BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS MEDIUM
Toyota’s seven-seat Fortuner was based on the 2016 HiLux platform. Part-time-4WD was the only driveline available.
Although the nameplate was new Down Under the Fortuner HiLux derivative has been sold in some countries since 2005. Global sales have grown from 50,000 in the first year to around 200,000 annually.
The 2016 Fortuner was based on the 2016 HiLux platform and was certainly a much better looking vehicle than the original overseas-only model.
Fortuner was launched in Australia in three grades: GX, GXL and Crusade.
A six-speed manual gearbox included ‘intelligent’ technology on GXL and Crusade grades, to ensure smoother shifting by matching engine speed to transmission speed. A newly developed six-speed automatic transmission was also available.
All variants were fitted with trailer sway control, which is designed to assist if a towed vehicle becomes unsettled by crosswinds, bumpy roads or sharp turns of the steering wheel. Maximum braked towing capacity was three tonnes for the manual and 2.8 tonnes for the auto.
A part-time 4WD system was fitted; with high or low range selection by a dial switch.
The double-wishbone front and five-link, coil-spring rear suspensions were tuned by local engineers to suit Australia’s harsh conditions, Toyota claimed.
Front and rear stabiliser bars were fitted.
Local development included tuning of the stability and active traction control electronics for local conditions, particularly gravel roads. Drivers could disable the stability control electronics for off-road situations such as driving in mud or sand.
The vehicle’s off-road ability was enhanced by a rear differential lock, with its actuator within the differential housing for off-road protection.
A reversing camera was standard across the range, as were seven airbags, hill-start assist control and an emergency stop signal.
All variants featured front and rear air-conditioning, touchscreen audio displays, Toyota Link connected mobility, side steps, 17- or 18-inch wheels, disc brakes front and rear, and an air-conditioned compartment that helped keep drinks and food warm or cold.
The two higher grades were fitted with roof rails, fog lamps, reverse parking sensors, keyless smart entry and start, and downhill assist control.
The Crusade model had bi-LED headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, a power back door and 18-inch wheels with highway tyres.
Toyota’s 2.8-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel engine raised the bar for fuel efficiency, performance and quietness, but not
for its emissions system reliability.
Maximum torque of 450Nm, when coupled to the six-speed automatic transmission, was available from 1600 to 2400rpm. Manual transmission Fortuners were limited to 420Nm, because the box couldn’t handle more torque.
Toyota expected and scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, as all variants were equipped with stability and active traction control, seven airbags, reversing camera, trailer sway control, hill-start assist control and rake-and-reach adjustments for the steering column. It includes three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX child-seat mounts.
The GX grade had a starting price of $47,990 for the manual and $2000 more for the auto: expensive, we thought.
Standard equipment included fabric seat-coverings with contrast stitching, projector-style headlamps, LED tail-lamps, an air-conditioned cool box, Bluetooth connectivity, six speakers, three 12V accessory sockets, audio and phone controls mounted on the steering wheel, eco and power drive modes and a multi-information display (MID) in the instrument cluster.
Mid-range GXL gained aluminium wheels, keyless entry and start, roof rails, reverse parking sensors, fog lamps, colour MID, privacy glass and downhill assist control. Manual versions have Toyota’s innovative ‘intelligent’ system that matches engine revolutions to transmission speed for smooth shifting. Auto variants have paddle shifters.
Pricing started at $52,990.
Top-of-the range Crusade had a leather-accented interior, satellite navigation, power tailgate, climate-control air-conditioning, bi-LED headlamps, 18-inch aluminium wheels (including the spare), 220V socket and a power-operated driver’s seat. It was priced from $59,990.
If you had any money left, a range of Toyota Genuine accessories was available, including airbag-compatible bull bars, towbar and load distribution hitch.
In October 2019 the Fortuner received safety equipment upgrades.
Toyota’s pre-collision safety system used a forward-facing camera and radar that the company claimed could detect vehicles and pedestrians day or night and cyclists during the day.
Lane-departure technology was designed to alert the driver with visual and audible warnings and vibrates the steering wheel. If necessary, it could provide steering assistance through the braking system.
Fortuner also gained active cruise control (ACC) to maintain a suitable distance from a vehicle ahead when travelling above 40 km/h, coupled with road-sign assist (RSA).
In further upgrades, Fortuner GX joined the GXL and Crusade variants in having a colour 4.2-inch screen, displaying key driving information in the instrument cluster.
The new safety and convenience features resulted in price increases of 2.3 to 3.0 percent.
Every Fortuner was equipped with an air-conditioned cool box, Bluetoothconnectivity and audio and phone controls mounted on the steering wheel.
Extra equipment for GXL variants included keyless smart entry and start, roof rails, fog lamps, privacy glass and downhill assist control.
Top-of-the-range Crusade had leather-accented interior, power tailgate, climate-control air-conditioning, bi-LED headlamps, 18-inch wheels and a power-operated driver’s seat.
The 2020 Fortuner launch was delayed by Covid-19 and sales were scheduled for August 2020.
The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine was upgraded and power increased to 150kW, with a torque peak of 500Nm.
Improved engine cooling is said to have enabled fuel consumption to be reduced, but we’ll test that when we get hold of a new Fortuner.
Another significant customer benefit is a 300kg increase in the maximum braked towing capacity of 3100kg.
The updated Fortuner scored a larger black grille, restyled bumpers, more prominent fog-lamp bezels and slimmer LED headlamps.
Inside, there was a larger 200mm (eight-inch) display screen that supported Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smartphone integration and advanced features including enhanced voice activation.
Satellite navigation and digital (DAB) radio were available with the GX and standard on the GXL and Crusade.
On and off road
Our 2017 Fortuner test vehicle was a 50-grand GX auto model. Being based on the HiLux platform that we’ve tested, the Fortuner had inbuilt strength. The principal mechanical difference between the HiLux and the Fortuner was the use of coil rear springs in place of leaves.
Ride quality was better than the HiLux’s bouncy progress, but the rear end seemed to hit the bump stops all too readily on large bumps. It felt like it needed longer rear coils and better dampers, with improved bump valving.
Handling was flat and predictable and any wayward tendencies on loose gravel were kept in check by the stability control system. Unlike the Prado the Fortuner didn’t have full-time 4WD and still didn’t in 2019.
Performance wasn’t an issue and the wagon returned 9L/100km on our on and off road test.
Off road the Fortuner was very capable and drivers had the choice of letting traction control do the wheelspin limiting function, or they could use the rear diff lock. However, there was no front axle traction control when the diff was locked.
Check out our video of the test: