The first thing that comes to your mind is how’s the Toyota Fortuner Legender different from the regular one? The simple answer is that the Legender has a sportier nose, benefits from more features, but, is only available with an automatic gearbox without any 4x4 hardware (one version). So, does it make sense to choose the Legender over the regular auto variant with 4x4 capability at a premium of roughly Rs 60,000? Do read on to find out.
Speaking of the design, the new Fortuner may not be all that different from the old one, but the Legender is quite different thanks to its sharper front nose. All the grooves on the grille and bumper are edgy, and those quad LED headlights give the Legender a unique identity of its own. From the side, the massive proportions are apparent due to the towering window line and flared wheel arches with the massive 18inch rubber. However, there aren’t many changes at the rear, barring the updated bumper design with the L-shaped plastic trim.
While the design and layout of the Legender’s cabin are identical to the regular Fortuner, the features have been updated, which we will run by later in the review. The Legender continues with the spacious and ergonomic cabin with a comfy first- and second-row seating, along with a usable third row as well. Regardless of the row one is seated in, there’s ample knee- and head-room. The seats themselves are well-appointed with good thigh support and firm cushioning which will make long journeys comfortable.
Furthermore, there’s loads of space to empty one’s pocket into, like the two glove-boxes, the cubby spaces in the centre console and dash, and the deep door pads. Also, the dark colours used may not make the cabin feel roomy, but the new black-red upholstery does add some liveliness, along with the dark wood that’s tastefully mated to piano-black and silver trim. On the flipside, we didn’t like the quality of plastic in some areas, some shiny panels are prone to scratches, and the camera/screen resolution could have mirrored what’s expected of a car that costs north of Rs 46 lakh.
Features that are unique to the Legender are the quad-LED headlamps, sequential indicators, ventilated front seats, wireless smartphone charging, a powered tailgate, and second-row occupants now get two USB ports where the 12V power outlet previously existed. Furthermore, there’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, but the user interface and touch response aren’t nice. It’s also sad to know that this one gets a six-speaker setup instead of the standard Fortuner’s 11-speaker JBL system. Safety features are top-notch though; ABS with EBD, seven airbags, ESP, traction control, hill assist, and vehicle stability control with brake assist.
Powering the lone Legender variant is the 201bhp/500Nm 2.8-litre diesel engine that spins the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission (4x2) with paddle shifters. Although there is some NVH while cranking the engine, Toyota has markedly improved the insulation and it’s hardly audible inside. As you let go of the brakes, this Toyota creeps ahead purposefully, and thereon, a gentle throttle input is all that’s required for constant progress, even with the revs as low as 1,600rpm.
At about 2,000rpm, there’s a strong mid-range that kicks in to satisfy most driving situations. If the throttle is kept pinned, the buzz from the mill gets pronounced post 2,500rpm as it marches feverishly to the rev limit. What’s nice is that this six-speed torque converter gearbox complements the engine extremely well. With only minor lags between the smooth shifts, it can lay the power down on the road in a jerk-free manner. And, should the need arise for a quick overtake, there’s the option to manually shift gears via the paddle-shifters too.
There are three driving modes; Normal, Eco, and Sport. We felt that sticking to Eco-mode while inching ahead in traffic makes perfect sense as the subdued throttle responses are acceptable. That doesn’t mean that Eco-mode is a dud, and other than its relatively relaxed nature, it makes for a smooth and frugal drive. Meanwhile, Normal-mode is the mode to select if you want better responses. But honestly, after experiencing Sport-mode, you’ll never want to go back to either, due to the sharp throttle responses that are vastly entertaining.
Like the standard Fortuner, the Legender too displays the same ride quality that’s associated with most ladder-on-frame vehicles. So yes, the ride is jiggly, with constant movements within the cabin, more so at slower speeds. The only remedy is to drive over an incredibly flat stretch of tarmac which is a rarity these days. The good thing is that the clearance along with the strong chassis setup makes it feel indestructible and robust enough to even plough through non-existent roads.
Where the Legender’s firm ride shines is when driving on the highway, as it feels increasingly composed at higher speeds. Still, it isn’t in its happiest state when subjected to quick corners since there’s a substantial amount of roll due to its size. Thankfully, the wide rubber offers good traction which is further exemplified by the confidence-inspiring brakes. On the downside, the heavy steering, with more than three turns from lock-to-lock demands more effort, especially when parking.
With the Toyota Fortuner Legender, one gets the unique exterior styling bits, new eye-catchy cabin upholstery, and some minor updates at a price tag of around Rs 46 lakh (OTR Mumbai). Plus, it’s given that this SUV will gain from bullet-proof reliability, excellent resale value, and Toyota's outstanding after-sales service. However, the Legender’s biggest drawback is the availability of just one variant, with only an automatic gearbox and without the 4x4 hardware. And, all this for a premium of about Rs 60,000 over its 4x4 automatic sibling! If exclusivity means everything to you, and you don’t mind paying more than the regular 4x4 Fortuner, then the Toyota Legender is for you.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi.