What stands out?
The Toyota Fortuner is a family-sized, seven-seat SUV based on the popular HiLux ute. It’s built tough, will go a long way off road, and is good at towing. It also strikes a nice balance between ruggedness and everyday usability. All Fortuners are equipped with autonomous emergency braking.
What might bug me?
Clatter from the diesel engine, and the bumpy ride, when unladen, might wear you out if you use a Fortuner as an everyday family runabout in the suburbs. (But neither will bother you off road, nor when loaded for a long trip: the engine is very quiet at highway speeds.)
While the handling is respectable for a ute-based SUV, don’t expect the Fortuner to steer or corner on bitumen as convincingly as alternative SUVs designed mainly for road use.
What body styles are there?
The Fortuner is offered solely as a five-door wagon. All come with seven seats as standard.
All Fortuners have part-time four-wheel drive, which means you must select rear-wheel drive for sealed roads but can switch to 4WD when on soft or slippery surfaces. Once in 4WD, you can also choose low-range from the Fortuner’s dual-range gearing, which allows you to drive smoothly at very low speeds – a big help when negotiating rough terrain.
The Fortuner is classed as a large SUV, lower priced.
What features does every Fortuner have?
An active safety suite, that Toyota calls Safety Sense, which includes autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and active cruise control.
A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.
A centrally mounted, 7.0-inch touchscreen display, with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port for your phone or iPod. An audio system with at least six speakers, which can be controlled from the steering wheel. Three 12 volt accessory sockets.
A 4.2-inch colour screen screen that displays key driving information in the instrument cluster.
Seven seats, with a one-touch tumble and slide second seat-row that provides easy access to the third row. Roof-mounted air conditioning vents for occupants in the third row of seats.
Headlamps that switch on automatically when it gets dark, and extremely long-lived LED tail-lights. Side steps (which make it easier to enter and alight from the cabin). Front and rear mudflaps.
Wheels made from aluminium alloy, and a full-sized spare wheel and tyre.
Hill-start assist, which prevents the car from rolling backwards when starting from rest on a slope.
Electronic traction control, which helps you go further off road. A rear differential lock, which can help you maintain drive in very rough or slippery off-road conditions.
An air-conditioned cool box to keep food fresh on long journeys.
Trailer sway control, which automatically uses the brakes and engine to limit trailer movement in high winds, or when driving on rough roads.
An 80-litre fuel tank, which provides a touring range of more than 700km.
Seven airbags. Electronic stability control, which helps you avoid and control skids. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Fortuner safety features, please open the Safety section below.)
The Fortuner comes with Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?
There is only one engine available for the Fortuner, Toyota’s newly developed 2.8-litre turbo-diesel. The same engine is found in the HiLux ute, and a very similar engine powers the Toyota Prado.
Now only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox, it consumes 8.6 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined) – which is about average for this sort of SUV.
In the real world you can expect a Fortuner to average about 11 litres/100km over a range of driving conditions, with consumption approaching 9.0 litres/100km in easy highway cruising.
(Power outputs and all other Fortuner specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)
What key features do I get if I spend more?
All Fortuners share the same engine and four-wheel drive system, so stepping past the least costly model, the GX, and paying more for a GXL or Crusade brings only better interior trims and more equipment.
The GX comes with 17-inch wheels, cloth-covered seats, and the features common to all Fortuners. A manual gearbox is standard, with the auto an extra-cost option.
Spending more for a Fortuner GXL gets you keyless entry and start, so that you can unlock the car and drive away without removing the key from your pocket or bag. You also gain a digital radio receiver, and satellite navigation. Downhill Assist Control brakes the car automatically when descending a steep hill off-road, so that you can concentrate on steering. Roof rails make it easier to fit rooftop luggage systems. And automatic gearbox GXLs have paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
The most expensive Fortuner, the Crusade, comes with an auto gearbox as standard. Seats have part-leather trim, and the front seats power-adjust and can be heated. Climate-control air-conditioning maintains a set temperature, and there is a JBL-branded sound system with more speakers. Headlights rely on very bright and long-lived LEDs. The Crusade also has 18-inch wheels, shod with lower-profile tyres aimed at providing more grip, better fuel economy and less noise on sealed roads.
You can add part-leather, power-adjustable front seats to a Fortuner GXL at extra cost.
Does any upgrade have a down side?
The road-focused tyres on the Crusade will be quieter and give better grip on sealed surfaces, they won’t be as good off road as the all-terrain rubber fitted to the Fortuner GX and GXL.
How comfortable is the Fortuner?
The Fortuner’s cabin is roomy, comfortable, and impressively quiet, thanks to soundproofing that isolates a lot of the tyre and road noise. It’s an easy and relaxing place to sit on long journeys. The cabin’s layout is also simple and easy to navigate. And while the interior finish feels more commercial vehicle than premium passenger car, most of the hard plastics are suitably durable.
The diesel engine exhibits some gruff diesel clatter around town but it is quiet at freeway speeds. . It supplies enough grunt for comfortable highway cruising and hill-climbing, and accelerates moderately when overtaking.
