#MONSOONTRAILS – TOYOTA FORTUNER

July has been the wettest month in the last 110 years, for areas in and around Mumbai, Thane and Pune. Which is great news! Because the moment Maharashtra doesn’t receive enough rainfall, all sorts of prayers and rituals are observed by the local population to please the rain gods! That’s how much reverence we give to the rains in India.6The monsoons are also a great time to test and review SUV’s. Vehicles that are designed for all weather driving. As part of my series #MonsoonTrails this week I travelled out of town with the Toyota Fortuner. A SUV that was launched in India in 2009. It was instantly lapped up by the customers and hasn’t looked back since then.

Tall stance, imposing in looks the Fortuner is built on the Hilux Pickup Truck Platform. It is sold in different markets world over under different names.10.jpgToyota has played a big role in redefining the way modern SUV’s are designed and manufactured worldwide. With everything Japanese, the emphasis will always be on manufacturing vehicles that are extremely efficient and easy to maintain.

The latest version of the Fortuner extends upon that. My first experience with this model of the Fortuner was at the media drive in Cochin over 2 years back in the monsoon season. While the drive to a tea estate was a short round about trip of just 200 kms, one immediately got an idea of the capabilities of the car. Driving it over wet hilly terrain, where the roads are narrow with tight sharp bends was a fun experience. Having owned a Qualis in the past for 3 years, I have experienced first-hand how good Toyota cars are.74.jpgThis model of the Fortuner is sleeker looking in comparison to its predecessor. It comes with two engine options 2.7 litre petrol and 2.8 litre diesel.  Manual and automatic transmission are standard to both petrol and diesel variants. The one I drove was the 2.8 litre diesel automatic. You start the engine and immediately the grunt of the powerful 2.8 litre that makes 175 bhp and 45.8 kgm of torque can be felt.COLLAGE-4-2.jpgThe infotainment system comes with Bluetooth, apple car play and android auto connectivity. The upholstery is of good quality and finish. Seats are very comfortable with good lumbar and under thigh support.  There is ample leg room in the second row. The third row is a little tight in terms of leg room, its ideal and comfortable for a person of average height.COLLAGE-5-1.jpgThe Toyota Fortuner comes loaded with a plenty of safety features such as dual front SRS airbags (driver + passenger), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) system, 15-inches front disc brakes, GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) body, Vehicle stability control (VSC), shift lock system, immobilizer, back sonar, seatbelts (front – 3-point ELR x 2 with adjustable anchor, 2nd row – three-point ELR x 2 + 2-point NR x1 and 3rd row – 3-point ELR x2), multi reflector quad headlamps and high mounted LED tail lamps.2.jpg8.jpgThe Fortuner is one of the easiest SUV’s I have ever driven. This is testimony to how Toyota designs its cars. The engine isn’t high stressed and maneuvering one’s way in bumper to bumper traffic is easy; but the highway is where the Fortuner comes into its own.

The gearbox is a bit slow to respond. The reason is like all Toyota vehicles, the Fortuner has long gear ratios. The Fortuner comes with 2 driving modes. Eco and Power. Power is the mode one would tend to use on empty stretches on the highway where the engine responds in a more urgent fashion. Eco mode is the one most will drive in the city for a more efficient and relaxed driving experience.

I spent a lot of time driving on hilly terrain with lots of sharp bends during this review in extremely wet conditions. The Fortuner negotiated these easily without any noticeable body roll one would expect in cars that are this tall and big.

The road conditions in the monsoon can go from good to worse in a matter of minutes. Potholes of all sizes and shapes appear out of nowhere. I also drove over lots of off-road sections. Did this make any difference to the Fortuner? Not at all!

The SUV handled these conditions with consummate ease with the suspension setup working efficiently to ensure the passengers in the car feel no discomfort.9.jpgThe SUV ticks all the right boxes in terms of drivability, comfort and luxury along with the fact that Toyota cars are built to last. Upgrading to the latest model is not a problem too. The Fortuner commands a great resale value and is easy to sell. So, it’s no surprise that the Fortuner sells the most numbers in its category. The competition is a fair distance away to challenge the Fortuner’s dominance in the Indian market.

