litre V6 petrol unit were extremely limited last year, so a big question mark hangs over that derivative.
In Australia, all models feature switchable four-wheel drive (2/4H/4L), but rear-wheel drive Fortuner derivatives were also popular in South Africa in the past, and can be offered at a lower price point. We expect such derivatives to remain part of the local offering. Australian-specification Fortuners also offer a manually lockable rear differential and hill-descent control, which we expect to also be the case in South Africa. The ground clearance is rated at 225 mm, the wading depth at 700 mm and the tow rating is 3 000 kg for automatic 2,8-litre Fortuners (2 800kg for manual versions).
Judging by initial reports coming from overseas, Toyota has done a very good job of giving the Fortuner a more upmarket, refined interior than the Hilux pick-up, which itself is dramatically improved over its predecessor. Not only is the facia design different, but more premium materials such as soft-touch plastics and leather inserts (on some spec levels) add a healthy dose of luxury appeal. In fact, some reviewers have stated that the Fortuner now looks and feels more like a Prado inside!
Interestingly, Toyota has stuck with the somewhat controversial third-row seating design that sees the chairs flip up against the luggage compartment’s sidewalls when not in use. In the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Ford Everest the third-row seats fold flat into the floor. Note that even the third-row seats in the Fortuner now boast a reclining function. In Australia, there are ventilation outlets for all three rows of seating, and multiple 12V power sockets. The second row also boasts IsoFIX child seat anchors.
On some models the luggage compartment can be accessed via a powered tailgate that can be operated by a switch on the dashboard, the tailgate itself, or by pressing a button on the very smart-looking new keyfob. A memory function is also offered, so owners can programme the height to which the tailgate should open – ideal for low-roofed garages or when parking under trees regularly. The tailgate can open to a maximum height of 1.91m.
Focus on safety and refinement
The new Ford Everest has set a high standard for technology in this segment, particularly with regards to safety features. Toyota has responded swiftly and equipped the Fortuner to follow suit.
In Australia, all models have a reverse-view camera and seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag, front-seat side airbags and side curtain-shield airbags. Standard electronic safety features include vehicle stability control, active traction control, trailer sway control, hill-start assist control and ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD).
Then there is also trailer sway control that uses brake control and engine output control to suppress lateral trailer movement caused by factors such as cross winds or variable road surfaces. Finally, active traction control is designed to prevent the wheels from spinning on low-friction surfaces. It also provides high levels of control in off-road situations by distributing torque to the wheels that have traction.
Another major focus area was ride refinement and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) control. The new, stiffer platform and all-coil suspension is said to contribute to an on-road ride quality that’s significantly less bakkie-like.
To see the new Fortuner in action, view this overseas television commercial.