new Model TOYOTA FORTUNER
Leader of the pack
Since the introduction of the Hilux-based Fortuner five years ago, the vehicle has become one of the most ubiquitous SUVs on South African roads. And thanks to the introduction of a new entry-level model, Toyota will now sell even more of them
Text: GG van Rooyen
Saying Toyota sells a lot of Fortuners is like saying Usain Bolt runs pretty fast. It is a gross understatement. Like Bolt’s 100m time, the Fortuner’s sales figures defy comprehension.
Consider the following: The Fortuner’s two bakkie-based competitors sell in small numbers. During a very good month, a hundred might be sold in total. How many Fortuners are sold during an average month? About 770.
And in August, when run-out models of the previous version were selling like hotcakes, a total of 1712 units were driven off showroom floors.
But Toyota isn’t getting complacent. The company feels confident there’s still room for growth. In fact, it believes that average monthly sales can be increased to around 950 units.
How does it plan to achieve this? By introducing a more affordable model.
During the recent launch of the face-lifted Fortuner, Toyota announced that a 2,5-litre D-4D model would be added to the range.
“This model was designed in response to changes in market demand and requests from customers who wanted a less luxurious entry into the Fortuner range,” says Calvyn Hamman, Toyota’s senior vice president for sales and marketing. “We believe the new engine, coupled with changes to the list of specifications, answers these questions and offers extremely good value.”
As you would expect, the 2,5-litre model is more basic than the others, but this doesn’t mean that its cabin is austere. Sure, it doesn’t boast accoutrements such as cruise control, leather trim and electric seat controls, but it still offers plenty of comfort, entertainment and safety features. You get a trip computer and an entertainment system, as well as the standard safety features.
Moreover, the 2,5-litre oilburner boasts ample power. The engine generates 106 kW of power and 343 Nm of torque.
And if you’re familiar with the three-litre D-4D’s specifications, you’ll notice that the 2,5-litre version offers the same torque and only slightly less power (the three-litre delivers 120 kW).
The smaller engine needs to be revved a bit higher, but it has no problem lugging the Fortuner around. We tested the vehicle during the launch in Zambia and were impressed. Cruising capability and acceleration were comparable to those of the three-litre version.
Sure, the bigger oilburner offered more oomph, but before you decide that the three-litre model is the better option, you have to consider the price difference. The 2.5 D-4D 4×2 retails at R325 500 and the 3.0 D-4D 4×2 at R395 000. That’s a difference of R69 500.
Is it worth paying more for the three-litre Fortuner? Only if you must have the plusher interior and a fancier infotainment system.
That said, the 2.5 D-4D is available only in 4×2 with a five-speed manual transmission. If you want a 4×4 system (or an auto shifter, for that matter), you’ll have to go for one the 3.0 D-4D or four-litre V6 petrol models.
These models haven’t changed dramatically. The three-litre oilburner still generates 120 kW of power and 343 Nm of torque, and the four-litre V6 provides the same 175 kW and 376 Nm of torque.
Changes have been made, however, to the interiors and exteriors of all models. And these have been, well, quite controversial. Motoring and off-road forums are abuzz with comments about the “gaudiness” of the new Fortuner.
The new rear lights, as well as the chrome grille, have taken the brunt of the criticism. A new wood-grain finish and shiny instrument cluster in the cabin have also been criticised. Some potential buyers seem to think that these elements make the vehicle look “cheap”.
Do we agree? Well, these elements are quite flashy, but they aren’t terrible. They’re simply a departure from Toyota’s usual conservative approach, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When seen in the flesh, the new Fortuner is striking.
And let’s be honest, the changes won’t influence the vehicle’s popularity. The Fortuner is a terrific all-round SUV that will continue to sell well. And with the introduction of the affordable 2,5-litre model, its potential market has grown considerably.
2.5D-4D 4×2 RB 5MT R325 500
3.0D-4D 4×2 RB 5MT R395 000
3.0D-4D 4×4 5MT R439 800
3.0D-4D 4×2 RB 4AT R406 300
3.0D-4D 4×4 4AT R451 200
4.0 V6 4×2 RB 5AT R422 300
4.0 V6 4×4 5AT R466 900