What is it?
Launched in 2015, Fortuner is the SUV equivalent of the Hilux utility.
Like the Kluger it comes with seven seats, but is aimed at a very different buyer.
With a diesel engine and proper, low-range, four-wheel drive, it’s targeted at the adventure seeker.
Fortuner will happily head off the beaten track and into the wild, but some sacrifices need to be made along the way.
What’s it cost?
There are three grades from which to choose: GX, GXL and Crusade.
All come with the same 2.8-litre turbo diesel and 6-speed automatic transmission, the latter with eco and power modes.
Prices start from $48,990 for GX, $52,990 for GXL and $59,990 for Crusade.
Metallic paint adds $600.
Standard equipment includes seven seats, cloth trim, front and rear manual air conditioning, side steps, cruise control, rear parking sensors, air-conditioned cool box, rear differential lock, 17-inch steel wheels, and 7.0 inch display audio with Toyota Link.
Five-star safety extends to seven airbags, rear view camera, hill start assist and trailer sway control plus Toyota Safety Sense with Active Cruise Control (ACC), Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert and Road Sign Assist.
Mid-range GXL gains satellite navigation, paddle shifters, alloy wheels, keyless smart entry and start, roof rails, reverse parking sensors, fog lights, colour info display, privacy glass and downhill assist control.
Top-of-the range Crusade, with all the trimmings, adds leather-accented interior (available in fawn or dark brown), dual climate control air-conditioning, 11-speaker JBL audio, power tailgate, bi-LED headlights, 220V socket, 18-inch alloy wheels (including the spare), heated front seats and a power-operated driver’s seat.
What’s it go like?
It appears the manual transmission has been dropped from the line up.
They all get a 6-speed auto, with GLX and Crusade adding steering wheel mounted gear change paddles.
The 2.8-litre, four cylinder turbo diesel delivers 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque, the latter from 1600 to 2400 revs.
With an 80-litre tank, claimed fuel consumption is 8.6L/100km and it has a braked towing capacity of 2800kg.
We were getting 8.7L/100km after close to 400km, but we’d expect it to sit in low 9s on a more regular basis.
It’s been a while since we last drove Fortuner and, getting back into the cabin again, we were struck by how claustrophobic it feels after the Pajero Sport.
The dash looks dated and cluttered, like everything has been shoehorned in as after thought, with some unnecessary, dare we say 70’s style padding running down either side of the centre control stack.
And the touchscreen, when you get down to it, is really quite small and fiddly to use — just try tracking down your favourite radio station on DAB (on the run).
The Toyota Link system is way past its use by date and is obviously waiting to be upgraded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — and the added functionality they bring.
Cargo capacity is compromised by old school design that sees the third row seats, folded and latched to the sides of the storage area, like they used to do a decade or so ago — taking up lots of valuable load space.
BUT the underlying chassis and mechanics are first rate, thanks to lots of input from Australian engineers.
On-road performance is surprisingly smooth and strong, given its utility origins, with a turbine-like feel underfoot.
It’s quick off the mark and sails along motorways and secondary roads, ticking over below 2000 revs with plenty of urge down low.
The paddle shifts, although a nice touch, are somewhat superfluous because the torquey diesel has got it covered.
It’s off road however that the Fortuner really comes into its own.
With low and high range four-wheel drive, a rear diff lock, hill descent assist, ground clearance of 225mm and a wading depth of 700mm — Fortuner is ready for the trials and tribulations off off-road driving.
It’s a part-time four-wheel drive system, so around town the wagon remains rear-wheel drive.
Four-wheel drive is engaged via a rotary knob at the bottom of the centre console, with separate switches at the front of the console box to activate Eco and Power drive modes, as well as the rear diff lock.
Heading down our favourite rocky fire trail for a bit of action, the ride is spongy, compliant and absorbent — in fact it feels right at home.
Instead of leaf springs like the ute, the the rear of the wagon is sprung with a more sophisticated coil spring setup, with disc brakes replacing the ute’s drums.
You can slip into high range on the go, but engaging low range requires a stop and change to neutral, while the rear diff lock and hill descent assist can be activated when the going gets really tough.
Think Hilux without the problems normally associated with a long tail.
It’s one of the major drawbacks of taking a ute off road, because nine times out of 10, that overhanging tail will hit the ground at some point.
Sidesteps and mudflaps are prone to damage too.
We rate Fortuner as a medium to high duty 4WD and if Hilux is unbreakable, then by default Fortuner is just as unbreakable.
What we like?
- It’s a Toyota
- And it’s a Hilux under the skin
- Strong performance off the line
- Sits relatively flat in corners for an SUV
- Consummate off road performer
- Active cruise control
- Satnav with speed camera warnings
- Current speed limit display
What we don’t like?
- Cabin feels claustrophobic
- Yucky brown upholstery and trim
- Dash looks dated and cluttered
- Fold up third row seats a waste of space
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- No digital speedo
- No auto wipers
- No auto dimming rear view mirror
- No blind spot warnings
The bottom line?
If you decide you’d prefer a Fortuner over the Kluger, then you’ll probably want to have a look at a Pajero Sport as well.
Both based on utes, the two are peas in a pod, similarly spec’d and priced, with the same rasion d’etre — but we reckon the Mitsubishi has the edge.
It’s cheaper, comes with an 8-speed auto, flat fold third row seats, 18-inch alloys, lower fuel consumption, a higher tow rating, along with CarPlay and Android Auto.
Time for some TLC perhaps, Toyota?
CHECKOUT: Toyota Landcruiser: Go big or go home
Toyota Fortuner Crusade, priced from $59,990 driveaway
- Looks - 7.5/107.5/10
- Performance - 8/108/10
- Safety - 7.5/107.5/10
- Thirst - 7.5/107.5/10
- Practicality - 7.5/107.5/10
- Comfort - 7/107/10
- Tech - 7/107/10
- Value - 7/107/10