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Future models - Toyota - Fortuner

Fortuner steps in for Toyota’s Kluger diesel

New oil: The HiLux-based Fortuner will give fans of the Toyota brand a diesel seven-seat SUV option hat was previously not available to them.

Toyota hopes to lure diesel buyers put off by the Kluger’s petrol-only line-up

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Toyota logo17 Jul 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

TOYOTA Australia is hoping its upcoming Fortuner 4x4 will attract diesel-powered large SUV buyers who have long excluded the petrol-only Kluger from their shopping lists.

While pricing and specification details will be divulged closer to the Thai-built seven-seater’s launch in late October, it is expected to be positioned significantly below the more high-end Toyota Prado that – from $51,990 before on-road costs for the 3.0D manual – is currently is the company’ s cheapest diesel offering with seven seats.

A number of other large SUV rivals are offered with seven seats and an oil-burning powertrain, including the Ford Territory, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, and Holden Captiva 7.

Using its natural competitors like the Holden Colorado 7, Mitsubishi Challenger, and Isuzu MU-X as a guide, the newcomer will most likely kick off with a sub-$45,000 asking price for the base GX manual, extending to near $60,000 for the flagship Crusade automatic.

All variants will be powered by the 130kW/450NM 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel also doing duty in the next-generation Toyota HiLux on which the ladder-framed chassis Fortuner 4x4 is heavily based on.

Its arrival also puts paid to any suggestion that a diesel-powered Kluger is in the pipeline, at least for the next few years, as the latter’s existing third-generation model was only launched in March last year.

According to Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb, the Fortuner at last gives the company ammunition in the sub-$50,000 seven-seater diesel private buyer market that is growing at about double the pace of other SUVs.

“Its arrival in Australia is well timed,” he told the Australian media at the Fortuner’s unveiling in Sydney. “Last year diesel SUV sales were four times higher than they were a decade ago, which represents twice the phenomenal growth rate of the overall SUV market.

“Typically, most diesel SUV sales have been to business, government and fleet buyers, and they remain a significant opportunity. However, the market is changing, and over the past two years, the majority of diesel SUV sales have been to private buyers… so the Fortuner is the right vehicle at the right time.” While Mr Cramb would not be drawn on Fortuner pricing or positioning, he said that there has long been a gap in the market from Toyota’s point of view that will finally be addressed with the Thai-built 4x4.

“This model fits perfectly into our current line-up and doesn’t really require any changes (for either the Kluger or Prado),” he explained. “With Kluger only available in petrol and the increasing reliance of the Australian SUV market on diesel, there was clearly an opportunity for us to present this vehicle to meet a need in the market for us. And that’s very definitely the approach we’re taking with the Fortuner.” However, despite being touted as a sub-Prado/Ford Everest proposition – the latter’s base price is $54,990 for the diesel automatic, putting it head-to-head with the Prado equivalent – Mr Cramb said he believes the Fortuner will probably pull customers in down from the more expensive seven-seater SUVs, including the Prado.

“(As far as the Everest is concerned), the customer base for this vehicle is so broad, we think this is for virtually anybody who is after a large SUV,” he admits.

“(However) we do have many customers who would consider a Kluger but like a diesel alternative, and Kluger sells more than one thousand a month, so there will be many customers who will be (keen on Fortuner).”

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