Published on September 19, 2007
The Toyota Fortuner pickup passenger vehicle (PPV) has been around for quite a while, and along the way Toyota has been continuously offering different versions of it, to stimulate the market.
The latest version to come from this pickup-based vehicle is the 2.7V 2WD (two-wheel-drive), which is targeted at those who want a petrol-powered PPV but don't need four-wheel-drive.
Being presented as something of a luxury ride by a cute-looking celebrity, "Pancake" (I honestly don't know her name and am not interested in finding out), the 2.7V 2WD should appeal to city dwellers who want a large vehicle that can also double as a weekend ride for travel upcountry.
To start with, the Fortuner is a good-looking PPV, something that reminds you of a cheap Lexus sport-utility vehicle. In terms of design, you simply have no clue that this is a product derived from a 1-tonne pickup.
There is plenty of space inside, as well as a large luggage area that can be expanded when the rear-seat backrests are folded. In the second-row seats, the backrests can also be reclined for added comfort, and the seat cushion can be moved forwards or backwards. The backrests on the third-row seats can also be reclined.
Unlike passenger cars, which have limited luggage capacity, the Fortuner can travel upcountry with the family and bring back lots of stuff; things that won't fit in the trunk of a car, such as furniture, plants or a pair of fully grown Golden Retrievers.
Since there is no four-wheel-drive system, the Fortuner 2.7V 2WD is not a vehicle you would want to take for extreme off-roading. But then, how many owners of four-wheel-drive Fortuners would? Perhaps 1 per cent. Just ask any of your friends who drive a Fortuner to recall the last time they really needed to shift into 4-hi or 4-lo - not just using 4-hi to drive in the rain, but rather to go through loose gravel or knee-deep mud or across large rocks.
Customers do not buy Fortuners to go off-roading, but rather to own a large vehicle that can carry lots of stuff and people, thanks to the two extra foldable seats in the luggage area.
They may also buy one just to be trendy, because their neighbours and friends already have one. Perhaps some people want a vehicle with high ride height, so that they can see clearly up ahead, and let's not forget those with sick minds who want a big vehicle simply to block the view of those following, so they won't be overtaken too easily.
Without the four-wheel-drive system, the price is also lower, which is another good reason to go for this two-wheel-drive version. The Fortuner 2.7V 2WD retails at Bt1.096 million, compared with Bt1.156 million for the 2.7V 4WD.
But why would anyone want to buy the petrol version when the diesel version, powered by a 163-horsepower commonrail engine with as much as 343Nm of torque, is brilliant in terms of performance, and the fuel economy is surely better, as well? It seems many Thais simply hate the sound of the diesel engine, and somehow I agree.
It's that rat-a-tat-tat noise that makes you think of a pickup. Maybe Pancake wouldn't like to make a poor impression by driving a diesel-powered Fortuner to an event at a five-star hotel.
The petrol engine of the 2.7V is a four-cylinder twin cam with 16 valves plus VVT-I, which is definitely smoother and less noisy than the diesel. But although maximum power is about the same, at 160hp, there is much less torque - only 241Nm.
As a result, you need to plant the accelerator pretty deeply to get the truck moving (the Fortuner is based on the Hilux Vigo pickup but gets coil-spring suspension, to give it a more acceptable ride).
The price you pay is definitely the rather high fuel consumption. I did not get a chance to measure the fuel consumption, but you can take my word that when you see the fuel bills, you won't be happy.
The fact is this is a big vehicle. It weighs no less than 1,700 kilograms - or even more if you start customising it with a club-level audio system or other heavy accessories. There is no way you can expect fuel consumption at the level of a passenger car weighing 1,200kgs.
While driving long distances, perhaps you can make use of the momentum, be gentle with the throttle and squeeze out a reasonable fuel consumption, but in stop-and-go Bangkok traffic conditions, it is just impossible to tame its appetite for petrol.
However, there are customers who don't care about fuel consumption. They just want their PPV to be smooth and quiet. Perhaps their company takes care of the fuel bills, or they simply have lots of money. These are the people who will love the 2.7V.
The four-speed transmission is also smooth-shifting, another refinement that adds to the appeal of the 2.7V. And being a heavy vehicle, the brakes have been upgraded to the extent that you won't develop extra leg muscles to stop the Fortuner.
Actually, if I hadn't had to refuel the 2.7V, it would have been quite a nice vehicle to drive around in. It's comfortable, the interior is good-looking, and the visibility is good, thanks to the high ride (who cares about the cars in the back anyway?).
You get a multifunctional steering wheel, trip computer, MP3-compatible audio system, automatic climate control (with a separate system for the rear), dual front air bags, seat belts for all seven seats, powered windows and mirrors, remote entry, anti-theft alarm and side steps.
But roof racks, rear spoiler with third brake light, leather upholstery, CD changer and parking sensor (highly recommended) are optional.
If you don't order the parking sensor, just make sure you don't mistake the beeping sound when the gear is in reverse for the back-up sensor; otherwise, you'll surely crash into something. The continuous beeps are simply a reminder you have shifted into reverse, and it happens in all Toyota models with automatic transmission. I have always wondered why they would want to remind me I have moved the gearshift lever into R and that the vehicle is moving backwards as I release the brakes.
The Fortuner 2.7V 2WD is proof that Toyota is big enough to offer a large variation in each of its models, which gives its customers a wider choice. Since it was introduced, the Fortuner has quickly become the best-selling PPV, dominating the market and leaving the competition far behind.
With so many versions to choose from, Toyota is making sure they leave no customers behind, and the Fortuner will remain the most popular PPV in years to come.
Toyota Fortuner 2.7V 2WD
Engine: Four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve
Bore and stroke: 95mm x 95mm
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Max power: 160hp at 5,200rpm
Max torque: 241Nm at 3,800rpm
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Final-drive ratio: 4.555
Suspension (f/r): Double wishbone,
coil spring, stabiliser/four-link, coil spring
Steering: Powered rack and pinion
Min turn: 11.2 metres
Wheels: 7 x 16in alloy
Tires: 265/70 R16
Track (f/r): 1,540/1,540
Ground clearance: 230
Price: Bt1.096 million
Distributor: Toyota Motor Thailand
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.