The whole point of an SUV like the Toyota Fortuner is the flexibility to use it as a daily conveyance and a weekend toy.
While the hardcore fans of the great outdoors may get out and about more than most, for many of us, daily commuting and family chores are what will occupy the majority of our time behind the wheel.
Around town, the Fortuner’s size makes it far easier to live with when compared to the larger LandCruiser models. Make no mistake, the Fortuner is a larger SUV, it’s just not as large as some.
Parking, three-point turns and overall manoeuvrability are all highlights of the Fortuner ownership experience. A lot of this is down to the sensible steering calibration which helps disguise the Fortuner’s size and weight.
The coveted high seating position provides excellent all-around vision of the road and traffic. The view will be appreciated by drivers making the move from a passenger car, it inspires plenty of confidence to pilot the Fortuner on busy streets.
Ride quality isn’t as good as that offered in Toyota’s other off-road SUVs. On rough roads the suspension is busy, so you're unlikely to forget the Fortuner is primarily designed to go bush. It’s not uncomfortable, but it is noticeable. It’s a balancing act and this is the compromise that needs to be made in order to deliver the off-road chops.
The suspension tune on the Prado is far more supple. Those debating whether to spend the extra coin to upsize should think carefully about the roads the car is likely to spend its time on.
It’s well anchored and given the high centre of gravity, engineers have done a good job to provide some honest body control in the bends. Ute based SUVs have a nasty tendency to lean a long way, however, there’s no major issue here.
In terms of performance, the Fortuner moves spritely enough for its size. The 2.8-litre turbocharged diesel engine and six-speed transmission provide enough shove with loaded seats and gear in the back. Toyota turbo-diesels deliver torque without any noteworthy lag which is a real plus in this segment. In other words, you won’t get stuck at the lights.
Unlike a lot of newer designs, the sound of the oiler takes us back to the day. The diesel clatter serves as another reminder of the Fortuner’s rugged purpose.
Brake response is also impressive with a good feel to the pedal. Unlike many SUVs of this size, the Fortuner doesn’t lurch forward when the brake pedal is hit with some force.
For a large SUV, fuel consumption in town averages 9.9L/100km which is very competitive when you consider the 2135kg kerb weight.
Although the Fortuner can’t escape its ancestry, it integrates into family life without issue. We’ve argued before that ute based SUVs provide greater flexibility when purchased as a lifestyle vehicle. While utes are all the rage, they quickly come unstuck when the school run is disturbed by bad weather. The ute with a boot makes more sense for families that need genuine stowage for school bags and groceries.
So the Fortuner isn’t the smoothest seven-seater for daily duties, it does the job, and in doing so it constantly reminds the driver to get organised for the weekend, which again, is the whole point.