Toyota Fortuner (Seven-seat family SUV)

The new Toyota Fortuner is a commanding beast of a seven-seater giving great road presence and luxurious interior comfort.

Toyota Fortuner 2017

The Toyota Hilux is the Japanese manufacturer’s terrain-beating off-road truck that has gained popularity over the years for its endurance capabilities, mechanical toughness and also being “something” of an off-road beast. In production since 1968, the Hilux continues to be the off-roader of choice for drivers needing extreme reliability and sturdiness, especially with tradies.

You may be wondering …… why I am telling you about a truck instead of Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)? Well, to understand the Toyota Fortuner you should first know about the vehicle that underpins it... it is built on the Hilux pickup truck platform...the terrain-conquering Hilux platform.

The exterior of the new Fortuner is now in more in line with Toyota’s latest generation vehicles. The sharp front outlook is headlined by the radiator grille with thick, slanted front accents, creating a muscular and modern profile. Chrome trims add to the SUV's sleek appearance.

There are three grades – GX, GXL and Crusade – all powered by a 2,753-litre, four-cylinder direct-injection turbo-diesel engine with choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission, with part time four wheel drive and automatic hubs. The Crusade automatic, at $59,990 plus on road costs, was the test vehicle.

The new Fortuner cuts a strong and aggressive figure on the road. It has certainly moves away from the more boxy appearance of its predecessor. Rear tail lamps are striking with high-tech look and are less truck-like. And like the front the rear also features some neat looking nips and tucks.

This seven-seat SUV is huge at 4,795mm x 1,855mm x 1,835mm x 2750mm (LxWxHxWB) and ground clearance of 279mm. It has ample road presence and sits very high off the ground.

Our test SUV boasts a plush and comfortable interior, with a generous lavishing of Brown/Chamois leather all around the cabin that contrasts nicely with dark trimmings. There is touch screen Sat-Nav and Reversing Cam, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, mp3 input, and blue tooth phone connection. It has two zones Air-Con control, firstly for the front, then vents in the ceiling with adjustment controls for second row passengers. There are isofix child-seat attachments in the two outer second-row seats.

There is space for up to seven passengers in three rows, with configuration of 2-3-2. Once you are inside, benches are ergonomic and comfortable, while all-around visibility is good, but the third row is definitely for kids only.

The 60:40 spilt-fold second-row seats have a one-touch slide and quick tumble feature, for quick and easy access to the third row, or to open up cargo space, whilst the 50:50 third-row seats fold up against the side of the cargo compartment when unused, also to make cargo space.

Legroom is excellent up front. The driver’s seat benefits from electrical adjusters. The mid-row seat adjusts by forward and rear slide. It does recline slightly which comes as a plus for longer distances trips.

Speaking of size, Toyota Fortuner has increased the size of the suspension shock absorber cylinders allowing quicker stroke performance. This is where you are reminded that there is a Hilux chassis underneath as it can get slightly jittery on the road and rides hard over high bumps.

I did briefly take the Fortuner onto a rough track and it definitely feels well in its element on uneven gravel roads.

When I put my foot down, you are reminded that this SUV weighs almost two tonnes - I do feel it would benefit from a larger engine. Maximum power from the 2.8-litre turbodiesel auto is 130kW and peak torque is 450Nm, however after getting the speed past around 40km/h, acceleration is smooth and the SUV picks up well.

Handling is acceptable for a SUV its size. Whilst there is still body roll, due to the sheer mass of the thing, the SUV does not feel overly cumbersome.

After driving it for a week, I felt the Fortuner to be an imposing figure, usually dwarfing surrounding cars, that embodies all of Toyota's usual safety, reliability and usability in a premium, high-riding body.

If you are after a large SUV that will do troop carrying duties, or convert to store quite a payload of goods, with stellar all-terrain capabilities that will dominate on the road, while boasting a luxurious and comfortable interior, the new Toyota Fortuner will certainly fit the bill.
  • Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Power: 130kW at 3,400rpm
  • Torque: 450Nm at 1,600-2,400rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto, part-time four-wheel-drive
  • Fuel use: 8.6L/100km
  • Tank: 80Litres
$61,990, plus on-road and dealer costs