I’m pretty sure that Toyota has done exhaustive market research in order to warrant the introduction of not one, but two range-topping variants of the popular Fortuner SUV. Save for a few aesthetic and mechanical differences, the LTD and the GR-S are very much identical vehicles. Both have Toyota Safety Sense and the more powerful version of the 1GD-FTV turbodiesel.
Now, I like TSS and the uprated engine. But the bling packages that come with the LTD and the GR-S aren’t really up my alley. I want a Fortuner that’s just as loaded, but doesn’t scream for attention with two-tone paint jobs and sporty badges. This is where the Q variant comes in.
The Fortuner has been around for about seven years, and its competitors have not managed to take its crown as the top seller of its category. Still, a little facelift wouldn’t hurt, and the 2020 update gave the model a new front end with larger air dams and revised lighting. The design is practically similar across the range (except for the LTD and the GR-S), and the Q now has LED daytime running lights and turn signals.
The Q also gets the greatest number of color choices. But in keeping with its stately theme, the hues are all in intermediate shades of black and white. It looks good though, and the Silver Metallic 3 paint job of the vehicle you see here pairs well with the 18-inch wheels that are exclusive to this trim level. Additionally, the Q’s subtle chrome accents on the grille and door handles give the car just the right amount of bling.
Jump inside the Fortuner Q and you’ll be greeted with plain black leather seats. These are a lot easier on the eye than the maroon-accented ones on pricier variants. The driving position and the gauges more or less mimic those of the Hilux, so the Fortuner gets a slightly different dashboard with soft-touch surfaces that give the cockpit an upmarket feel.
The nice thing about the Q is that it practically has the same toys as its range-topping brethren. The infotainment system has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 360° camera. It doesn’t have JBL speakers, but that’s just an excuse to get decent ones from aftermarket suppliers. It is also equipped with a wireless charger and a dual-zone climate control. A quick look at the spec sheet will have buyers seriously questioning the point of going for the more expensive LTD and GR-S.
Second-row passengers get access to sliding and reclining seats, as well as a pair of USB charging points. It’s the third row where I think the Fortuner seems to fall behind. Other manufacturers have found a way to make third-row seats disappear into the floor. But the ones on the Fortuner are hinged on the sides and are stowed by being lifted up against the windows. As a result, the cargo area is not as wide as it can be.
I was looking forward to seeing how the uprated 1GD-FTV engine performs. After all, my personal Hiace uses the same motor (albeit with less power). Just like my vehicle, throttle response is still far too eager when setting off from a complete stop. But the 2.8-liter turbodiesel is surprisingly smooth from idle all the way to the redline. It’s not as noisy and as truck-like as the smaller 2.4-liter 2GD-FTV.
Even though I have no idea how the pre-facelift Fortuner performs under hard acceleration, 201hp and 500Nm are definitely no slouch. While competing brands are giving their vehicles eight- and 10-speed transmissions in a bid to eke more straight-line grunt and fuel economy, the Toyota’s six-speed automatic gearbox is already adequate. It keeps the engine hovering within its torque band, and it doesn’t hunt for ratios when maintaining speed.
For me, one thing that the Q deserves is four-wheel drive. Only the LTD and the GR-S have it, and I doubt that those vehicles will see a muddy trail or a river crossing. It is highly likely that owners will not risk subjecting their cars to such abuse. But the Q isn’t as fancy and expensive as those two trim levels, so it is the more ideal platform for modifications for off-road use. If Toyota could equip only one variant with 4WD, it has to be the Q.
It was my first time driving any Fortuner, and I was preparing myself for the rough ride that so many people have been telling me about. Admittedly, the damping could be smoother. The Hilux platform isn’t doing the vehicle any favors when it comes to ride quality, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Toyota still has some work to do in terms of suspension tuning, but getting the tire pressure just right will definitely alleviate some of the harshness.
The tiller is a little hard to turn, and the Fortuner seems to suffer from a lack of steering angle just like the Hilux. The thing simply can’t take U-turns as tight as its rivals, and this definitely affects its usability in the city. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but I do hope that Toyota will look into this matter when it develops the next-generation model.
Obviously, Toyota Safety Sense is something that I cannot test in practice (unless I want to become enemies with the dude who lent me the vehicle). But again, the Q gets the same suite as the LTD and the GR-S. And with a significantly lower price point that starts at P2,043,000, what’s not to like? It looks dignified and understated, but it can still work and play hard. It’s the member of the Fortuner family that gets everything just right.
TOYOTA FORTUNER Q AT
|2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel
|201hp @ 3,400rpm
|500Nm @ 1,600-2,800rpm
|4,795mm x 1,855mm x 1,835mm
|P2,043,000 (P2,058,000 for Platinum White Pearl Mica and Sparkling Black Pearl Crystal Shine)
|The Q has the top-dog Fortuner’s toys in a pleasantly understated package.
|The suspension needs more work, and this variant deserves four-wheel drive.