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Confirmed: Toyota Fortuner SUV is go for Australia

4-bear: The Toyota Fortuner will reprise the 1980s 4Runner’s role as the SUV version of the HiLux ute.

Toyota Oz to go back to the future with the new HiLux-based Fortuner SUV wagon

Toyota logo22 May 2015

By TIM ROBSON

AFTER months of speculation, Toyota Australia has confirmed that it will add to its current SUV line-up with the HiLux-based Fortuner wagon that will take on Ford's incoming Australian-developed Everest.

Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb told GoAuto that the Toyota Technical Centre in Melbourne was “heavily involved” in the design of the last-generation Fortuner, and that the door is now open for the new-generation seven-seater to make its way to market here.

“We have requested Fortuner for Australia, and we’d love to have it here,” he told GoAuto. “It’s now been made available to us. What we now need to do is work out the details, but we want it, they’re prepared to give it to us, now we just have to work out when.

“We haven’t secured or announced anything, but it’s going to come.”

Mr Cramb said that the Fortuner had been on the local arm’s wish-list for a long period.

“We’ve been keen to get something like that for some time,” he said. “The next-generation Fortuner, which is coming shortly, is very, very well suited to this market,” he said.

Mr Cramb added that while Toyota hasn’t designed the new-generation Fortuner specifically for Australia, the local arm had a “role” in the design and specification of the latest version.

The still yet to be revealed Fortuner would most likely be positioned above the petrol-only Kluger and below the Prado in Toyota’s six-SUV line-up.

Toyota sold SUV versions of the HiLux in Australia, known as the 4Runner, between 1984 and 1996.

More than 27,500 4Runners were sold in Australia between 1984 and 1996. Toyota officials did not dismiss the suggestion that the name may be brought back for the new-generation car.

Mr Cramb would not put a timeline on the vehicle’s arrival, or be drawn on any of the specs.

Given it will be based on the just-unveiled eighth-generation HiLux, however, the Fortuner will likely inherit Toyota’s all-new 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, code-named 1GD-FTV, that makes 130kW and 450Nm of torque between 1600–2400rpm when coupled to the HiLux’ s new six-speed automatic transmission.

The softer, more road-biased suspension layout that is set to underpin the private buyer-focused 4x4 dual-cab HiLux models is also likely to be adopted by the Fortuner, though a couple of its key rivals use a multi-link or strut rear end to improve passenger comfort at the expense of payload.

It will compete in the local space against the likes of Ford’s incoming Ranger-based Everest, the Holden Colorado7, Isuzu’s MU-X and the Mitsubishi Challenger, itself scheduled for a revamp off the back of its donor Triton’s recent makeover.

The Challenger, MU-X and Colorado7 sold almost 8000 units combined in 2014.

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