Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Patrick De Guzman Cardano | posted April 08, 2015 18:00
The reigning champ
What more can be said about the Fortuner?
Toyota has capitalized on the success story that the Fortuner is, and with good reason. The SUV blended the best qualities of Toyota's Innovative International Muti-purpose Vehicle (IMV) platform by marrying the 7-seat capacity and cabin versatility of the Innova MPV as well as the ruggedness and all-terrain capabilities of the Hilux. All those, together with Toyota's undisputed reliability and brand value made the Fortuner the consistent hot seller that it has been for the last decade.
Given those reasons and the undeniable popularity of the Fortuner, Toyota has given the SUV another update, as evidenced by this 2015 Toyota Fortuner 2.5 V.
In the chronology of Fortuner facelifts and updates, this one is already the third one overall since the original model was launched in 2005. The first update in 2008 focused giving the front a fresher look, though there were only minor changes to the rest of the body. The second facelift in 2012 was far more thorough, as the entire front and tailgate of the car were remodeled for a more premium look with redesigned headlamps, a new grille, a new bumper, new taillights and more.
For the 2015 model year, this Fortuner 2.5V gets minor design tweaks over the 2012 facelift; by minor, we mean that the exterior details have been replaced with updated ones. For instance the HID headlamps have been changed as the previously chrome headlamp housing is now black. Same goes for the taillights. While minor in nature, the design adjustment is a welcome one, and it's complemented by a set of dark gray wheels that work wonders for this Fortuner in black.
The big change is in the interior. Those who own any of the previous versions of the Fortuner would note that the cabin has always been finished in a shade of beige. This new model gets a black interior with some touches of dark gray. The seats, steering wheel and shift knob are all wrapped in leather for that luxurious touch. In my opinion, this much darker interior does make the cabin look much classier, so much so that we wonder why Toyota's designer department took a while to implement it.
Features wise, there's really not much more to be said as the “V” variants of the Fortuner already come with all that's needed, as well as a few bells and whistles. Power steering, power windows, power fold/adjustable mirrors, automatic climate control in front, a manual A/C in the rear, ceiling mounted vents, steering wheel audio controls, a trip computer, fuel economy meter, compass and other features are standard. There's even a washer nozzle for the headlamps. There are 2 cupholders on the flanking A/C vents, 2 more just forward of the automatic gearstick (being a 4x2 model), 2 more for the middle row passengers, 3 more in the very back and bottle holders for the 4 doors in front.
The same cabin layout assures great seating for seven passengers (2-3-2). The second row folds forwards and tumbles for more cargo space or for easier egress/ingress for the third row passengers. What I do wish they would address is the way the third row folds up to the sides; it's fine, but it can be challenging to do so given the ride height.
The audio system has been upgraded to a two-DIN DVD touchscreen system. It’s got Bluetooth, GPS navigation, USB input, iPod compatibility (including video), among others. It still needs a pair of headrest monitors or perhaps a drop-down LCD from the ceiling to be useful as a video player, as the main screen cuts out when the vehicle is in motion. Nevertheless, it's a good amount of kit for the top spec version of the 4×2 model.
At the heart of this 2015 Fortuner 4x2 V is the venerable 2KD-FTV engine. While pre-2012 versions of the Fortuner with the 2KD-FTV only had 102 PS and 260 Nm of torque, this one gets the upgraded version of the 2KD-FTV. As it stands, this one that makes 144 PS and 343 Newton-meters of torque; a huge 40% increase in power and a 30% bump in torque. Toyota achieved this by retuning the engine and installing a variable geometry turbo (Toyota calls it variable nozzle turbo or VNT) as well as a top-mount intercooler, hence the wide scoop on the hood.
Drive-wise, there really isn't any difference compared to previous models we drove before, though that power increase is certainly welcome. The standard 4-speed auto works well but a lot of the competition now uses 5-speed automatics (i.e. Montero Sport GTV) while some even have 6-speed gearboxes. Nevertheless, given the better power and torque, the 2015 Fortuner yielded 8.9 km/l (21 km/h average) and 12.3 km/l on the highway.
Compared to the original Fortuner of 2005, the latter versions of the Fortuner have received suspension and revised seats to make it more comfortable. The result is a pick-up based SUV that has a ride comparable to its chief rival, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. Handling is still OK but good handling isn't exactly expected of a heavy SUV.
When the Toyota Fortuner was originally launched back in 2005, it changed the landscape when it came to 7-seat pick-up based SUVs particularly because it was advanced for the time. Today there are more models in the segment that are more advanced, better equipped, more competitively priced, better looking, and still more are on the way, yet the Fortuner soldiers on. Successfully, I might add.
That being said, this may very well be one of the last versions (possibly even the last) of the current Fortuner before the all-new one. Despite that, this 2015 Toyota Fortuner 2.5 V is still a good one to drive and a great SUV to own at PhP 1,525,000.