Hilux-looks and baby-Prado ability? Oh yeah.
The Toyota Fortuner has actually been around since 2005, though we never saw that model. Its Hilux-based origins were clear to see, with the original Fortuner sharing a lot of its aesthetic features with Australia’s favourite ute. This second-generation model may share the same underpinnings with the Hilux, but its looks certainly distinguish it from the ute it’s related to.
The Fortuner is positioned as a diesel-powered alternative to the Toyota Kluger, and sports a similar 2+3+2 seating layout, making for seven in total. Where the Kluger is powered exclusively to a thirsty V6 engine, the Fortuner employs the same turbodiesel found in the Hilux, and even packs greater off-road capability thanks to its rugged body-on-frame construction and impressive ride height. Available in GX, GXL, and Crusade trims, there really is a Fortuner for everyone.
“The front end is right up there with the latest in SUV design. A squared-off rear end fails to fit in, harking back to the days when the boxy LandCruiser was all the go.” - CarsGuide
While Australians were busy going ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over the latest Hilux, most of our neighbours were gawking at the new plusher, sharper Fortuner. With its slim projector headlights and LED daytime running lights, imposing face with receding chin (for a better approach angle; it isn’t as obvious as the treatment on the Hilux), and thin rear lights with LED light guides, the Fortuner looked more upmarket than even its plusher Prado sibling. Couple that with the snazzy 18” alloys on Crusade-spec cars, and you have an SUV that can cut it in town, on the motorway, or on a hillside.
Side-steps and mud-flaps, along with all-terrain tyres for the lower GX and GXL cars mark out the Fortuner as a considerable force off-road, along with its impressive ride height. You will be able to peer over urban traffic with ease thanks to the vantage point this provides, along with the relatively-high seating position, but more on that below.
Engine & Drivetrain
“It’s exclusively diesel power in the Fortuner…” - Drive
There’s only one engine on offer in the Fortuner, coming in the form of a new 2.8-litre inline-4 turbodiesel. The 132kW it produces may not set your heart on fire, but the 450Nm of torque just might. It’s a smooth, new-generation engine, replete with a variable-nozzle turbocharger that helps reduce the effects of turbo lag.
Power goes down to all four corners via either a six-speed manual transmission, which is standard on all trim levels. A little step up will see a six-speed automatic in place instead, along with paddle-shifters mounted on the steering wheel to offer a little more control to the driver. The automatic, Toyota predicts, will be the choice for 95% of Fortuner owners.
“Sharing a cabin with the eight-generation Hilux is no bad thing for the Fortuner.” - ChasingCars
If you’re familiar with the Hilux ute, the interior of the Fortuner will feel like home. Rather, like home with an upgrade, because the Fortuner is noticeably more plush than its utilitarian sibling. The materials employed are considerably more pliant, with a considerable increase in perceived quality. The Fortuner is very much designed to be a day-to-day car, and so its cabin has been geared toward that. It’s comfortable and logically laid out, and moving up step-by-step from GX trim will see additional plush materials and finishes, with the Fortuner Crusade feeling reminiscent of a Lexus from circa-2005 (but looking far more up-to-date, obviously).
There are seven seats in here, with the third row even able to accommodate adults for short journeys. The second row have a one-touch tumble-and-slide functionality, making access to the third row fairly easy. With all the seats in place however, the Fortuner’s cargo-carrying capability is reduced to a size comparable to a family hatchback, so the third-row of seats are really made for short trips.
Behind the Wheel
“All around, the Fortuner manages to strike a balance between spry and solid.” - Motorama
If you think the Fortuner promises a sporty drive, think again. This is a high-riding, ladder-frame SUV, and so it puts great emphasis on comfort out on the open road. The new 2.8-litre turbodiesel makes this a great motorway companion, with its 450Nm of torque excellent for smooth overtaking manoeuvres. The ride, though not uncomfortable, can be a little brittle over some surfaces though thanks to its relatively rudimentary rear suspension setup. Body roll is well controlled, and grip is commendable, but it’d be a stretch to call the Fortuner ‘sporty.’
A great deal of time was spent by Toyota’s engineers to increase the offered refinement in the Fortuner, and it shows. Aside from the muted engine, a generous distribution of sound-deadening material throughout the cabin means that there’s little in the way of tyre roar (especially on the Crusade, which runs on highway-terrain tyres, as opposed to all-terrain ones on the lesser two trims), and little wind noise until you venture past the speed limit. Steering is light at low speeds and weights up reassuringly as you press on, which is again, great for the motorway.
