A reader wants to know why he can’t find the tech specs he’s looking for…


Can you tell me where I can find technical specifications for Toyota 4WDs.
I’m considering purchasing a Fortuner (or maybe something from another manufacturer) some time in the future but before making a decision I’d like a bit more information on some of the technical specifications.
The brochure from the Toyota dealers & the one available for download from the Toyota website gives only a limited information – it’s mainly full of the features available in the different models with little available of a technical nature to allow a meaningful comparison with other makes.
For example there’s information on gear ratios but nothing on the transfer box or final drive ratios, approach & departure angles but no ramp over angle.
I notice that in your review of the Fortuner GX you quote the ramp over angle, the wading depth & gcm, three specs not found in the brochures. These & other data are obviously available somewhere as you’ve provided it in your article but can you let me know where information such as this can be found?
I’ve done some Internet searches without success & have tried contacting the Toyota dealers but so far have only been answered with complete silence. Gives you the impression they’re not interested in selling their cars! (It’s not just Toyota either, I’ve found that other manufacturers also seem to go into hiding when asked about something technical that’s not in the sales brochure).
Are you able to assist with finding what I’ve been looking for?
Many Thanks
Hello B and welcome to my world.
The car companies very rarely provide sufficient information for those of a technical nature to assess a vehicle, and even less so the dealerships. The reason is that it’s not worth their while as the information is only wanted by a minority of people like you and me. So I can’t help much, but maybe I can explain.
What we need to understand about any given vehicle is specifications, and explanations of how it works.
Specifications first. Often key specs are missing, for example with 4WDs wading depth, sometimes even ground clearance. Even the basics aren’t always there; I just had a recent problem getting the urban and freeway fuel consumption figures for a car, as the company only wanted to hand over the combined figure. Towing information is often hard to come by, for example front and rear axle loads, maximum towball mass. Manufacturers are always keen to brag about the maximum towed weight, but like to ignore the complicated factors which mean the headline figure often isn’t real-world usable. And asking about minimum rim sizes for 4WDs? No chance, there’s no way to know if a 17″ rim will fit on a car with 19″ as standard. It’s also hard to determine the PCD so people can see if their older or aftermarket wheels will fit their new sportscar.
What you do often find is bore and stroke, which is of absolutely no use to me as a reviewer at all because it’s of no use to car buyers. What I would like is, as you say, the transfer case and final drive ratios so I can then calculate the crawl ratio which is a useful indicator of engine braking capability on 4WDs.
One company refuses to supply 0-100 times even for performance cars (“policy”, apparently) so I just use overseas figures. No, I don’t get it either.
Even harder to find are explanations; press releases often describe in glowing terms the effect of a feature (in vague language), but not how it works. For example, a recent release talked about a locking front differential in a sportscar. This makes no sense at all, and attempts to follow up didn’t really help. A new car’s suspension may be trumpeted…but try asking how it does what it does and there won’t be much explanation – one press release said there was a “mass transfer to the inside wheel when cornering” which is obviously quite an engineering feat! And understanding 4WD systems…the information never differentiates between brake and engine traction control, or properly explains what actual changes are made with different adaptive terrain systems.
So it’s hard to find the information even as a journalist with access to special media sites and some ability to ask technical questions of the company representatives before they run out of answers or patience, whichever comes first. It’s much harder for the general public. The car companies do assist, but they’re not used to journalists querying whether a “locking differential” is in the between front and rear axles or on the rear axle, or asking whether torque vectoring is based off a clutchpack or just asymmetric braking on an axle. However, it seems readers of my work do like this sort of detail, and it does help me put together a picture of what the car is and how it works.
So, what to do? The information in my articles comes from various sources, in no particular order:
  • the public website;
  • the specialist media-only websites in Australia and abroad;
  • the car’s owner’s manual;
  • press releases;
  • specific questions to the company;
  • conversations with mechanics, driver trainers, other industry people;
  • my own observations/measurements.

Very rarely, all of the above match up!

So in practice I can figure out a 4WD’s traction and offroad systems easily enough on a rough track with a steep hill and ruts plus a wide dirt road, then use my experience to extrapolate where necessary by making educated guesses, although I do say in the review they are guesses. To some extent testing can reveal much about sportscars, but without a personal racetrack there’s definite limits as to what can be discovered. I also know that the base electronic systems and designs are common across vehicles, and have spent time with the likes of Bosch who make them, and I’ve got a shelf full of reference books. I also measure some cars if the supplied specifications don’t seem right, most notably the recent test of the Fortuner. And I often ask people I trust who have driven cars in specific situations for input, for example I don’t often get the chance to much sand testing.
That’s a fairly long answer to say that I can’t help much further. All I can suggest is (aside from reading my reviews 🙂 is that you get involved in owners clubs and forums which are often great resources too.

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  1. Whats on the hoist?

    No springs or swaybar at the front and a massive rear axle?

    Some of the specs will change down the production line so some manufacturers arent keen on having to reprint the expensive guff when a running change is made.

    Other times the raw spec will most definitely be out of sync with the spiel and or make for unfavorable comparisons.

  2. I reckon things like ground clearance and turning circles should be basic info. on all cars as well . And do they measure a cars width including mirrors or just to the outer door ? It would be nice to think all comparisons are equal but no-one seems to answer .

    1. Width is not usually quoted as to whether it includes mirrors, and there are two different measurements. It’s usually possible to guess which it is. Same deal for turning circle; that’s either wheelmarks or edge of body…rarely says which it is.

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