Toyota Fortuner review: Fortuner favours the bold...

Leow Ju Len


toyota fortuner singapore price

As one of the few old-school SUVs still around, the Toyota Fortuner trades car-like refinement for traditional toughness

SINGAPORE — If you had X-ray vision, what would you see under the skin of the new Toyota Fortuner? Nothing, because no one with eyes that could magically peek through things would waste time pointing them at a car.

But what does lurk under the skin of the new Fortuner is, by and large, the running gear of a Toyota Hilux, a pickup truck with legendary mechanical toughness. Therein lies the difference between the Fortuner and most SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) these days.

What commonly passes for a modern SUV is usually just a car with raised suspension and rugged styling. The Fortuner, however, is much more like a classic SUV, with a tough pickup truck’s frame underneath a wagon-like body.

That makes for a rugged machine, designed to tackle rugged roads and worse. But 11 years after the first Fortuner appeared on the scene, Toyota intends for this second generation model to move past its utilitarian origins.

Doing so created the design team’s “sense of purpose” says Hiroki Nakajima, the car’s chief engineer.

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Giving the new car such chiselled looks was a good start. Apart from crisp, muscular lines, the Fortuner has a lower roofline to make it look sleeker.

With that comes a reduction in height (from 1,850mm to 1,835mm). In our context, that handily reduces the chance of banging the Fortuner’s roof against a low ceiling, not to mention allowing the Toyota to enter more carparks freely.

There are contemporary styling features on the car, too, to bring its looks up to date. Slim new LED headlights (incorporating obligatory daytime running lights) replace the dated originals, and there are large flashes of chrome up front to class up the face.

toyota fortuner review singapore

The tyres wrap around 18-inch alloys, though the size of the Fortuner means the wheels look smaller than that, and if you’re tall enough you’ll spot a shark fin antenna on the roof — a stylish flourish that BMW introduced to the world.

The last Fortuner wasn’t exactly a slum inside, but the cabin now has a sportier design, with plenty of emphasis on horizontal lines to visually widen it. It’s neat, too, with few buttons cluttering the dashboard itself, now that there’s an eight-inch InTouch telematics system to handle the GPS and infotainment controls.

toyota fortuner singapore cabin

It’s plush enough to feel fairly exec, while the driver’s seat has electric adjustment, but the Fortuner is ultimately a beast of practicality. That means that it has not just three rows of seats, but also three rows of air-con vents (with blower controls for those in the back).

Clambering into the very back wasn’t too hard for this writer, who has the spine of a 40 year old, but climbing aboard the driver’s seat presented a challenge: if you’re tall (or even of average adult height), the sleek, low roofline means you’ll have to duck your head to avoid a clash with the top of the door opening. If you’re short, the Fortuner is high enough to make it a bit of a climb.

That latter point is well worth remembering if you have elderly folk in the family whom you’ll have to ferry around. For them, the Fortuner isn’t the easiest car to enter.

And while having seven seats makes the Toyota sound like an MPV (or Multi Purpose Vehicle) substitute, it’s not quite the same as one. The rearmost seats, for one thing, won’t disappear into the floor — the Hilux platform doesn’t provide the space for them — and sort of flip up out of the way instead.

toyota fortuner singapore review

But that’s an easy operation involving a simple pull on a strap, and at least the middles seats are adjustable. They slide and recline to allow occupants to decide how much space they want to give to people banished to the back.

If anything, the middle row seats are the prime ones in the Fortuner. That’s because the driver’s seat isn’t the most rewarding one to be in, given how its pickup origins express themselves in the way it drives.

toyota fortuner price singapore

Depending on how you view things, the Toyota is either rough’n’tough, or unrefined.

The springs feel hard, which is great for hauling loads and for off-roading, but less than ideal for delivering a comfy ride. The steering is heavy and doesn’t offer much feel, but that’s largely down to the car’s all-terrain tyres, which would chomp easily through soft mud.

toyota fortuner singapore

As for the engine, it has more than 1.9 tonnes of Fortuner to move around, so it gets a good workout if you’re in a hurry. Yet, its main sin is not laziness but uncleanliness — the car emits 253g/km of CO2, for which the Toyota attracts the maximum $30,000 CEVS penalty. That is perhaps the main price for building an SUV on a truck platform: the weight and size bring toughness, but also thirst.

Still, that sense of ruggedness means that the Fortuner feels like something that would claw its way up Everest if you wanted it to. Perhaps not all the way to the summit, but long past the point where most other SUVs would have bogged down.

What you ultimately think of the Fortuner, then, will depend on whether you remember to see it for what it is: a pick-up with seven seats and stylish looks. Viewed that way, it’s a machine that is more refined, stylish and comfortable than you would have thought. The next time you see one, pretend you have X-ray vision.

NEED TO KNOW Toyota Fortuner 2.7
Engine 2,694cc, 16V, in-line 4
Power 163hp at 5200rpm
Torque 245Nm at 4800rpm
Gearbox 6-speed auto
Top Speed 175km/h
0-100km/h 12.47 seconds
Fuel efficiency 10.7L/100km
CO2 253g/km
Price $191,888 with COE
Availability Now

Also consider
Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe


2.7 5-door 7 seat fortuner petrol SUV Toyota

About the Author

Leow Ju Len

CarBuyer Singapore's original originator, Ju-Len in person is exactly how he is on the written word and behind the wheel. Meaning that he darts all over the place and just when you thought he's lost the plot, you realise that it's just you not keeping up with his incredible rate of speed and thought.

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