Jude Morte / Jude Morte | October 04, 2008 00:00
The (IMV) empire strikes backThe launch of the Mitsubishi Montero Sport at the end of August '08 was cause for concern over at the number one auto manufacturer (in terms of total unit sales), since the aforementioned vehicle had potential to upset the current midsize SUV (and utility segment) hierarchy. So Toyota decided to put one up on their diamond star rivals and recently took off the wraps on two members of its International Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) lineup – the 2009 Toyota Fortuner midsize SUV and Toyota Innova top tier multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).
Over the past three years, Toyota has taken time to listen to its customers and found ways to improve the Fortuner, with the 2009 model's exterior the primary reflection of the company's heeding motorists' advice. The new aggressive radiator grille design is a welcome enhancement resembling its high-end SUV brethren - the RAV4 and Land Cruiser Prado, a standard theme adapted by Toyota for its entire SUVs. Projector lamps were adapted and turn signal lamps were moved to the outer side for enhanced performance and an elite appearance. Rear combination lamps were likewise rearranged with wedge-cut lenses. The bigger exterior look is supported by new 17" six spoke alloy wheels for a more balanced, comfortable ride.
Wood grain paneling adorns the cabin, and steering wheel functionality is increased with audio and multi-information display (MID) switches. In a situation where fuel prices are becoming a burden, even the executive class can depend on the MID's current and average fuel consumption display to help them drive more fuel-efficiently. For a more enjoyable drive, a 2-DIN, six-CD changer with Bluetooth function and MP3 capability was incorporated. A feature fit for anyone on the go, hands-free Bluetooth phone calls promote multi-tasking while exercising safe driving. The aircon system was improved via an automatic push-type heater control panel with digital display. The set temperature, vent mode, and air inlet mode are displayed on the LCD. Furthermore, a rear air cooler unit was installed within the second row ceiling for rear occupants' added comfort.
The new Fortuner is available in both 4X4 and 4X2 drive trains, all toting four speed automatic transmissions. The 4X4 V is offered with a 3.0-liter V diesel variant priced at Php 1,694,000. The 4X2, on the other hand has a 2.5-liter G diesel option at Php 1,444,000 and a 2.7-liter G gasoline option at Php 1,379,000. Available colors are extreme black, greyish brown metallic, super white, lithium, and dark grey mica metallic. "The Fortuner offers accomplished, goal-driven individuals the power, confidence and freedom to conquer the world through its luxurious features, and classic, elegant design," said Danny Isla, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMPC) first vice president for marketing.
The 2009 Innova is upgraded with a more sophisticated exterior design, and added interior comfort features. A color-keyed front grille with chrome hood moulding, fresh designs for the bumper, alloy wheels and even the rear combination lamps add a huge improvement to elevate its image. Interior features are not only more luxurious but more convenient as well with auto air condition controls, steering wheel audio switches, and other audio system upgrades such as a remote control and auxiliary connection. The new line-up is priced between Php 783,000 for the basic J variant and Php 1,174,000 for the top-of-the-line V variant.
Both vehicles, along with the 2009 Hilux launched 3-4 weeks earlier, hopes to cement Toyota's dominance in the commercial vehicle segment. "The success of the IMV can be attributed to four factors which all three models have in common: First, the IMV has a global package and is available worldwide, being sold in over 140 countries. Second, it revolutionized styling and comfort in a market where commercial vehicles are either seen as traditional and utilitarian on the one hand, and expensive on the other. Third, all three vehicles share a solid frame and suspension with the Toyota Outstanding Platform. Finally, they are all engineered with technologically advanced and fuel-efficient, Variable Valve Timing-Intelligent (VVT-i) for gasoline, and Direct Injection Common Rail (D-4D) for diesel," explained TMPC President Hiroshi Ito.