I was thrilled to hear we would be taking the upgraded Toyota Fortuner – offering a decent 150kW and 500Nm of torque, thanks to the new 2.8-liter GD-6 engine first introduced in the Hilux – to the bush for a few days. As we were wild camping, we chatted to the guys from Conqueror Connection East Rand who were more than happy the let us try out their Conqueror Comfort Recce. The Fortuner have always been a favourite for me and having the chance to finally tow with it was exciting. Our destination laid north of the Soutpansberg which meant about five hours on the tar. Towing on the N1 is a breeze – the roads are well-maintained and fairly straight, apart from a couple of hills before Polokwane. The Fortuner, now equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ensures safe connectivity and some lekker tunes – if only the trip DJ could be as reliable as the Fortuner!
The Fotuner’s first test came when we headed up the Soutpansberg, climbing a fair bit of winding roads with lots of trucks that were heading to Beitbridge. Again, she took it in her stride and the drive was effortless. Arriving at Makuya we checked in quickly and headed to the campsite, approximately 5km from the gate. The road to camp was a bit worse than what we expected with a lot of the sand washed away during the recent heavy rains, leaving a very rocky road ahead. I had to engage 4-High to ensure enough traction to tow the Comfort Recce. Without having an upgraded suspension it was here that we noticed the rear sagged a bit and, going through a couple of ditches, we ended up scraping the tow hitch through the rocks. Parking the trailer was made easy with the Fortuner’s rear-view camera and some assistance from my fellow campers. Within a couple of minutes, the camp was set up and we could get the fire started. The roads in Makuya are pretty rough and overgrown due to some heavy rains and everything seemed a little further than usual. With the rocky roads I opted to keep my tyres at 2.5 bar to try and prevent any sidewall punctures. In the process, I was prepared to lose grip on the factory fitted all-terrain tyres which are definitely more suitable for highway terrain. Yet, I was impressed as it was never an issue for us. Even when a road completely washed away and our fellow travellers in their Land Cruiser 70 made a new road the Fortuner happily followed in its tracks, not missing a beat. Driving on the riverbed, I was worried I might get stuck due to my refusal to deflate my tyres. We drove some seriously overgrown roads and the Fortuner in its Attitude Black paint job that almost look like a pearl black really wasn’t the greatest colour scheme for driving in overgrown bushveld and river forest. But a good polish when we got back restored it to good as new. The engine upgrade on the 2.8-litre GD-6 really makes a difference on and off the road – driving normal highway we managed the get our fuel consumption to just above 9 litres/100km, but towing did make a difference and the consumption increased by about 50% to 14.5 litres/100km. Traversing Magoebaskloof on our way back, we even saw 21 litres/100km at some point! I enjoyed towing with the Fortuner and never felt tired as the seats are really comfy. Coupled with the adaptive cruise control and other driver assistance tools, it really is a good drive (and this, unlike most of the fishing tales, is a fact!). Packed to the brim, we must have been close to the trailer’s GVM of 1 500kg, but only felt it tugging behind the Fortuner on a couple of occasions. However, if you are planning to tow or add a couple of aftermarket accessories like roof racks, rooftop tents and fridges I would recommend some kind of suspension upgrade. All in all, the Fortuner is a great towing vehicle and the sixspeed auto box really impressed. I never thought it was searching for a gear and there was always a little bit left in case I needed it. As expected, it impressed off-road, with our camping companions in their Land Cruisers commenting on the fact that it never struggled to follow in the master’s tracks.
New Flagship Grade
While a two-tier grade strategy (entry and mid) has been in place since introduction, changing market requirements have lead to the introduction of a new ‘range-topper’ in the form of the new 2.8-litre GD-6 VX. The VX suffix is employed on Toyota’s other SUV ranges (RAV4, Prado and Land Cruiser 200) and denotes the highest specification level on offer.
The design team focused on retaining the characteristic profile of the Fortuner while accentuating and refreshing the façade. At the front a larger, blacked-out grille with wave-like mesh pattern (gloss finish on VX) is accompanied by a silver-accented “skidplate” underrun for a tougher, more integrated look. Re-profiled Bi-LED headlamps provide a sleeker look and these are further enhanced by prominent chrome accent strips that bridge the grille and headlamp assemblies. On the VX-grade, the side profile is enhanced with a thin, chrome belt-line that extends towards the rear, effectively wrapping around the vehicle, and complementing the other chrome detailing.
One of the key change points, is the shift to a black interior, in line with market requests. The previously employed brown-leather interior has been replaced by sophisticated black ‘hide’ with silver contrast stitching. High-brightness treatment has also been applied to the accent areas of the interior, resulting in a more premium atmosphere both visually and tactility. A new instrument cluster design has been employed with metallic-blue dial faces, white needle pointers and a simple, elegant font – complementing the blue interior lighting. These are augmented by an expanded, centrallymounted Multi-Information Display.
Wheels & Tyres
The 2.4-litre GD-6 models retain their 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 265/65-R17 rubber, while the 2.8-litre GD-6 variants receive a stylish new 18-inch alloy wheel with turbine design and metallic surface treatment – employing 265/60-R18 tyres.
An all-new eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allows users to mirror applications off their mobile phone – for seamless connectivity.
The towing capacity of the 2.4-litre GD-6 4×4 models has seen a significant increase of 800kg, now registering 3.3 tons and matching that of the 2.8-litre GD-6 4×4 model. Subsequently, 2.8-litre GD-6 4×4 models now also boast a towing capacity of 3 300kg (an increase of 300kg over the outgoing model)