Text and photos by Ulysses Ang
THIS MUCH is obvious: midsize 7-seat SUVs have become today’s family car. Aside from a seating configuration that allows the entire caboodle to hit the mall in style, they’re tall (read: flood-proof), durable, and most importantly, powered by a thrifty diesel engine.
Naturally, not one SUV could have it all. Or could it? Say hello to the Toyota Fortuner TRD Sportivo — a big family-friendly daily driver with a dose of sportiness.
From the outside, the Fortuner is all swoopy and sleek. It may have hit the scene three years ago, but it’s fresh and head-turning. It makes the previous model (and some of its rivals) look old. On top of that, Toyota recently introduced this new TRD variant. Based on the 2.4 G, it nets you a White Pearl shade (the most affordable variant that actually gets this color) along with a new grille, bumpers, wheels, rear spoiler, and of course, the usual stickers and badging.
Now, Toyota may have done most, if not, all of the Fortuner TRD’s upgrades outside, but it doesn’t mean that the cabin’s a bad place to be in. On the contrary, it’s surprisingly solid, modern-looking, and well-made. There are still some hard plastics present (particularly on the upper dash), but at least, Toyota’s managed to integrate a few luxury cues as well. From using the right shade of colors for the interior (a combination of black and dark brown) to the application of matte wood and blue lighting, the overall look and feel of the Fortuner’s been uplifted.
The Fortuner offers a sliding second row that divides knee room across rows two and three, but the swoopy roofline also robs some usable headroom in those two areas. The side-folding third row, a throwback to traditional SUV design, may offer better bolstering and back support for occupants, but it can be a pain to fold them up when not in use. It also takes away some of the usable cargo room too.
It’s equally a pain to fold them when not in use. This configuration means proper seating in the third row (it’s not knees up), but it also takes away some of the usable cargo room which is down 35 liters versus the Isuzu mu-X with the third row up.
For day to day driving, the Fortuner TRD Sportivo feels peppy. At these speeds, the Fortuner’s 2.4-liter 2GD-FTV is quiet and smooth. It’s remarkably civil with just a hint of diesel clatter at the top end. It can gobble up 100 km/h without you having to thrash the accelerator.
Likewise, the 6-speed automatic is a good match to the engine. It commits to a gear and doesn’t hunt as much.
The traditional hydraulic power-assist steering feels hefty, contributing to a less than agile feel especially when doing low-speed maneuvers or parking. However, equipped with four-wheel disc brakes, it does the job of stopping this close-to two-ton SUV. When it comes to the all-important ride, the Fortuner still doesn’t like small, undulating surfaces such as badly-patched roads or road cracks, but as roads turn to trails, it absorbs them way better. Plus, it’s got good highway stability with a flat, smooth ride.
People flock to the Fortuner because it’s still unquestionably the reliable, durable, and practical choice. Sure enough, get one and no one would question this choice; it’s a safe bet. That said, the addition of the TRD Sportivo variant at least adds a dose of sportiness to a midsize SUV that’s already pleasingly modern. It may not have the most luxury amenities (that’s what the V variants are for), but for those who want that added dose of sportiness to go with their practical family car, this one’s worthy of consideration.
Based on the Fortuner 2.4 G variant, the TRD Sportivo nets you a White Pearl shade (the most affordable variant that actually gets this color) along with a new grille, bumpers, wheels, rear spoiler, and of course, the usual stickers and badging.