Off-road is where the Fortuner shines, though we reckon not many owners will truly exploit the big Toyota’s capabilities. It might not be quite as geared for roughing it out as say a Toyota Prado, but it can certainly keep up with contemporaries like the Ford Escape and Isuzu MU-X. There’s dual-range gearing, outstanding wheel articulation, and a lockable rear differential to ensure that the Fortuner keeps on going, and it really will take a lot to bog one down. So rather than carve up a coast road, why don’t you climb up a hill instead?
Safety & Technology
“All Fortuners rate as Excellent for safety on the WhichCar scale.” - WhichCar
Safety-wise, the Fortuner is pretty well taken care off. Seven airbags are dotted around the cabin, and all cars get things like electronic stability control, automatic headlights, and a reversing camera. There are side-curtain airbags that stretch all the way to the third row, as well as three-point seatbelts for all passengers. Hill-start assist also gets thrown in as standard, which makes progressing on a slope less tricky (especially in manual models).
Electronic traction control, trailer-sway control (which uses the brakes and the engine to control trailer movements when they get unruly), a full-sized spare and incredibly-bright LED headlights (Crusade only) means the Fortuner is very well specced for those who may have to travel long-haul. Cruise control will help ease the burden to a degree, along with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Those looking for range should be quite pleased with the Fortuner, with its 80-litre fuel tank able to provide a theoretical range of over 700km on a single tank of fuel.
We didn't miss out much when the first-generation Toyota Fortuner missed the flight to Australia, but this second-generation promises to be a real success. The impressive level of kit on offer across all three trim levels, fantastic off-road ability and impressive cruising manners makes the Fortuner a really great choice for those who travel more than most, and need a car that will cater to the specific demands of their lives. Whether it’s hauling the family or carrying supplies, if you’re willing to trade the cargo bed of the Hilux ute for some occasional seats, the Fortuner is the car for you.
And the truly amazing thing is, there’s very little trade-off in terms of utility, despite the more family-friendly proposition the Fortuner presents.
There are plenty of contenders on this end of the market, so the Fortuner’s got its work cut out for it. The Ford Everest offers even better road manners and a more imposing presence on the road, while the Mazda CX-9 is a far more refined companion in town. However, if you think your SUV should be good navigating the business district as well as it handles the outback, then the Fortuner is definitely worth considering.
CarAdvice - 7.5/10 - “We came away from the Fortuner launch quite surprised. We weren’t expecting such a refined and complete package. The premium elements of the vehicle help differentiate it enough from the HiLux, while the sharp pricing also makes it a cost-effective and versatile SUV proposition.”
WhichCar - 3.0/5.0 - “The Toyota Fortuner is a family-sized, seven-seat SUV based on the popular HiLux ute. It’s built tough, will go a long way off road, and is good at towing. It also strikes a nice balance between ruggedness and everyday usability.”
4x4 Australia - 3.0/5.0- “It’s hard to see the Fortuner not going well for Toyota. It’s built tough, drives well, and has genuine off-road capability. The Fortuner will no doubt affect the sales of existing competitors.”
CarsGuide - 4.5/5.0 - “At $60,000, while some might see the Fortuner as a poor man's LandCruiser, the Crusade variant carries enough kit and delivers convenience and comfort to match the Cruiser and its high-end rivals.”
Drive - 5.5/10 - “It's a new nameplate but the Fortuner's Hilux roots mean it has instant pedigree as a good, honest off-roader. And as Toyota's most affordable seven-seat diesel it's easy to see the appeal, especially for those wanting to tow.”
ChasingCars - 7.1/10 - “This 4x4 is a seven-seater based on the new eighth-generation HiLux—the two models share engines, cabin elements, and off-roading kit. The Fortuner name has been popular in Asia for years—and in the face of stiff new competition, Toyota are banking on moving plenty of them down under.”
TopGear India - 7.0/10 - “Overall, Toyota has thrown a bit of mixed bag at us with the new Fortuner. While the exteriors have moved away from its brute-like character, the interiors remain strictly okay. Yes, it is an upgrade over the older vehicle, but it doesn’t feel particularly plush or stylish.”