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Old 5th September 2009, 14:44   #1
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Default Review: 1st-gen Toyota Fortuner

What you'll like:

- Stunning looks & presence
- Built tough. Built to last
- Powerful diesel. 169 BHP / 343 NM of torque (@ 1400 - 3400 rpm)
- User-friendly & spacious interiors
- Respectable fuel efficiency
- 4x4 with low ratio, LSD & lockable diff
- Toyota's excellent after-sales service & long term reliability

What you won't:

- Firm suspension, bumpy ride quality. Pitches on the highway
- Utilitarian rather than luxurious, interiors included
- Average brakes. No rear disc brakes
- No extras (rear disc brakes, power seats + lumbar support adjust, USB / AUX jack, reach adjustable steering etc.)
- Long wait period (initially)

The 4x4 AT:


The 4x2 AT & MT:


Reported Fuel Efficiency:

- 9.4 (City) / 12.5 (Highway)

Last edited by GTO : 10th February 2015 at 17:34. Reason: Linking to 4x4 AT
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:44   #2
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Toyota took its own sweet time in getting the Fortuner to our shores. We, on the forum, have been speculating for over 4 years now (look up previous threads)! And what a market response it has had. Everyone - including its competition - was taken aback at the value pricing. As I type this review, the Fortuner has garnered 5,000 bookings in less than 2 weeks. Importantly, it is priced lower than the Pajero, Captiva and CRV (1.xx lakh more than than the equivalent 3.0 4x4 Endeavour).

The Fortuner is a looker, and an absolute stunner at that. Most people commented that it looks more expensive (in person) than its 18.45 lakh ex-showroom tag would suggest. The front end is striking (menacing to the rear view mirror of the car ahead) thanks to the projector-style headlamps, purposeful hood scoop (feeding air to the top mounted intercooler) and skid plate effect. The Fortuner stands tall and rides on massive 265/65/17 tyres mounted on 6 spoke alloy wheels. The muscular wheel arches give it some more beef, if only the spare wheel was mounted on the rear tail gate (propah SUV style!). The proportions are huge giving the Fortuner a certain amount of street cred on our roads, much more than the CRV or the Captiva (though the Endeavour is a match). In fact, parked next to a 50 lakh Prado, the Fortuner looks nearly identical in size.

Build quality is typical Japanese precision. Fit, finish, part & paint quality are top grade & atleast 2 levels ahead of competition. It's built on the more rugged body-on-frame design, tipping the scales at 1,955 kilos. You only have to lift the heavy bonnet to know more about the sheet metal gauge they have used. The doors shut with a thunk, far ahead of Jap flimsy, but equally behind the European "thud". Our test car had nearly 4,000 abusive kms by various reviewers under its belt. Yet, there was not a single rattle or squeak to show for it. The Fortuner is a tough truck and, its immediately evident, built to last. The colour options are surprisingly limited at the moment (usual silver, white & black fare). Where are the prussian blues, champagne golds, metallic maroons and dark greens, Toyota?

NOTE : All the smaller pictures are thumbnail impressions. Clicking on them will open up a larger version of the picture (in a new window).

221 mm of ground clearance is a vital tool on our roads:

Projector style headlamps look swell:

Big purposeful hood scoop:

The Dunlop GrandTreks are imports (made in Japan). Incidentally, the wheel & tyre size are identical to that on the Prado. Size = 265/65/17:

Parked next to a Prado:

Perspective on size. That's our support car, the OHC Vtec:

Big convex ORVMs offer fantastic visibility:

Prominent spare tyre placed below the bumper:

Indians love chrome (just ask Honda Accord) and the Fortuner has liberal doses of the same. On the mirrors, the front end, the tailgate....even on the speedometer console! Turn indicators on the ORVMs are available as an option:

F-A-S-T highway cruiser:

