Toyota Fortuner owners (and Land Rover drivers, for that matter) can do two things most other motorists cannot: They can intimidate smaller vehicles, and traverse roads flooded in water deep enough to swallow a compact hatchback. The former “talent” is useful considering the maddening traffic situation caused by the ever-swelling population of vehicles, while the latter is priceless in the face of Singapore’s sudden thunderstorms.
Giving the Fortuner its ability to tower over many other cars is its 1850mm height (with roof rails), which is even taller than the commanding 1841mm Land Rover Discovery 4.
Stature aside, the Fortuner also has a generous ground clearance of 220mm that makes short work of most obstacles. This comes courtesy of its ladder chassis, which also underpins its sibling, the indestructible Hilux pickup.
Unlike its workhorse stablemate, the Fortuner is meant to ferry up to seven passengers comfortably (only children should sit on the rearmost pair of seats, though) while negotiating our concrete jungle.
The cosmetic rather than mechanical update reflects its purpose as a suburban utility vehicle – the redesigned front grille, bumpers and headlamps all serve to add a dose of sleekness to its truck-like looks. Those “Altezza” tail-lights, however, have long gone out of fashion, and their shiny presence on the Fortuner is rather unfortunate (no pun intended).
Fortunately, the changes to the interior (again, no pun intended) fare a whole lot better. Gone is the light brown wood trim of the pre-facelift model, replaced by black-coloured wood that adds a touch of welcome refinement to the otherwise plain cabin.
Also new are the steering wheel (similar to the one in the Toyota Corolla Altis) and gearshift lever, which both give the cockpit a more “car-like” feel. Another worthy addition is the redesigned instrument meters, which have turquoise backlighting that evokes a modern feel.
Soldiering on are the Fortuner’s 2.7-litre engine and 4-speed automatic gearbox. The motor’s power delivery and transmission shifts remain smooth enough, but given the vehicle’s weight, you’ll still need to be lead-footed in order to make good progress.
An updated drivetrain would go a long way towards making the Fortuner a better drive, but in the meantime, this is it for drivers seeking a cost-effective yet brawny SUV to conquer the roads of Singapore.
Toyota Fortuner 2.7 (A)
ENGINE 2694cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 161bhp at 5200rpm
MAX TORQUE 241Nm at 3800rpm
GEARBOX 4-speed automatic
0-100KM/H 12.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 170km/h
PRICE INCL. COE $151,988
Check out the latest Toyota Fortuner