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2016 Toyota Fortuner review

Marcus Craft’s launch-based 2016 Toyota Fortuner review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell: The new seven-seat Toyota Fortuner undercuts the Prado and can be had for the less than $50k in entry-level trim. The Fortuner might just be the new wagon to beat…

2016 Toyota Fortuner

Price From $47,990 (+ORC) Warranty 3 years/100,000km Safety Untested Engine 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power/Torque 130kW/430;450Nm Transmission six-speed manual; six-speed automatic Body 4795mm (L); 1855mm (W); 1790-1835mm (H) Weight 2110-2135kg Thirst 7.8-8.6L/100km

UPDATE: we have a comprehensive onroad and offroad review of the Fortuner, a technical analysis, and a guide to choosing a Toyota 4WD.

Editor's Rating

Our first thoughts of the Toyota Fortuner
Practical Motoring Says: The Fortuner is a class above rivals such as the Isuzu MU-X, Holden Colorado 7 and Mitsubishi Challenger. And it’s well priced too. It’ll cut into Kluger sales and nibble at Prado’s and some of that will be brand loyalty and novelty value until people actually realise that the Fortuner is a solid offering of its own accord. Some potential buyers may bemoan the Fortuner’s lack of high-tech safety gear but it’s a great-looking vehicle that drives well and has real 4WD ability, so we reckon the Fortuner is poised to give the Large SUV segment a real shake-up.

MOTORING JOURNOS ARE notoriously difficult to please. Often, according to them, their seat on the plane to the launch was not close enough to the pilot’s; or there’s a lack of luggage space in the newest sports car (there’s a surprise!); or the newest ute on the block was skittish around corners with no load in the back (also a revelation).

But during this week’s launch of Toyota’s Fortuner, staged in and around South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, the hard-done-by pack of penmen seemed strangely sated. And, no, it wasn’t due to the soothing bush atmosphere and fantastic scenery, the great food (seemingly appearing at 10-minute intervals) or the wonderfully varied driving route. Consensus was that the Fortuner, to anonymously quote one of the aforementioned scribes, was “pretty bloody good”. I reckon he was getting close to spot-on.

If I’d actually counted, I think the word “unique” was uttered more than 20 times during the press briefing before we were given the opportunity to drive the Fortuner and make up our own mind.

2015 Toyota Fortuner range: Crusade (right), GXL and GX (rear)

Every car-maker likes to believe that its product is one of a kind but at least “unique” was fitting this time because, according to Toyota’s executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb, Fortuner was the largest single development program ever undertaken by Toyota’s local engineers – with “unique” wiring looms, body elements, testing and more tasks tackled on home soil.

The Fortuner may only be the latest of many additions to the confusion of choice that is a booming SUV market segment, but Toyota has a steely-eyed confidence about it. “Fortuner definitely lives up to the promise of its road-less-travelled 4WD heritage,” Cramb said at the launch.

“Fortuner is positioned perfectly between Kluger and Prado; diesel alternatives to Kluger are selling around 1400 vehicles a month, or almost 17,000 a year. Fortuner will give us a significant slice of that action.

“It’s a great choice for people who aspire to a luxury SUV … they want a stylish vehicle, they want seven seats and the safety of a high-seating position and great visibility; they also want genuine 4X4 ability.”

The diesel-only seven-seat Fortuner is being offered here in three variants: GX, GXL and top-of-the-range Crusade. All have the proven 2.8-litre four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel engine with a six-speed manual or auto box. Maximum power and torque is 130kW and 450Nm (auto); 420Nm for the manual. Braked towing capacity is listed as 3000kg (manual) and 2800kg (auto). Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.8L/100km (combined) for the manual and 8.6L/100km (auto). It’s $2000 extra for the auto box.

2015 Toyota Fortuner Crusade

We focussed on the Crusade (RRP $61,990 in Phantom Brown, an extra $550) for this launch review. The drive program took us from Port Augusta through the Flinders Ranges, Rawnsley Park Station, Wilpena Pound with some good 4WDing include.

The Fortuner, shorter and narrower than Kluger and Prado, is chunky and solid; it looks like a mad scientist fused a LandCruiser, Prado and Kluger together, threw in a bit of RAV4 for a laugh and then pumped the resulting mix full of steroids. It looks good; not too city-smooth, as do plenty of modern-day 4WDs, but country tough with class.

Inside is neat and tidy. Crusade’s fit and finish, hand-stitched everywhere, is good but unspectacular. If the design team drops the wooden trim from the next Fortuner version, it wouldn’t be too great a loss.

2015 Toyota Fortuner Crusade

There is stacks of head- and legroom in the front and second-row but the third row, as expected, is really for kids only.  Nice touches include 4kg capacity shopping bag hooks on the back of the front seats and three 12V outlets. Our Crusade also had a 100W, 220V power socket.