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Old 5th September 2009, 14:44   #3
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“Climb” inside and there is a feeling of spaciousness. The glass area is generous, head room too, and the front & middle rows have superb space. The middle row seats have an adjustable back recline and slide back & forth as well; their high placement further aids comfort. Note that the middle row is optimised for two passengers (NOT three). The middle passenger won’t really feel welcome thanks to a rock hard back rest (armrest housing) and the transmission tunnel. The last row, expectedly, is best suited to kids or short adults. On the design front, you know that the Fortuner is an Innova sibling. By itself, the interiors are screwed together perfectly, but I have honestly grown tired of the number of times I have heard “Innova-like” from some people who saw the car (including potential customers at the Toyota showroom). The Innova-resemblance aside, the interiors are pretty good (when viewed independently). There are plenty of cubby holes & storage spots for the knick knacks. Durability is seemingly high & the interiors are immensely user-friendly in a way that only Toyota & Honda seem to have mastered. In the same breadth, I might add, the interiors are more utilitarian than luxury. Most plastics are hard to the touch. Toyota equips the Fortuner with two airbags (driver + front passenger) and 3 point seatbelts for 6 passengers (Lap belt for the 7th person).

The driving position & ergonomics are spot-on. Controls are intuitive, with the vital ones falling easily to hand. A high-perched seating position offers a clean view of the road ahead. The steering is perfectly sized, not too large nor small. I only wish it were meatier (thicker), right now the width is identical to the one in my OHC Vtec. Also, the Fortuner’s steering only comes with tilt adjustment (none for reach). Audio & MID controls are integrated on the steering wheel itself. Rear visibility is superb, thanks to the large rear windscreen and unique side glasses (instead of a thick D Pillar like in some other SUVs). However, at parking speeds, most people will need the parking sensors (two sensors on the rear bumper), its easy to miss small cars / bikes parked right behind. The projector headlamps are very powerful and aid safe night driving.

The driver's seat has superb lateral support and is height adjustable as well. In fact, the front & middle rows – both – have very supportive seats (covering the entire back area, top to bottom). The front & middle row seats are well contoured. The air-con is an absolute chiller. And yes, there are 4 rear air-con ducts (two each for the 2nd and 3rd seat rows). No air volume control on any individual vents though (including those at the front).

Toyota has obviously prioritized form over function in the Fortuner. There is the the ubiquitous fake wood too:

Innova-style gear shift. Sure slotting transfer case:

The Optitron console (speedo & rpm meters) always stays illuminated, even during the day. Easy to read. Only the speedometer has a chrome-ringed dial:

Sufficient legroom for middle row occupants:

Middle row seats offer excellent back support. Optimised for two:

Electric-fold mirrors, electric adjustment & headlamp leveler:

All 4 doors come with bottle holders + medium sized map pockets (front doors). And fake wood too

Accomodating center glovebox (between the front seats). Deep. Also, there are nifty storage spots around the handbrake area. :

Stereo & climate control are a direct lift from its MUV sibling. Chills the interiors in no time. Standard audio system is a 6 CD (MP3 compatible) changer. However, there isn’t an aux / USB input for your iPod. Note the two storage spots right below the dash aircon vents:

Rear aircon vents:

And rear aircon control:

One of the few modern cars with fantastic rearward visibility (around the sides too):

Click on the thumbnail to see the "37 km/h" clearly. That's the multi information display. You can toggle between the compass, outside temperature, real time fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency, average speed, time spent on the road and distance to empty. Shares real estate with the clock. Again, very "eighties" casio style fonts:

Useful grab handles on the A pillar. The elderly will need them (as also the floor boards):

Cavernous boot area (with third row folded away). The middle row splits in a 60:40 and the last row a 50:50. You can entirely fold away the 2nd & 3rd row of seats when you are moving home:

Couple of hangbags with all rows up:

Third row legroom. Good for kids or small sized adults only:

Sunglass compartment:

Tweeter position on the front door. 6 speakers in total. OEM music system quality = 7 / 10:

Airy interiors:

