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Is the updated Toyota Fortuner really man’s best friend?

Published Jan 21, 2022

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REVIEW: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 VX 4x4, by Justin Jacobs

Pretoria - Over the past few years I have been privileged to have spent my December period with the ever popular Toyota Hilux. The Hilux was great for my wife and I as well as our dog, a busy little Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Over the years we have enjoyed the company of a Hilux over a period where we want as little stress and hassle as possible. This year however, things were different.

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In November our little family of three grew by one more member and if you have had a child before you will know that they tend to come with a lot of baggage. You need prams, car seats, bags, more bags, blankets and the list goes on. I needed something that would be able to offer that same stress free driving experience, something with ease of access, something practical, comfortable, safe and rugged. I needed a Fortuner…

The Toyota Fortuner is one of – if not the most popular – SUV offerings on South African roads. This Hilux-based SUV offers increased levels of comfort and, as I found out over the December period, practicality as well. It just so happened that the good folks at Toyota South Africa sent me the brand new, updated Fortuner which proved to be a worthy companion.

What has been updated?

Seen here is the top spec 2.8 GD-6 VX 4x4 model, so the flagship. From a styling perspective this Fortuner features LED DRL’s upfront with LED fog lights and LED indicators at the bottom of the front bumper. The rear also benefits from LED tail lights and I particularly like the visually appealing rims. Overall the Fortuner looks good, be it out in the bush or in the urban jungle.

This new Fortuner offers a few updated features which makes ownership and everyday driving a bit better. On the inside you will find dual-zone climate control on all 2.8 models. This specific car that I had featured heated and electric front seats. The VX also gains a Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) with selectable view which my wife loved as it made parking so easy.

I enjoyed the infotainment system which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as an impressive 11-speaker JBL Premium Audio system.

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Toyota has also added extra convenience and safety which is always a good thing. All Fortuner models now feature a Smart Entry system with additional security measures. I also found the powered rear tailgate to be a benefit. In addition the VX variant receives additional functionality to the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) system in the form of Blind-Spot Monitoring (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA). Lane-keep assist and active cruise control also came in handy when we hit the long road for the holiday.

Is the Toyota Fortuner practical?

As mentioned, the Fortuner was a real team player. Being first time parents things can get a bit hectic and this car really had our backs. I particularly liked the fact that when we loaded all the baby stuff it was within the cabin.

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The large luggage area was able to handle the pram and bags with ease. I did, however, find that the third row of seats which are mounted to the sides of the luggage area tend to limit space when you need to fully exploit the vehicles load capacity, especially after Christmas. Nevertheless the Fortuner kept our luggage safe and dry considering all the rain that we had.

My wife found the ISOFX mounting points as well as the rear climate control to be a huge bonus. She could set the temperature to best suit the baby. The extra legroom also made life so much better.

Another benefit of this vehicle becomes apparent when it rains. For some reason our roads don’t seem to be all that waterproof so when it rains you will find an increase in potholes. Sometimes these boobytraps can’t be seen. The Fortuner is able to handle what a lack of road maintenance can throw at it. The Fortuner offers a stress free driving experience.

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Man’s best friend

Ok, so we have established the fact that the Fortuner is a great car for the family, but where this car really had my back was just after Christmas. You see, that busy little Staffordshire of mine decided to eat one of his Christmas toys. On December 26 my little buddy was not well at all; in fact it was touch and go. Being a public holiday most vets in my area were closed. An animal hospital about 45km away from my house was open and was ready to receive him. Unfortunately it was raining so much when we had to leave. It was a very worrying time, my four-legged child was not in the best shape… it was raining, it was getting dark and help was 45km away.

I loaded him into the Fortuner and hit the road… hard. I put my faith in the capabilities of the Fortuner, and its 150kW and 500Nm 2.8-litre turbo diesel motor provided the grunt that I needed, its tyres, as mentioned earlier, dealt with the potholes of which there were many and the active cruise control and blind-spot assist could see beyond what I could in the poor visibility caused by the heavy rain.

When we arrived at the animal hospital they sent him in for checks and found that the toy had gotten stuck in his intestine so an operation was needed. Anyway, he is perfectly fine now, back to his old self, with fewer toys…

When I think back on that day the Toyota Fortuner really had my back. It was a stressful time and yet I did not need to stress about getting to the hospital. The Fortuner had that covered, I just had to guide it. It took a beating from the potholes and the safety systems were all at play. Could it be man’s best friend? What I do know is that it is definitely mine.

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