Toyota has revealed its new Fortuner off-roader, which will join the FJ Cruiser, Hilux, Land Cruiser 70-Series and Land Cruiser 200-Series to cement the most comprehensive off-road lineup on the market.
Based on the upcoming new eight-generation Toyota Hilux ute, the Fortuner that goes on sale October 2015 will provide a more affordable seven-seat alternative to the larger Prado and revive the spirit of the once-popular 4Runner sold in the 1980s and ’90s.
Toyota Australia's executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb also the Fortuner also provides a “diesel alternative to petrol-only Kluger”.
“It’s equally at home on the school run as it is on the toughest off-road conditions in Australia,” he says.
It shares its basic proportions and architecture with the upcoming new Hilux – but with a slightly shorter wheelbase, at 2745mm.
Other items shared between the Hilux and Fortuner include some panels (bonnet and front doors) as well as the windscreen and side windows (minus the small, rear-most window, which is unique).
However, the Fortuner gets a distinctly different look around the nose thanks to a unique bumper, headlights and grille. Combined with black skirting around the wheel arches it visually differentiates the Fortuner from the Hilux with which it shares so much mechanically.
The Fortuner ditches the Hilux’s leaf sprung rear suspension in favour of a coil spring setup designed to improve driving dynamics and comfort, albeit while reducing carrying capacity over the light commercial vehicle it is based on.
The company is also relying on the reputation and image of the Hilux, with Cramb reinforcing it is “incredibly tough” with the “underpinnings of the unbreakable Hilux”.
Toyota blacked out the windows of the sole Fortuner air-freighted to Australia as part of the media launch, but expect it to borrow heavily from the Hilux’s cabin.
The Hilux’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel will be fitted standard; there’s also a 2.4-litre petrol unit available overseas but Toyota Australia decided to stick with a diesel-only lineup. The diesel makes 130kW and 420Nm when mated to the six-speed manual or 450Nm with the six-speed auto.
As with Toyota’s other rugged off-roaders, the Fortuner’s credentials in the bush are strong.The Fortuner gets the Hilux’s dual-range transfer case and part-time four-wheel drive system. There is also a standard mechanical rear diff lock.
There’s also solid underbody protection and 225mm of ground clearance. No word yet on approach and departure angles. It will also get the Active Traction Control system (A-TRC), which along with the suspension and some other components was developed extensively in Australia.
The fuel tank is 80 litres – almost half that of the larger, more expensive Prado – and while fuel use hasn’t been disclosed yet, real-world touring range should be between 500 and 800km, depending on use.
It’s rated to tow 3000kg as a manual – matching key rivals – but only 2800kg with the auto transmission most will opt for.
There will be three models offered – base GX, mid-level GXL and flagship Crusade. GX and GXL will run on 17-inch wheels and tyres while the Crusade steps up to 18s.
All Fortuners will come with a reversing camera, side steps, air-conditioning front and rear and seven airbags; dual front, front-side, a driver’s knee airbag and side curtain airbags covering all three rows.
The Crusade gets roof rails, smart entry/start, powered tailgate, 18-inch wheels and LED high and low beam lights.
There will be a range of locally developed accessories, including two bullbars - one alloy and one steel.
Toyota says it will achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
One thing Toyota is not revealing at the moment is pricing. However Cramb said it would provide a “new entry point for large Toyota diesel SUVs”, suggesting it will be below the entry-level Prado, at $51,990.
So expect the Fortuner to be priced from about $45,000, slotting beneath the Prado, which is itself due for an update in September.
While it will likely trip over the $46,990 FJ Cruiser on pricing, Toyota executives are confident that car’s retro-infused styling and less practical short wheelbase body will ensure it appeals to different buyers.
While it’s conceptually similar to the upcoming Everest (based on the Ranger ute), Ford has positioned its new arrival to compete with the more expensive Prado.
So the Fortuner will compete with more established ute-based off-roaders, such as the Mitsubishi Challenger, Isuzu MU-X and Holden Colorado7.
However, Toyota also believes it will appeal to would-be Kluger buyers who want a diesel engine.
The Fortuner is the seventh SUV in Toyota’s vast range, joining the RAV4, FJ Cruiser, Kluger, Prado, Land Cruiser 70-Series and Land Cruiser 200-Series (although Toyota doesn’t classify the 70-Series as an SUV).
Some executives quietly hoped the Fortuner could revive the more familiar-to-Australians 4Runner nameplate – used between 1984 and 1996 – but it’s understood Toyota’s Japanese headquarters insisted it adopt the global Fortuner nameplate.
“The 4Runner … is only available as a petrol model [in the US] ... so we decided to go with Fortuner,” said Cramb.
Price: From $45,000 (estimated)
Models: GX, GXL, Crusade
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 130kW at 3400rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 1400-2600rpm (manual), 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm (auto)
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto
4WD system: Part-time dual range
Fuel tank: 80 litres
Ground clearance: 225mm
Approach/departure angles: TBA/TBA
Towing capacity: 3000kg (manual), 2800kg (auto)
On sale: October, 2015
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