Front seats are superbly contoured. Fantastic support even over long drives:
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:45   #4
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Engine bay is not that cramped with the 3.0 liter common-rail turbo-charged diesel. Not surprising when you consider that the Fortuner is also sold with a 4.0 liter petrol in some countries. The 3.0 is an overbored variant of the Innova’s 2.5 DID:

First two words that popped out of my mouth when I drove the Fortuner were “torque monster”. The turbo lag is negligible, power delivery extremely linear and the Fortuner pulls clean even from low rpms. It easily gets moving from a standstill in 2nd gear itself. The 3rd gear is a vital tool and urban drivability outstanding. The Fortuner can go down to 25 kph in third, and then chug upward easily from there. The 3rd gear is indeed like an automatic! The 3.0 diesel's mid-range packs a punch, it murdered my Vtec in 40, 60 and 80 kph roll ons. Highway overtaking is a breeze, you don’t even need to downshift most of the time. The Pajero tops out at 150 kph, the Fortuner is still accelerating at that point to its 185 kph (indicated) top speed. The 0 – 100 dash is dismissed off in about 12.5 seconds, excellent by SUV standards. On the outside, the engine is loud in a very utilitarian way. Toyota has used heavy damping material and, at cruising speeds, the engine sound is not a bother. But you will always know that there is a diesel under the hood (especially over 3,500 rpms where it sounds gruff). The engine runs entirely out of breath at 4,500 rpms, and I didn’t see any point revving over 3,800. It is best to work the torque and upshift early. The Fortuner is reasonably fuel efficient for a large SUV running a 3.0 liter engine. Expect 9.5 kpl in the city and 12.5 on the highway.

The gearshift is identical to that of the Innova. Long throws (not a good thing) with the lever shaking each time that you floor the accelerator or take your foot off. A substantial amount of drivetrain movement is transmitted back to the gear lever. This is one of the factors contributing to the Fortuner's "utilitarian" feel.

Within the city, the ride quality is compliant (but firm) & similar to the Innova (below 80 kph). However, out at highway speeds, it’s not a luxurious ride by any standard. The suspension is set firm and you can literally “feel” the road, even on the straight Mumbai-Pune expressway. Uneven roads will see continuous pitching and the ride feels bumpy. The body-on-chassis construction and non-independent rear suspension are to blame here. This is not the car for you if you desire a luxurious chauffeur-driven ride, even though it is better than what the Endeavour & Pajero offer. Further, like most body-on-frames, the ride improves noticeably with load. On a positive note, the Fortuner's body-roll is well controlled (though noticeable), the grip levels from those 265 Dunlop's excellent and even at 150 kph, this SUV feels stable. By SUV standards, the Fortuner is well behaved on the road. At speed, this Toyota can simply smother the worst of Indian roads. There was a particularly rough patch where the Innova ahead of me struggled, I didn’t even have to take my foot off the accelerator. The Fortuner is a terrific mile-muncher, it can eat away highway kms without effort. It's no Honda CRV around corners though (far from it). One can't argue with physics and the Fortuner is tall, in addition to being an old school body-on-frame design. Know its limits around corners and you'll be safe. The hydraulic power steering itself weighs in well as the speedometer needle climbs up, and offers decent feedback too. At 0 kph parking speed, the frail amongst us will feel that the steering requires effort.

A major grouse that all of us had was the spongy brake pedal, and that the rear brakes are drum (not disc) based. Everyone who has driven the Fortuner complains about the brakes & the fact that they need more bite. Outright braking ability is strictly average, you need to exercise caution at speed. Sure, the Endeavour & the Pajero come with a rear drum set up too. But the Captiva has a rear disc setup and the Fortuner could certainly have given it company. In addition, the brakes fade easily after a couple of sessions of hard braking. An ABS system is standard.

Get the Fortuner if you want a workhorse that will last you 3,00,000 – 4,00,000 kms. Sell the SUV earlier and, in all probability, you will get strong residual value. It's a robust truck and Toyota’s body-on-frame diesels are known for their sheer durability. Of course, that’s not to say that the Fortuner is without flaw. High speed ride quality & average braking ability are the biggest, while some may miss the element of luxury in these 20 lakh rupee interiors. Yet, the Fortuner pushes all the hot buttons with its fabulous looks, Toyota badge & reliability, balanced road manners, torquey engine and spacious interiors.

