In Australia, Toyota has a strong association with all things off-road. Rugged and reliable SUVs are an integral part of the brand’s local history.
Toyota’s large SUV range remains as desirable to local buyers as ever. The LandCruiser Prado and the LandCruiser 200 are staples on the nation’s best seller list. While these brutes are popular, they are out of reach for many families, but there is another way.
Enter the Toyota Fortuner, the peculiarly named seven-seat off-road SUV that first debuted in 2015. Despite being part of Toyota’s portfolio for the best part of four years, it’s relatively unknown, getting it out of the shadow cast by its larger brothers has proved challenging for the marketing department.
It’s a surprising situation, the Fortuner should be well-known in our market, a significant portion of its development was undertaken by local engineers.
So what is the Fortuner all about? It’s the wagon derivative of the mega-selling HiLux. The Fortuner shares the platform, engine and the majority of its running gear with the ute.
At the time of its release, Toyota Australia said: “the Fortuner is the turbo-diesel alternative to the similar-size petrol-only Kluger and offers an affordable choice for those who aspire to own a LandCruiser.” The latter part of that statement is one we intend to thoroughly test.
Since its local launch, the Fortuner has had its equipment level bolstered across the three-model range along with dramatic price repositioning by way of cuts. Our long-termer is the 2019 Fortuner GXL, the mid-range variant which is priced from $49,490 plus on-roads. We should note, when we picked the car up it was box fresh with only 10 kilometres on the clock.
Standard equipment on the GXL includes brown cloth seats, projector-style headlamps, LED tail-lamps, roof rails, keyless entry, push-button start, an air-conditioned cool box, reverse parking sensors, a rear-view camera, six-speaker audio system, three 12V sockets, a 4.2-inch driver’s information display in the instrument cluster and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation and digital radio.  
The spec-sheets looks great until the safety section is reached. There’s no autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist or lane departure warning. Not a good look in a $50k family car.
Power comes from the familiar 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that develops 130kW and 450Nm, drive is sent to all four corners through a six-speed automatic transmission.
There’s also proper low-range gearing and a rear differential lock for those keen to get some mud under the arches.
Modern diesel engines need to stretch their legs occasionally to keep the Diesel Particulate Filter operating correctly, however, townies will be pleased to know all 2019 Fortuna grades feature a button to manually regenerate the DPF. This is a beneficial move for those using the car for short trips during the week.
Over the coming months, we will be assessing the Fortuner in detail and report back on all aspects of our time with the car.