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Driven | The Toyota Fortuner 2.8GD6 4x4 VX AT

At the front, a larger, blacked-out grille with a wave-like mesh gloss pattern is accompanied by a silver-accented "skid-plate" underrun for a tougher, more integrated look.

Quick Facts:

  • Price: From R830 200
  • Engine: 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine
  • Transmission: six-speed auto transmission
  • Power/Torque: 150kW/500Nm

Bakkie based seven-seater SUVs are plenty to pick from, and while that segment is contested by the Everest, Mu-X as well as the Pajero Sport. There is one that always triumphs alongside its Bakkie cousin, and that is the Toyota Fortuner.

We spent some time getting to grips with the Fortuner in its range-topping 2.8-GD.6 VX guise and we completely understood why it keeps selling like hotcakes and leaving the competition in the dust. The facelifted range we tested was recently updated in late 2021 and features changes to its front, the rear as well as the interior. This includes the JBL sound system available in the Legend RS.

The big grille is dressed in a mesh grille while a chrome strip line runs across the snout to separate the LED headlights. Overall, the Fortuner looks really good. We are particularly in love with the C-Pillar.

The interior is perfectly laid out and feels solid.

Inside, the updated Fortuner has been given a faux leather dashboard that feels soft on the hands and does not feel utilitarian like its bakkie brother. A semi-digital driver's display is also at the helm of displaying information to the driver while an 8-inch infotainment screen with screen mirroring capabilities graces the fascia. The seats offer a wide range of adjustment options and feel extremely comfortable both on and off-road. We don’t know if it was just us, but the JBL sound system sounded a bit understated in our unit. However, it was significantly louder in the Legend RS we tested. Charging is aplenty in the cabin with 12V sockets, 220V plug sockets, and USBs in all rows making it easier for each occupant.

Some cool features:

Park distance control, active cruise control, navigation, electric folding mirrors, daytime driving lights, auto on/off xenon headlights, climate control, keyless access, heated leather seats, ABS, stability control, seven airbags

The mechanicals has not been forgotten, as the output of the 2.8 GD-6 engine has been boosted by 20kW to 150kW, with an additional 50Nm on offer, bringing the figure to 500Nm.

Updated Fortuner Ranger Specification Enhancements

These are joined by the base specification items such as one-touch power windows, reverse camera, steering switches, air-conditioned upper glovebox, multiple 12-volt power outlets, cup/bottle holders and a tilt & telescopic adjustable steering column.

The 2.8 GD-6 ‘mid-grade’ adds an electro-chromatic rearview mirror, power seat adjustment for both driver and passenger, climate control as well as rear fog lamps. A leather steering wheel, leather dashboard accents and matte wood-trim - complete the interior offering.

The new VX model boasts seat heating (driver & passenger), welcome lighting and the Toyota Safety Sense system.

In terms of driving, the Fortuner’s on-road mannerisms are exceptional. The big, imposing seven-seater is easy to manoeuvre and puts its power down perfectly. Powered by a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine that develops 150kW/500NM of torque (same as its bakkie brother), the engine was also part of the update. Power is sent to its rear wheels (switchable 4x4) via a six-speed automatic transmission. It is now quieter and this is due to the larger turbocharger. For a vehicle that weighs over 1800 KGs, it's off the line acceleration (in power mode) is exceptional. Inclines and overtaking are also a breeze and while we did not tackle any off-roading course, we reckon that it will conquer that with ease too as it is equipped with 4Hi and 4Lo range gearing as well as a high 279mm of ground clearance. Fuel consumption is claimed at 7.9l/100kms however we struggled to keep it below 9.6l/100kms. (Quite tough in this economic crisis)

New tail lamp units with integrated light guides, help deliver a more striking night-time signature.

Minimal wind or road noise penetrates the cabin, it is well-insulated, and even road imperfections are absorbed properly thanks to the upgraded dampers Toyota has fitted. Adaptive cruise control also does its part during long trips making it a bit bearable on those long trips.

While everything was enjoyable, our biggest issue had to be with the third-row seats and how they are held up, making it harder for people to lower so that people can sit in the last row. A forward-facing bench would’ve been ideal, given the way every seven-seater does it. (On the bright side, the seats are comfortable and also have their own charging ports). The second issue had to be how slow the electric tailgate opened. It took us over 5 seconds (we tested) and trust us, 5 seconds while carrying groceries can be a bit of a pain. Luckily though, once it eventually opens, you get loads of room in the boot whether the last row seats are up or down.

Safety & Security

In terms of safety, The Fortuner makes us of the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) safety system. TSS integrates a Pre-collision system, Lane Departure Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control and road sign recognition – to offer drivers additional peace of mind. TSS joins the existing array of airbags, ISOFIX, seatbelt pre-tensioners and a full suite of active safety aids (ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, VSC, Trailer Sway Control, Traction Control). As before, 4x4 models also include Downhill Assist Control (DAC).

A comprehensive anti-theft system, speed-dependent auto-door lock function and keyless entry are included across the board.

Overall, the Fortuner has cemented its place (like any other Toyota Product) in the segment as a firm favourite in the seven-seater bakkie based SUVs. It is nearly impossible to fault and excels in everything it does, a bit of an overachiever if you ask us.


Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4X4 VX 6AT - From R830 200

All Fortuner models come with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty. A 9-services/90 000 km service plan is standard on all models (service intervals of 10 000 km or 12-months). Customers can also purchase extended service plans and warranty packages via their Toyota dealer.

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