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Toyota Fortuner 3.0 D4-D (Old)

29th Sep 2009 7:00 am

Has the Fortuner been worth the wait? The simple answer is yes


  • Make : Toyota
  • Model : Fortuner

Stand next to the Fortuner and the bonnet, which is at chest level, slopes up towards the windscreen. It simply towers over you and demands your respect. The slim grille isn’t as imposing but the huge scoop on the bonnet which feeds air to the air-to-air intercooler, the skid plate that swoops into the bumper and the terrific-looking headlights which kink into the grille give you all the visual drama you need. We loved the high bumper line too which shows off the massive clearance and points the Fortuner’s off-roadability.

There are saloon car touches though, like the angled C-pillar which cleverly breaks the vertical proportions and greatly enhances the looks. Also breaking the boxiness is the absence of a D-pillar – the rear screen and rear quarter-glasses fused together. The tailgate is more generic and, unlike the traditional SUV, the spare wheel is mounted under the boot and not on the tailgate.Toyota for the Fortuner is called ‘TOP’ or Toyota Outstanding Platform. It’s a traditional body-on-ladder-frame chassis, drive is supplied to all four wheels all the time via a standard-fit five-speed manual gearbox.

There’s a dedicated low-range transfer case, the diff can be locked, and low-range gears selected, via a smaller lever next to the main gearlever.Suspending its 1955 kilo kerbweight are independent double wishbones up front, a non-independent four-link setup at the rear and coil-springs all round. There’s a solid live axle at the rear, and old-tech as that sounds, Toyota has actually done a decent job of making it feel modern. Ground clearance is a towering 221mm and brakes are discs up front and drums at the rear. 

Climb up into the driver’s seat and there’s a nice handle on the inside of the A-pillar to help you and the ‘master-of-all’ feeling you get is fantastic. You’re really looking down into other cars. Typical of a Toyota, the seats are accommodating, supportive and comfortable. There’s good space and it’s quite easy to get comfy behind the wheel – the seat adjusts manually for height and the steering for rake.

Apart from the Fortuners design, there many interior bits which it has in common with the Innova -like the steering wheel, climate control system, air-con vents, wood trim and switches. What’s unique is the smart-looking, hooded instrument cluster with Optitron gauges. Two airbags, ABS, 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-CD changer, climate control, remote locking and leather seats are standard.

The middle row is comfy too and there’s more than enough place for six-footers and because the car is so high, the seats are placed higher too, giving you good thigh support and adequate cushioning. The Fortuner gets a seven-seat layout, with the third row occupying most of the available boot space when in place but there’s still enough luggage space for a couple of small soft bags.

Once you’re in the third row, it’s a lot more comfy than it looks and you sit a lot less knees-up than in the third row of most other SUVs. It’s quite a practical cabin too. We loved the little cubbyholes under the air-con vents and the big box between the front seats. Boot space is limited with all rows in place, but the last row splits 50:50, so you do have some flexibility. Fold all the seats and you get a very useable 1000 litres of space.  

The ride quality is a little compromised by the Fortuner’s non-independent rear suspension and ladder-frame chassis which, like all separate chassis designs, adds a lot to the unsprung mass of the car. With all that unsuspended weight, it feels a tad lumpy over any kind of uneven tarmac and only smoothens out on unblemished surfaces. At high speeds, the big wheels and the suspension simply absorb anything you can throw at it with little fuss and the Fortuner rarely gets deflected off-line.    

Except for the steering, which has good weight and is rather direct, the handling is quite old school off-roader: it lolls around in corners, rolls quite a bit and though there is plenty of grip from the four-wheel-drive system. We found that the car stops in a respectable 28 metres, but there’s serious brake fade after just a few hard stops.

It makes up by being excellent off-road. Toyota has equipped it with the right tyres, and in low-range mode, it’ll pull through soft stuff with the same ease that a Maruti Wagon R negotiates a parking lot. It doesn’t come with any form of ESP, traction control or hill descent control though.   

Reversing is not much of a hassle with the big rear windscreen and slim D-pillars that give you a good view out back. 

Toyota Fortuner 3.0 D4-D (Old)
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