Driving position is nice, high and secure; the seats are comfortable and offer plenty of support. Steering is rake- and reach-adjustable. The paddle shifts will seem like a nice touch for some, but we reckon they’re wasted here. Visibility from the driver’s seat is more than generous with open spaces all-round.

On-road, the Fortuner is open-road smooth at all times, quiet and stable. Little to no noise intruded inside, other than a high-pitched whistle at high speeds due to a trapped stone (somewhere in a disc brake we suspected) after a particular tough bit of off-roading. It must have worked its way loose because the whistling stopped son enough.

2015 Toyota Fortuner Crusade

Steering is not as direct as some might expect, although it’s not a surprise given it’s an SUV. It can be a bit vague – and there was a touch of understeer on our tester – but nothing that could be considered problematic. The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine and six-speed auto are a tasty combo. We had a cruisy time in auto proper.

Ride was firm but not overly so. The Fortuner skipped about a bit on a few long, swooping bitumen corners – requiring minor corrections constantly – but sat nicely at speed on dirt, through corners and gullies. Even surprise potholes didn’t give us too much of a thumping. 

Off-road, the Fortuner was a champion. We did a couple of laps of two different 4WD tracks: one was a long, winding course along a ridge, up and down rocky hills and through scrub; the other was a short but substantial drive through a rocky creek-bed, up and down sandy banks, in between river red gums.

The Fortuner tackled everything with HiLux-like (or -lite) ease. No surprise there because it has HiLux’s body-on-frame set-up as well as its 4WD gear. It differs in that it has coil springs at the rear, not HiLux’s leaf springs.

The switchable 4WD system has high and low range. There is also a manually lockable rear diff and a very steady Downhill Assist (although not on GX). All the numbers – 30-degree approach angle, 25-degree departure, 23.5-degree rampover and 700mm wading depth – check out for off-road touring. We never scraped anything with any part of the Crusade’s undercarriage and there certainly wasn’t enough water around to test the Fortuner’s wading depth.

On the short, slow course, we got a wheel up in several places and torque was seamlessly directed to those on the ground. With patient driving, progress was smooth and incident-free. It excelled off-road but impressed on-road.

2015 Toyota Fortuner Crusade

Fortuner’s standard features include air-conditioning, rear differential lock, touch-screen audio display with Toyota Link connected mobility, cruise control, side steps and 17-inch steel wheels with “all-terrain tyres”. Toyota says it expects to achieve the maximum five-star safety rating as all variants are equipped with stability and active traction control, seven airbags, reversing camera, trailer sway control, hill-start assist control and rake-and-reach adjustments for the steering column. It includes three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX child-seat mounts.

Fortuner’s seven seats are arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. The 60/40 split-fold second-row seat has a one-touch  tumble feature while the 50/50 third-row seats are stowable. Cargo capacity ranges from 200 litres to 1,080 litres when packed to the top of the seat backs.

Standard equipment also includes durable fabric seat-coverings with contrast stitching, projector-style headlamps, LED tail-lamps, an air-conditioned cool box, Bluetooth connectivity, six speakers, three 12V accessory sockets, audio and phone controls mounted on the steering wheel, eco and power drive modes and a multi-information display (MID) in the instrument cluster.

Mid-range GXL gains alloy wheels, keyless smart entry and start, roof rails, reverse parking sensors, fog lamps, colour MID, privacy glass and downhill assist control. Manual versions have Toyota’s innovative “intelligent” system that matches engine revolutions to transmission speed for smooth shifting. Auto variants have paddle shifters. Prices start at $52,990 (+ORC).

2015 Toyota Fortuner Crusade

Top-of-the range Crusade expands the luxury with a leather-accented interior (available in fawn or dark brown), satellite navigation, power tailgate, climate-control air-conditioning, bi-LED headlamps, 18-inch alloy wheels (including the spare), 220V socket and a power-operated driver’s seat. It is priced from $59,990 (+ORC).

A comprehensive range of Toyota Genuine accessories is available including airbag-compatible bull bars and newly developed towbar and load distribution hitch. The Fortuner is on sale from next week.

Key standard features
Air-conditioning with rear vents
Cruise control
Rear differential lock
Seven airbags
Reversing camera
Vehicle stability control
Active traction control
Trailer sway control
Hill-start assist control
Anti-skid brakes with BA and EBD
Seatbelt warning reminder (front and second-row seats)
Power windows and mirrors, central locking
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column adjustment
80-litre fuel tank
Headlamp levelling
7-inch display audio with Toyota Link
– Bluetooth, USB/AUX jack, AM/FM, CD
– Voice recognition, steering-wheel controls
– Six speakers
Auto on/off headlamps
LED tail lamps
Soft-touch instrument panel
Multi-Information Display
Emergency brake signal (hazard lights)
Air-conditioned cool box
Seven seats
– Sports front seats
– Second-row seats
   • 60/40 split fold
   • One-touch tumble/slide
– Third-row seats
  • 50:50 split-fold
  • Stowable (side)
Three top tether anchors and two ISOFIX points
3 x 12-volt accessory sockets
Eco and power drive modes
Eco meter and eco zone display
Side steps
Front and rear mudflaps
Intermittent time-adjustable wipers
Clean-air filter
Body colour retractable exterior mirrors
Floor carpet
Full-size spare wheel

