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An Upgarde for the Ages

What’s new on the Toyota Fortuner?

- Text by Bernie Hellberg Jnr. Images © Toyota South Africa

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.


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.


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.


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.

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