TOYOTA DEVELOPS DESIGN ELEMENTS FOR NEW 4WD WAGON, WRITES COLIN SMITH
Toyota’s SUV line-up has been expanded with the arrival of the new Fortuner into the $70,000 price bracket.
The seven-seat Fortuner wagon is developed from the platform of the latest generation Hilux. It revives a design theme Toyota has already successfully delivered with 4Runner and Surf models engineered from earlier Hilux generations.
Fortuner also takes Toyota into a busy market segment with the Holden Colorado 7, Isuzu MU-X, Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
In the Toyota line-up, the diesel engine Fortuner effectively sits alongside the Highlander (V6 petrol only) and just below the revamped Land Cruiser Prado range. There’s also the FJ Cruiser in this market sector, but it’s being phased out.
Toyota calls the Fortuner a medium SUV and it measures up longer, lower and narrower than the Prado.
In common with the Hilux, there is a part-time four-wheel-drive system that means running in two-wheel-drive on sealed surfaces — the Fortuner doesn’t have a Torsen centre differential and full-time four-wheel-drive like Prado. It has an electronic rear diff lock.
Much of the driving at the press launch was on steep, coastal farmland near Cape Kidnappers with plenty of low-ratio terrain which showed off the Fortuner’s rugged capabilities and the tractable diesel engine performance.
Compared to the Highlander, the Fortuner is shorter, narrower and taller, and offers greater ground clearance and low-ratio four-wheel-drive.
One way to differentiate between the softer and more rugged of Toyota’s SUV offerings is to note the Highlander’s 2000kg braked towing capacity, the 2500kg rating for the Prado and a 3000kg figure for the Fortuner manual (2800kg for the automatics).
Though the new Hilux provides the platform — and the new 1GD global diesel engine and the transmissions are shared — the Fortuner has been clearly differentiated in style. The wheelbase is 340mm shorter than a Hilux 4x4 double cab and Toyota says the bonnet and doors are the only sheet metal shared with the new Hilux. The frontal treatment has slimline wraparound headlights, greater chrome detailing and a deeper front apron. The designers also worked hard on the rear end styling with a kick-up in the waistline, blacked-out pillars and a wide chrome garnish across the rear.
Underneath is a multi-link coil spring set-up.
Inside, the dash layout and instrumentation is specific to the Fortuner.
The seven-seat capability arrives in 2-3-2 formation and in the third row the 50/50 split rear seats fold to the side of the vehicle.
The transmission choices are six-speed manual on the base model GX and six-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) available for GX, GXL and Limited. Toyota is offering the base model Fortuner GX with the manual gearbox while discontinuing the manual Prado.
The 1GD four-cylinder 2.8-litre turbocharged diesel is standard. The engine develops 130kW and has 420Nm of torque with a manual transmission and 450Nm with the automatic.
Fuel consumption is 7.8L/100km for the manual and 8.6L/100km for automatic models.
The Fortuner specification begins with cruise control, alarm and immobiliser security system, a leather steering wheel with tilt and reach adjustment, fabric seat trim, smart key with push button start and a 7-inch touchscreen audio display offered on the base model.
The GX also has manual air conditioning, a cooled upper glovebox, a reversing camera and the appearance is highlighted by 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, roof rails, black side steps and privacy glass.
There is a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating and standard features include seven airbags, vehicle stability control, active traction control, hill start assist and downhill assist control, trailer sway control, emergency brake signal.
Pricing at GX level is $70,990 with manual transmission and $72,900 with the automatic.
Toyota NZ expects the mid-grade GXL to account for about half of Fortuner sales.
Upgrade to GXL grade and a $75,990 window sticker to add powered rear door, LED headlights, climate air conditioning, leather handbrake, door lights, 220-volt power outlet, exterior chrome beltline feature and standard satnav which provides traffic updates.
Another $3000 step to the Fortuner Limited model brings 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seat and door trims plus power adjustable front seats to the equipment roster.
Toyota NZ’s projections for 600-700 sales each of Prado and Fortuner shows the scope for growth as SUV sales continue to provide the driving force in our passenger vehicle market.