TOYOTA HAS HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD WITH ITS NEW 2016 FORTUNER. THIS CAR, WITH TOYOTA'S AUSTRALIAN TECHNICAL CENTRE HAVING TAKEN A LEAD ROLE IN ITS ENGINEERING AND DEVELOPMENT, IS RIGHT IN THE 'SWEET SPOT' FOR AUSTRALIAN BUYERS.
Not too costly, it begins at $47,990, and not too large – it is a little smaller than the Kluger but offers the same flexible seven-seat accommodation.
And neither is it too soft, nor too hard; this is a true, gutsy, heavy-duty 4X4 but one that is also nicely civilised for the road.
Toyota’s new Fortuner, built off the bones and spine of the HiLux, is going to win buyers everywhere.
Vehicle style: Large SUV
Price: $47,990 (GX manual) to $61,990 (Crusade auto)
Engine/transmission: 2.8 litre turbo-diesel/ 6-spd manual or 6-spd automatic
Power/torque: 130kW/420Nm (MT), 450Nm (AT)
Fuel consumption: (claimed) 7.8 l/100km (MT), 8.6 l/100km (AT) | (tested) 9.8 – 11.1 l/100km
The new Toyota Fortuner is the HiLux, but in a wagon. It shares the same 2.8 litre turbo diesel, the same robust six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions, and, down below, the same 4X4 drivetrain of its load-carrying bro’.
It also shares the same appetite for gut-busting hard graft.
But that’s where the similarities end. Toyota has family SUV buyers in its sights with this car; inside its doors is a well-specified, comfortable seven-seat wagon interior.
It comes in three model grades – the GX at $47,990, GXL $52,990, and Crusade $59,990 – each available in manual or auto (the automatic commanding a $2000 premium).
Toyota dealers, especially in regional areas, are going to have to bolt them to the floor to keep them in showrooms.
- Standard features include: Air-con (with roof-mounted rear vents and cool-box), reversing camera, ISOFIX anchor points and top-tether anchors, 3 X 12V accessory sockets, cruise control, trip computer, power windows.
- Infotainment: 7-inch colour touchscreen display, (with sat-nav in GXL and Crusade), six-speaker audio with Bluetooth, USB, Aux-in, AM/FM, CD (DAB+ in Crusade).
- Storage: 252 litres with all three rows raised, 654 litres with the third row dropped. Maximum of 1080 litres to the window line with all rows folded.
- For full specifications, see our product info article here.
Kia’s Sorento, Hyundai’s Santa Fe and even Toyota’s own Kluger have the Fortuner bested for style and ‘quality feel’ to the interior.
It’s a bit elusive – that ‘feel’ thing – and not all will agree, but there are echoes of its ‘commercial’ origins inside the Fortuner’s doors.
The soft padding to the front of the dash and along the sides of the centre-stack (and elsewhere) has a cheap ‘pleather’ feel, and the arrangement of things generally is a bit heavy-handed and style-less.
But there is nothing wrong with the seats, nor the trim materials used – tough, hard-wearing but attractive fabric in the GX and GXL, smart leather in the Crusade.
The seats themselves are comfortable, shaped right and padded right for long distances in the saddle and for picking along a bush track.
There is also nothing wrong with the feature lists for each of the models, nor the easy navigation of the touch-screen controller.
The snug sense of refinement and of quiet isolation inside is also a real surprise.
The very smooth 2.8 litre diesel barely intrudes at highway speeds (it’s more evident when accelerating or at lower speeds), and tyre roar – even with the All-Terrain radials fitted, is not in the least intrusive.
There is a bit of wind flutter from the base of the A-pillars and wing-mirrors, but the Fortuner is as quiet as any family wagon on the highway. (Quieter than one or more of the Mercedes diesels, for instance.)
The flexible seating will appeal to families. The third row, rather than folding flat into the floor, splits to lift up sideways (like an older Pajero). They don’t remove especially easily, but it allows for a lower and more useable floorspace.
There are bottle holders and pockets in the doors, a chilled cubby under the centre arm-rest (in GXL and Crusade models), a roof-mounted sunnies holder and gaping glovebox.
Maximum braked towing capacity is 3.0 tonne for the manual, 2.8 tonne for the auto (but that’s without a load in the car – talk to your dealer about GVM and GCM before hitching up for the big Australian trip).
ON THE ROAD
- Engine/transmission: 2.8 litre 16 valve DOHC turbo-diesel/ 6-spd manual or 6-spd automatic
- Power/torque: 130kW @ 3400rpm/450Nm @ 1600 -2400rpm (AT) and 420Nm @ 1400 – 2400rpm(MT)
- Suspension: double wishbone (front); independent five-link (rear)
- Steering: rack and pinion – 3.3 turns lock-to-lock
- Brakes: 338mm ventilated discs (front); 312mm ventilated discs (rear)
We took the new Fortuner from Hawker SA and up through the Flinders Ranges with lots of time on bitumen, some long looping gravel runs across the spectacular ridge-lines between Wilpena Pound and Parachilna, and lots of dry creek-crossings in-between.
