In a land where the Sport utility Vehicle (SUV) is worshipped, the Toyota Fortuner reigns supreme as the go-to deity. Calling this SUV’s meteoric rise a “success” would be likely seen as insulting, so let us call it a super-duper mega-hit for now. While the Japanese carmaker has worked its magic on the car-buying public in the country for a while, the outgoing model could do with some cosmetic upgrades. That is exactly what Toyota is likely to do when it brings in the 2021 Fortuner to our market sometime early next year. In fact, the facelifted iteration of Toyota’s star SUV has just been launched in Thailand. And by its looks, it is clear that the company has bathed it in some make-up to spice things up a bit.
The same treatment is very likely to be applied to the India-bound Fortuner as well, though I expect some minor changes will be made. While the Fortuner is well-liked in many Asian countries (including Thailand), Indian taste buds are different from those of our Thai friends. Of course, this being just a facelift, we might be fooled into believing that Toyota will leave it at that – just another make-up routine. However, if we are lucky, the Indian-spec model might come with the same powerplant being offered with the 2021 Thai-spec Fortuner. So, how does the beating heart of the new model stack up?
Well, to begin with, the Thai-spec Fortuner brings more power to the table over its predecessor. India’s outgoing avatar comes with a 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, which produces 175hp and 450Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the new Fortuner upgraded motor churns out a meatier 201hp and 500Nm of maximum torque – the latter representing a respectable bump in the twisting force at the crank. Toyota has also been able to reduce the engine’s idling speed from 850 rpm down to 680 rpm. Another improvement can be seen in the peak torque delivery range of this 2.8-liter mill. It can now develop 500Nm to 2,600 rpm, which is 200 revs higher than in the current unit.
As for the transmission, the 2021 Toyota Fortuner will probably come with the same 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic gearbox options as the outgoing model. Design-wise, the exterior of the facelifted iteration features some tweaks to make the SUV look even more intimidating. The front fascia in the Thai-spec model sports a larger, more formidable-looking grille with a triple-slat mesh pattern. The sleek projector headlamps have been redesigned and now get newer LED DRLs, while the revised bumper integrates larger faux intakes and a silver skid plate. The alloy wheels have been updated too, and the 18-inchers look fairly good. However, the 20-inch rims in the top-spec Legender trim have far more curb appeal. But these larger wheels will not be making it to India. The rear of the 2021 Fortuner remains more or less similar to the current-gen model, though it does get fancier LED tail lamps.
The facelift might also bring some new colors to the Toyota Fortuner range when it comes to India. Some of the newer tones include Dark Blue Mica and Emotional Red, though these are the colors that the Thai market gets. As for the 2021 Toyota Fortuner interior, it doesn’t seem to be altered in any significant way. While the Thai-spec car comes with a larger 9.0-inch touch-infotainment display, we in India will likely be stuck with an 8.0-inch system. The facelift will benefit from a slightly redesigned instrument cluster, along with nifty features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a surround-view camera system, wireless smartphone charger, ambient lighting, and an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Toyota’s build quality and fit-and-finish in the Fortuner have been improved over the years, and one can only expect things to get better with future releases. However, this is not to say that the Fortuner cabin is “premium” in the actual sense of the word. In fact, some lesser-priced but more contemporary crossovers currently on sale actually offer better quality materials and interior design. But I doubt die-hard fans of the nameplate will let that kind of silly reasoning affect their purchasing decision. Toyota India hasn’t mentioned the upcoming Fortuner facelift’s launch date, but it will reach our shores before the facelifted Innova Crysta does.