A few months ago I met a Canada-returned Punjabi who wanted to buy a vehicle for his planned two-year stay in India. Having driven some of North America’s most powerful SUVs, he wanted one that not only befits his towering frame, but also looks good in his parking lot. “Ford Endeavour appears too bulky; Hyundai Santa Fe is too genteel. The best choice is Toyota Fortuner. That is all I need,” he justified his decision. “A Toyota vehicle is virtually indestructible.”
Since 2009, there have been 1 lakh such customers who have placed confidence in the Fortuner.
Now, Toyota has readied the all-new Fortuner. We drive it in the Nilgiri mountains, Kerala.
The big beefy boy among SUVs in India has grown into a fine gentleman. The tough, wide and imposing new grille along with bi-beam LED headlamps define the front section. The LED headlamps now come with daytime-running lights (DRLs). It gets a smart key and a push-button start feature. From the sides, the new alloy wheel design accentuates its stance. The rear section gets LED light guides with aero fins. The boot-opening mechanism is now electronic with a memory function. Apart from regular colours, the Fortuner is available in two new shades of brown metallic and bronze.
The previous generation had basic interiors. Thankfully, Toyota has addressed this department. The new interior design and plastic quality, even though it is not yet in the league of the Santa Fe, is noteworthy. The soft upholstery, metallic accents and wood-grain patterned ornamentation make the cabin welcoming. The seven-inch tablet-inspired touchscreen infotainment system gets navigation feature. The whole interior has been done up in a shade of dark brown. The electronic instrument cluster, or digital dash for short, is in a shade of cool blue. The cabin space is huge. The second row gets one-touch tumble seats for easy entry and exit to and from third row. There is a cooled upper glovebox, tilt & telescopic steering, and park assist with rear camera and sensors.
It is available both in petrol and diesel engine options. Both are new engines.
The diesel is a 2.8-litre unit that develops a peak power of 177PS and a juicy torque of 450Nm. The petrol is a 2.7-litre unit generating a performance of 166PS and 245Nm. Both the engines are available in either a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential and paddle shifts, or a six-speed manual transmission. The petrol, especially, is a very refined motor; at low speeds, you don’t even get to know whether the engine is running or not! There is an Eco mode for efficient driving and a Power mode for fun driving. We cannot yet comment on the fuel-efficiency figures.
The suspension, too, is new. As we noticed during our 250-km drive, it improves ride comfort through straight-line stability, controllability and handling response. The Fortuner is a true SUV, and gets features such as hill-start assist and downhill assist. The Active Traction Control (A-TRC) technology further enhances its SUV capabilities. A-TRC offers superior limited-slip differential performance—it is a type of automotive differential gear arrangement that allows for some difference in angular velocity of the output shafts. The result is you get just the right acceleration on slippery surfaces and the needed escape capability when driving through terrains with low traction, such as slush or loose sand.
All four wheels get disc brakes with antilock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. There are seven airbags. A very convenient feature is speed-sensing auto door locks. There is an ISOFIX child seat mount with tether anchor.
Toyota has priced it very competitively. The starting price for the petrol model is Rs 25.92 lakh, while that for the entry-level diesel is Rs 27.52 lakh. The top-end four-wheel-drive diesel retails for Rs 31.12 lakh. In its second generation, the Fortuner exudes almost similar levels of dependability and drivability as the mighty Land Cruiser, and, at the price, it remains the most appealing buy in its class.
(Hyundai Santa Fe is priced Rs 28.56 lakh to Rs 31.99 lakh; Ford Endeavour is priced Rs 23.78 lakh to Rs 29.77 lakh)
(Prices are ex-showroom, Delhi)