Though the off-road excursions were mostly lighter-duty, some heavily-rutted rock-strewn steep pinches and a short run stepping in and out of the steep banks of a dry creek-bed gave us a good look at the Fortuner’s 4X4 capabilities.
This is the kind of drive, concentrated into two pushed days, that a family might consider as a week-long four-wheel-drive adventure holiday. Not too challenging, but spectacular scenery and a long way off the beaten track.
Under the Fortuner’s bonnet is the 2.8 litre turbo-diesel shared with the HiLux, with a “low-friction timing chain designed to last the life of the vehicle”.
With a healthy 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque (automatic, or 420Nm manual), the Fortuner is not found wanting for ‘get up and go’ on the highway and has ample torque for winding slowly up and over a heavily rutted pinch.
‘4H’ can be engaged on the run, for 4L, the vehicle needs to be brought to a stop. A rear differential lock can be engaged when things get really hairy off-road.
There are also three driving modes, Eco, Normal and Power. The latter really adding fire to the performance.
Hit the button at the rear of the shift and it livens things up with a sudden surge underfoot. (At a guess, it releases at least another 10 percent of power… handy when looking for a burst for overtaking.)
The smoothness and willingness of the 2.8 litre diesel puts a lot of passenger diesels to shame. It will haul without complaint to its 4500rpm redline, and there is little (or none) of the ‘marble-in-a-tin’ rattle of older diesels that can become so wearing on-road.
It’s hard to pick a winner of the transmissions. The auto is smooth and well-matched to the torque characteristics of the diesel and allows for manual control (with paddles in the Crusade and GXL).
The 6-spd manual is surprisingly good however, with a very nice feel through the ‘gate’ – quite unlike a commercial ‘box’ – and a nicely weighted clutch.
The steering is a little light for my liking, and the Fortuner’s short wheelbase is evident on-road – it wanders a little at (high) speed, and is a little unsettled over smaller amplitude ripples. The A/T tyres likely play a part here.
But it is surprisingly comfortable (the suspension has a well-sorted ‘long-travel’ feel), and surprisingly swift and unstressed – at 100km/h it’s barely pulling 1500rpm.
Off-road, the short wheelbase is a boon when stepping over rocks, and the 30 degree approach and 25 degree departure angle will have you nosing into deep ravines without having to worry about knocking bits off extremities front and rear.
Lastly, we averaged between 9.8 l/100km and 11.1 l/100km depending on the drivetrain (manual was a little more efficient) and the type of work we were doing. Not at all bad considering the slow sections and climbs we encountered along the way.
ANCAP RATING: The Toyota Fortuner has yet to be assessed by ANCAP
Safety features: Standard dynamic and passive safety features for the new Fortuner include vehicle stability control, active traction control, trailer sway control, ABS brakes, hill descent control, seat-belt warning, reversing camera and seven air-bags among a longer list of safety features
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Toyota’s new Fortuner is destined to be the benchmark for the sector.
On price, it has the wood on the Ford Everest, Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero. The new Challenger (to be launched next week at the Tokyo Motor Show – we’ll be going for a look) might pose… well… a “challenge”, but the Fortuner is far more refined and satisfying than the cheaper Isuzu MU-X and the coarse Holden Colorado7.
Kluger, Sorento, Santa Fe, et al, compete only as SUV wagons, they have none of the 4X4 capability of the Fortuner.
But have a look at the following:
VERDICT | OVERALL
This is a very convincing car. In fact, more than any other model in its line-up, Toyota has the all-purpose SUV wagon here in this new Fortuner.
Considerably cheaper than the Prado, it will do anything the Prado can do, and go anywhere it can go. Ditto for Ford’s new Everest, which suddenly looks quite a bit overpriced.
It will do anything HiLux will do – except carry two trail bikes in the tub – and go anywhere the Hilux will go. Ditto the Ranger, Navara, and Triton.
Grey nomads will love the new Fortuner for its relative comfort, towing capabilities and moderate diesel thirst.
And tradies who prefer to keep their gear secure inside (and need a car that can double as a family wagon) will love it for its ‘work-boots’ - that robust HiLux drivetrain down below – as much as for its practical creature comforts.
And families will love it for the seven-seat wagon space, car-like manners and that middle-Australia asking price.
We think the name sucks but we’ll get used to it. This is a cracking good 4X4 wagon (and should have been here years ago).
Well done to Toyota’s Australian engineering team for this one.