Toyota Fortuner prices for the2.8 2WD MT(Diesel) (Base Model) start at Rs.29,84,000/- ex showroom Mumbai and 2.7 2WD MT(Petrol) (Base Model) starts at Rs.27,83,000/- ex-showroom Mumbai.

Prices for Automatic Transmission start at Rs.33,60,000 ex-showroom for the 2.8 4WD AT(Diesel) (Top Model) and Rs.29,42,000 for the2.7 2WD AT(Petrol) (Top Model).

TOYOTA YARIS – DRIVING MADE EASY

Toyota is well known for making solid, efficient cars that last forever. That’s the reason Toyota is amongst the top 3 auto manufacturers worldwide. Their cars have an everlasting brand value about that.

In India so far, the cars that have been bestsellers for them have been the Qualis, Innova and Fortuner. Their range of sedans and hatchbacks haven’t exactly set the sales charts on fire.IMG01.jpgThe Toyota Yaris was first introduced worldwide in 1999 under the name of the Toyota Echo. This was a time when the demand for fuel – efficient cars was on the upswing. In 2005 the name was changed globally to Toyota Yaris. The Yaris quickly became popular establishing itself as one of the top choices in the subcompact car segment.

As soon as you enter the Yaris, the all-round familiarity of a Toyota greets you. The cabin is nice looking, with beige coloured leather seats and black upholstery. The seats are well contoured, comfortable and offer good under thigh support.COLLAGE int 1 copyPress the start button and the car kicks to life quietly. There’s a relaxed tranquility about the way the Yaris sounds like while idling. Shift into Drive mode, press on the gas and the 1st thing you experience is how easy the car feels to drive. Toyota is known for having cars that possess a characteristic of underlying ease in terms of driving. The Yaris is no different.

In the first 10 minutes of driving the car, one thing was obvious… Toyota has designed this car to be the ideal vehicle to drive in the horrendous traffic in the city. The engine is responsive enough, with a smooth CVT transmission. It’s perfectly at home in the stop-go traffic, going about its job in an efficient fashion.

The quality of our roads isn’t the best. That didn’t bother the Yaris one bit. It went over potholes, unpaved, broken stretches of road without any fuss. The ride quality is top notch. The suspension has been perfectly setup for our roads, the relatively tall tyres providing the right amount of cushioning to make the daily drive a hassle-free activity.

So, what makes the Yaris stand out in the crowd?

Toyota understands that driving in the city is a pain. Drivers are looking for a vehicle that goes about it’s task in a smooth fashion. The visibility on offer is very good, the dimensions of the car are compact enough, the design language is sharp. Legroom on offer in the back row is adequate.COLLAGE 2 copy.jpgThe throttle response and braking are sharp and precise, the CVT transmission is very smooth and  probably one of the best in the business.

The Yaris comes equipped with roof mounted air-conditioner vents which are a blessing in the peak of summer, offering consistent cooling in 40-degree temperatures. The infotainment system is decent with Bluetooth connectivity, one USB charging port and a CD player. I haven’t seen a CD player in a very long, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a car that comes with this! There are a few 12V mobile charging points available too.

But no review is complete without the mandatory highway test where one gets to experience the full range of the engine’s capacity and performance. The Yaris is a car that takes a tad bit to respond when you start accelerating. While this aspect is fine in the city, on the highway you want the car to respond in a brisker fashion. Overtaking is a bit of a task courtesy the flat mid-range of the engine.

The Yaris is extremely steady and planted at triple digit speeds. The CVT comes equipped with paddle shifters which were used quite often when trying to extract more power out of the 1.5 litre engine. The fuel efficiency figures in the Yaris are very good. Over the 400 kms I drove on this review, it returned an average of 10.5 kpl in traffic. On the highway the efficiency went up with the Yaris returning figures of 16kpl.

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The Yaris is definitely a car I would like to drive again albeit for a longer period. Its smooth, hassle free character is endearing, the size perfect for our roads.

The technical specifications of the Yaris VX CVT that I drove are stated below.

  • Fuel Type: Petrol, Engine(cc):1496, Max Power: 105.5bhp@6000rpm
  • Max Torque: 140Nm@4200rpm
  • Seating: 5 persons
  • Engine Description: 1.5-litre 105.5bhp 16V Dual VVT-i Petrol Engine
  • Transmission Type: Automatic
  • Cargo Volume: 476 Litres

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The pricing for the Toyota Yaris J manual starts at Rs 9.30 lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai, the J model CVT starts at Rs 10 lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.

TOYOTA INNOVA CRYSTA-THE BESTSELLER

Showcased first at Auto Expo 2016, the Innova Crysta was the start of a new journey for the Toyota Innova which was the most accepted MPV in India ever since it was launched in 2004.

The Innova Crysta launched with a bang. It has managed to clock sales figures of over 2.25 lakhs units to date and counting. The Crysta is the bestseller in the Toyota line-up in India.

The Toyota Innova Crysta commands a market share of 40% in this segment. An average of 70,000 Innova Crysta’s are sold in India annually. It is manufactured as a CKD unit at Toyota’s Bidadi Plant.

Why is it that Indians have taken to this MPV and showered it with so much love and appreciation?

The answer is very simple. The ownership cycle is very relaxing and hassle free. Something an India car buyer places lot of importance on, while buying a car.

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The Crysta has a sweeping look going across from the front to the rear. Toyota has added 17-inch rims and a very prominent crease to the Crysta compared to its predecessor. The hexagonal grille on the front, angular projector headlamps with DRL’s add to the contemporary styling of the car. The Crysta weighs 200 kgs more than the older model. Length wise too its 180mm longer, 60mm wider and 40mm taller than the old Innova.

The cabin inside is spacious, styled well with a nice-looking dashboard. This is like the one available on the Fortuner. There is a single piece of metal strip, which runs across the top of the dashboard giving it a premium look. The visibility on offer from the high front seats is very good.collage int2.jpgThe touchscreen is large and easy to use.  The blue back-lit instrument cluster is a nice addition. USB and aux-in ports are placed in the middle for easy access for both front and rear passengers. The touchscreen offers information like satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, music system, and volume controls.collage int1.jpgThe model we drove was the top end variant which came with brown leather seats. The armrest on the door-pad comes in a soft velvet fabric. The steering wheel is chunky looking, comes in a leather wrapping with control buttons on either side. The contoured front bucket seats are very comfortable, offer good under thigh support. Space in the second row is equally good with lots of legroom on offer. The third row seating is ideal for someone on the shorter side. I drove in extremely hot conditions during this review and was very pleased with the performance of the ac. Cooling was fast and efficient.

The Innova Crysta comes with a 2.8-litre engine, which puts out 174bhp at 3400rpm and 360Nm of torque between 1200rpm and 3400rpm. There are 2 driving modes on offer. Eco and Power. Eco is the mode one would use most times while driving in the city. Power mode comes into play on road trips where you have empty stretches of highway to drive on.

The top end Innova Crysta we drove comes with seven airbags, ABS, brake assist, ESP and hill-start assist. Overall all the Crysta models get three airbags for driver, passenger and driver knee airbag and ABS standard across the range.

HOW IS IT TO DRIVE?

The first thing you notice is how easy the Crysta is to drive. For a car of this size its very light and nimble. Toyota is known for making their cars comfortable to handle, which explains why the car is popular with both private owners and car rental companies.collage ext 1.jpgThe automatic transmission is smooth. Both upshift and downshift happen without any noticeable lag.

I started in Eco mode where the engine was calm and docile. The moment I shifted to power mode, the engine became more free revving, getting to three-digit speeds was done easily. Ride quality and suspension on the Crysta is impressive. I encountered all sort of roads during this review. The Crysta handles smooth and rough roads with equal ease.

The Crysta is a car that one can drive easily in traffic and on highways, returns good fuel efficiency numbers and comes with the Toyota brand of assurance.Toyota cars are always built to last, have great ownership stories attached to them and are always in demand in the used car market.

If these points are the criteria for your next car buy, then the Innova Crysta ticks all the right boxes.

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The Innova Crysta is priced at Rs 18.4 lakhs for the 2.7 GX 7 STR Petrol Manual. The Innova Crysta Diesel Manual 2.4 G Plus STR is priced at Rs 19.23 Lakhs, Innova Crysta Petrol Automatic 2.7 GX AT STR is priced  at Rs 19.53 Lakhs  and Innova Crysta Diesel Automatic 2.8 GX AT 7 STR is prices at  Rs 21.35 Lakhs. All prices are on-road Mumbai.

TOYOTA FORTUNER – THE CROWD FAVOURITE

Toyota has played a big role in redefining the way modern SUV’s are designed and manufactured. With everything Japanese the emphasis will always be on manufacturing vehicles that are extremely efficient and easy to maintain. Having driven quite a few Toyota SUV’s when I was living in Canada I can vouch for their quality and efficiency.COLLAGE 1.jpgThe Fortuner was launched in India in 2009. Toyota tasted great success with the Qualis and the Innova. When they launched their first SUV in the market expectations were high. And those were met. The Fortuner was an instant success and has remained one ever since.

Tall stance, imposing in looks it was easy to drive with ample features on offer. Built on the Hilux Pickup Truck Platform this SUV is sold in different markets world over under different names.

The latest version of the Fortuner extends upon that. My first experience with this model of the Fortuner was at the media drive in Cochin over 2 years back. Then one drove it over 200 kms from Cochin to a tea estate. It had impressed me immensely then, so was looking forward to spending time with it again. I have owned a Qualis in the past, for 3 years which gave me a first-hand experience of how good Toyota cars are.COLLAGE MOVE 1.jpgThe first thing you notice how sleek this model of the Fortuner looks in comparison to its predecessor. It comes with two engine options 2.7 litre petrol and 2.8 litre diesel.  Manual and automatic transmission are standard to both petrol and diesel variants. The one I drove was the 2.8 litre diesel automatic. You start the engine and immediately the grunt of the powerful 2.8 litre that makes 175 bhp and 45.8 kgm of torque can be felt.

The Fortuner is such an easy car to drive. Which is testimony to the way Toyota designs its cars. The engine is not high stressed and manoeuvring one’s way in bumper to bumper traffic is easy. But the highway is where the real joy of driving the Fortuner lies. The gearbox may feel a tad slow to respond but that’s because Toyota is known for its long gear ratios. There are paddle shifters on offer. The Fortuner comes with 2 driving modes. Eco and Power. Power, is the mode one would tend to use on empty stretches on the highway where the engine responds in a more urgent fashion. Eco mode is the one most will drive in the city for a more efficient and relaxed driving experience.COLLAGE MOVE 2.jpgI spent a lot of time driving on hilly terrain with lots of sharp bends during this review. The SUV negotiated those easily without any noticeable body roll you expect in cars that are tall and big. The terrain shifted from good to bad and one also encountered lots of off-road sections. The Fortuner handled all these different roads with ease. For the enthusiast who enjoys off-roading look no further. This is just the SUV for that. You get to experience all the features Toyota has packed for just this reason.COLLAGE 4.jpgThe infotainment system comes with Bluetooth, apple car play and android auto connectivity. The upholstery is of good quality and finish. Seats are very comfortable with good lumbar and under thigh support.  There is ample leg room in the second row. The third row is a little tight in terms of leg room, its ideal and comfortable for a person of average height.COLLAGE 5.jpgThe Toyota Fortuner comes loaded with a plenty of safety features such as dual front SRS airbags (driver + passenger), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) system, 15-inches front disc brakes, GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) body, Vehicle stability control (VSC), shift lock system, immobilizer, back sonar, seatbelts (front – 3-point ELR x 2 with adjustable anchor, 2nd row – three-point ELR x 2 + 2-point NR x1 and 3rd row – 3-point ELR x2), multi reflector quad headlamps and high mounted LED tail lamps.COLLAGE 3.jpgThe Fortuner sells the most numbers in its category. Having driven it over 300 kms the last few days I can understand the reasons for its popularity and appeal.

The SUV ticks all the right boxes in terms of drivability, comfort and luxury along with the fact that Toyota cars are built to last. Upgrading to the latest model is not a problem too. The Fortuner commands a great resale value and is easy to sell.

Toyota Fortuner prices for the2.8 2WD MT(Diesel) (Base Model) start at Rs.29,59,000/- ex showroom Mumbai and 2.7 2WD MT(Petrol) (Base Model) starts at Rs.27,58,000/- ex-showroom Mumbai.COLLAGE LAST.jpgPrices for Automatic Transmission start at Rs.33,28,000 ex-showroom for the 2.8 4WD AT(Diesel) (Top Model) and Rs.29,17,000 for the2.7 2WD AT(Petrol) (Top Model).