The biggest dynamic let downs are slow steering that does not feel intimately connected with the front wheels, and the rear wheels’ tendency to skip and move around over corrugations – a legacy of the ute-based, live-axle rear suspension.
What about safety in a Toyota Fortuner?
All Fortuners come with anti-lock brakes, and stability control. A reversing camera and rear parking sensors improve your awareness of bystanders in slow-speed manoeuvring. Auto-on headlamps reduce the risk that other drivers won’t see you in poor light.
In October 2019, the Fortuner range gained autonomous emergency braking as standard along with lane departure alert, active cruise control and road-sign assist.
According to Toyota, the autonomous emergency braking system uses a forward-facing camera and radar that can detect vehicles and pedestrians day or night and cyclists during the day.
The technology is also used to detect the vehicle deviates from its lane and alerts the driver with visual and audible warnings and vibrates the steering wheel. If necessary, it can provide steering assistance through the braking system.
The high-speed active cruise control can maintain a suitable distance from a vehicle ahead when travelling above 40 km/h.
The Fortuner has seven airbags, two of which are placed directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one protects the driver’s knees; and there is one outside each front occupant to protect the upper body. Finally, two curtain airbags extend down each side of the cabin at head level, to protect all outer passengers – even those in the third seat row – from side impacts.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Fortuner its maximum five stars for safety, in October 2015.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?
The Toyota Fortuner is an SUV designed primarily to be tough off road and comfortable on the road, and not to deliver sportscar-like dynamics. Its high centre of gravity, hefty two-tonne mass and ute-based chassis mean there is noticeable body roll through corners, and the steering does not have enough sharpness and feel to be engaging.
Nevertheless, the Fortuner drives respectably for a ute-based SUV. All of the controls are well weighted, the handling is predictable, and the diesel engine is quiet at speed, which makes the Fortuner a relaxing car.
Where the Fortuner excels is off-road. It can take you and your family places you could not reach in more road-focused seven-seat wagons, thanks to its dual-range gearing, impressive approach and departure angles, excellent wheel articulation and lockable rear differential.
And if your idea of fun is traversing rocky cliff faces and conquering tricky obstacles, then yes, you too will enjoy the Fortuner.
How is life in the rear seats?
A second row of seats that slides forward and back boosts interior flexibility: second-row passengers can maximise their leg room, or can add leg room for people riding in the third row.
Even the third row of seats is roomy and comfortable, with enough space for occasional adult use on short to medium journeys.
A low window line provides excellent visibility, and roof-mounted air conditioning vents boost passenger comfort.
Access to the third row is also easy, thanks to one-touch fold and stumble second-row seats.
How is it for carrying stuff?
The luggage area, which is accessed via a single top-hinged tailgate, provides class leading levels of space thanks to flexible second row seating that can slide forward and back, and third row seats that can be conveniently flipped and secured on the side next to the rear windows.
With the third row seats folded flat, sliding the second row forward increases boot space from 654 litres to a cavernous 716 litres.
The three-person middle row of seats fold 60/40 and the two-person third-row folds 50/50. That adds versatility, allowing you to tailer the car’s interior for carrying people or gear or both.
The Fortuner has a 3000kg maximum towing rating in manual guise (2800kg for the auto), which is average for a medium-sized 4WD wagon. That is enough to legally tow a two-horse float or a large, tandem-axle caravan.
Where does Toyota make the Fortuner?
All Fortuners are made at Toyota’s factory in Thailand.
What might I miss that similar cars have?
A four-wheel drive system that you can use on sealed surfaces as well as off-road. The Ford Everest
and Toyota LandCruiser Prado
have this feature, for example, as does the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
. It can bring extra security in slippery conditions, and means you don’t have to select or deselect 4WD when you move from one surface to another.
Perhaps support for smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which would allow you to display some apps from compatible phones on the touchscreen and control them from there. The Everest, Pajero Sport and Holden Trailblazer
offer this, for example.
You might also consider the Isuzu MU-X
Alternative SUVs based on passenger car designs, such as the Mazda CX-9, Kia Sorento and Toyota Kluger, offer better on-road ride and handling (but can’t match the Fortuner off road).
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?
If you're looking to go off-road a lot, the best buy among the Fortuners is the cheapest, the Fortuner GX, which comes with plenty of equipment.
However if most of your driving will be on sealed roads, the Fortuner Crusade’s more luxurious interior and quieter tyres make it the smarter pick.
Are there plans to update the Fortuner soon?
The Fortuner was released for public sale in October 2015, having been developed alongside the new-generation HiLux ute. The long model cycles typical of 4WD vehicles could see it endure without major changes well into the 2020s.
In October 2017, Toyota made small adjustments to equipment for the 2018 model year. Alloy wheels replaced steel on the Fortuner GX, and satellite navigation was added to the GXL. The Crusade got a better sound system, and auto transmission as standard (the manual Crusade was dropped). Prices got a bigger adjustment, with cuts of $5000 or more applied to all Fortuners.
In mid 2019 Toyota dropped the manual versions from the Fortuner range. Autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control and lane departure alert were then added to each variant in October 2019 for the 2020 model year.
There are no updates on the horizon, but from time to time you can expect other minor updates and special edition variants.