The Fortuner turned five last year and was due for an update, which is why it was both awesome and bold that Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) obliged by sprucing up the lineup in the midst of a pandemic. There's a fresh fascia, some new equipment, and they added the Q and LTD variants
While it’s certainly tempting to see what the new trims offer (prices range from PHP 1.9 to 2.4 million), we kick off 2021 modestly with a look at the tried and tested G AT (automatic transmission) and see what this base trim brings for the year-model 2021.
It’s always the front that gets facelifted in a mid-cycle update. The changes are minor which include a restyled bumper with larger air intakes on each side, a new mesh on the grille, a new underbody garnish that extends higher up to the bumper, and reshaped bi-beam LED headlamps. These updates did freshen up the Fortuner’s look and created noise for the brand during a really rough year for the industry.
Exterior highlights remain the ‘floating roof’ effect from the blacked-out C- and D-pillars, and that distinct curvy kink on the beltline that flows smoothly through the tailgate. The rear’s retouch is only a new silver garnish replacing the chrome one (but I do prefer the silver one). It still has the same LED taillights, spoiler, and fin-type antenna.
Keyless entry is standard but as the entry-level Fortuner with an automatic, this one gets a plain rotary-type ignition system and fabric seats. These aren’t dealbreakers for me as the latter doesn’t heat up as much when parked under the sun and the former is basic, which means simpler maintenance.
Pre-facelift Fortuner Gs had what looked like mocha-colored seats. Toyota has ditched that in favor of black. For me, it's a good move since it matches better with the glossy highlights in the cabin. The seats could use a little extra cushioning and bolstering to make these feel more snug. Since second-row seats slide and recline, extra cushioning would definitely up the comfort level.
There are third-row seats good for two people; kids preferably. The issue is that the third row doesn’t stow away by folding flat to the floor like some of its competitors. The backrests of the 50/50 split seats fold down, but the halves flip up and latch onto hooks which does eats up space on each side of the cargo area. However, it still brags of 716 liters of storage space.
And it isn’t just the rear that looks spacious, that translates to the seating area too. It appears roomy and actually feels it, regardless of whether you’re in the front or second row. It can definitely fit three adults comfortably in the second row and I love how cupholders were fitted into the center armrest.
Steering wheel is plain urethane but being blessed with audio, phone, and voice command buttons make controlling the infotainment that much easier.
Only the G trim is left with a manual air-conditioning system, which means you’ll have to adjust fan and temp based on feel, so if this a major point of contention for you, know that you’ll have to go a trim level up.
It also has a smaller screen compared to all the other variants but it does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you’ll be able to enjoy your device’s interface if you’re connected via USB. There is one aspect where the G is better than the top trim, and it's the presence of three 12v accessory outlets.
New safety features include a reverse camera that complements the clearance and back sonar, Brake Assist, Traction Control, and Hill-Start Assist.
Powering it is the smaller of the two Toyota GD engines, the 2.4L turbodiesel with an air-cooled intercooler that sends 150 PS and 400 Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the 2.8L which received a power upgrade, the 2.4L has the same performance figures as the pre-facelift model
Steering isn’t too light as is common with crossovers or sedans. There’s a palpable amount of weight but just enough to make you realize you’re behind the wheel of a mid-size SUV.
One thing to note is the body roll; that was to be expected because it has a significant amount of ground clearance at over 200 mm. I wouldn't recommend going crazy around fast bends and especially on sharp corners.
The comfort level is much better than the first-generation Fortuner, but there is still a certain amount of stiffness from the ride of the Fortuner that's built on the IMV or Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle platform. It's the platform that is also used in the Hilux and Innova.
The engine feels very robust, like it has more to give than just its output. If you’re on Eco mode, you’ll have to put a little bit more pressure on the throttle to overtake but when I put it on Sport, response time is a lot quicker.
With MPVs breaching the 1.5 million mark and crossovers hovering close to 1.5 million, the trim feels like a steal at just PHP 1.723 million. It’s taller, has more power and usable space, and comes with true SUV qualities for use in real-world scenarios.
Versus trims in the same category, you’ll have to list down priority features that are important to you in order to make an informed choice. For example, the Nissan Terra EL 4x2 AT is cheaper by PHP 68,000 but comes with six airbags (the Fortuner G AT only has three), more power and torque, as well as a 7-speed auto (Fortuner G has a 6-speed). But know that this Nissan trim doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Vehicle Stability Control, and Hill Start Assist.
The Montero Sport GLS AT, on the other hand, also has more horsepower and torque, an 8-speed auto, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a Start/Stop button, the nameplate’s top-of-the-line infotainment system, two USB ports in the 2nd row, and even cruise Control for just PHP 5,000 more.
Whether you’re upgrading to an SUV (from MPVs and crossovers) or choosing between different SUVs, for its practicality and affordability, the Toyota Fortuner G AT should be in the mix.