Neatly fitted damping material on the underside of the bonnet:

Top mounted intercooler:

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Old 5th September 2009, 14:45   #5
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The Fortuner comes equipped with Full time 4x4, Torsen (torque sensing) limited slip differential and a dual ratio (high / low) transfer case. The diff is lockable too.

4x4 Drive Options:

Broadly, there are four options on the transfer box (smaller gear lever).

H : Default mode. Running in all time 4x4 with the center diff unlocked. This is what you will use 99% of the time. For tarmac use.

HL : 4x4 with center diff locked. 50:50 torque between the front & rear axles. Do NOT use this mode on tarmac (you will ruin the drivetrain). Best in slush, sand etc.

LL : 4x4, center diff locked, low ratio. Use in extreme offroad applications. Only crawling speeds possible.

N : Neutral. No drive provided to the front or rear wheels. Purpose is to serve as a bridge between High & Low ratio shifts.
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:45   #6
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Other Points:

• Big 80 liter fuel tank can realistically give you anywhere between an 880 – 1000 kms highway driving range.

• The Fortuner is surprisingly easy to drive in the city. Superb drivability at play here. Turning radius of 5.9 meters (smaller than the Endeavour). Perched right above everyone else in traffic, you have a fantastic view. And everyone moves out of the way.

• Over 5,000 bookings received so far (production capacity of 500 monthly being increased to 600). There's a reason why Toyota was able to price the Fortuner so well. There is so much shared between the Fortuner and the 3,000+ units a month Innova! A competitive advantage, something that other low volume SUVs can only dream about. Toyota builds everything from utility vehicles to pickup trucks to SUVs on the same “IMV” platform. The Fortuner is built for the Asian, African and South American markets.

• As good as it is, the Innova’s captain seats (top end V variant) are still a better bet for passengers and the chauffeur-driven. This extends to the Innova versus any 20 lakh SUV.

• The Fortuner is some attention grabber. While driving the SUV out of the showroom, there was a long line of people who wanted a testdrive. Right after, a dude on a scooter comes up and says “This is a Toyota? Captiva khallas”. When we stop to check the tyre pressure, a bunch of dudes come up asking about the Fortuner. Park at my house and the neighbours come down.

• The headlamps have a whitish + bluish tinge to them. Sweet looking (like after-market bulbs).

• Appeals in a very utilitarian – NOT luxurious – way. As BHPian Vivekji05 commented (after a drive), the Fortuner will probably outlast its owner.

• Toyota made a smart marketing move. They intentionally launched the Landcruiser (@ 80 lakhs) 2 months before the Fortuner, raised the premium tag associated with Toyota SUVs and then bring in the Fortuner.

• Black Fortuner + dark tints + alloy & tyre upsize = Ultimate Pimp Machine! Same in white + VIP numberplate = Politician.

• The Fortuner reminds me of the Toyota 4runner in more ways than one. I’ve always been a fan of clean lines, devoid of quirkiness, and feel that the Fortuner's styling will age well.

• Torque delivery is phenomenal. You seldom need to downshift in regular driving conditions. Even when out on the highway.

• Obviously the anti-theft alarm system has impact sensors that work. Ganpati Visarjan fireworks (on 03/09/2009) triggered the horn-based alarm system. Expect the Fortuner to contribute to your Diwali celebrations.

• I’m willing to bet that a spare tyre on the tail-gate is going to be a popular modification. I like the current looks, but a spare tyre mounted SUV-style will take it to another level.

• Don’t let the headlamp designs fool you. These are NOT xenons.

• Without doubt, a good number of potential Accord, Superb & Camry owners will go for the Fortuner. Even though the Fortuner is from an entirely different vehicle category. We got to understand that buying a 20 lakh car is more a want than a need. And the Fortuner packs appeal.

