Toyota Fortuner is a seven-seat SUV that’s based on the Hilux utility.
Though not generally known to Australians the Fortuner nameplate isn’t new for Toyota.
The first version, also based on the Hilux pickup of its day, has been around since 2005 where it sold as an Asia-only workhorse.
Fortuner eventually came here in late-2015 and has been a consistent, if not spectacular, seller in the congested sub-$70,000 large SUV segment — although it’s more and old-style 4WD than an SUV.
It competes against wagon-on-ute chassis vehicles such as the Isuzu MU-X, Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
What’s it cost?
Three variants are available, GX, GXL and Crusade priced at $51,965, $57,085 and $64,945 respectively.
All come with the same 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
Fortuner has a bold frontal appearance with a tall bonnet above a dominant grille and chrome running off to wrap around projector headlamps large recessed foglights.
The body kicks up at the rear and carries slim rear windows.
Combination lights give a sleek appearance out back, while a squared-off rear end fails to fit in, harking back to the days when the boxy Land Cruiser was all the go.
All Fortuners have a relatively basic 8.0-inch touchscreen with four physical buttons on either side and audio control knobs at the bottom.
The driver gets a 4.2-inch multi-information display.
Satellite navigation and digital radio are optional in the GX but standard in the GXL and Crusade.
GX and GXL get six-speaker audio. Crusade steps up to an 11-speaker JBL premium system.
There’s just a single USB-A port in the front console.
Other features include Bluetooth connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity (both wired), voice recognition, steering-wheel audio and telephone controls.
Fortuner underwent ANAP testing in 2019 and received the maximum five stars.
Standards safety equipment includes seven airbags, stability and active traction control, reversing camera, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure alert and correction, active cruise control, road sign assist, trailer sway control, hill-start assist control and two ISOFIX child-seat mounts.
GXL adds downhill assist control while the top-spec Crusade gets a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and a panoramic view monitor.
The 2023 upgrade to Hilux and Fortuner added the Toyota Connected Services app-based communications system.
The system allows owners to remotely check the status of the doors and lights, access information such as the vehicle’s last known location and recent trips, or start the engine or climate control.
The system can also provide assistance in the event of an emergency where the airbags are deployed or if a collision is detected, by automatically notifying an emergency call centre and allowing the driver to communicate with the operator.
Maximum braked towing capacity is rated at 3100kg.
What’s it go like?
The front pair of seats are reasonable comfortable though they don’t provide what you would call sporty side support.
There are air conditioning vents to all three rows.
The premium character of the cabin is reinforced with soft-touch materials round the dashboard, windscreen pillars and door trims.
Fast becoming a rarity, the Fortuner’s handbrake is the old pull-up ratchet type.
There’s plenty of storage spaces with two drink holders in the centre console and another pop-out one on each side of the dashboard, as well as a variety of compartments, trays, pockets and consoles.
There is seating for up to seven, arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration.
The 60/40 split-fold second-row seat has a one-touch slide and tumble feature while the 50/50 third-row seats, rather than folding flat, stow against the side of the cargo compartment.
As is the norm with a seven-seater with all seats in place, there is room for only 200 litres of luggage.
With the rear rows folded there is 1080 litres when packed to the top of the seat backs.
Only the Crusade gets a powered tailgate.
A full-size spare wheel is located beneath the boot floor.
Maximum power from the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine is 150kW at 3400 rpm with peak torque of 500Nm from 1600 revs.
The original Fortuner had the option of a six-speed manual gearbox but that’s since been dropped, with only a six-speed controlled automatic transmission available.
GXL and Crusade variants come with gear shift paddles.
Fortuner is quite a tall vehicle so entry can require a bit of effort.
Fortunately, there are two grab-handles for each front seat occupant, one on the roof and the other on the A-pillar.
Despite its bulk, Fortuner is relatively easy to manoeuvre around town.
On sealed roads it’s quieter than you would expect in a ute-based wagon.
It rides nicely on smooth to moderate sealed roads although it could be a bit jiggly on some sealed roads that have seen better days.
On the motorway it cruised comfortably delivering the compliant ride expected of a premium SUV on bitumen.
The steering wheel has reach and height adjustment.
Sharing of tough underpinnings with Toyota’s ‘unbreakable’ Hilux, the Fortuner shows excellent off-road ability.
The ride quality on corrugations and over rough n’ ready surfaces is good for a modified ute, though not quite up to the standards of dedicated SUVs.
Fuel consumption is listed at 7.6L/100km on the combined urbane/highway cycle. We averaged 9.4 during our test.
What we like?
Air conditioning vents to all three rows
Seating for up to seven
Relatively easy to manoeuvre
Shows excellent off-road ability
What we don’t like?
Just a single USB-A port
Maximum tow capacity 3100kg
Third-row seats stow flat against side of compartment
The bottom line?
At $65,000 plus on-road costs, while some might see the Fortuner as a poor man’s Land Cruiser, the Crusade variant carries enough kit and delivers convenience and comfort to match the Cruiser and its high-end rivals.
Fortuner is covered by Toyota’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty extended to seven years on the engine and driveline.
Given the popularity of its Hilux sibling, the modest sales numbers of Fortuner are surprising.
That’s probably the result of a limited marketing push rather than any deficiencies in the vehicle and we’d suggest its worth a comparative test drive with its bigger-selling rivals.