Toyota Fortuner – Do We Like It?

I spent some time with the updated Toyota Fortuner, with a keen interest to see why this car is a hit locally. Quite impressed with it, but there are some things that did not excite me.

I had the 2.8GD6 VX on test, and upon arrival, I instantly became overwhelmed by the size. Prior to this is was in the Lexus UX250h F-Sport, which is significantly smaller. I’m a small SUV fanatic, so the likes of the BMW X3 and VW Tiguan would appeal more to me, personally. Yet, I’ve tested the rivals in this segment, the pre-facelift Ford Everest and the new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, so I’ll compare the three.

My tme with the Fortuner was, surprisingly overwhelming. I don’t have the words to describe how it drove. On the highway, it excelled, carrying its size and weight well, power retention is proper and handling was good. In city driving however… a bit of a nightmare. Shopping malls and complexes in Pretoria and Johannesburg have oddly small and narrow parking spots, making that activity unbearable, shucks. Its hard to park in small spaces hence I always looked for an isolated parking spot. This is probably a personal quarrel, as I think full time owners of this car do not have this struggle. I could be wrong. On the flipside, this car is insanely good at concealing bumps and dips on the road, especially considering how abysmal our roads in SA are. I wish I could have taken it on some proper off-roading, I know it would not have disappointed. However. The fact that it is Hilux-based makes all the sense – its quite cumbersome to drive at times but like I said, on long distance travel, it is really good. The SUV is powered by a 2.8l turbodiesel engine which produces 150kW/500Nm, giving it decent power outputs. In terms of fuel economy, Toyota claims 7.9l/100KM but I was doing 10.3l/100KM.

Moving onto the interior, it’s not entirely inviting. It screams “bakkie” the moment you enter – looks super functional and a tad bland. It does have some chrome finishings and soft-touch surfaces and some wooden accents around, which does still give it a rustic, dated feel. You do get heated front seats, Apple Carplay and Android Auto available. The 11 speaker JBL Premium Audio was my winner, the thing sounds mad good. The Fortuner is quite comfortable, very spacious and had cupholders almost everywhere (making it perfect for road trips). My one friend was wholly excited when he saw the Fortuner, claiming its his favorite car, and immediately went straight to the third row and sat comfortably (He taught me also how to open the second row for access!) The boot space is something to also praise, as even with the third row down, you have enough room for luggage and groceries or anything else you might want to throw in there. It’s all in all laid out really well, every single detail with regards to space and practicality has been executed well so, I am truly impressed with that.

So, how does it fare to the Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport? Honestly, I would take the Everest purely for that nicer looking interior. the Everest might be a guzzler, but it is really nice to have on a daily. The Pajero Sport is an outlier here, comes in at a competitive price of R704 900 for the Exceed model, but it has quite a boring interior and it is really heavy and unengaging to drive, I did not have much fun with it. I would recommend the Fortuner fully, but at a price of R806 300 for the top spec unit, it is quite steep and there are various other products you can get for that money. I think it boils down to your needs and preference. I enjoyed my time with the car, and it has allowed me to learn more about this SUV segment and to grow in it. Personally, I would opt for the Ford Everest. It is more expensive than this one, but I resonated with it more. Nonetheless, Toyota has made a great car here. Some drawbacks as mentioned, but you will not go wrong with it.

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