• The heater – whenever it is that you will use it – is only for the front passengers.

• Awesome mid-range can outgun most C+ & D segment petrol sedans.

• Fantastic insulation from exterior sounds. Shut the doors and the outside world stays outside.

• One touch up / down only for the driver’s power window.

• Neat 3 year / 100,000 km standard warranty.

• Doors auto-lock once you start driving.

• The windscreen wash has two sprinkler type sprays. Rear wash wipe works well.

• Rumours abundant that the Fortuner Automatic is coming next year. Update: Fortuner Automatic launched in Dec 2011. Official Review

• Registered as a 7 seater. But thanks to the “2 seater middle row”, the Fortuner is a 6 seater at best.

• Engine has a very enthusiastic starter, rotates ultra-fast.

• You have to look carefully on the side & rear within the city. Low slung sedans / hatches can become invisible, thanks to the Fortuner's tall stance and high window sills.

• Seat leather seems long-lasting. Even the roof rails & subtle rear spoiler feel top quality.

• All three rows have recline-adjustable seats.

• Toyota has recently overtaken Honda in sales, the Fortuner will only take this further. Plus, the Fortuner will give Toyota reasonably good numbers in the 20 lakh segment, something that the CBU priced Camry never really managed.

Last edited by GTO : 1st June 2012 at 09:49. Reason: Added update about the automatic launch
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:46   #7
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The Smaller yet significant things:

When you’re driving, the only part of the bonnet you can see is the hood scoop. Wicked

Cup holders right below the air-con vents. Can keep that Pepsi cool:

Cigarette lighter and a separate 12 volt socket. The two buttons activate the parking sensors and the rear aircon:

Lockable Glovebox is strictly average in size:

Mister, you need bigger brake discs up at the front. Top priority:

Rear wash / wipe mandatory on the highway:

Gives an all new meaning to "tall boys":

Lots of room in the foot tunnel:

Left one for the bonnet, right one for the fuel tank. Note different colours used. "Clicking" too. It's all in the details:

Dead pedal feels like an after-thought. We've used better:

Floor boards a must for the elderly. Remember to remove them if you go offroading:

Bright rear lights. Even the ones on the tail gate light up:

The tripmeter has “casio-style” fonts. Odometer & 2 trip-meters only:

A-pillar not a hindrance to visibility. Green house is generous:

Glass panel between the C & D Pillars improves visibility:

Even the CRV looks puny next to the Fortuner:

Full time 4WD:

Meaty exhaust pipe:

Long key. Keyless entry and panic alarm buttons:

Tapered C pillar & black effect on D pillar:
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:46   #8
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A Pajero owner's perspective:

The following comments are from Byram, a Pajero owner (previous car Subaru Forester) and fellow offroader. Cut-copy-paste of his email:

External Appearance - Fortuner more modern and contemporary. Rounded and more attractive but a bit bulky.

Did not like the boot space which is not a flat surface (staggered to accommodate the seats??)

Solid feel and general feel that the body and trim will not rattle and squeak even with hard use....built to last.

Ergonomically pleasing and logical dashboard layout. Far more modern and feature laden than the Paj.

Well insulated from the road for vibration and noise.

Decent gearbox and shifter falls easily to hand. However vibrates under acceleration.

Engine much smoother (especially considering that it is a new engine) and settles into a relaxed murmur under idle. A bit noisy under acceleration.

DID NOT feel like 50 horses more than the Paj.

Brakes are spongy and do not inspire much confidence.

Did not get an opportunity to test it off road.
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:46   #9
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An ex-Endeavour owner's perspective:

The following comments are from Sidd, aka BHPian R.P.M. Cut-copy-paste of his email:


The fortuner does have dated interiors, but they are far more practical, well laid out than the endeavor. 4 wd also comes as standard (1 lakh option on endy). The front seats of the fortuner are more comfortable and have better lateral support than the endeavor. The middle row of seats of the fortuner also scores over the endeavor, better under thigh support and are slightly softer. The last row are impractical on both cars, they are only for kids.


