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Toyota Fortuner, a sales-topping SUV


Expect to see a lot of the new Toyota Fortuner on the roads, in parking lots, at shopping malls, and everywhere else.

And I mean a lot. The reasons are simple. The original, outgoing Fortuner was a phenomenal sales success. And in its all-new incarnation it's simply superb. Not just mildly superior to its predecessor but a decided leap ahead on all fronts from styling to performance.

There are eight models in the new range, and I've been rolling in a 2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Automatic model - which once more reinforces the fact that only if you're regularly going to be doing proper off-roading do you actually need a 4x4 model.

The looks

Now the latest Fortuner is a sleek, slick affair with a longer, wider stance than the outgoing vehicle. It's also a muscular-looking, handsome machine, from the restrained use of chrome to the LED tail-lamps, and that fabled Toyota durability and build quality is immediately apparent.

The power

Powering the model I've been spending time with is one of Toyota's new GD series engines, which first debuted on the latest Hilux. The 2.8-litre turbodiesel driving the machine here is good for 130kW and 450Nm between 1,600 and 2,400rpm.

It's a refined powerplant this, and it provides plenty of punch, taking the Fortuner from rest to 100km/h in a respectable 10.8 seconds, and on to 180km/h. Fuel consumption is a claimed eight litres per 100km in the combined cycle, while power runs through a sophisticated new six-speed auto 'box.

The interior

Cutting to the interior, the luxury factor has been upped quite a bit. There's a decidedly premium atmosphere at work, what with metallic accents and woodgrain detail, while naturally it's a seven seater. The second-row seating is split 60:40 and comes with a slide function and reclining backrests, while the third-row is split 50:50 and also comes with a recline function. It's a little tight for big people in the third row, unsurprisingly, but bearable over short distances, and just fine for kids.

The kit

Of course, you also get lots of kit, including a digital radio and a seven-inch screen with DVD compatibility and reversing screen, as well as Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio and telephone controls, and punchy air-con. Present and correct, too, is lashings of storage space  and cup and bottle holders, while on the move the Fortuner simply sails over even the poxiest road surfaces. Probably because the people at Toyota have spent a lot of time and energy working on NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), while maximising torsional rigidity, all-round strength, and crash-worthiness.

Adding to its handling and comfort is a double-wishbone front suspension and four-link coil-spring rear suspension, both with stabiliser bars.

The safety

A vast array of electronic safety features is standard, including Vehicle Stability Control (VSC),  Trailer Sway Control (TSC), and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), plus the expected barrage of airbags.

The price

You'll pay R531,400 for the model here, with the range starting with the 2.4 GD-6 Raised Body Manual at R436,400, and culminating in the 4.0 V6 4x4 Automatic at R633,400.

That also includes a three-year/100,000km warranty and a five-year/90,000km service plan, and while the new Fortuner obviously faces competition from the likes of the latest Ford Everest, it will without a shadow of doubt romp up the sales charts, even in these challenging economic times. And deservedly so. It's a winner. Just as we all expected.

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