Off Road King

Off Road King

We push the new Toyota Fortuner to the Limit

Released last year, the all new Fortuner managed to become a better seller than Toyota ever hoped thanks to its refinement, great exterior and interior designs and efficient yet powerful engines. However, the car was not perfect and despite the fact it still is a great seller, it seems that the new model has addressed most of these issues and has kicked up the power as well. The updated model is the same basic car albeit with a lot of goodies. The body on frame construction not only allows it to tow a lot more than some of its competitors but it also means that it is a great off-road vehicle without having to compromise on too many things.

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4WD

All Fortuners have part-time four-wheel drive, which means you must select rear-wheel drive for sealed roads but can switch to 4WD when on soft or slippery surfaces. Once in 4WD, you can also choose low-range from the dual-range gearing, which allows you to drive smoothly at very low speeds – a big help when negotiating rough terrain.

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The Engine 

The 2.7-litre four-cylinder option produces 164 HP which is channelled to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. However if more muscle is needed a 4.0-litre V6 is available too. Also coupled with six-speed automatic transmission, this one is a much more spritely as it pushes out 235hp to the crank.

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INTERIOR

The cabin is roomy, comfortable and impressively quiet, thanks to soundproofing that isolates a lot of the tyre and road noise. It’s an easy and relaxing place to sit on long journeys. The cabin’s layout is also simple and easy
to navigate.

THE DRIVE

This is an SUV designed primarily to be tough off road and comfortable on the road, and not to deliver sportscar-like dynamics. Its high centre of gravity, hefty two-tonne mass and ute-based chassis mean there is noticeable body roll through corners, and the steering does not have enough sharpness and feel to be engaging. Nevertheless, it drives respectably for a ute-based SUV. All of the controls are well weighted, the handling is comfortable, and the engine is fairly quite when going fast, which makes it a relaxing drive.

Variants

The SUV comes in three variants starting of with the GX - the base model, a through workhorse with bare necessities ideal for visiting construction sites or industrial zones. Chose the GXL and you get keyless entry and start lighter and nicer looking alloy wheels, roof rails, rear parking sensors, downhill assist control brakes and an automatic gearbox. GXLs have paddle shifters too mounted on the steering wheel.

The top of the range Fortuner, designated the Crusade, adds partial-leather seat and door trimmings, eight-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, and a power-operated tailgate. It has satellite navigation, and digital radio. There are powerful and extremely long-lived LED headlights, and LED running lamps. Fortuner Crusades also get alloy wheels an inch bigger at 18 inches, shod with tyres aimed at providing more grip, better fuel economy and less noise on sealed roads. (The Fortuner GX and GXL variants use all-terrain tyres, designed to work well on both dirt and tarmac.)

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THE VERDICT

Where the Fortuner excels is off-road. It can take you and your family places you could not reach in more road-focused seven-seat wagons, thanks to its dual-range gearing, impressive approach and departure angles, excellent wheel articulation and lockable rear differential. And if your idea of fun is climbing rocky cliff faces and conquering tricky obstacles, then yes, you too will enjoy the ride. Its a family-sized, seven-seat SUV. It’s built tough, will go a long way off road, and is good at towing. It also strikes a nice balance between ruggedness and everyday usability, and the best part is….it doesn’t cost a Fortuner (sorry I had to get that in!).

© COPYRIGHT ARABIA MOTORS MAY 2017

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