A Fortuner life
Roam far and wide in this genuine off-roader based on the HiLux ute
TOYOTA’S crowded SUV lineup gets another member this week with the introduction of the medium-large, seven-seat Fortuner.
There are now seven SUV-style Toyotas with the newcomer fitting between the petrol, bitumen-focused Kluger and the diesel Prado.
Based on the new HiLux ute, the diesel-only Fortuner is priced from $47,990 for the sixspeed manual GX, with the sixspeed auto adding $2000. Factor in the auto and that undercuts Ford’s new Everest starting point by $5000.
The Everest is Fortuner’s most obvious competitor. Among other similar, rugged, cut-price off-roaders are Holden’s Colorado 7, the popular Isuzu MU-X and the soon to be updated Mitsubishi Challenger. All are significantly cheaper but based on older underpinnings.
The Fortuner line-up extends to the GXL at $52,990 for the manual and Crusade at $59,990 likewise.
A genuine off-road vehicle, the Fortuner has rear-drive or selectable low and high-range 4WD, plus a rear differential lock for tricky conditions.
Maximum wading depth is 700mm, ground clearance is 279mm and there is a rigid rear axle — the preference for serious off road driving.
The body-on-chassis construction is the timehonoured norm for “real” 4WDs and in Fortuner’s case, the rear suspension has been extensively revised to accommodate coil-springs and multiple links.
Thanks to the new HiLux forming the base, the Fortuner also had substantial local engineering input on the chassis and body engineering, wiring and dynamics. Toyota Australia’s technical centre worked with assistance from engineers from HQ in Japan.
A few HiLux body parts cross over to Fortuner but most panels rearward of the windscreen are unique, as are the cabin design and equipment.
Under the bonnet, it’s pure
HiLux and Prado, power coming from a newly developed 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel.
It is said to be “passenger oriented’’, good for 130kW and either 420Nm in the manual or 450Nm in the auto. Claimed consumption is 7.8L/100km (manual).
Smooth and quiet-running, the diesel faces a tough competitor in the Everest, with superior power and torque from its 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel.
Toyota; s engine meets Euro5 emission standards and has a diesel particulate filter.
The Fortuner gets a five-star safety rating thanks to extensive use of high strength steel in the chassis, seven airbags, reversing camera and a front end designed to improve pedestrian safety.
Fortuna does well in the towing stakes and is rated at 3000kg — half a tonne more than its stablemate Prado.
Smaller than the Kluger, the Fortuner has an older side-seat folding setup in the third row but access is aided by a one-touch, tip and tumble centre row. The boot is adequate with all rows in place and Toyota has been generous with features.
Even the base model has a seven-inch touchscreen, sixspeaker audio and good connectivity.
There are multiple 12V plugs, numerous cup-holders and storage compartments, full-size spare, LED tail-lights, sides steps and more.
Satnav is limited to the Crusade, which is the only model to get an auto tailgate. Fitment of driver-assist features such as auto braking and blind spot warning is minimal.
In the wilds of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, the muscular-looking Fortuner really put its best wheel forward.
It’s an impressive piece of kit for this environment, making easy work of high-speed cruising on the blacktop and then coping well with rough bush tracks and steep climbs.
The Fortuner’s downhill assist works well, easing down steep rocky inclines.
It is also impressive when “walking” through rough and deep dry creek beds.
There’s plenty of poke from the engine, which performs well with either transmission. Paddle-shifters on some models are superfluous.
Pretty much unstoppable and truly accomplished as a rugged off-roader, the Fortuner can easily back up as a city commuter or comfortable family wagon, its locally fettled suspension and steering helping smooth things for passengers.
With Prado nudging into bigbuck territory, Fortuner is ready to take its place as a genuine four-wheel-drive easily capable of delivering the quintessential outback driving experience.