Updated and unfazed: Toyota Fortuner remains a dependable off roader

Toyota has given the Fortuner a facelift in 2021. You get more equipment, updated looks and even a more powerful diesel engine. There is also a new variant, the Legender, which stands out with its sharper styling and more upscale cabin.

So, does the more powerful diesel engine and updated package make it better?

Up front, the 2021 Fortuner gets a new grille, larger ‘inlets’ behind the fog lights, new DRLs on its chin and a wider scuff plate. The Legender on the other hand gets an all-new nose. Sharper and more rakish looking, the narrow ‘grille’ and deep air dam make appealing. The latter also gets a two-tone paint job.

There are no fundamental changes to the cabin. That tough, built-to-last feel, is still there and some materials have been improved, especially on the Legender. Many of the plastics however are still hard, the buttons feel ordinary, and that important quality feel you get on some rivals is missing.

That said, the cabin is still one of the most comfortable around. The large, powered front seats offer good shoulder and thigh support, the steering wheel position allows you to find a comfortable driving position and outside visibility is also good.

Updated and unfazed: Toyota Fortuner remains a dependable off roader

It is also quite comfortable in the rear. Getting up to the seats is a bit of a climb, but once you are seated, legroom is pretty good — the seats can slide front or back, there is a good amount of thigh support and you can also recline the backrest. You also have your own blower controls and there is a decent amount of headroom.

The third row is also quite usable. Getting in, however, is anything but easy. While the second-row seat does flip easily, the aperture to access the third is narrow. The seats on the third row aren’t too bad. Headroom is tight and yes, you are seated low but unlike in some rivals, you don’t feel like you are sitting on the floor.

MG’s Gloster has the most space on the third row, but this is the next best in the class.

Updated and unfazed: Toyota Fortuner remains a dependable off roader

Toyota Fortuner 4x4 AT/ Fortuner Legender 4x2 AT specifications
  • Engine
  • Max Power
  • Max Torque
  • Gearbox Type
  • Length (mm)
  • Width (mm)
  • Height (mm)
  • Wheelbase (mm)

With this 2021 update there is also a lot more kit. You get a larger 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, connected tech, cooled seats and a Premium JBL 10 speaker sound system- with an additional powered sub-woofer.

The Legender doesn’t get the JBL audio system, but it does get a lot more kit. Two tone seats, ambient lighting, an electronic rear-view mirror, wireless charging, a USB port at the rear and a kick sensor to open the tailgate. None of these features are on the regular Fortuner.

You, however, still don’t get power folding third-row seats, an electronic parking brake or a sunroof.

The biggest change mechanically to the Fortuner is the updated 2.8-litre diesel engine that now puts out 204hp and 500Nm (automatic only) of torque, and it exerts considerable influence on how the SUV drives. The increase in power has primarily been achieved by using a more powerful variable nozzle turbo; the latter now controlled by an electric motor. The big hit of torque comes in from just 1,600rpm and Toyota has increased airflow at higher engine speeds too.

It feels a bit more refined in this BS6 tune with the throaty growl of the diesel now more muted. It also feels smoother while cruising. It is still a bit boomy at higher engine speeds though, but not so loud as to cause much irritation.

Updated and unfazed: Toyota Fortuner remains a dependable off roader

The engine is more responsive and gets three drive modes — Eco, Normal and Sport. What is nice is that the Sport mode sharpens up engine responses nicely and even the six-speed gearbox is quick to respond and easy to control with your right foot.

The updates to the engine have also made the new Fortuner faster against the clock. It now takes just 11.2 seconds to get to 100kph, making it marginally quicker than the more powerful MG Gloster. In-gear acceleration is also quicker than the outgoing model. So, all in all, more refinement and more performance.

Small alterations to the suspension have also improved ride comfort. It is more supple, but the body on frame set-up and big wheels mean the ride is still busy with small movements felt. The steering is also still a bit heavy at low speeds and as with other body-on-frame SUVs, it rolls in corners.

That said, it is not unpleasant to drive on a highway. The steering has a fair amount of feel, and as long as you are not over ambitious, you can even enjoy driving the new Fortuner at a rapid pace.

Where it is particularly good is over really rough patches and unmade sections. It can just power over the road without giving it a second thought. Almost nothing fazes the Fortuner and that is the real appeal of an SUV like this.

Toyota has also updated the four-wheel drive system and it now gets a differential lock, though we didn’t get a chance to test it out off-road.

At an ex-showroom price of ₹ 37.79 lakh and ₹ 38.30 lakh, the top-of-the-line 2021 Fortuner and Legender are more expensive than all their rivals. The cabin is not a big step up in quality, it doesn’t get a sunroof and, in many ways, it still drives and feels like the hardcore off roader that it is.

Still, Toyota now provides you with more kit, the extra performance makes it more effortless to drive and with its uprated four-wheel drive system, it is likely to be even more accomplished off road. Those interested in the Fortuner will also find it difficult choosing between the 4X2-only Legender and top-of-the-line 4X4 Fortuner.

Do you trade looks and sophistication for real off-road ability? It is a tough call. What we can however say with a fair amount of certainty, is that if you are looking for a tough, dependable off roader with a no-nonsense attitude, this is the SUV for you.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 7:17:33 AM |

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