GX-specific features

Urethane steering wheel and gear-shift knob
17-inch steel wheels (all-terrain tyres)
Projector halogen headlamps
Driver seat: six-way adjustable
Front passenger seat: four-way adjustable
Brown fabric seat trim
Dot-type MID
Body-coloured door handles
Chrome interior door handles
Power windows with driver auto up/down

GXL (in addition to GX)

17-inch alloy wheels (all-terrain tyres, steel spare)
Downhill Assist Control
Paddle shifters (auto)
Intelligent manual transmission
Rear parking sensors
4.2-inch colour MID
Keyless smart entry and start
Premium steering wheel and gear-shift knob
Privacy glass
Roof rails
Front fog lamps
Chrome exterior handles, grille, back-door garnish
Meter illumination control
Power windows – all auto up/down

Crusade (in addition to GXL)

18-inch alloy wheels (full-size alloy spare, highway tyres)
Auto air-conditioning
Satellite navigation
– Expanded Toyota Link
DAB+ digital radio
Driver’s seat: 8-way power-adjustable
Power back door
Projector LED headlamps
Auto headlamp levelling
LED daytime running lamps
Leather-accented seat and door trim
– Dark brown or fawn
Woodgrain-look highlights
220V/100W accessory socket
Soft-touch console box lid


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5 years ago

Is it possible to remove the 3rd row seats ?

Tom Gilbert
Tom Gilbert
5 years ago
Reply to  Klaus

Howdy Klaus, no they are not meant to be removed but I’m sure anyone that’s half handy with a socket will have them out pretty swiftly.

Sarmen Willinburth
Sarmen Willinburth
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom Gilbert

yes it will be removed

Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips
5 years ago

Can’t help but call it a 4Runner all the way through the comprehensive article.

5 years ago

It’s entirely possible this will take a lot of sales from Prado which is getting too expensive for many people and has a tow rating lower than the Fortuna as well. Pity about the steel wheels and plastic steering wheel in the poverty pack but at least the tailgate lifts up instead of the stupid side opening rear door of the Prado.

5 years ago

4,5 stars for the Fortuner, 4,5 stars for the Pajero Sport. I like to know which one is the best.

Robert Pepper
5 years ago
Reply to  Chrishamburg

We’ll do a back to back test at some point.

5 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pepper


Robert Pepper
5 years ago
Reply to  CogitoErgoZoom

Next week there will a short piece on Fortuner vs Pajero Sport. The forthcoming Pajero Sport review will have a bit of Everest action. However, don’t have time at present to do the full comparo justice.

5 years ago
Reply to  Chrishamburg

test drived the both. Mitsubishi Pajero sport (my impressions) city driving: felt every little bump on the road through the steering wheel, cars wobbles when spot// starting in traffic. Car was shifting to lower gear when decelerating to turn a corner or stop at a traffic light (8 speed gear box), it felt jerky. No rear vents in mitsubishi pajero sport. Interior is cheaply put together, just look at the car in detail. It feels like they selling the Pajero sport based on the features.

Toyota Fortuner: felt solid and nicely put together, handling was quiet good. I purposely drove it over the ditches and the pot holes on the rood and there was minimum feedback to the cabin and the steering wheel. You get rear air vents, Gears shifted smoothly.
Negatives: I like to see Toyota include adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring to this car. Perhaps dimming rear vision mirror on the top spec models.
I haven’t test drive it on the highway yet, but i like to give it a go.

5 years ago
Reply to  AlX

Thanks for your thoughts, AIX. Robert’s driving a Fortuner at the moment giving it a very decent workout indeed. And we’ll be putting the Pajero Sport across our test course in the next few weeks, and are planning a group test. Stay tuned. – Isaac

Sarmen Willinburth
Sarmen Willinburth
5 years ago

the everest has a weakness. no manual 4×4. no coolerbox. and unreliable.
mux and toyota fortuner will hance takeforth domination

200 Series Landcruiser
200 Series Landcruiser
5 years ago

My delima is i have a 120 D4D Prado 8 seater need the 8 seats 7 kids wanting to update soon but Prado is now 7 seater and also the fortuner 7 seats can you get them in 8 seaters ? has to be diesel and manual gearbox

Robert Pepper
5 years ago

Both are 7s. I don’t expect any more 8-seater 4WDs on the market, especially manuals.

Practical Motoring

Practical Motoring