The many facets of the Fiat Toro: driven and evaluated

MotorChase has been invited to go to Campinas, Brazil, where we can tell you how the new Fiat Toro behaves. We have driven all 3 major mechanical configurations of the new “mid-compact” pick-up from Fiat.

Fiat has created two courses for driving Toro, one with around 15 km and the other with 8 km. We have taken the 8 km course, from Expo Dom Pedro to Parque Pedreira do Chapadão. But we were lucky to drive the car back and forth, what has given us a better opportunity to evaluate it in this short first contact.

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The new Fiat Toro has been built over the same platform used by Renegade, the SUSW. Apart from some body reinforcements, in order to support a load of more than 1 ton of cargo, they are structurally very similar, especially in their frontal part.

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Fiat Toro is the result of a large set of Brazilian regulations. Its entry-level engine, for example, is a 1.8 E.torQ engine that has been reengineered in order to present more torque and power. Its previous version, the one that still powers the Renegade, generates 97 kW at 5,250 rpm and 185 Nm at 4,500 rpm when fuelled with ethanol. The new one, which presents a variable intake manifold, presents a much more convincing output of 104 kW at 5,750 rpm and 189 Nm at 3,750 rpm. In other words, a higher torque at lower revs, just what a truck needs. The question we had to answer while driving it was: will that be enough?

Why hasn’t Fiat used the 2.4 Tigershark engine, for example? Because cars with engines with a cubic capacity that it bigger than 2 liters pay a higher tax. And fail to be as competitive in terms of price compared to the 1.8 E.torQ engine.

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As we have already told you, the Toro is 4.92 m long, 1.84 m wide and it has a wheelbase of 2.99 m. It has variable heights and weights. The entry-level Freedom 4×2 1.8 flex is 1.68 m tall and weighs 1,619 kg, with 215/65 R15 tires. The Freedom diesel 4X2 is 1.69 m tall and weighs 1,779 kg, while the Freedom diesel 4×4 has the same height, but carries 9 kg more, at 1,788. Both Freedom versions use 225/70 R126 tires. The Volcano is 1.74 m tall and weighs an impressive 1,871 kg. Its tires are 225/65 R17.

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When equipped with the 2.0 MultiJet turbodiesel engine, which produces 125 kW at 3,750 rpm and 350 Nm at 1,750 rpm, it comes with a 6-speed manual, with either front or all-wheel drive, or a 9-speed automatic gearbox, exclusively available for the Volcano version, with four-wheel drive. Its fuel tank carries 60 liters of diesel and its bed is able to carry 1 ton of cargo or 820 l (1,225 l with an extender). The flex engine version can only carry 650 kg.

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In what relates to brakes and suspension, it uses disc brakes in all four wheels, a McPherson arrangement in front and a multilink at the back. Top speed is 175 km/h, for the flex engine version, and 190 km/h for the Freedom diesel 4×2, the fastest Toro that there is. Acceleration times range from 12.8 s for the Freedom 1.8 flex, when using gasoline, to 9.5 for the Freedom diesel, whether 4×2 or 4×4. One curious feature of the pick-up is the divided bed gate.

 

Inside Toro

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The first impression on getting inside the Toro is that of déjà vu. It is quite similar to the one presented by the Jeep Renegade, as you can compare below.

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Room in the back seats is enough for two 1.80 m tall people to sit in line with no risk of having knees rubbing the back of the front seats, but the roof is low. Ergonomics are very well resolved, with no noticeable commands in the wrong place.

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The steering wheel concentrates the cruise control, audio system and the onboard computer buttons, as well as the shift paddles for the automatic versions. It is possible to adjust its distance and height, what makes it very easy to find a good seating position on the pick-up.

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The Volcano features a driver electric power seat (in 8 positions) as an option. When you consider it is sold at R$ 116.500, or a little more than US$ 29,200, they should come as standard equipment.

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Fiat claims the back seat can accommodate 3 adults with ease, but the fact is that only very thin ones, and with slim hips, can sit side by side there. As for the bed, it is 1.29 m long in its lower part, 1.17 m in its upper part, 0.58 m tall over its rear axle and it has 1.28 m of maximum width, restrained by the rear wheel arches to 1.11 m of width among them.

 

Toro’s versions

The cheaper version of the pick-up costs R$ 76.500, or US$ 19,000. Its 6-speed automatic transmission is perfectly suited for the task of moving it, but the engine is not. Even with the changes that have been made to it, the flex Toro is still too much load.

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When you accelerate, the 1.8 flex Toro gains speed at a slow pace. It is enough for city driving, but it requires some care on the road, especially when overtaking another car. The same applies to the Opening Edition trim, a 1,000 units limited series of the pick-up that is based on the Freedom 1.8 flex with all options. It costs R$ 84.400, or US$ 21,000.

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Fast cornering would be no problem to the pick-up’s stability, but its tires think otherwise. They squeal when your speed tends to make the body roll, warning the driver that the gas pedal should be a little lifted in such situations. The same happens to the diesel equipped versions of the pick-up, since they are heavier, but the MultiJet engine compensates for any tire squeals when in straight line.

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The 2.0 turbodiesel is offered from the Freedom 2.0 MultiJet 4×2 trim on, at a cost of R$ 93.900, or US$ 23,350. Its 4×4 version demands R$ 101.900, or around US$ 25,340. The gap between the 1.8 flex engine and the MultiJet is amazing. Comparing their acceleration times, the difference is more than 3 s. If you have no rush and needs a big car, the 1.8 flex engine may suit you. If you prefer to drive faster, or if you have some serious amount of cargo to carry around, you should really consider the MultiJet. Especially with the 6-speed manual transmission.

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Although the ZF-supplied 9-speed automatic is a really competent gearbox, it has a slow response time. Even when downshifting with the paddle shifters. Its acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h is 0.5 s worse. Normally, this difference between manual and automatic transmissions, especially the more modern ones, is much smaller.

We have not evaluated the Toro in mud or dirt roads, nor in bad tarmac, but it seems to cope well with the few potholes and gutters we have met along the way. Only a longer evaluation will allow us to tell more about this aspect of the pick-up.

For the time being, what we are able to say is that the Toro is a serious contender against the Renault Duster Oroch and that it may eat up sales from midsize pick-ups, but the main victims will be the B segment car based pick-ups that are sold in Brazil and many other markets. This car makes a lot more sense than a double-cab Fiat Strada, for example.

 

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.