It’s bigger, more luxurious and nicer to drive. But all this comes at a price. Will the new Fortuner continue its domination?
What's it like to drive?
We got behind the wheel of the new Fortuner with a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 177hp and 420Nm (MT) / 450Nm (AT) of torque. Existing 3.0L Fortuner owners will relate to this motor quite easily. It offers plenty of low-end torque and turbo lag is negligible. The motor is so drivable that for the most part, you’d be happily driving around town in a higher gear at a lower rpm. There’s adequate mid-range punch until about 3,500rpm, after which, power delivery tapers. The motor isn’t very rev happy either and is best to upshift early and ride the wave of torque than to spin to 4,000 rpm and produce more noise than speed.
Like the Crysta, the Fortuner comes with three driving modes – Eco, Power and Normal (default). Being over 200kg heavier than the outgoing car, for performance it is best to use the Power mode, where the throttle responses are the sharpest. This SUV feels eager to lunge forward and you’ll often find yourself backing off the throttle, especially in city traffic conditions. In Normal too, responses are sharp and the initial surge of torque does give you a sense of the power at your disposal.
What's also impressive is that the motor is smooth and refined when driven in a relaxed manner. This helps the Fortuner cruise almost silently, with the engine only purring at lower engine speeds. When the engine does get clattery and rattle is when you put it under load. Push your foot down on the throttle and there's quite a din. And at times the rattling from under the hood gets so loud, you'll have no doubt about this being a diesel. And this only worsens once you are past 3,500rpm, when the motor drones a lot and gets quite vocal, without too much increase in forward speed. So it's best to use the top end of the powerband only if you have to.
Toyota will sell the diesel Fortuner with both a manual and an automatic gearbox. We tested both six-speed gearboxes and are happy to report that both performed quite impressively.
The automatic in particular shifts gears smoothly and there are the paddle shifters to move around ratios, but dropping a gear for a sudden overtake can take a while. It doesn't mind being hurried and there isn't too much shift shock, but get too optimistic and downshift too early and it will make you wait a bit; accompanied by a 'beep' that asks you to be patient until revs drop. In 'S' mode, you can manually select the max gear that you’d like the car to drive in, and that comes in handy while climbing up or down a ghat section.
The short-throw six-speed manual is less relevant, especially on a car at this price, but it works well too. Speaking of which, the clutch is quite light and the travel isn’t too long either. Toyota has done well to get rid of the long-throw-commercial-vehicle-like shift action present on the earlier car, and though the gearbox isn't light per se, you don't need to put your shoulder in either. What also works quite well on the manual gearbox is Toyota's IMT system that blips the throttle automatically as you come down to a lower gear.
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