The Power of Three: Toyota Fortuner, Hilux & Innova (2008)
It seemed like domination from day one. When Toyota penned the ambitious IMV or International Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle project, they nailed what the consumers were looking for in a car—be it a pick-up, SUV or MPV. Though these vehicle categories had distinct customer needs and requirements, Toyota managed to re-tune and re-develop each vehicle to suit the majority of their requirements. The Filipino consumer caught it early on, and the IMV project spelled bad news for the competition the moment first one, the Hilux arrived in 2004. And now, four years on, Toyota has revamped the entire IMV range—in a bid to continue their utter dominance of the Philippine commercial vehicle market.
All three IMV vehicles take Toyota’s kaizen principle to heart. Incremental changes were made just to re-freshen and re-align these three vehicles to Toyota’s global design and engineering philosophy. There are no major mechanical changes (on that note, no minor ones too), but why change what isn’t broke. Be it from the outside or the inside, Toyota carefully listened to their customers and gave them the features they clamored since they launched each of these IMV vehicles. Now, we’ll look at them closely.
The first of the IMV vehicles launched worldwide, the Hilux was also the first of the IMVs to be officially revamped. Newspaper ads started coming out as early as late August and like in 2004, it set the tone for the other IMV vehicles. From the outside, the biggest change is the revised front bumper and grille package. The bumper features much more protruding front fog lamps (if equipped) and the grille now has a single horizontal chrome strip echoing the Tundra pick-ups in the North American market. The alloy wheels look deceivingly larger, but the Hilux shoulders on with the same 255/70 R 15 tires albeit with a much more streamlined alloy wheel design.
Inside, modest upgrades were done to liven up the Hilux’s cabin. The range-topping G variant now benefits from metallic trimmings on the dash and power window switches as well as Toyota’s trademark Optitron gauges. A multi-information display has also been made standard on the G and can be accessed through the steering wheel buttons, which also incorporate controls for the audio system. Speaking about the audio, Toyota rectified a great wrong by now incorporating an auxiliary audio input jack to its standard 2-DIN Fujitsu Ten audio system. The G gets 6 speakers, while the rest have either 4 or 2.
Perhaps the biggest news is the dropping of the slow-selling 2.7-liter gasoline G variant in favor of a 4x2 model with 4x4 looks which Toyota dubs as the “Pre-Runner”. Like all the 4x2 variants, the Pre-Runner runs on Toyota’s 2.5-liter D-4D engine with 102 horsepower. The G variants have slightly more torque at 260 Nm while the E and J have 200. All the 4x4 variants meanwhile still run on the venerable 1KD-FTV engine with 163 horsepower and 343 Nm of torque from its 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine.
On the safety front, most Hilux variants now have airbags and anti-lock brakes (the only exception is the 2.5 J fleet model). The E has a single airbag while the G has a dual SRS airbag system.
There’s little changed with the Philippines’s best-selling vehicle. The Toyota Innova retains its menu of 12 variants (4 trim choices) with a choice of 2 engines: a 2.0-liter gasoline or 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine. Depending on the variant, it may be had with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.
While nothing mechanical has been changed, the Innova has undergone some changes to its skin. Like the Hilux, the front grille has been given a much more noticeable bright work, while the rear bumper has been reshaped to incorporate new reflectors. Though the alloy size is still modest at 15 inches, they do get a newer and much more luxurious design.
Inside is where most of the Innova’s changes take place—well, assuming you’re opting for the G or V variants that is. Let’s say that you are, the Innova now has a steering wheel switch connected to either a urethane (G) or leather (V) 4-spoke steering wheel with satellite audio switches. Dual zone climate control has been made standard and so are dual SRS airbags and anti-lock brakes. Whereas the wood trimmings looked different with these two variants before, Toyota has opted to make them the same this time around. The only difference with the V variant is the full leather seating with second-row captain’s chairs.
Opting for the mid-model E variant doesn’t feel like being relegated to the barracks this time around. You still get the most important features: a driver’s airbag and anti-lock brakes. You still sacrifice a lot in terms of looks as the E removes all the chrome trims outside and the wood trims inside. Even the color scheme looks plainer with a gray/gray scheme compared to a gray/beige scheme for the G and V.
With a close to 50 percent share of the Philippine SUV market, Toyota need not modify the Fortuner at all—it’s still selling like hotcakes the day it was re-freshened. Still, in the spirit of keeping its products fresh, Toyota introduced very subtle, and once again, very cosmetic changes to the Fortuner. Outside, the new projector-type headlamps (sorry, they still emit halogen beams) and a mesh chrome grille dominate the changes. At the back, the rear combination lamps have been given a two-tone look. Among all the IMV models, it’s only the Fortuner that has received a tire/alloy wheel upgrade. Standard across the line is a 17-inch set-up with 265/65 tires and mags seemingly nicked from the RAV4.
Inside, the Fortuner gets a more ‘luxurious’ treatment thanks to wood grain and chrome trimmings around the dash. The beige-colored set-up has given way to a much easier to clean gray scheme. Leather seats are now standard across the line as well as steering wheel mounted controls for the audio and the multi-information display. The biggest improvement though has to be the climate control system which now features air conditioning vents for all three rows. The same audio set-up seen in the Innova and Hilux are also seen here, but the Fortuner does get a Bluetooth hands-free system and a 6-disc CD changer built-in. Back-up sensors are standard only on the 4x4 model.
Like any other company, Toyota also used these opportunity to bump up their prices…by a lot. For example, the Hilux price range starts from P 684,000 for the cab & chassis package up to P 1,431,000 for the 4x4 automatic. Meanwhile, the Innova starts at P 783,000 up to P 1,174,000. Lastly, the Fortuner starts at a not-so affordable P 1,383,000 and goes up to P 1,698,000.
By Ulysses Ang | Photos by Ulysses Ang