Hilux-derived Fortuner SUV impresses

Hilux-derived Fortuner SUV impresses

After the disappointing unladen ride quality of the new Toyota Hilux on smooth tarmac and bitumen, I wasn’t expecting great things of the Fortuner, but the new Toyota SUV was a very pleasant surprise.

The seven-seat family and fleet-friendly SUV arrive here with seven airbags and a five-star ANCAP safety rating. We drove it at the official media presentation in Napier yesterday.

While the front double wishbone suspension mirrors the Hilux, the rear of the Fortuner utilises a coil-sprung rear suspension which still gives the car excellent ground clearance and loading capacity, but, more importantly, a comfortable ride for the occupants.

We drove the Fortuner on every conceivable road surface from Napier Airport to Cape Kidnappers, including a decent off-road section across a farm property to a privately owned beach, and returning to the airport via a mixture of sealed and unsealed rural roads.

The upshot being that not only is the new Fortuner capable and comfortable on-road, it is equally capable and comfortable off-road.

But it is no sports car, this high-riding family car betrays its commercial origins with modest body roll through corners, so making real progress calls for a slow in and accelerate out approach.

Whether sitting on the cloth upholstery of the GX or the luxurious leather of the Limited variant, the Fortuner is a pleasant and quiet cruiser.

There’s a bit of wind noise around the A-pillar as you would expect from a relatively tall vehicle, but overall refinement is extremely high for a passenger car derived from a light commercial one.

Toyota will initially offer three grades of the Fortuner; GX, GXL and Limited, all powered by the 130kW 2.8-litre diesel engine as used by the Hilux and Prado.

Both high and low range 4WD traction are available at the flick of a rotary dial. For typical daily driving, the Fortuner is rear-wheel-driven, and drivers can choose from eco, normal, and power modes.

The GX grade features a six-speed manual transmission with an intelligent manual transmission (i-MT), and GX, GXL and Limited variants feature a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts.

Quoted combined fuel consumption is 7.8L/100km for the manual version and 8.6L/100km for the automatic. There is a braked tow rating of 2.8 tonnes for the automatic models and three tonnes for the manual.

Toyota is fitting electronic trailer sway control to all Fortuner variants.

Besides all Fortuner models have a reversing camera with backing monitor and rear clearance sensors, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist and downhill assist control, anti- locking four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution and an emergency brake signal.

Toyota did a much better job of integrating the 7-inch touchscreen display audio system within the dashboard of the Fortuner, wherein the Hilux it looks like an afterthought.

Along with voice control and remote buttons on the steering wheel, the touch screen incorporates AUX/USB and Bluetooth and includes Satellite Navigation, SUNA traffic control and Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) for the GXL and Limited variants.

The GXL and Limited variants have a powered tailgate operating remotely from the driver’s seat.

A memory function allows you to set and control just how far up it opens, a useful feature in restricted spaces such as garages and multi-storey carparks.

The GX grade specification includes an engine immobiliser and horn alarm, smart key and start, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering column with a leather and wood steering wheel, and manual air conditioning.

Additionally, there are two ISOFIX attachment points and three top tether child restraint anchors, automatic bi-halogen headlamps with manual levelling, front fog lamps, shark fin antenna, roof rails, rear privacy glass and 17” alloy wheels.

The GXL variant gains chrome door belt mouldings, door courtesy lamps, leather parking brake handle, automatic air conditioning with an automatic rear cooler, a 220V power point, LED bi-beam headlamps with automatic headlamp levelling, daytime running lights and puddle lamps.

Walking up to the Limited buyers enjoy 18-inch alloy wheels as well a leather door trim, leather seat upholstery, and a powered driver’s seat with slide, recline, height and tilt adjustments.

A ute-based SUV isn’t new for Toyota; the company enjoyed moderate success with the Hilux-based 4Runner three and five-door wagons in the 1980s, and many of the models arrived as second-hand imports known as Hilux Surf.

Toyota’s general manager of product, Spencer Morris, says that time and the market will dictate the success of the Fortuner, but with the segment up 20% and keen anticipation from dealers, he feels there is more than enough room for the vehicle in the distributors line-up.

Prices for the 2016 Toyota Fortuner:

  • GX manual $70,990
  • GX automatic $72,990
  • GXL automatic $75,990
  • Limited automatic $78,990
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