|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Although the basic shape is carried over from when it first launched, it has remained fairly modern. The conservative design helps it to age gracefully while imbuing it with remarkable road presence. For the most part, it passes for a North American market design, helping it build a good street cred among would-be owners. And although Toyota could have afforded not to change anything, they modernized it with not just one but three refreshes over the decade. The latest one builds up on the last major redesign in 2012 by darkening elements such as the alloy wheels and tail lamp cluster. The front fog lamp housing has also been revamped with a new chrome strip adding just the right touch of bright work to the car.
Inside is where the biggest change happens to the Fortuner. The two-tone beige/gray cabin was often criticized for its inconsistency in both color and finish. Toyota made the inspired move to swap it out for a monotone black interior that not only hides the simplistic surface treatments, but as a family-oriented vehicle, easier to clean as well. The faux wood trim also gains a much darker shade (similar to Bird’s Eye Maple) to go along with the other changes. As a new variant that sandwiches the top-line 3.0 V 4x4 and entry-level 2.5 G 4x2, the 2.5 V gains equipment that used to be exclusive to the 4x4: leather seats and GPS navigation. These additions may sound trivial, but for the SUV buyer, it allows the Fortuner to complete against equally-loaded mid-rangers from the competition.
Equally beefed up to battle the competition is the 2.5 V’s drivetrain. In 2006, it gained a variable geometry turbo that bumps up the power to 144 horsepower and 343 Nm of torque. These numbers may pale in comparison to newer SUVs out there, but in reality, the Fortuner is actually able to make full use of its wider, flatter power band. In fact, the 3.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines produce the exact same torque figures with the bigger engine only achieving it earlier and sustaining it much longer in the rev range: 1,400 to 3,200 rpm versus 1,600 to 2,800 rpm. In real life, this difference is negligible. Combined with a lower curb weight for the 4x2 (150 kilograms less), it makes the 2.5 V quick off the line and capable at overtaking. That said, it does lose steam at higher speeds because of the 4-speed box’s limited gearing and the pedestrian horsepower output. Still, it’s surprising how this nine-year old engine update can easily outgrunt newer and fancier competition (*cough* Isuzu mu-X *cough*).
As expected of a diesel, there’s some clatter heard from the cabin, but not enough to make it uncomfortable. At idle, there’s the typical “gravel-in-a-blender” sound; only to be replaced by the continuous whoosh of the turbocharger at even the slightest tap of the accelerator. There’s a certain rev range where the clattering is louder than most (between 2,500 to 3,000 rpm), but again, this isn’t a deal breaker. With a better power-to-weight ratio and no unnecessary weight from a transfer case (it must be remembered that the 3.0 V is full-time all-wheel drive), the 2.5 V manages 10.38 km/L—that’s 17 percent and 6 percent better than the 3.0 V and non-VNT 2.5 models respectively.
In terms of road manners, the Fortuner feels pretty much as you’d expect. At city speeds, it feels lumbering with its weighty steering and mushy brakes; but there’s not any worse than any other body-on-frame SUV out there. It has gained the unfortunate reputation for having a crashy ride, but that’s all been fixed with a new four-link coil spring set-up (introduced in 2006) that replaces the old three-link. This makes the Fortuner more adept in handling undulating obstacles (badly patched roads, road corrugations and the like), but tire pressure must be kept at the recommended 30 PSI. Any higher and the crashiness will still rear its ugly head. At highway speeds, the ride sorts itself out, but at the expense of front-end grip. As a rear-driver, the front-end will feel more and more disconnected as the speeds pick up. At past 130 km/h (or sudden acceleration maneuvers for that matter), the steering becomes nervous akin to traveling on a wet patch of road even in the dry. Still, no one’s expecting to drive it like a sportscar, so as long as you’re aware of its limited cornering ability, it’s all fine.
At P 1,525,000 (P 1,540,000 for the White Pearl), this new Fortuner variant represents a savings of close to P 300,000 over the 3.0 V. You do lose some horsepower and four-wheel drive in the process, but you gain a lot more in terms of value. In fact, with the 3.0 V now hovering past the P 1.8-million mark, the 2.5 V is the highest variant you should go for in the Fortuner line. Assuming you’re dead-set on getting a Toyota that is. And though it’s still commendable because of its timeless styling, excellent build quality, and spacious interior, there are other mid-sizers out there with the same level of kit and are more affordable.
2015 Toyota Fortuner 2.5 V
|Ownership||2015 Toyota Fortuner 2.5 V|
|Year Introduced||2005 (Refreshed: 2014)|
|Vehicle Classification||Mid-sized SUV|
|Body Type||5-door SUV|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Turbocharged, Common Rail Direct Injection|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||144 @ 3,400|
|Nm @ rpm||343 @ 1,600-2,800|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,835|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||4-Link with Coil Springs and Lateral Rod|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Bridgestone Dueler H/T II 265/65R17 S|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electronic (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|