We all want and love freedom, or at least the idea of it. But what exactly is freedom? In short, it’s whatever we want it to be – enjoying life without inhibitions. It’s the ability to go anywhere you like, whenever you want. That’s the true luxury of freedom – and this is embodied in the new Toyota Fortuner.
The origins of the Fortuner are interesting. It dates back as far as 1984, when a midsize SUV called the Hilux Surf was introduced and sold to selected markets, including Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Two decades later, a much more refined design with similar underpinnings to the Hilux Surf was introduced as the Toyota Fortuner to more than 110 markets in 2005. The first-generation Fortuner was launched in 2006 in South Africa and soon became the SUV of choice for bush and urban lifestyle enthusiasts alike.
The new Fortuner may share some under-the-skin artillery with its tough-as-nails Hilux sibling, but in terms of design, they’re poles apart. In the current guise, the Fortuner sports a more distinctive, sleek yet striking and powerful design. The front end looks bold and impressive, and the overall look is handsome and muscular.
The Fortuner has been designed to stand out in urban settings as well as withstand tough outdoor conditions: it boasts sharp, sculpted exterior lines, slender headlamps and has underbody protection. The large upper grille is slanted and framed by thick chrome plating that extends around the headlamps. The strong design features a prominent three-dimensional trapezoidal front bumper, while deeply recessed fog lamps on all grades emphasise the vehicle’s width.
The new Toyota Fortuner was designed with a bold yet elegant interior that features flowing surfaces and shapes with an emphasis on comfort and convenience. Premium soft-touch materials are used in key contact areas around the dashboard, windscreen pillars and door trims. These are complemented by metallic accents, woodgrain detail and carefully crafted ornaments precisely where necessary.
In addition, the prominent centre console is flanked by vertical columns covered in soft-touch materials that also provide leg support for the driver and front passenger. There is seating for seven people over three rows, with front seats that are flared at the shoulders and fitted with firm bolsters for maximum support.
The second-row seating is split 60/40, and features a slide function and reclining backrests. Third-row seating is split 50/50 and features a recline function. Both rows can be stowed – with just one touch – to provide additional luggage space: the second row seats can be tilted and tumbled forward individually, while the two halves of the third row can be stowed to offer more storage space.
All Fortuner models have audio systems with four to six speakers, an auxiliary/USB port, AM/FM radio and a CD player. Audio systems on the 2.8 GD and 4.0 V6 models boast a DAB+ digital radio and a 7” screen with DVD compatibility and a reversing camera display. The range-topping 4.0 V6 is equipped with satellite navigation.
Other convenience features include standard Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel audio and telephone controls, as well as power door locks, windows and mirrors. Air conditioning is also standard and features separate air-flow controls for second-row passengers.
The new Fortuner has a high-strength frame, rigid body, all-coil suspension and chassis calibration. The result is optimum durability, confident handling and excellent ride comfort coupled with low levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
The highly rigid chassis frame and body provide a stable platform for the Fortuner’s new suspension, contributing significantly to optimum steering response. The new Fortuner has a double-wishbone front suspension and four-link coil-spring rear suspension, both with stabiliser bars.
The Fortuner’s suspension hardware includes reinforced suspension towers and large-diameter dampers for durability, stability and effective control of small vibrations. The large-diameter cylinders allow the dampers to generate high forces with a short stroke for minimal impact harshness.
The damper curves have been calibrated to deliver a flat ride at low damper velocities. Ball-joint mounted stabiliser bars front and rear minimise uncontrolled body roll. The Fortuner’s hydraulic power-assisted steering is road-speed sensitive.
The steering calibration was developed to suit challenging and extreme conditions, varying tastes and usage requirements, with minimal steering effort at low speeds to improve comfort and confidence-building steering feel at highway speeds..
The new Fortuner is propelled by a range of newly developed engines, including the 2.4 and 2.8 GD series, the 2.7 VVT-i and 4.0 V6 power plants. The new GD series engines offer improved power output, efficiency and refinement. First introduced in the new Hilux, the new diesel engines have been developed from the ground up to offer an excellent on- and off-road driving experience.
The GD series engines place strong emphasis on torque output and low-speed tractability. They make use of DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder inline architecture and utilise Variable Nozzle Turbocharger (VNT) technology, which deliver the compressed air through a new front-mounted intercooler.
The 2.4 GD produces 110kW@3400 and delivers 400Nm of torque between 1600 and 2000rpm. The 2.8 GD offers owners a stout 130kW and effortless 420Nm from 1600 to 2400rpm in manual guise. Automatic transmission versions will receive a boost to 450Nm over the same rpm span.
The fuel efficiency of both diesel engines has been improved over the units they replace: 13% on 2.4 GD and 9-15% on 2.8 GD. The high-output 2.4 litre GD engine delivers excellent fuel efficiency, weighing in at 7 litres per 100km in the manual and 7.9 litres in the auto. The 2.8 litre GD engine strikes a formidable balance between power and economy, returning impressive figures, ranging from 7.5 to 8.5 litres per 100km – depending on the model. The maximum towing capacity is rated at 2.5 tons for the 2.4 GD and 2.7 VVT-i models and at 3 tons for the 2.8 GD and 4.0 V6.
Two petrol engines are on offer, including a revised version of the familiar 2.7 litre VVT-i (previously not available locally) and the livelier 4.0 V6. The former delivers 122kW and 245Nm with a 10% improvement in fuel economy. Revisions to the 2694cc four-cylinder unit include lighter valvetrain components, a newly shaped intake tumble port, reshaped combustion chamber to support a high-compression ratio and the adoption of VVT-i for the exhaust side. This in turn equips the 2.7 litre unit with Dual VVT-i, with the valve timing of both intake and exhaust sides optimised to improve efficiency and power delivery. Completing the line-up is the range-topping 4.0 litre V6, delivering a gutsy 175kW and 376Nm.
The new Fortuner offers the latest Toyota six-speed transmission technology for ease of driving, comfort and fuel economy. Both transmissions, available on all grades, in both manual and automatic configurations have a wide spread of ratios to optimise both take-off performance and fuel economy at highway speeds.
The 2.8 GD receives Toyota’s newly developed intelligent manual transmission (iMT) for smoother shifting on and off road. The iMT electronics match engine revolutions to transmission revolutions for smoother shifts – especially useful when carrying heavy loads.
Toyota designed the new-generation manual transmission to improve fuel economy and shift feel, while also optimising reliability and durability.
The new Toyota Fortuner has been developed to attract the maximum safety standard. Standard electronic safety features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Active Traction Control (ATC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Drive Mode Select. Downhill Assist Control (DAC) is available on only 4×4 models.
An electrically controlled rear differential lock is standard on 4×4 models.
Safety equipment in the new Fortuner includes emergency-locking retractor three-point seatbelts for all seats, with force-limiting seatbelt pretensioners for the front seatbelts. There are seatbelt reminders for front and second-row seats. There are three top-tether child-seat anchorages and an ISOFIX point for a child seat.
Retail pricing for the new Fortuner is as follows:
2.4 GD-6 Raised Body Manual: R436 400
2.4 GD-6 Raised Body Automatic: R453 400
2.7 VVT-i Raised Body Automatic: R429 400
2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Manual: R513 400
2.8 GD-6 4×4 Manual: R571 400
2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Automatic: R531 400
2.8 GD-6 4×4 Automatic: R589 400
4.0 V6 4×4 Automatic: R633 400
All retail prices include a three-year/100 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan.