Jan 23, 2013, 03.05 PM | Source: Overdrive Magazine
Comparo - 2012 Toyota Fortuner vs SsangYong Rexton
What we have here is a Korean challenger to one of our favourite Japanese cars - the Toyota Fortuner . It's no secret that we love our big SUVs and that the Toyota Fortuner is one of our market favourites . Toyota launched a refreshed version of the Fortuner in January 2012 and while it was largely a cosmetic upgrade the car also came with a new automatic version. Mahindra also had their own SUV (Mahindra acquired SsangYong back in 2011) the SsangYong Rexton on display as well. We drove the car in October 2012 and realised that with a price hovering at around Rs 19.7 lakh and an automatic gearbox it was barking right up the Fortuner's tree. All bark no bite? Let's find out.
The interiors get smart two tone layout with beige on the upholstery and black along the dashboard. The well laid out centre console makes this a smart and sophisticated looking cabin. It's also rather well thought out for most parts. For example there are three charging points in the front and one in the boot, though none for the middle row. This is a large car and there's plenty of space inside. Middle row leg room is almost as spacious as the Fortuner but there is more space in the third row. The problem is that the third row is very low which means your knees end up at your shoulder level. There's also very little place to slot your feet. Another quirk is that both third row air vents are situated on one side which means the passenger on the left gets no draught of air. Overall finish levels in most areas are good but some panel gaps and quality in certain areas could definitely improve. For example we had the car for a day and something went faulty with the music system wiring and first we lost audio in the right channel. By the end of the day only the rear left channel was working. One of the hinged covers for the power socket also broke with no effort on our part whatsoever. Issues that should be ironed out once the first lot of cars is sold or a sign of things to come?
The Fortuner 's biggest selling point is its domineering road presence. It's a massive looking vehicle that sends smaller cars scurrying for cover. The updated car has gone for a more Land Cruiser-esque face with new headlamps, grille and bonnet. It looks the part but I'm not a fan of the cheap aftermarket looking clear lens lamps at the rear.
The interiors however are a slight let down which feel like a better version of those on the Innova, not something you'd like to see on a Rs 21.9 lakh car and definitely not as easy on the eye as the Rexton's. On the plus side the user interface is better and this is a comfortable large, airy and well built cabin. The driving position makes you feel like the king of the road and build quality is typically Toyota, solid and built to last.
The 3.0-litre four cylinder engine in the Fortuner is one we particularly like. 171PS of power is plenty and there's 343Nm of shove available from a nice and low 1400rpm right up to 3400rpm after which peak power soon arrives. It gets a 4-speed auto (the Fortuner has now been introduced with a 5-speed auto ) that loses out to the Rexton on paper but the box actually does a better job than the Korean's. There's no manual shift option like the Rexton which gets an unusual little toggle button on the side of the gear lever that lets you shift gears with your left thumb. However it almost always has the car in the right cog and reacts far quicker to your throttle inputs as well. Performance leaves nothing to complain with an 11.56 seconds time to the tonne and a top speed of 181.3kmpl. The Fortuner gave us a mileage of 16.3kmpl on the highway and 9.6kmpl in the city for an overall figure of a frugal 11.8kmpl.
The Fortuner feels considerably stiffer after driving the Rexton but then most cars would. Ride quality is supple and it handles bad roads with ease, if not with the sheer comfort of the Rexton . The combination of a ladder frame chassis and high ground clearance results in a fair share of body roll, dive and pitch. Nevertheless high speed dynamics are better than the SsangYong's and while both cars are much happier cruising at a brisk pace the Fortuner feels just that much more confident when you're gunning it. The Fortuner was never known for excellent braking performance and while it does have much better initial bit and a more progressive feel the brakes still feel a little wooden when you really slam on them.
While the Rexton tempts with its design and features at the end of the day the Fortuner is a much better engineered product. It comes with Toyota's brand image and bullet proof reliability. Like most Toyotas it's very well specced. While the design may be a little staid on the inside it gets its fair share of features like a reverse camera and cruise control. It's the better car to drive, is far more efficient, will age better and command a better resale value. And that's just enough to keep the Japs on top of the game. For now.