The ‘sports utility vehicle’ (SUV) segment may be a bit diluted now with the advent of everyone making small crossovers, but the Toyota Fortuner is a refreshing return to form of what an SUV should be.
This 2.8 VRZ is the range-topper of the three-variant wide, refreshed Fortuner range. Many have termed it to be a ‘baby Land Cruiser’, but that’s a tag that undercuts how capable this model is.
If you have RM 204k to spend and are looking for a new SUV that’s admittedly a bit different (but not in a bad way!) from the usual crop, here’s a list of Pros and Cons for you to consider.
- Premium exterior and interior
- Decent practicality
- Great performance, 4x4 versatility
- High running costs
- Claustrophobic black headliner
- Third-row seats don't fold flat
Pro - Premium exterior and interior
The Fortuner’s clearly grown from a ‘Hilux with a cab’ to something genuinely good-looking. In this facelift guise, the looks are further toughened up - but this VRZ is especially different.
You see, the VRZ gets an imposing front fascia that completely breaks away from the rest of the lineup. It's a rugged look, but it's nice enough to fit in at a hotel's valet parking.
Its case is helped by sweet dual-tone paint schemes (seriously, get this), and chunky, black-and-silver 18-inch wheels.
The interior is a plush place to be in as well. The leather seats are soft and breathable, and while red-on-black sounds gaudy, it isn't when you look at it up close.
Mix that with soft-touch materials on common touchpoints like on the drinks cooler and centre console surrounds, and you get a cabin that looks and feels properly nice.
Yet robustness is not sacrificed. It is essentially a Hilux under all that, so some of that tough aura seeps through.
Pro - Decent practicality
It fits the SUV bill rather well, with decent head- and legroom all around, and more than enough space for adults to sit in the second row. Third-row is best left for kids however.
We'll add one thing though. The 7 seats are fine, but as a family car, the tall ride height makes entry and exit a bit challenging for elderly and children. A Nissan Serena is better, if people-moving practicality is all you're looking for.
Beyond that, you get a smattering of cupholders and cubby holes - all of which fits our big bottle test, mind you - and nice touches like a drinks cooler right atop the glove box.
Other than that, there is a suitably large boot that can be made bigger by folding and stowing the second- and third-row seats, which should make light work of nightly IKEA runs.
But not all is perfect in this regard, and we dock a couple of points about this in the 'Cons' section.
Pro - Great performance, 4x4 versatility
Our main gripe with the 2.7-litre petrol engine - offered in all other variants - is that it's rather underpowered. That concern does not apply to this 2.8-litre turbodiesel mill though.
Plucked from the Hilux Rogue, the 1GD-FTV engine (mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox) is a trooper with peak power of 204 PS and 500 Nm of torque. Turbodiesel power sees you get more than enough low-end grunt, yet will happily pull you into triple-digit speeds too.
But real-world performance isn't limited to just how many ponies it has. Adding points to the Fortuner is Toyota's robust 4x4 system which offers it tons more versatility, something most unibody SUVs cannot.
Beyond the ladder frame construction (which gives it superior towing capability), the Fortuner shares the same Active Traction Control (A-TRC) and Auto Limited-Slip Differential (A-LSD) functions as the Hilux Rogue.
Combine that with the tall ride height, and you have a vehicle that can easily wade through our annoyingly annual floods.
Con - High running costs
With large-capacity engines, there's comparitively larger bills to foot as well. For one, road tax - you're looking at circa RM 1,320 per year in Peninsular Malaysia, and RM 727 over in Sabah and Sarawak.
It's a bit thirsty too. During our instrumented testing, the Fortuner returned 13.8 litres/100km, on journeys that ranged equally between city and highway driving.
Con - Black headliner feels claustrophobic
The other con we have is its black headliner. It's a feature commonly seen in sporty cars because it gives a cockpit-like feel, but this shade doesn't do much to help the Fortuner's case inside.
What happens is that the dark headliner makes the latter rows feel 'closed-in'. With a few people in the car, it feels much tighter than it really is.
Con - 3rd row seats don't fold flat
By and large this is the biggest issue we have with the Fortuner's interior. The odd third-row seats takes away a few points from what is very nearly a complete interior.
You see, they don't fold flat. Instead, you have to stow them away to the sides if you need the extra bootspace. Not only is this irksome to perform, but it also eats into your cargo space and affects rearward visibility, making it just that much tighter.
Conclusion - Something offbeat
To sum it up, the Fortuner 2.8 VRZ is one you consider when you want something that's pretty much one-size-fits-all. It looks good, has more than enough power, and more importantly for most - it offers tons of versatility.