The fortuner does have more road presence than the old endeavor. But the new soon to be launched endy does look better. The panel gaps and dated build quality of the endeavor are quite evident. The fortuner seems better built and feels like it will last longer and feel tighter after 50k kms.


The 3.0 unit of the fortuner is leagues ahead of the endy, It has much more torque, much less turbo lag and feels a lot quicker. The ingear acceleration is atleast 50% better than the endy. The endeavor has a better gearbox than the fortuner as the gear shifts on the fortuner are too long, there is excessive play in the gears.

Negatives of the fortuner:

Interiors too similar to the innova, they look cheap for a 22lakh suv
Excessive play in the gearbox, gearshifts too long.
Too much noise and vibration filter through the cabin
Basic music sytem.

If I had to choose between the 2 it would definitely be the fortuner primarily because of the cost of ownership, Toyota service network and reliability, better engine, better resale value.
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Old 5th September 2009, 14:54   #10
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Dear GTO,

What a review and amazing pics! Congrats!! Where was this test drive done? Really like the landscape. Avidly following your thread..Please keep it coming..How's the driving experience..What more do you think Toyota should do in the following version of Fortuner..Will you put your money on a Fortuner and why will that be??

Thanks & Cheers

Last edited by AshOnTheRocks : 5th September 2009 at 14:56.
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Old 5th September 2009, 15:02   #11
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Wow..yet again GTO, nice report without any delay.

Looks like a perfect SUV for its price. Suspension and brake seems to be disappointment though.

Probably my next target.

How does it compare with Outlander?
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Old 5th September 2009, 15:02   #12
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Yet another fantastic review. Its been a pleasure for all of us to read your reviews. Keep up the good work bro !
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Old 5th September 2009, 15:06   #13
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very well written GTO.i dont know why everytime i see the fortuner it reminds me of the 08 SUBARU FORESTER.looks like a replica from the front.I own a FORESTER & i feel that the fortuner is an very outdated model.the interiors of the forester were of top quality way back in 2003.the Forester was d-tuned for the indian roads(the biggest draw back)otherwise the forester is a much better car.if we can have a small healthy debate on it to increase my knowledge.
my personal opinion would be an outlander.gone are those days when people asked for the huge tall SUV's.the crossovers are in.i may be wrong for others.

Last edited by nandishpal : 5th September 2009 at 15:09.
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Old 5th September 2009, 15:11   #14
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Great write-up there GTO,

You have covered almost everything and added some really good perspective with the pajero owners and endy ex-owner's views/comparisons!

A few points that i will re-enforce & add :

Most noticeable negatives :
1) The brakes were spongy and provided ZERO feedback. Their performance was average at best.
2) The ride was quite firm (probably a result of efforts to minimize roll), and therefore every undulation in the road was felt - though the soft and comfortable seats help negate this a bit.
3) Dated and boring looking center console, there are no "luxuries" here.
4) The horn is an absolute joke. It would barely be fit for an alto.
5) The view of the Fortuner's rear is a bit disappointing, in the sense that it is very MUV like.
6) Slotting into 3rd gear was a bit harder than the other gears.

Most noticeable positives :
1) Great looking in person, i especially like this shade of grey! The hoodscoop, the clearlens lights and nice amounts of chrome on the front.
2) The seats are very comfortable, great lateral support as mentioned.
3) Torque plateau between 1.4k and 3.4k RPM makes acceleration effortless. As an Innova owner i can say that there is a huge difference between the two engines when it comes to power delivery.
4) Well insulated cabin keeps the sound out (as long as you are not lugging the engine) and the difference between traveling at 90kmph and 150kmph is barely noticeable.
5) Solid build quality levels outside and inside. Nothing has a cheap feel.
6) Like everything Toyota "it just works".


Last edited by Rehaan : 5th September 2009 at 15:29.
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Old 5th September 2009, 15:22   #15
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As always, great review GTO and excellent snaps to compliment the same.
Saw a black one at Powai a couple of days back and it really look tall and menacing.
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