Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First Drive: 2012 Toyota Fortuner & Hilux with VNT

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Toyota Motor Philippines seems to be taking “kaizen”, the Japanese word for continuous improvement, to the next level. Often, kaizen is associated with the manufacturing and production process, but it seems it extends to their product line-up. Take for instance the Toyota Fortuner and Hilux, two of the three vehicles developed under the Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) program. It has already seen at least two major upgrades since their respective launches, responding to the ever-changing demands of customers. And now, both the Fortuner and Hilux show off their biggest change yet: an all-new heart.

If there’s one criticism you can level at these two vehicles is that they could both use more power. If you’re opting for the 3.0-liter D-4D diesel, it’s no problem. But that’s not exactly the case with the 2.5-liter engine. With modest figures at best, pulling an empty Fortuner seemed taxing enough for the engine; what’s more if it’s fully loaded? Toyota looks to have agreed and has now gifted the 2.5-liter D-4D with a Variable Nozzle Turbocharger or VNT, a feature already equipped on the 3.0-liter engine from Day One. Now, the new 2.5-liter D-4D pushes out 40 percent more horsepower (144 hp vs 102 hp) and 30 percent more torque (343 Nm vs 260 Nm). These figures are now very comparable to the 3.0-liter engine which produces 163 horsepower and 343 Nm of torque. The new VNT technology is available for the Fortuner 4x4 V and 4x2 G Diesel (both manual and automatic) as well as the Hilux 4x4 G, 4x2 G, and 4x2 E variants.



At the Clark Speedway, the difference is day and night. Even on idle, the new VNT already makes a difference because it’s quieter and smoother than before. As you gingerly apply the throttle, the initial uptake doesn’t feel all that different from the old engine but once the turbo kicks in at 1,600 rpm it makes its presence felt. Whether you choose to pair it with the 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, the VNT makes short work of the Clark Speedway’s back straight. As it heads to the curvier sections of the track, the VNT improves in-gear acceleration certainly giving the Fortuner and Hilux excellent overtaking prowess. And because you don’t have to rev the engine as hard, fuel consumption is certainly improved as well. In the case of the Fortuner, an additional bonus comes with a much suppler ride thanks to a new 4-Link rear suspension that allows this SUV to absorb even the lightest or heaviest bumps with ease.

The Fortuner and Hilux both have gone through major improvements already, so the equipment inside and out aren’t vastly different from before. Of course, a notable exception is all VNT-equipped models feature a top-mounted intercooler and hood scoop as well as the availability of new colors. The Fortuner gains the option of White Pearl across the line (for an additional P 15,000) while the Hilux may be had with a new Super Red color, but only for the G variant.



Those opting for the higher variants, particularly the Fortuner 4x4 V, 4x2 G Diesel A/T and all Hilux 4x4 variants, gain a great improvement in the area of in-car entertainment. Together with the new engine, there’s also a newly installed audio system with a built-it GPS navigation system. This is then operated through a new 6.5-inch touch screen LCD. It also comes standard with a multitude of connectors such as DVD, AM/FM stereo, iPod, video input, and Bluetooth connectivity. Even the speakers have been improved, as they now feature a 50-watt x 4-channel amplifier.

Of course, these changes come at the expense of a higher retail price. Don’t fret tough, as it’s not as steep as you think. In fact, the prices have just modestly increased.

Toyota Hilux:
  • Hilux 2.5 J M/T (non-VNT) – P 843,000
  • Hilux 2.5 E M/T – P 972,000
  • Hilux 2.5 G M/T – P 1,131,000
  • Hilux 3.0 G M/T – P 1,420,000
  • Hilux 3.0 G A/T – P 1,474,000
Toyota Fortuner:
  • Fortuner 2.5 G M/T – P 1,381,000
  • Fortuner 2.5 G A/T – P 1,484,000
  • Fortuner 3.0 V A/T – P 1,759,000


In the end, thanks to the new VNT engine, the Fortuner and Hilux now have the power to take on the competition. Toyota Motor Philippines has responded to its critics in the biggest, most resounding way possible, proving that the company and its products are all the fruits of continuous improvement. They are the fruits of kaizen, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

3 comments:

  1. fuel consumption ? city and highway ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We didn't get drive the VNT-equipped Fortuner and Hilux outside the track. Once we get a full test drive for either of them, we'll post them here.

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    2. In a short day-drive with the Hilux M/T equipped with the VNT, I did 10.3 km/L in the city and close to 15 km/L on the highway.

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