But Toyota also has family SUV buyers in its sights. With a highly specified, premium kitted and flexible seven-seat interior, it is also a family wagon for the highway – for families looking for more than the Kluger can offer.
“Fortuner is the turbo-diesel alternative to the similar-sized petrol-only Kluger, and offers an affordable choice for those who aspire to own a Landcruiser,” Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said.
And affordable it is.
The three grades – GX, GXL and Crusade – start from $47,990 for the GX, GXL $52,990, and Crusade $59,990. All models grades come with both six-speed manual and auto, the automatic offering paddle-shift and ‘blipping’ downshifts (GXL and Crusade) commanding a $2000 premium.
Under the bonnet is the 2.8 litre turbo-diesel shared with the HiLux, with a “low-friction timing chain designed to last the life of the vehicle”.
With a healthy 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque (automatic, or 420Nm manual), the Fortuner offers lusty towing capacities of 2800kg for the auto, rising to 3000kg for the manual.
And, something of a surprise, Toyota’s latest entrant into the busy SUV market comes with a very high level of involvement of Toyota Australia’s local technical centre.
“(The new Fortuner is) packed with Aussie ingenuity and know-how, it is the ‘most-Australian car’ Toyota has ever imported into this country,” Mr Cramb said.
Australia took the lead role in development of the upper body, suspension and wiring harness, off-road electronic support systems, as well as the touch-sensitive powered tailgate, impact absorbing bumpers among other key features.
The Fortuner is Toyota’s seventh entrant into the SUV market; a market it totally dominates, from the 200 LandCruiser down, with more than 45,000 sales YTD.
The new model comes into a space that Prado once occupied but then vacated as it moved more upmarket and away from family budgets.
The 4X4 alternative to Kluger
It is taller than the Kluger, but not quite as long, and, according to Toyota, is “aimed at totally different customers”.
“[It’s] an alternative to Kluger if you want diesel, towing capacity and off-road capability,” Toyota product spokesman Michael Elias said.
With a claimed fuel efficiency from the 2.8 litre turbo-diesel of 7.8l/100km (manual) and 8.6l/100km (auto), the Fortuner also offers fuel economy Kluger owners can only dream of.
Suspension is an all-coil set-up with double wishbones up front, and trailing link rear.
With a highly rigid frame down below for maximised strength and torsional rigidity, a rear differential lock, 30-degree approach, 25-degree departure angles and 700mm wading capacity, it is going to win a lot of hearts of ‘grey nomads’ and families with a thirst for adventure.
They will also find hill-start assist (standard across the range) and downhill assist with GXL and Crusade models. Also standard is trailer sway control and electronic power steering – with reach and rake adjustment – road speed sensitive and with 3.3 turns lock-to-lock.
Inside, buyers will find a full seven-seat capability, leather trimmed in the up-specced Crusade, and with seven-inch touchscreen, rear sensors and colour multi-information display in the GXL and air-con, eco-meter, and air-conditioned coolbox among a host of features common across the range.
For the Saturday shop, it offers 252 litres behind rear seat, 654 litres with the third-row dropped (and 716 litres foremost position) rising to 1080 litres with second row tumbled forward.
Fortuner sits in the ‘Large SUV’ segment, where Prado and Kluger sit on top, and Fortuner will swing the balance in favour of diesel (currently, petrol models slightly on top in sales).
“A family driving to the Flinders Ranges in the Fortuner has choices; they come straight up the highway, or through rugged sandstone bluffs and dry creek-beds,” Tony Cramb said.
Positioned between Kluger and Prado, it is “a great choice for people who aspire to a LandCruiser,” Mr Cramb said.
With just 6000 vehicles allocated to Australia for the year, you may need to get in sharpish – that allocation is going to move very quickly.