This will prove to be one of the most important reviews I've written. While it is nowhere near as exciting to write about as the Hachi Roku, the Fortuner has proven to be a tour de force in this country. In a span of a day, I see just as many Fortuners as I do iPhones - except the SUV can take you places. There must be a good reason why.
I've mentioned in my previous article on the 2.4V, reliability is king. It is a crucial element of consumer motoring and it is a necessity in the Philippines where we have some of the worst road conditions in the world. In the United States, the resale value of cars weigh more in the year model than it does on the mileage. It is so, because while they do rack up the mileage a lot quicker than we do here in the Philippines, our cars break in half much sooner thanks to a gold mine of potholes and gaping road cracks.
And because we are also a country that turns our main thoroughfares into storm-made lakes, it is almost a requirement for every household to have a vehicle that can cross the flood. This is why mid-size SUVs are killing the executive car segment in numbers not far off from the recent extrajudicial executions. Besides, at that price point and if you could only afford one, wouldn't you prefer the one that could swim?
Bred for Adventure.
Another popular factor here is the availability of a diesel engine. I, for one, still do not understand carmakers that have diesel variants of their cars in other parts of the world, but refuse to bring them in here - where diesel is cheaper than petrol. Toyota has three engine variants, and the one we have here is the 2.8-liter motor that's good for 174 horses. It isn't class leading, but it is a far better motor than the underpowered 2.4-liter unit. It is also accompanied by 450 Newton Meters of torque, which is more than enough needed to pull a set of jet skis for the weekend.
I fondly remember a time when the streets were filled with SUVs like the 'Fieldmaster' Mitsubishi Pajero, the Isuzu Trooper, and the mighty Nissan Patrol. They were legends in their day, but as soon as the Fortuner was born, those SUVs started to feel agricultural by comparison. Things like common-rail diesel technology, a smooth automatic tranny, a beautiful interior, and looks that never felt out of place whether you were out in a farm or having dinner in Antonio's - killed the competition completely.
"The pace of the 2.8-liter is athletic, while the 2.4-liter is similar to me sprinting in a marathon with a cigarette tucked between my lips."
I am hard-pressed to talk about the Fortuner without talking about its fairly recent rivals in the name of a Mitsubishi Montero and a Ford Everest. There is no doubt in my mind that the competition have their own aces up their sleeves, but because I haven't driven all them, I can only talk about what the Fortuner brings to the table. I think that if you are looking for a good SUV, this will always be a safe bet. It has been tested and proven over time, and chances are even when I have grandchildren someday, the Fortuner will still be a good vehicle to buy.
I also believe that this 2.8-liter 4x4 variant is the one to have. Not just because it has a 4x4 system, but because the engine is just so much more capable than the smaller one. In the city, you won't feel the difference, but as soon as you enter the highway, the pace of the 2.8-liter is athletic, while the 2.4-liter is similar to me sprinting in a marathon with a cigarette tucked between my lips.
"Besides, it's not like pick-ups today ride like our 1990 Mazda B2200, which is good enough to send you to the dentist for a new set of teeth the following the day."
What about the ride? Well, the underpinnings are no different in this 4x4 unit, so it still has the body-on frame characteristics that some people don't like very much. I personally don't think it's as bad as some say it is. It feels like a modern day pick-up, and as soon as you've accepted that, you're all good. Besides, it's not like pick-ups today ride like our 1990 Mazda B2200, which is good enough to send you to the dentist for a new set of teeth the following the day.
Inside, it's all familiar. It has Toyota's new design language, which I must admit is brilliant. I mean, Toyota doesn't have to do much to sell their cars, but the fact that they go as far as supplying us with some nice brown leather in the cabin and a smart navigation system that warns us of speed humps - they're very much appreciated.
"The Fortuner has gone up a few notches as far as refinement goes. It is immediately more plush than its predecessor and it is downright handsome."
Driving it is quite pleasurable. The engine pulls, the seats are comfortable, and the engine noise isn't so bad. I particularly like the weighted steering input as well as those bi-beam LED headlights. Overall, the Fortuner has gone up a few notches as far as refinement goes. It is immediately more plush than its predecessor and it is downright handsome.
Everyone has their reasons for wanting this all-new Fortuner, and these are mine. The truth is, most people will be lining up for this SUV because of its practicality, sensibility, and versatility. Its reputation as far as fitting like a glove in one's life is fabled. Ultimately, it still is a Toyota which means that you are only 2 million pesos away from invincibility.
Own Your World.