IT’S safe to say Toyota has a history of knowing what they’re doing when it comes to building cars. But the Fortuner GX we’re testing here has a bit of a shady past. One that involves some controversy over diesel particulate filters (DPF).
But true to their word, the Japanese car maker has gone about resolving that issue for 2021, which is good news for the Feverish Red entry level GX variant we’re putting through its paces.
Toyota has stuck with the 2.8-litre turbo diesel power plant, having resolved its DPF engine eating issues, extracting an extra 20kW of power (now 150kW) and 50Nm of torque (500Nm) along the way.
The 7-seat Fortuner range’s extra get up and go comes from a larger water cooled heavy duty ball bearing turbocharger, with the whole combination putting its power down on the black-top through a 6-speed automatic transmission.
It hasn’t come at the expense of fuel economy either, with Toyota actually able to reduce that to a claimed 7.6-litres/100km. Combine that consumption with an 80-litre fuel tank and theoretically you should see a range of more than 1,000km. Not bad at all.
The Fortuner now also comes with a display gauge within the multi-display instrument cluster to show what level the DPF is at too, just to give you piece of mind. Towing capacity is up by 300kg too, bringing braked capability to 3100kg.
A rear differential lock continues as standard, which enhances off-road performance, and also gains a RedArc Tow-Pro controller. On-road, the Fortuner feels even more planted than before, with improved steering a noticeable power increase.
There is still a lot of engine and road noise into the cabin, which while disappointing, is something we’ve come to expect from Toyota. Cornering feels more direct, and is very much a point and shoot scenario.
It’s no race car, but you can still manoeuvre swiftly when you need to, even at lower speeds. Off-road steering and control feels more precise and you now know where your wheels are through every rut or bog-hole.
On the outside, you can see that the 2021 range has benefited from some better exterior styling, including a revised front end. It now sports a large black grille, tied together with a restyled lower front bar, which has been divided to produce a skid-plate.
All this and a few minor changes at the rear makes for a tougher, more integrated look. It was something the Fortuner really needed. The GX retains its 17-inch alloy wheels, seen with the previous generation.
But the biggest change is inside, where the base model now features a grey fabric trim, replacing the awful brown of the previous generation. It’s a little light for our liking, and oddly, the brown remains on the internal door handles.
Tie that to the black dash and mostly black door cards, and it all feels a little messy. Second row seats retain their 60/40 tumble and slide functionality, making it easy to access the third row from both rear passenger doors.
The dash and instrument cluster have had some new satin touches, while the 4.2-inch multi-information display now provides front-tyre angle (for off-road).
The 2021 Fortuner GX also has a new 8.0-inch multimedia screen, which is positioned well in the dash. Operated by buttons rather than by touch, it’s easier to use, and finally incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The GX can be optioned with satellite navigation and DAB+ digital radio, and in a testament to its base model status, comes with a real key and old school ignition. Toyota does have family safety top of mind though, with a 5-star ANCAP rating on the Fortuner.
Advanced Toyota Safety Sense technologies including pre-collision safety with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (daytime) detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist and active radar cruise control, all standard.
The 2021 Toyota Fortuner GX has had a bit of a nip-tuck, been given a stronger heartbeat, with some new tech thrown into the mix, for what is now a much more solid vehicle. It’s perfect for off the beaten track motoring.
But all the good technology and a heap of nice bits are aboard the GXL and Crusade variants that sit above this one. That’s the downside. The upside is that this is obviously the most affordable option, at $49,080 plus on roads.
The 2021 Toyota Fortuner GX is available in Feverish Red, Glacier White, Silver Sky, Graphite, Eclipse Black, Phantom Brown and Saturn Blue. It comes with Toyota’s 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Toyota Fortuner GX, contact your local Toyota dealer.