TOYOTA FORTUNER AUSTRALIA
The Toyota 4Runner may be coming back. A Toyota insider today confirmed to TMR that the carmaker is considering the HiLux-based Fortuner for the Australian market.
“There is a gap in our line-up below the Kluger,” the insider told TMR. “We would like to have a diesel (SUV) to sit in there.”
If it gets the green light, the Fortuner would come to us from the same Thailand plant that builds the Australian-delivered HiLux, he confirmed.
The Fortuner, a four-door wagon version of the HiLux, sharing the same engines and four-wheel-drive platform, sells strongly in Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa and the South Americas.
Toyota Australia’s technical centre was heavily involved in the design and engineering of the current model.
Certainly, Australian Toyota dealers are known to be pressing for the Fortuner, seen here in previous incarnations as the 4Runner. More than one has confirmed to TMR in the past year that it sits squarely on their wishlist.
It makes sense: there is no hard-working genuine 4X4 ‘wagon’ - ie. five sensible doors - below the now-pricey Prado. (The FJ Cruiser sits in another niche entirely.)
While the RAV4 and Kluger offer AWD versions, they are light-duty off-roaders at best. And not ones you would pack the family into for the big adventure to the Cape.
The Fortuner though is quite a different kettle of fish.
It can be specified with a 3.0 litre diesel, seven seats, a transfer-case, a proper ‘hard graft’ 4X4 system, and, like its predecessor, the latter-versions of the 4Runner sold here, five doors.
If Isuzu’s new MU-X gets a bit of traction here, it’s good enough to do it, and if Mitsubishi’s next Challenger continues to carve out a solid if small sales niche, we’ll be saying “hello Fortuner”, sure as eggs.