If it all goes to plan, this month will be the reveal of the updated and upgraded, Toyota Fortuner. It's a big year for the country's top-selling SUV too, as 2020 marks the 15th year of the popular model in the country.
As we wait for the arrival of the facelift model, now would be a good time to see just how far the Fortuner has come through the years. Even though it's one of the youngest Toyota nameplates out there, the SUV has come a long way from the original 2005 model.
One wouldn't describe the first-generation Fortuner as a small SUV. After all, with a length of 4,705 mm, it was about the same size as its contemporaries, namely the first-generation Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and the original Ford Everest.
But the second-generation grew drastically, gaining 90 mm (4,795 mm) in the span of a decade. Not only that, it got wider and taller too. Granted the width and height difference between old and new isn't as dramatic as the length, it is noticeable. If you came from the previous-generation Fortuner and you're now driving the current model, you might have found yourself being a little bit more cautious on narrow roads.
Both the first and second-generation Fortuner come with three engine options, namely two diesel and one gas, but that's the only thing the two have in common.
The 2005 Fortuner used a 2.5-liter and 3.0-liter turbodiesel, along with a 2.7-liter gas engine. Initially, the 2.5-liter made 102 PS and 260 Nm of torque, while the 3.0-liter put out 163 PS and 343 Nm of torque. In later models, the 2.5-liter saw a power bump thanks to a new turbo. The result is 144 PS and the torque is the same as the 3.0-liter at 343 Nm. As for the gas, the 2.7-liter has 160 PS and 241 Nm.
But it was a major shake-up for the second-generation. The diesel engines may be downsized but packed more power. Two-wheel-drive Fortuners use the new 2.4-liter diesel with 150 PS and 400 Nm of torque, a substantial increase from the first release. As for the 2.8-liter, that one makes 177 PS and 450 Nm of torque. But for the facelift model, that shoots up to 204 PS and a whopping 500 Nm of torque. To this day, the Fortuner is the only SUV in its class to offer a gas engine with the tried and tested 2.7-liter mill.
With new engines come new transmissions. The first Fortuner had either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. It was the norm at the time but by the end of its cycle, it was seen as rather antiquated, especially since more of its competitors were coming out with six-speed manuals or six-speed automatics. Toyota responded to that by putting exactly that in the second-generation Fortuner, and the updated models are still available with those two options.
More features, more SUV
Aside from the looks and the power, the features in the new Fortuner makes the old one feel downright ancient. The first batch of Fortuners didn't even come with touchscreens or stability control, but now, even entry-level models have them.
These days, the Fortuner comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reverse camera, six airbags, automatic headlights (high-spec models), cruise control on most variants, and a digital multi-information display. Even the four-wheel-drive system gets an electronic upgrade, and there's hill-descent control for more control in off-road driving. These features, once reserved for high-end SUVs, are now in the Fortuner.
Step in the right direction
Toyota had over a decade to develop the second-generation Fortuner, and it shows with the amount of effort they poured in for this one. With the facelift model, it's as if they treated it like an all-new model with its engine and tech upgrades. The competition in the mid-size SUV market is more fierce than ever, so the Fortuner has to keep up with the times. But will the upgrades be enough to keep its competitors at bay? The only way we can tell you is after our first drive with it, which should be very soon.