Toyota Australia pulled the covers off its HiLux-based Fortuner 4X4 Wagon, confirming what many industry watchers have recognised as an inevitability: it’s coming to this market.
And we won’t have long to wait – the new Fortuner is expected in Toyota showrooms in October this year, hot on the heels of the new HiLux’s launch here.
Expected at an entry price below the $46,990 FJ Cruiser, the Fortuner will be powered by the same 2.8 litre turbodiesel four-cylinder used by 4x4 variants of the HiLux. A 4x4 driveline will be standard.
Coming in three model grades, GX, GXL and Crusade, each will offer seven-seats as standard, reverse camera, air-conditioning, touchscreen, side-steps, and ‘Toyota link’ as well as seven airbags (including third-row airbags), hill-start assist and emergency stop.
Diesel-powered, with a ladder-frame chassis and built on the robust and proven HiLux platform, this is a car made for this country. With Australia's fondness for the HiLux and its reputation for ruggedness, the Fortuner should quickly find its feet here.
“The new Fortuner has the rugged underpinnings of the unbreakable HiLux,” Toyota Australia CEO Tony Cramb said.
It is this fact, and that it will ride on the shirt-tails of the HiLux’s success here – Australia’s best-selling 4X4 ute and one of the best-selling cars in this country, full-stop – that will likely see it bolt out of the blocks.
With up to 130kW and 450Nm available from a 2.8 litre turbo-diesel, the Fortuner will be available with both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic tranmsissions.
A selectrable 4x4 drivetrain takes power to the ground, and with a five-link coil-sprung solid axle rear and mechanical rear diff-lock as standard, the new Fortuner will match the heavy-duty ‘off-road’ capabilities of Isuzu’s MU-X and the upcoming Mitsubishi Challenger.
It also comes with a 3.0 tonne braked towing capacity (manual) and 2.8 tonne (auto).
And, with the suspension package and electronics tuned by Toyota Australia engineers, Toyota is also claiming comfortable on-road performance to dovetail with those off-road, hard-grafting credentials.
A logical inclusion
This car – to be priced at “a new entry point to the Toyota 4X4 range” (indicating a price below the $46,990 of the FJ Cruiser) – is a missing piece of the picture for Toyota here, and a logical inclusion in its line-up.
The capable FJ Cruiser has been hamstrung by its petrol-only, auto-only drivetrain. And while certainly strong and sharing a platform and drivetrain with the Prado, its petrol thirst has limited its appeal, especially as a ‘work and play’ tow vehicle.
The Fortuner will have none of those issues and is certain to appeal to the farming and mining sectors, as well as family buyers and nomads.
It will expand Toyota’s SUV range to six vehicles.
“Fortuner is a big opportunity for Toyota in this country,” Toyota Australia spokesperson Stephen Coughlin said.
“[It is] a city SUV with the best off-road capability.”
With Ford’s new Everest on the horizon, new Challenger in the offing and a strong-performing Isuzu MU-X in this market, things are certainly now going to get interesting for buyers looking for heavy duty off-road capability and a family car, rolled into one.
Pricing will be confirmed closer to launch, but, given the “entry-point” comments from Toyota, expect the GX to kick-off the range from sub-$47k.
By contrast, Isuzu's MU-X LS-M begins at $45,600 (plus on-roads), and new Everest will launch with an entry-point of $54,990.