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Reviewed: Toyota Fortuner 5-speed AT

Driven April 2013

Reviewed: Toyota Fortuner 5-speed AT

Before you start reacting to the altered looks of the Toyota Fortuner featured here, we’ll clear a few things: it’s not on these pages just for some add-on bits, but a proper new gearbox. The SUV featured here sports additional skirting, and some of the chrome bits outside are to be paid for at the dealership as accessories. And it’s different from the factory-fitted TRD Sportivo package variant that was launched alongside the five-speed automatic Fortuner.

Now back to the new gearbox then. Toyota has replaced the Fortuner’s four-speed auto ’box with a new five-speed unit in the 4x2 AT variant. So, that’s four regular forward gears plus one overdrive now. The new ’box isn’t an all-new unit, though. In an era when carmakers are offering their products with six- and seven-speed auto ’boxes, Toyota still seems content with a five-speed ’box; no tiptronic, no paddle shifters. Just an ordinary auto ’box that thinks old-school – try pushing off in ‘L’ mode from standstill – the gear lever needs to be slotted seven times before you shift from ‘P’ to ‘L’. That’s a bit too much.

So what does the new ’box do better compared to the earlier four-speed one? Our initial impressions of driving the updated SUV in Mumbai’s stop-go traffic left us with mixed reactions. With power available from as low as 1400rpm, the new ’box does feel slightly more responsive in city conditions and you can drive around town with the engine running close to 1800rpm with part-throttle input.

Ask for more performance and the gearbox downshifts dutifully, but don’t expect any DSG-style reactions here. The new gearbox takes its own time to react too, especially while downshifting.

An annoying bit that gets carried over from the old gearbox is that once you’re off the throttle, the motor starts idling and denies you any sort of engine braking, although a tap of the right foot gets it back to life pretty quickly. With an extra fifth gear, the motor feels more relaxed beyond triple-digit speeds and it should improve overall economy. The ARAI figure is 11.88kpl. So, the real-world figure may not be too far from the four-speed’s 8.7kpl.

To be able to tell the difference between the old four-speed and the new five-speed auto ’box, you need to drive them back-to-back – they’re that similar on the road.

In automatic guise, the Fortuner would make for an obvious choice if it had more features and gizmos for the new-age buyer. At Rs 22.33 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), it’s an expensive proposition, worth looking at only if you need seven proper seats.

The numbers
2982cc, 4-in-line, common-rail, turbo-diesel, 168bhp, 343Nm, 5A, RWD, 1885kg, Rs 22.33 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict
The new gearbox feels marginally more responsive, but is still quite jerky

Devesh ShobhaBook Now

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