An Upgarde for the Ages
What’s new on the Toyota Fortuner?
Needing no introduction to South African SUV fans, the Toyota Fortuner recently received a boots-and-all upgrade to the entire range. Now there’s even a premium model! Bernie Hellberg Jnr takes us into the details and shows us what’s new about the latest Toyota Fortuner upgrade.
If there ever were a car that perfectly embodies the spirit of local is lekker, the Fortuner would be it. Toyota certainly struck gold with the Fortuner when it was first introduced in 2006, and with every new generation, the brand further asserts its dominance in the midsize seven-seater SUV market segment.
It has not only been smooth sailing for the Fortuner since its introduction, however, as the first-generation Fortuner was plagued by suspension issues inherited from its then Hilux-derived ladder frame chassis.
A series of suspension upgrades and other significant refinements over the years have transformed the Fortuner into a highly desirable family car. For the 2020 mid-cycle refresh, Toyota has sharpened the styling, enhanced specification levels, and improved performance. There is even a brand new VX premium offering at the top of the model line-up.
SO, WHAT’S NEW?
At the (literal) top of my Fortuner happy list for a model refresh, is the addition of a VX grade. You might recognise the VX badge from other Toyota SUV ranges, including the RAV4, Prado, and Land
Cruiser 200. Simply put, the VX nameplate signifies the highest specification level available, adding a laundry list of exclusive items to the already not insignificant standard specifications.
Being a mid-cycle upgrade, the ‘new’ Fortuner retains its characteristic profile but gets a larger, blacked-out grille – gloss finish on VX grade. Toyota has moved all of the brightwork to new prominent chrome accent strips between the grille and sleek new Bi-LED headlights. There is also a silver-accented decorative skid-plate that gives the Fortuner a pretty aggressive face, and LED fog lamps and strip-like LED turnsignals. Chrome trim along the beltline is added to the VX grade, while at the rear, new taillight clusters on all models add energy to the exterior enhancements with a striking light signature.
Also worth noting is the new 18” alloy wheels fitted to the 2.8 GD-6 derivatives, shod with 265/60/R18 semi-off-road tyres.
CONSOLIDATION OF MODELS
When the Fortuner Epic was introduced earlier in 2020, Toyota consolidated the Fortuner line-up by removing the 2.7 VVTi and 4.0 V6 petrol, and 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel manual models from the line-up, siting a
significant shift away from petrol-power and manual gearboxes.
With only the 2.4 GD-6 and 2.8 GD-6 engine options remaining, the 2.8 GD-6 engine has been boosted to 150 kW (from 130 kW) and 500 Nm (from 450 Nm). Nominal improvements in stated fuel consumption averages have also been achieved, says Toyota, by introducing a larger turbo and new common-rail injection system.
To keep up with engine changes, and to improve towing ability, the sixspeed automatic transmission fitted as standard across the top six of the seven derivatives in the Fortuner range, has been recalibrated for improved acceleration and cooling performance. The entry-level 2.4 GD-6 4x2 model retains its six-speed manual transmission.
DIVE INTO THE DETAILS
Besides significant exterior upgrades, the comfort and safety needs of Fortuner occupants has also received some muchneeded improvements.
An excellent start is Toyota’s move away from the Fortuner’s drab brown and black interior colour combo to an all-black scheme with carefully applied brightwork accents. This simple change gives the car a much more premium interior atmosphere overall, with the new instrument cluster and multi-function display adding to its modern feel.
If always being connected is crucial for you, all new Fortuners come standard with the Toyota Connect telematics system, which includes an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and 15 GB of complementary data.
All 2.4 GD-6 models now have parkdistance control and full LED headlights, cruise control, an 8” touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Across all derivatives, there are electric windows, a reverse camera, steering switches, an air-conditioned upper cubby, multiple 12-volt power outlets, and a fully-adjustable telescopic steering column.
In 2.8 GD-6 models, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, electricallyadjustable front seats, climate control and rear fog lamps. A leather steering wheel, leather dashboard accents and matte woodtrim complete the package. If you want front seat heating and welcome lighting, consider the VX grade Fortuner.
Still, at the top end of the line-up, the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) safety system makes its debut in the VX grade, integrating a pre-collision system, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and road sign recognition. All Fortuner models retain their seven airbags, ISOFIX anchor points, seatbelt pre-tensioners and a full suite of active safety aids.
For ownership peace of mind, all Fortuners are sold with a three-year/100,000 km warranty and a nine-services/90,000 km service plan. Extended service plans and warranty packages are available.
There are plenty of compelling reasons why the evergreen Fortuner is a first-rate option in its segment, even more so with the significant upgrades across most of the range. Naturally, there are also bound to be some negatives. Because of the Fortuner’s massive popularity, and since it shares some parts with other popular Toyota models, the Fortuner is a regular feature on some criminals’ “most wanted” lists. That said, living with the risk of vehicle-related crime is a South African reality. Frankly, I’d rather brave said unwanted elements in a vehicle as reliable and powerful as the Fortuner, than many others in its class.