UTIL­ITY PLAYER

CUT-PRICE WAGON GOES HEAD TO HEAD WITH COM­PE­TI­TION

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARS GUIDE - Pe­ter Barn­well Call Pen­rith Toy­ota, Gt Western Hwy, Kingswood on 4736 4888.

TOY­OTA’S crowded SUV line-up gets an­other en­trant this week with the in­tro­duc­tion of the sev­enseat For­tuner in three grades. Diesel only For­tuner is based on the new HiLux ute and is priced from $47,990 for the six-speed man­ual GX with two mode six speed auto adding two grand.

COM­PETI­TORS

FORD Ever­est is For­tuner’s di­rect com­peti­tor with heat com­ing from Holden Colorado7, Isuzu MUX, both at less money and oth­ers like Mit­subishi’s out­dated Chal­lenger.

Other mod­els in the For­tuner line up are the GLX at $52,990 for the man­ual and Cru­sade at $59,990 for the man­ual.

For­tuna is a le­git­i­mate off-roader of­fer­ing (rear) 2WD and se­lectable low and high range 4WD as well as a rear dif­fer­en­tial lock.

REAL DEAL

IT CAN wade at depths up to 700mm and has 279mm of ground clear­ance along with a rigid rear axle – the pre­ferred choice for se­ri­ous off-road driv­ing.

The body-on-chas­sis con­struc­tion is time hon­oured for “real four­bies” and in For­tuner’s case, has been ex­ten­sively re­vised in the rear for coil spring sus­pen­sion and mul­ti­ple, axle lo­cat­ing links.

Toy­ota heav­ily lever­aged its new HiLux ute in For­tuner with a sub­stan­tial Aus­tralian en­gi­neer­ing in­put for the chas­sis/body, wiring and even its dy­namic cal­i­bra­tion.

LEVER­AGED

A FEW HiLux body parts cross over to For­tuner with most pan­els rear of the wind­screen unique to the new wagon.

Cabin de­sign and equip­ment is For­tuner spe­cific, how­ever, un­der the bon­net is pure HiLux and Prado fea­tur­ing a newly de­vel­oped 2.8-litre turbo diesel four cylin­der.

This twin-cam unit has main­te­nance-free chain cam drive and comes with a small, vari­able noz­zle turbo. It is a new “pas­sen­ger ori­ented” en­gine good for 130kW and either 450Nm in the auto or 420Nm in the man­ual.

The en­gine is fuel ef­fi­cient (7.8-litres/100km for man­ual), smooth and quiet run­ning but faces a tough com­peti­tor in Ever­est which has a 3.2-litre five-cylin­der turbo diesel with more power and torque.

SAFETY

IT PASSES Euro5 emis­sions and has a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter in the ex­haust. Safety rat­ing is in­di­cated at five stars thanks to use of high strength steel in the chas­sis, seven airbags, re­verse cam­era and pedes­trian safety ma­te­rial at the front.

For­tuner does well in the tow­ing stakes and can drag up to three tonnes – half a tonne more than sta­ble­mate Prado.

The boot is OK with all rows in place ul­ti­mately ex­pand­able with rows two and three folded.

And they have been gen­er­ous with kit as even the base model has a seven-inch touch screen, six speaker au­dio, Toy­otaLink con­nec­tiv­ity, in­for­ma­tion read­out, Eco me­ter, mul­ti­ple power and info plugs, many cup hold­ers and stor­age com­part­ments, rake and reach steer­ing wheel ad­just, a full-size spare and LED tail lights.

Higher grade mod­els get more with sat­nav lim­ited to the Cru­sade. Min­i­mal high tech driver as­sist fea­tures such as auto brake or blind spot warn­ing are fit­ted to any For­tuner model and Cru­sade is the only model to get an auto tail­gate.

DRIV­ING

WE CRANKED up the For­tuner in the wilds of South Aus­tralia’s Flin­ders Ranges where it re­ally put its best wheel for­ward.

It makes child’s play of high speed cruis­ing on the black­top and then spear­ing off on to bush tracks ex­plor­ing moun­tain climbs, us­ing down­hill as­sist to ease down steep in­clines and “walk­ing” through rough and deep dry creek beds.

For­tuner is pretty much un­stop­pable and an ac­com­plished of­froader that can back up as a city com­muter/fam­ily wagon.

For­tuner. . . based on the HiLux.

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