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Driven: Fortuner gives Toyota more SUV firepower

Sharing is caring: The Toyota Fortuner uses the same 2.8-litre turbo-diesel powertrain as the recently launched HiLux ute with which it shares mechanicals, and the updated Prado.

Toyota's Fortuner conquers Everest on price, but early supply could be an issue

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Toyota logo21 Oct 2015

By STUART MARTIN

THE ute-based SUV segment has been shaken up by the much-anticipated arrival of the HiLux-based Toyota Fortuner that undercuts the rival Ford Everest.

Starting from $47,990 plus on-road costs and available range-wide in six-speed manual and automatic guises, the seven-seater boasts serious off-road and towing prowess and promises road manners more civilised than current offerings.

The Japanese car-maker's Australian arm has reinforced its influence on SUV product offerings with its technical centre's contribution to the Fortuner's development, including input into chassis and design.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the new wagon slots into the SUV range as a diesel off-road alternative to the Kluger and a value choice for aspiring Prado owners.

Mr Cramb is also concerned the Fortuner's demand might well outstrip the 500 vehicles a month – an allocation of 6000 is slated for next year – that will be supplied.

“What we've realised is that we've undercalled it, we can't really change that,” he said. “We've started to talk to the manufacturing people in Thailand about that. It's better than we anticipated.”

Not that the brand needs to bolster its SUV ranks to help sales – its four-wheel drive and SUV sales so far this year are up by 3.9 per cent to 43,553 units and more than 13,000 ahead of its competition.

Mr Cramb declined to pass judgement on the pricing of its rival, the Ford Everest, which starts from $54,990 and tops out at $76,990.

“Everest starts a bit higher than where we are. Our product guys have evaluated it and it's a slightly different offering. We'll leave it to you to draw the comparison.

“We think we are introducing our product – despite the fact that we can't get enough of them – and that the pricing is very competitive,” he said.

The company is adamant that the Fortuner will tap into a market segment that has seen Toyota losing sales to other brands that offer diesel power and genuine four-wheel drive ability in a seven-seater.

“There's no point in bringing something that cannibalises, but we genuinely believe that we are missing sales at the moment and not offering customers a diesel if they can't quite get to a Prado,” Mr Cramb said.

“Those customers have been going to our competitors over the last couple of years. The fact that it is supply restricted will probably assure that cannibalisation is limited.”

The model range is available in GX from $47,990, GXL at $52,990 and new range-topping Crusade from $59,990, all with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the six-speed automatic adds an extra $2000.

The poweplant, which is shared with the new HiLux and upgraded Prado is a 2.8-litre four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel engine that produces 130kW of power – 13kW shy of the 200-odd kg heavier 143kW/470Nm auto-only Everest.

Torque of 420Nm (from 1400 to 2600rpm) is on offer when teamed with the manual and 450Nm (from 16000 to 2400rpm) when bolted to the automatic, which is expected to represent 90 per cent of sales.

Fuel economy claims from the 80-litre tanks range from 7.8 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres for the manual and 8.6L/100km for the automatic the latter also claims 2800kg braked towing capacity while the former's braked towing rating is 3000kg, both of which exceed the Prado's rating.

Among its off-road credentials are 279mm of ground clearance, a 700mm wading depth, a dual-range transfer case and locally developed underbody protection and bull-bar packages.

Mechanically the Fortuner shares its front suspension – a double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar and damper set-up – with the HiLux, but gets its own five-link, coils, anti-roll bar and damper-equipped rear end for the wagon.

The new Toyota SUV measures just under 4800mm long, 1900mm wide, 1800mm tall and weighs in at just over 2100kg – making it taller, but with a shorter wheelbase and not quite as long or as wide as the petrol-only Kluger.

More than half of the new model's sales are expected to be the GX base variant, which includes as standard seating for seven occupants, with a sliding and folding second row, as well as a third row that can be folded up to the side of the boot area, leaving cargo space of 200 litres with seven aboard, between 654 and 716 when five are seated (depending on the legroom requirements) and a maximum of 1702 litres with two up and loaded to the roofline.

Also on the standard features list is cloth trim, Bluetooth phone and audio link, three 12 volt sockets, air-conditioning with rear airvents for both rows, reach and rake adjustable steering, a rear diff lock, touchscreen controls for the USB input-equipped infotainment system, cruise control, side steps and 17-inch steel wheels.

Standard safety features range-wide include stability (including trailer sway control) and traction control, seven airbags (dual front, side, curtain and a driver's knee airbag), four-wheel disc brakes, a reversing camera and hill-start assist control.

The mid-spec GXL increases the price to $52,990 ($2000 cheaper than the entry-level Everest) but adds alloy wheels (17 inch), keyless entry and ignition, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped wheel, fog-lights, privacy window tint and the descent control system manual buyers also get a rev-matching system, while auto buyers get paddle shifters.

A new flagship known as Crusade is priced from $59,990 and adds leather trim, sat-nav, digital radio reception, a powered tailgate, single-zone climate-control, a leather/wood steering wheel, bi-LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 220-volt socket in the middle row and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

2015 Toyota Fortuner pricing*
GX$47,990
GX (a)$49,990
GXL$52,990
GXL (a)$54,990
Crusade$59,990
Crusade (a)$61,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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