Toyota Fortuner is the best SUV car in India
Diving into the facts, the new toyota 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.
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.
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
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 fortunerenough individuality.
If looks are what sold the older fortuner, Toyota has certainly hit this one out of the park.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Equipment wise, the newfalls 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.
But, the climate control isn't a multi zone, and themisses 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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