Monday, February 15, 2016

First Impression: The all-new, second-generation Toyota Fortuner

A few days ago, Toyota Motor Philippines invited select members of the local motoring media to sample its updated lineup of its Innovative Multi-purpose Vehicle (IMV) models which consisted of the all-new Toyota Hilux, the recently-launched and equally all-new Toyota Fortuner, and the third model which we've been embargoed to not say absolutely anything about until February 27 but which you probably already know what it is.

What we are allowed to talk about in detail though is the Fortuner, and since a day's drive around the Clark International Speedway is far from ideal to conduct a thorough evaluation of the midsize SUV, we'll give you our first impression of it for now with a full review to follow soon, hopefully.

The design of the all-new Toyota Fortuner is a far cry from the boxy, stodgy styling of its predecessor. Unsurprisingly, according to IMV chief engineer Hiroki Nakajima, the vehicle's design evolved with an emphasis on a "stylish, cool presence" to compete with the form of its competitors and to distance itself from the outdated image of the boxy SUVs of old. This is evident in the slim bi-beam headlights (LEDs in the V variants, halogens in the Gs) with LED daytime running lights that blend neatly with the chrome grille out front and the equally slim LED taillights that blend into the liftgate. The all-new Toyota Fortuner is also longer than its predecessor (a difference of nearly four inches) which is emphasized by the three character lines that run down its side, particularly the lightning bolt-shaped kink on the rear doors which lead to blacked-out exterior D-pillars to give the vehicle a "floating roof" effect.

Inside, Toyota consciously avoided in giving the all-new Toyota Fortuner the same dashboard as the all-new Toyota Hilux to give the former a more premium character compared to the latter's more utilitarian nature. That's why the top-spec'd Fortuner V variants has leather accents on the dashboard and door trims. The V variants also have a Hazel Brown interior color scheme while the G variants come with a Chamois scheme. The interior is also roomier than its predecessor thanks to cut of the front seat backs which improves the knee room for second-row passengers. But perhaps the most telling example of the Fortuner's newfound civility is this: it has 12 available cup holders to accommodate the Grande Caramel Macchiato Frappe of all seven occupants.

As popular as the outgoing Fortuner was, the biggest complaint the public had of it was its harsh ride. Well, Toyota has listened to your plight and has retuned it significantly that, despite utilizing the same double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer front and four-link with coil springs, stabilizer and lateral rod rear suspensions, it now rides better. On an off-road trail right outside of the Clark International Speedway, only the deepest ruts unsettled the occupants of the all-new Toyota Fortuner.

With all of its improvements inside and out, it's really more of an affordable Toyota Prado now than a Toyota Hilux that gestated a roof over its cargo bed.

Toyota Motor Philippines has been accepting reservations for all seven variants of the all-new Toyota Fortuner, from the base 2.4-liter diesel 4x2 G model with its six-speed manual transmission (P1.386 million)  to the top-spec 2.8-liter diesel 4x4 V model with its six-speed automatic with sequential manual control (P2.141 million), with the delivery of the first customer units starting in March.

Unlike the outgoing model, which was produced in Thailand, the all-new Toyota Fortuner will be imported from Indonesia with Toyota Motor Philippines projecting it to sell over 2,000 units every month.

By the looks of it, it looks like Toyota Motor Philippines has another winner in its hands.

Photos taken with a Fujifilm FinePix XP80 except for the last one which was taken with a Starmobile Muse

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