Not many vehicles upward of 20lakhs can hope to mirror the success of the Toyota Fortuner. Launched in 2009, the Fortuner was an instant blockbuster. With its butch styling, versatility and towering road presence, both urban and rural India has taken a liking to the Fortuner. Mind you, the Fortuner has a waiting period of 6 months but that hasn’t deterred customers and in 2012 Toyota is giving its bestselling SUV a facelift and also adding an automatic gearbox. Prices for the Toyota Fortuner start from Rs23,00,000 to Rs23,70,000 for the 4X2 and Rs24,04,000 for the 4X4 automatic, on-road New Delhi
Toyota is expected to announce the Fortuner’s launch date at the Auto Expo in January of 2012 and we expect the facelift version to hit the showroom in the first quarter of the coming year. Toyota has also started to increase the production capacity at its factory so we do expect the wait period to decrease across the models.
The facelift Fortuner has already been launched in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The front is completely new with the sharper and edgy headlamps that are more sweptback. The headlights also get washers. The new radiator grille with tons of chrome is similar to the Land Cruiser and the redesigned bumper has a larger air dam. There is also a new design for the air scoop on the bonnet and compared to the current Fortuner the facelift version looks more contemporary and sharper without losing its beefy appearance. Other changes include turn indicators incorporated onto the outside rear view mirrors and the fog lamps have a new housing. If anything, the Fortuner now looks more chiselled in appearance. There have been no changes made to the body panels and to the side profile but the rear now gets newly designed clear-lens tail-lamps and there is also a chrome strip above the rear number plate with Fortuner engraved on it. The roof rails are another addition.
The Fortuner’s interiors have been criticized for looking too similar to the Innova and that hasn’t gone down well with its customers. The SUV now gets cosmetic upgrades to the cabin. The faux wood inserts on the steering, center console and the doors trade in their brown shade for grey which looks nicer. The instrument console is now blue backlight and the steering wheel gets a slight redesign and it also gets audio controls which make for better ergonomics. Other changes include a new power window panel and Toyota has also added a sunroof to the South-East Asian models. While the interiors look better it still is not a premium feeling cabin. Three is also a rain sensing wiper and a new unit with iPod support. Toyota has made no other changes to the Fortuner and the 7-seat configuration remains the same and there are no other changes to the feature list either.
Engine and performance
The Fortuner’s 3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled D-4D common rail injection engine remains the same. Power ratings of 171PS@3600rpm and 343Nm of torque between 1400-3400rpm are the same as before as well. The only change is the addition of the “Diamond Tech” system that allows the 32-bit ECU to check operating conditions within the injection system more directly to improve fuel efficiency. The new injector feature has carbon coating which lengthens the life of the injectors and the variable-geometry turbo now works better with the ECU. The current Fortuner has an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 12.55kmpl and this figure might increase marginally. The Fortuner’s engine is smooth with good torque spread and it reaches 100kmph in under 14seconds. An important addition and change to the Fortuner is the addition of the 4-speed automatic transmission which many customers have been asking for.
The underpinnings remain unchanged and the Fortuner uses the same body-on-chassis construction with double wishbone front suspension and a four-link set-up with coil springs and gas-charged shock absorbers at the rear. Toyota has tweaked the suspension and the ride quality is expected to be a little improved. The handling though isn’t one of the Fortuner’s strong points and it remains to be seen if the suspension tweaking has made any improvements.
The Ford Endeavour with its 3-litre engine offers sufficient performance and since its launch the ride and handling has improved. TheMitsubishi Pajero is a dated model but it’s off road heritage can’t be ignored.
With the changes made to the front, the facelift Fortuner looks sharper while retaining its towering presence. The changes to the interiors are welcome and well we specially like the grey shade and the steering mounted audio controls. The cabin though still isn’t as premium feeling as we would have liked. The engine remains unchanged which is not bad since it already was refined with good performance. Fuel efficiency is marginally increased. The ride quality we expect will be a little better with the tweaking to the suspension and overall we expect the interest in the Fortuner to remain strong if not grow further. Toyota though needs to make sure that the production capacity increases rapidly.