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It would be natural for the world leader in automobiles to produce what many call the “King of SUVs”. And this king isn’t sitting on its laurels, for as 2020 nears its conclusion, the 2021 iteration of this iconic mid-size SUV is about to be unveiled, for sure whetting the appetites of current and would-be owners.

To give us an idea of how and why the Toyota Fortuner pairs so well with its immense Filipino base, here are the testimonies of two longtime owners.

Rustel Anthony L. Francisco, a 23-year-old who is shown in main photo with his parents, is an operations analyst who owns two Fortuner G variants, a 2016 and a 2020 edition. Dennis Pambid, 43, is an IT professional who drives around in his 2013 Fortuner G A/T. Before buying their SUVs, Francisco and Pambid considered other models from competing auto manufacturers.

The aftersales support, ease of maintenance and finding parts, and the proven reliability of the Toyota brands ultimately made Francisco and his family decide to go for the Fortuner. For Pambid, the build, leather seats, interior space, usable third row seat, and overall appearance made him choose the Fortuner.

Dennis Pambid is an IT professional who drives around in his 2013 Fortuner G A/T

Francisco says, “I speak for both my dad and I that the aftersales support has been topnotch. Toyota has a reputation for having an abundance of parts given the brand’s popularity here in the Philippines. Not having to worry about parts definitely adds to the value of the ownership experience.”

Pambid agrees wholeheartedly: “Just like most other Toyota cars, Fortuner parts are available almost everywhere. The service also is superb and does not break the bank.”

However, the 2021 Fortuner does come into a crowded market, so to speak, with many new competitor brands (especially from China) coming in, bearing seemingly irresistible price points and a slew of additional amenities and features.

Without hesitation, Francisco stresses that he knows where his loyalty remains.

“I would definitely still buy a Fortuner. The influx of Chinese-branded SUVs does seem tempting, but their unproven long-term ownership experience is something that I don’t want to be a beta tester for. We’ve bought two Fortuners and although we don’t plan on investing in another car anytime soon, we will always consider Toyota as one of our first and maybe only option.”

Ditto for Pambid. “If the time comes that I have to change my Fortuner for a newer one, I won’t hesitate to take a look at the newer Fortuners, and most probably will still get the Fortuner. For now, I think I’ll stick with this one as there is no need to replace it because it’s still reliable even as an 8-year-old car.”

Consistent, stress-free driving

“In both Fortuners I enjoy the ease and quality of driving along with the comfort and functionality of the cockpit, but the standout feature for me is the Apple Carplay feature included in the 2020 Fortuner. Carplay makes navigation and controlling my music a stress-free experience,” Francisco shared.

Pambid loves his Fortuner’s consistent “energy”: “I like the reliability of the Fortuner, even using it the whole day, you don’t feel it becoming sluggish. At the time it was bought, the Fortuner’s interiors were also topnotch compared to other competitors.”

The step-up list

For Francisco, even a king at the top of its game can even go better. “I believe that it would be nice to have more features in the dashboard instrumentation, such as the tire pressure gauge found in other SUVs in its price range. Hopefully, things like lane departure/assist in the side mirrors are implemented in the new models.”

“I wish they could still improve on the suspension,” quipped Pambid.

Etched in memory

“I was lucky enough to have my 2016 Fortuner through my stay in college. It would be where all the conversations, laughs, jamming sessions, and many late night drives that I have had with my friends and family throughout the Metro would take place. I was always the ‘tagahatid’ (designated driver) of my barkada after a night out or a hang out. Nothing beats driving at night on quiet Manila roads talking about anything, whether it be with my best friends or my girlfriend,” recalls Francisco.

Pambid narrates: “We went on a north Luzon trip with seven adults, two kids and all the luggage on board for a week. Even though filled to the brim, the Fortuner never faltered and gave us a very smooth ride all throughout. We even got lost in Baguio, but the Fortuner did not give up on us, especially during those steep climbs.”

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