Ok, to be fair while the test car was new, it's still basically the model from 2012, not the latest release that hit our shores a few months back. Still, it's worth finding out how good or bad these cars are because with the new one here, prices on these will drop and more people will have access to them. I know you can still get new ones in this spec from dealerships with little to no mileage on them. Also being that this is 2015 and the Fortuner in question is a little older now, I cannot for the life of me find interior pics. As you'd know if you've seen my reviews, I like to take my own pics of the cars and I use the press images for the interior, if I had known they weren't available I'd have taken my own.
On to the review... This here is a 2015 (2012) Toyota Fortuner, the 3.0 D4D 4x4 in manual, a rather popular choice here in SA. You can't drive anywhere without seeing a Fortuner on the same road as you, it doesn't matter if you're in the city or in the outlying areas that the Fortuner is more suited to. This was my first stint in a Fortuner and I quickly found that there are a few stereotypes associated with the car. I've never really thought about it much as I know people who own or have owned these and I never put them into any categories. Firstly, no matter where I went, whenever I spoke to anyone at the shops, gas stations or when I met friends of friends, every single one of them addressed me in Afrikaans. So do more Afrikaans chaps buy Fortuners? I doubt there's any data available for that, but that's how it seemed. Also, I was kicking down the highway at 120 in the fast lane with cruise control on and I had to do an evasive manoeuvre when I rounded a bend and ended up behind a car doing no more than 80km/h. I quickly checked mirrors and moved to the left, and while the car in the lane I changed to was doing the same speed as me albeit at least 5 car lengths back, the driver wasn't too impressed that I "cut him off". We both took the same offramp and at the traffic lights he pulled up alongside me and shouted "You f@#king Fortuner drivers are all the same!" while chucking a few choice gestures my way. So to this guy, Fortuner drivers seem to be a menace. Not one to disappoint I made sure to get ahead of him when the lights changed so that when his lane merged into mine I could cut him off again. It felt pretty damn good. I must admit that driving such a big thing does instil a sense of power, so if Fortuner drivers do indeed drive like they own the road, I don't blame them because you just can't help it.
The cabin of the Fortuner is good, the layout of everything and the seating position works well, I was as comfortable as being in a decent sedan. The buttons are all quite big and well marked, which made operating things that couldn't be done via the steering mounted controls easy. My mate reckons the buttons are that size because a lot of farmers have Fortuners and there's summin the water in the farm lands making them bigger than us city folk, and so their bigger fingers can't operate teeny buttons. I think an easier explanation is that they're that size so that you can navigate things while wearing gloves, but they are definitely bigger than the buttons in any other cars I've driven. The finish is good, the model I had sported a combination of black leather, black plastics and a black wood trim. It works well and it's clearly durable too, which is a must in something that should hopefully see a 4x4 trail or two in its lifetime. I say should because I know of a few owners who bought the full house variants and they have never left the tarmac, unless parking on the grass at home counts.
This Fortuner has all the features you'd want in a car, and then some, which is great for when you're actually going to use it as a 4x4 or overlander. There's cruise control, climate control (with ducting for the rear passengers), a full colour screen heading up the Toyota infotainment system, a reverse camera, a DVD player, Bluetooth, a 6-speaker sound system and a USB slot for media. There's a 12v charging socket and a cigarette lighter, also an ashtray which is out of place these days. On our trip the cigarette lighter socket was used to power the phone charger and the main 12v socket was used to power the external GPS I used. If needed, there's a 3rd 12v socket in the boot. On the driver aids and safety side, the Fortuner has ABS, EBD and VSC along with an array of airbags.
The Fortuner is pretty big, you can fit 5 adults in with ease, and if needed you can fit another two in the boot area with seating that folds down from the side panels. It's an odd looking setup but it works. I used the Fortuner on a trip to Parys, there were four of us and a enough food and luggage for a few days and everything fit snug. It was comfortable too, the suspension isn't too hard but it's also not too soft. I was worried how it would feel on some of the tighter bends (of which there are maybe three on the Parys route) but it's stable. Of course silly speeds would be a different story but that's logical in a heavy car with a ride height like this.
The Fortuner 3.0 D4D is powered by a 3.0, 16-valve, inline 4-cylinder turbodiesel lump that produces 120kW and 343Nm, which is more than enough power to carry the large body around at highway speed and well beyond, but it also has enough low down grunt to be able to hold it's own on some proper off road trails. It has a 5-speed manual gearbox that does a good job, although it feels like it's older tech and the lever has quite a long throw. In fact, while the drive is good, I thought things would be a little smoother and a bit more upmarket. If it wasn't for the fact that I was looking as a set of new clocks and a leather-bound steering wheel in front of me and passengers in my rear view mirror, I could have mistaken the feel of the drive for my mate's old SAC-fettled 2001 3.0 KZ-TE 4x4 Hilux. That's not necessarily a bad thing because the Hilux is, well, a Hilux. There's a reason they're so popular and why so many owners keep them until they clock up a good few hundred thousand kilometers. Of course this Fortuner is more efficient and delivers the power a lot better. On the trip to Parys the fuel economy went down to a pretty decent 8.9-litres/100km. The claimed combined cycle consumption is 8.6 but in and around home it was constantly on 11.0.
The plan was to take the Fortuner to a few off road trails near Parys and to visit a few of the local natural attractions but the weather played against me when I wanted to visit the Vredefort Dome, and a few other planned locations were a little on the dodgy side. So I never had the chance to do a full 4x4 trail but I did manage to play around a bit off road, just enough to be able to test the different four-wheel drive modes - 4-high and 4-low. 4-high can manage some pretty intense terrain and you can feel how much the stability on a grave road increases from the normal drive mode, and when things get really tough 4-low will see the large SUV crawl out of whatever trouble you managed to get into. There's a particular rock I like to park 4x4 cars on for pics, some have made it up fine, others have struggled and a few just couldn't do it. In 4-low the Fortuner treated the rock like a speedbump, much to the delight of people watching. The capabilities of the Fortuner are well-known, one of the reasons for their popularity - even with those who will never go off road, it's just cool to tell people that your SUV is capable of doing things even if you will never actually do it yourself.
I liked the Fortuner, it's a big imposing thing that makes you feel rather invincible when you're at the helm. It goes well on tar and it's a very capable off road vehicle that has an almost cult-like fan base. If I was in the market for a Fortuner I'd opt for an auto version though, not because I have a problem with manual cars or that there's a problem with the manual 'box, but in something this size auto just makes sense. This outgoing version I tested was definitely in need of an upgrade to keep up with the competition, but even if it didn't it would probably remain a great seller, as is the norm for most Toyota models. This 2015 Fortuner 3.0 D4D 4x4 Manual can be had for R534 400, which I'm guessing is only while stocks last until the new one is all that's found in showrooms. It's still priced well compared to rivals like the Mitsubishi Pajero and the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the latter coming in at R569 800 for the auto. It's a hard choice to make, the Chevy is more refined and has a fair bit more power, but the Toyota has a well-rooted history and is a top-seller with an almost cult-like following.
The 2015 Toyota 3.0 D4D 4x4 Manual as tested retails for R534 400-00
All Fortuner models come standard with:
3 Year/100 000km Warranty
5 Year/90 000km Service Plan (Service Intervals 10 000km)
For more information head on over to www.toyota.co.za
Author: Chris Wall
A slightly tattooed motoring fanatic, photography nut and avid collector of knowledge. Use the search bar to navigate through the archives.