Toyota offers the Land Cruiser, Prado, RAV4, C-HR, Kluger and the Fortuner as part of its SUV lineup.
If you recognise the last one on the list, give yourself a pat on the back — Fortuner is the forgotten family member.
It’s the one locked away under the stairs, just like Harry Potter.
There are a few reasons for this, but it’s not because Fortuner is a bad vehicle — it’s actually pretty good.
Three grades are offered: GX, GXL, and Crusade. Our test vehicle, the Crusade, came finished in Crystal Pearl paint.
Fortuner GX is priced from $45,965 before on road costs.
GXL is $50,790 while the Crusade commands $58,290.
For the coin you get a vehicle largely unchanged since its Australian release in 2015.
It’s an odd-looking, awkwardly-styled, seven-seater in almost traditional five-door configuration.
We say almost as the rear doors and window line have an odd, almost out of kilter, S-shaped kink that doesn’t mirror any other design cues — apart from the front and rear lights.
It’s a big car, matching the Prado for height and width — but is 200mm shorter.
It’s 4795mm in length and has a 2750mm wheelbase. The rubber and alloy combo is Michelin Latitude in 265/60/18.
There is a towbar and electric brake system for the 2800kg tow rating.
Toyota confirms a price of $751.43 for the towbar, tow ball, and 7-pin wiring harness as a package — but the electric brakes were aftermarket.
Inside the design of the dash is a subtle nod towards the Toyota ovoid logo.
It also houses the centre airvents, 7.0 inch touchscreen, aircon controls, and auxiliary/USB/12V sockets — plus a selector for two or four wheel drive.
There’s also a rear diff lock, with a tab for this found closer to the centre console storage bin.
Two cup holders are an arm stretch away, right next to the auxiliary inputs.
The audio system in Crusade is upgraded, with extra drivers from JBL — but no Android and Apple apps.
The third row seats are virtually unique in that they’re side-hinged.
They fold from the sides of the cargo section, not up and out from the floor.
This is because Fortuner is built on the Hilux chassis, not unlike the Pajero Sport/Triton reviewed recently.
It means that cargo space is compromised, with just 200 litres available when they’re in use, and 716 litres when stowed.
The layout of the interior is not entirely efficient. Head room for the second and third rows isn’t the best, nor is legroom.
The trim fitted to the vehicle supplied is optional and perhaps not to everyone’s taste.
It’s a dark brown leather; think mocha or cocoa and you’d be on the money.
The seats are heated, but not vented.
Safety levels are good, with a five-star rating.
However Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert aren’t part of the system.
There is a reverse camera, of course.
Fortuner is a rocketship.
It’s quicker from a standing start, quicker to overtake, and a whole lot quieter than the Pajero Sport we drove.
Peak torque from the familiar 2.8-litre diesel is 450Nm. That’s spread across 800 revs, from 1600rpm to 2400rpm.
Peak power is a reasonable 130kW and that’s at 3400rpm.
The transmission is a 6-speed auto, another sign Toyota is not overly fussed about Fortuner’s standing in the SUV family and marketplace.
Fuel consumption is decent if not outstanding. Toyota quotes an urban figure of 11.0L/100km, with a combined figure of 8.6L/100km.
That’s not fantastic for a diesel-powered SUV, even allowing for a starting weight of 2135kg.
We saw a best of 9.2L/100km on our drive cycle, in a 80/20 urban to highway split.
Steering is heavy, has some steering rack shake, but will be responsive enough for most drivers.
There were occasional moments of bump steer, something not often experienced in modern cars.
Highway driving sees the Crusade quietly lope along.
Suburban stop/start driving is made easy thanks to that torque, and it’s progressive too.
There are also occasional clunks from the rear diff as the cogs swap upwards. Again, this is something rarely experienced in cars now.
The auto itself has a noticeable switch between ratios but not intrusively so.
Off-road performance is standard Toyota; that is to say — good!
You can select high range up to 100km/h, but low range requires a stop, neutral, and a few seconds for the transfer case to engage.
The swap back to high range also requires a few seconds, and swapping straight back to 2WD is not recommended — as it confuses the system enough that it sat in 4WD-L for close to a minute.
Performance aside, Fortuner suffers from an ageing platform, and an invisibility factor.
It’s by no means a bad car, but it’s not front of mind for buyers (nor, it seems, the pencil pushers at Toyota).
For our money, that’s a bit of a problem, because it’s got plenty of competition — and not just from other brands.
Prado, as noted, is virtually identical in size and offers a diesel. The RAV4 isn’t far off in size either these days, and offers the option of a hybrid powertrain.
Both have better interiors and features.
But Toyota needs something like the Fortuner to compete against the likes of Everest, M-UX and Pajero Sport.
There’s speculation it will be updated soon, but nothing has been confirmed.
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