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Toyota Fortuner Review: 2016 Toyota Fortuner Diesel Review

2016 Toyota Fortuner Diesel Review

By Vikrant Singh; 7th November, 2016
Introduction

 Meet the car that needs little introduction. And possibly, even less focus from its maker's marketing team to actually sell it! This is the second generation of what has been the best-selling full-sized SUV – in number terms – in the near Rs 30 lakh price bracket. This is the new Toyota Fortuner, and for starters, it is such a big improvement over the older SUV in terms of design, that we are already giving it the involuntary typical Indian-head-shake seal of approval.

Toyota Fortuner

 Diving into the facts, the new Fortuner is in fact all new. Compared to the older SUV, it has a revised – heavier but strengthened – frame; new engines and gearbox options; and newer technology to keep the smart and informed Indian car buyer happy. And, of course, it has completely new interiors and like we mentioned earlier, exterior design that's bound to get people to do a double take.

Exterior

 So, every panel on the new for 2016 Toyota Fortuner is… ahem…new. The SUV still retains its butch and intimidating road presence, but it's more like 'The Rock' in a well-fitted tuxedo now than him wrestling in underwear. So, yes, the new Fortuner looks classier, current and a whole lot more upmarket and presentable than the SUV it replaces.

Toyota Fortuner

 We loved the contrast of the sleek all-LED headlamps against the sculpted, drawn down and muscular bumper. The chrome grille gels well too and gives the new Fortuner a Lexus-isque look. This, the top of the line 4x4 Sigma trim, comes with 18-inch wheels. Add to it, the Fortuner's high ride height and a streamlined glasshouse, not to mention the floating roof design which we like very much, and the new Fortuner now looks more like a contemporary global SUV instead of a dated, oriental design.

Toyota Fortuner

 The rear is a job well done too. It might remind one of the Hyundai Santa Fe in many ways, but those LED tail lamps, a hint of chrome on the tail gate, and a simple but chunky rear bumper, give the new Fortuner enough individuality.

Toyota Fortuner

 If looks are what sold the older Fortuner, Toyota has certainly hit this one out of the park.

Interior

 It's still all very SUV-like inside the new 2016 Toyota Fortuner. A slim and high dashboard, large buttons on the centre console, and high seating. But the design, the look, and the choice of materials are a huge improvement over the older SUV. There's a higher sense of luxury, build quality and visual drama to the SUV's insides.

Toyota Fortuner

The black and brown combination – black for hard plastic (mostly) and brown for everything leather that's also soft to the touch – is soothing, even though a bit monotonous. The addition of brushed metal surfacing however adds liveliness, and enhances the upmarket feel.

Toyota Fortuner

There's plenty of space in here as well. The front seats are large, cushy and great for long drives. There's enough and more head, leg and elbowroom for the front passengers. And, thanks to the slim dashboard, the sense of space isn't half bad either; even with the raked front windscreen leaving you with the impression of a low roofed car.

Toyota Fortuner

There isn't much to complain about the second row seating either. Knee and shoulder room is as good as the competition. And, thanks to the scooped out roof section, headroom – at least for the two side passengers – is more than acceptable. The only catch is, six footers might still struggle.

Toyota Fortuner

The second row seat back can be reclined to get a comfortable backrest position, and the seat squab, even though not very large and a little short on thigh support, didn't prove to be uncomfy either. Sitting in the middle of the second row though is a punishment posting. Thanks to the central armrest, the seating is hard and flat, and without a scooped out roof, headroom is limited too.

Toyota Fortuner

The last row, as expected, is a compromise. But, it isn't terrible by any stretch. If you are anything under 5' 10", the headroom – after you have reclined the seat back a bit – is tolerable. The seat themselves aren't uncomfortable either; there's decent cushioning and the backrest support works fine too. Thigh support, of course, is non-existent since you sit in a typical last row knee-up position.

Toyota Fortuner

Equipment wise, the new Fortuner falls short. Don't get us wrong, it still gets a long feature list – multifunctional steering wheel, a touchscreen multimedia system, reversing camera with sensors, a power tail gate, an elaborate driver information system, keyless entry and start, and one touch up and down function for all four windows. It also gets digital climate control and power adjustment for the driver seat.

Toyota Fortuner

But, the climate control isn't a multi zone, and the Fortuner misses out on a sunroof, auto wipers, electric fold for the last row of seats, front parking sensors and self park, all of which is present on its main competitor.

Toyota Fortuner

Thankfully, the new Fortuner has safety well covered. The top of the line Sigma version gets seven airbags, all-LED headlamps, three point seat belt even for the middle passenger on the second row, ABS with EBD and brake assist, ESP, traction control, and hill descent control.

Performance

 The 2016 Toyota Fortuner is new when it comes to mechanicals as well. It sits on a new frame; it has completely revised suspension; and the engine – though the same 2.8-litre as the Innova Crysta – has different internals and significantly higher torque rating.

Toyota Fortuner

For the diesel manual we are driving, the power is slightly increased to around 175bhp but the torque rating is up by a serious 60Nm. The new Fortuner now makes 420Nm of peak torque. What's also improved is the NVH. Compared to the older Fortuner, and the new Innova Crysta in fact – thanks to changes that include a revised intake – the new Fortuner is quieter and more refined inside the cabin.

