One Fortuner, 3 generations
Toyota recently lent ‘Wheels’ a 3,0 D4-D model, which gave three car-nuts, aged from 20-something to 70-something, a chance to find what they liked — and didn’t — about South Africa’s most popular ute.
DRIVING the Fortuner made me feel like I owned the road, sitting high above just about everything else.
It was the perfect combination between the hardcore off-road rigidity of a Landy and the elegant sophisticated interior of a Mercedes.
But taking the Fortuner’s wheel in the dark for the first time, I had no idea where to disengage the central diff lock. The buttons where these controls are normally positioned are not backlit and of course Toyota further confused this newbie driver by requiring the 4x4 short lever to be pulled into the traditional engage position in order to disengage the central diff lock.
And while probing around underneath the dashboard, looking for that elusive button in the dark, you also find the Fortuner’s roof lights are definitely more for romantic mood lighting than illumination.
Luckily there are apps that turn smartphones into torches!
Alwyn Viljoen - the 40-some-thing bloke
AS a member of the neighbourhood watch I note at night how Mahindras are parked outside while the Fortuner flock huddle behind locked gates.
For that is the sad reality of owning SA’s most popular ute — you also own a vehicle that is on top of car thieves’ shopping list. And then there is the huge key to start the Fortuner with. You cannot stuff it into your pocket for fear of it poking a hole in the lining. At half a bar for the Fortuner, I’d want a fold-in key fob like those the competitors use. But over 700 people who buy a Fortuner each month cannot all be wrong, as a quick drive along a selection of gravel and tar convinced me.
Where other firmly-sprung 4x4s judder over the cement section of the N3 highway near Cato Ridge, the Fortuner just sits, ditto around gravel corners. Just don’t tap off!
Toyota’s Bluetooth system is another big plus, as it pairs with any smartphone in less than five key presses.
Brian Bassett - the venerable madala
A DRIVER of German cars for many years, sweeping corners are my forte, not 4x4ing.
Which is why my colleagues waited with baited breath as I prepared to surmount our usual steep, rock-strewn slope.
The last time I had tried to get up there in a competing ute, I returned with a flat tyre. But with the Fortuner’s central and front diff lock engaged, this terrified 4x4 novice was king of the hill in no time.
If I have to nitpick — and the editor said I do — the Fortuner’s sheer size makes it difficult to park. I wonder how the thousands of petite women who use this ute as a mom’s taxi cope with this issue on a daily basis.
From a design perspective, the air intake on the bonnet also spoils the lines for me.
I think Toyota could have enabled the engine to breath in more attractive ways, as its 86 sportscar shows.
The Fortuner is not just a bestseller in SA, but tried, tested and trusted as a mom’s taxi around the globe.
Amil Umraw - the 20-some-thing bloke