A change of Fortune(r)
The new Toyota Fortuner has claimed top spot in the SUV sales race, taking over the baton from its predecessor. What makes it so popular then?
Claim to fame: Irish actor Liam Neeson’s big breakthrough came in 1993 in the film Schindler’s List. After that he played in a host of action movies including Star Wars. More recently he played a no-nonsense ex-CIA specialist who goes after his teenage daughter’s kidnappers in the film Taken.
Great quote: “I do have a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
Liam Neeson is 64 years old. Not that you would have guessed it considering the action roles he still plays. In the Taken franchise he is a calm and collected ex-CIA man who would rather be fly-fishing than take on 10 crooks at a time – and sort them all out too.
Neeson does not conform to the typical action man mould. He’s just the average guy next door, with no bulging biceps or aviator sunglasses or a pretty lady with a low-cut top on the arm. He just doesn’t need those.
Yet he packs one heck of a punch when the chips are down. You can probably see where we’re heading with this one, then: like Neeson, the Fortuner is just the SUV next door. It does nothing really badly, and everything really well. And when the chips are down, you know it will be up to the task.
The 2.8GD-6 4×4 AT version has 130kW and 450Nm, the latter available from as low as 1 600r/min. There is virtually no evident turbo lag, so if you boot the accelerator pedal, the turbodiesel engine gets on with it immediately. The six-speed automatic gearbox certainly gets the job done efficiently enough.
Interestingly, the latest Fortuner is a part-time 4×4, while the previous-generation Fortuner had a permanent 4×4 system. However, thanks to the all-new independent suspension set-up in the latest Fortuner, combined with smart new electronic traction and stability aids, the new model, in 2WD, is actually more comfortable and stable than the older Fortuner in 4WD on a corrugated gravel road.
The seven-seat cabin has certainly shifted the Fortuner into Prado territory. It’s luxurious and plush – and plush is not a term easily associated with the previous Fortuner’s interior.
It has all the luxuries and mod cons, including leather, climate control and a cool infotainment system that is simple and easy to use. That touchscreen LCD system is gracefully integrated into the Fortuner’s centre stack.
So what about 4×4 driving in the tough Kalahari? Well, the Fortuner hardly seemed to notice the rocks on the Riemvasmaak trail… the active traction control (ATRC) system managed the traction in the tough conditions so the driver only had to point it in the right direction. The rear differential lock remained on the reserve bench 99% of the time.
On the sand, the Fortuner also impressed, its only limitation the driver’s sense of mechanical sympathy and self-preservation.
The latest Toyota Fortuner does a lot of things really well, and nothing really badly. So it’s the sum of all the ‘really well’ that we reckon makes it as popular as it is. Add that familiar, boy-next-door, Liam Neeson image, and those sales numbers make a lot of sense.
Toyota Fortuner 2.8GD-6 AT 4×4
Engine: 2.8-Litre Four-Cylinder Turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-Speed Automatic
4wd System: Part-Time (2h, 4h And 4low)
Traction Aids: Atrc, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Rear Differential Lock
Ground Clearance: 225mm
Price: R614 800