Toyota Fortuner

From the driver's seat, the visibility, the ergonomics and the touch points are all well judged. The visibility in particular – upfront and via the outside rear view mirrors is clear and easy to read. The seating ergonomics too is more car like than before.

Toyota Fortuner

Now, the drivetrain comes with three driving modes. Normal, which is the default mode, and then there's Eco and Power. The difference between the three modes is essentially the change in throttle response. In Eco, the response is lazy and one really has to use a lot of throttle to get some turn of speed. And, in order to extract good fuel economy, the air-con unit works at its most efficient setting in this mode as well.

Toyota Fortuner

In Power mode, the throttle response is sharper, more alert, and – if we were to nitpick – a tad jerky. But, it makes the new Fortuner feel lighter on its feet; it helps the SUV disguise its weight and size; and finally it leaves you with the much-needed feeling to driving something that can pull a barge if you wanted to.

Toyota Fortuner

But, it is the iMT function that had us floored. iMT or intelligent Manual Transmission is essentially a rev matching feature exclusive to the diesel powered 6-speed manual transmission versions; 4x2 or 4x4 notwithstanding. So, when downshifting, the engine revs are raised to match the shift rpm to  ensure smoother shifts. It also helps facilitate smoother upshifts. And it works superbly.

Toyota Fortuner

If you are going to be chauffeur driven, make sure the driver presses that button every time you set off. Yes, you would need to remind him because the default setting – every time the car is switched on – is to run without iMT. This helps save fuel, says Toyota. The gearshifts otherwise are a little long in the throw and notchy. But, not to the extent of putting you off.

Toyota Fortuner

There is some decent off-road hardware on board too. Unlike the older generation car, which had a real time all wheel drive system to send torque to wheels with maximum grip, the new Fortuner uses more traditional hardware. It comes with 2 high, 4 high and 4 low, with the latter two getting 50:50 torque distribution front and rear.

Toyota Fortuner

But, to make the system an intelligent one, the new Fortuner has something called an A-Trac or active traction control. The system instead of sending variable torque to wheels with maximum traction, brakes the wheel without traction. The end result is more or less the same – the wheels with maximum grip get all the torque. The big benefit here though is, because it uses ABS related hardware for it, it is cost effective. 

Toyota Fortuner

Back on the road, the ride on the Fortuner is that of a typical body-on-ladder SUV; more so at lower speeds. So, the new Fortuner jiggles over almost everything; hops about over sharpish bumps; and it thuds through potholes instead of rounding them off. At least, Toyota engineers have done well to reign in the side-to-side movement.

Toyota Fortuner

If you are driving or riding shotgun, the ride quality is acceptable. But, it gets decidedly more uncomfortable for rear passengers. Things do get slightly better with speed and load, but we still won't rate the ride quality of the new Fortuner as good.

Toyota Fortuner

The steering doesn’t impress either. It is slow and devoid of feedback. Now, the Fortuner was never designed to be a hard charger around bends and therefore it's no surprise that it rolls, pitches and squats under quick direction changes. But, the body movements are nowhere near as exaggerated as the Fortuner's weight, size or construction might suggest. Additionally, it manages the long, fast sweepers with finesse and is planted in a straight line at higher speeds. And, with ventilated discs all round, braking is good too – stable and with decent power.

Tech specs
Make Toyota Toyota
Model Fortuner Fortuner
Fuel Diesel Petrol
Variant 4x4 Sigma 4x2
Engine Capacity 2755cc 2694cc
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 174.5 @ 3400 163 @ 5200
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 420 @ 1600 245 @ 4000
Gears  Six-speed manual Six-speed automatic
Length mm 4795 4795
Width mm 1855 1855
Height mm 1835 1835
Wheelbase mm 2745 2745
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 80 80
Tyre size 265/60 R18 265/60 R18
Features
Features  
Climate control Single zone
Touchscreen infotainment system Yes
Driving modes Yes
Power tailgate Yes
Full LED lighting Yes
Sunroof No
Self Park No
ESP with traction control Yes
Airbags Seven
ABS with EBD Yes
Competition
Specifications Toyota
Fortuner
Ford
Endeavour
Variant 4x4 Sigma 3.2 4x4 AT Titanium
Fuel Diesel Diesel
Engine Capacity 2755cc 3198cc
Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 174.5 @ 3400 197 @ 3000
Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 420 @ 1600 470 @ 1750
Gears  Six-speed manual Six-speed automatic
Length mm 4795 4892
Width mm 1855 1860
Height mm 1835 1837
Wheelbase mm 2745 2850
Fuel Capacity (in litres) 80 80
Tyre size 265/60 R18 265/60 R18
Conclusion

 Firstly, the new Toyota Fortuner is a big step up over the car it replaces be it styling, interior, quality, drive feel and even technology. It is a more modern vehicle and one that doesn't feel as overpriced as the older model. It is an SUV I wouldn't mind spending time in, either in the driver's seat or in the passenger's.

Toyota Fortuner

But, at Rs 30 lakh for the top of the line 4x4 Sigma diesel version, it can't be termed as great value. Especially, when compared to its competition, the Ford Endeavour in particular. The Toyota is more expensive, but it is short on features, and in fact size. It also doesn’t have the same feel of luxury and plushness as the Endeavour.

Pictures: Kapil Angane