Here is an interesting global reveal that is being de-emphasized by Toyota USA and Toyota’s EU divisions. This makes sense when you think of where the new Fortuner SUV will be sold: in Southeast Asia, Australia and Middle Eastern markets.
The Fortuner occupies a curious place in the Toyota global range: bigger than the 4Runner but also based on a ladder pickup frame. It is smaller than the big Land Cruiser and Sequoia, but will supplement the Land Cruiser Prado versus replace it. That Prado is the closest relative to the US-market Lexus GX460.
So what is this truck?
Think of it as a globally optimized seven-seat crossover with true off-road skills. Its key advantage over the Highlander (dubbed Kluger in Australia and elsewhere) is the availability of diesel engines plus much more rugged suspension and 4×4 setup.
The big advantage the Fortuner should have over the current Prado or GX460 is full redesign of the cabin, including massive upgrades in technology and comfort features.
2015 Lexus GX460
We believe this new and super-refined platform will form the basis of a GX460 replacement for Lexus in the US market. Eventually, that Lexus will also roll out in flush truck markets like Arabia and Russia.
The Toyota variant is likely to stay a global model not offered stateside, so just a nose and tail revamp are all Lexus will need to make a unique statement in the truck-tough seven-seat SUV market.
2016 Toyota FORTUNER
Toyota staged the simultaneous global reveal of a new seven-seat family SUV that will arrive in its Australian dealer showrooms towards the end of October 2015.
Known as Fortuner, the new SUV will expand Toyota’s market-leading SUV line-up to six vehicles – joining RAV4, Kluger, FJ Cruiser, LandCruiser Prado and LandCruiser 200 Series.
Toyota Australia’s executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the world premiere, staged simultaneously in Australia and Thailand, heralds a stylish and refined vehicle that is remarkably tough and offers genuine 4WD ability.
“Fortuner’s strength and refinement ensures it is equally at home on the school run as on the toughest off-road trails found in Australia,” Mr Cramb said.
“Fortuner shares the rugged underpinnings of the ‘unbreakable’ HiLux, allowing owners to travel to – and return from – places many other SUVs simply can’t go.
“At the same time, Fortuner’s unique design suits the advanced tastes of modern SUV buyers while being equipped with a comprehensive list of features appreciated by families and business owners.
“Fortuner provides a diesel alternative to the petrol-only Kluger range as the new entry point for customers looking to purchase a large Toyota diesel SUV.”
Toyota sells more SUVs in Australia than any other brand, having delivered more than 50,000 in each of the past three years. No other company has sold 40,000 SUVs in a single year.
Fortuner will be offered in Australia in three grades – GX, GXL and Crusade – all powered by Toyota’s new 2.8-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that develops up to 450Nm of torque.
A new six-speed manual gearbox includes ‘intelligent’ technology on GXL and Crusade grades to ensure smoother shifting by matching engine speed to transmission speed. A newly developed six-speed automatic transmission is also available.
All variants are fitted with trailer sway control, which is designed to assist if a towed vehicle becomes unsettled by crosswinds, bumpy roads or sharp turns of the steering wheel. Maximum braked towing capacity will be three tonnes for the manual and 2.8 tonnes for the auto.
A part-time 4×4 during day-to-day driving, owners can turn a dial to access Fortuner’s impressive four-wheel-drive ability in high or low range.
The suspension package was developed and tuned by local engineers to meet Australia’s harsh conditions, with double wishbones at the front and a five-link, coil-spring configuration at the rear for impressive handling stability and ride comfort on all surfaces. Front and rear stabiliser bars suppress body roll.
The vehicle’s off-road prowess is enhanced by a rear differential lock with the componentry placed within the differential housing for greater off-road protection.
Significant local development was also applied to ensure optimum tuning of the stability and active traction control electronics for local conditions, particularly for use on gravel. Drivers can disable the electronics for specific off-road situations, such as driving in slippery mud or sand.
A reversing camera is standard across the range, as are seven airbags, hill-start assist control and an emergency stop signal. Toyota expects Fortuner to attract the top five-star safety rating.
All variants will feature front and rear air-conditioning, large touchscreen audio displays, Toyota Link connected mobility, side steps, 17 or 18-inch wheels, disc brakes front and rear, and an air-conditioned compartment that helps keep drinks and food warm or cold.
The two higher grades are fitted with roof rails, fog lamps, reverse parking sensors, keyless smart entry and start, and downhill assist control.
At the top-of-the-range, features include bi-LED headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, a power back door and 18-inch alloys with highway tyres.
Fortuner will come to Australia with a comprehensive and integrated range of Toyota Genuine accessories developed and rigorously tested locally.
“These accessories – including alloy and steel bull bars compatible with the vehicle’s safety systems – build on the strong global platform and specifically meet the needs of Australian buyers,” Mr Cramb said.
FORTUNER ENGINE: HIGH TORQUE AND EFFICIENCY
Toyota’s latest SUV, the new Fortuner, will be powered by a newly developed 2.8-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel engine that raises the bar for fuel efficiency, performance and quietness.
Designated 1GD, the 2755cm3 four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel engine employs a highly efficient fuel-injection system and intake/exhaust ports.
The engine is notable for its high torque at low revolutions and its maximum torque of 450Nm is available from 1600 to 2400rpm when driven through Toyota’s new six-speed automatic transmission.
Fortuner will also be offered with a six-speed manual gearbox, available on higher grades with ‘intelligent’ technology that ensures smoother shifting by matching engine revs to transmission speed. The manual’s peak torque is 420Nm.
Maximum power of 130kW is reached at 3400rpm while the power curve below 3000rpm supports low-to-mid-range performance.
Toyota’s engineers developed the engine from the ground up to be lightweight with high combustion efficiency and low friction, resulting in excellent fuel efficiency.
These measures, along with the inclusion of a diesel particulate filter, have resulted in reduced emissions and compliance with Euro 5 emissions standards.
Fuel consumption on the official combined cycle is expected to be below 8 litres/100km for manual variants of the part-time 4×4 SUV.
The engine’s port shape has been designed to maximise air flow into the cylinders. A newly developed combustion chamber shape and advanced control of fuel injection pressure are used to optimise the injection of fuel into the combustion chamber to achieve high thermal efficiency and reduced emissions.
Precise pilot injection matching the state of the ambient air occurs before the main injection to shorten ignition delay, achieving stable combustion even in harsh environments, while ensuring quiet operation and high thermal efficiency.
The engine features a compact high-efficiency variable geometry turbocharger produced in-house by Toyota. It has a newly developed turbine that improves efficiency and a newly developed impeller that provides instantaneous acceleration response and produces maximum torque over a wide range of engine speeds.
The use of silica-reinforced porous anodised aluminium (SiRPA) on the pistons ensures optimum heat management during combustion. SiRPA is a highly effective insulation and dissipation material that is easy to heat and cool.
Toyota will continue to position diesel engines as a key component of the Toyota engine line-up, based on the philosophy of providing the right vehicles for the right places at the right time.
The entire Toyota group is focused on developing cleaner and more competitive diesel engines across a wide range of vehicle types, taking into account the varying needs of people around the world.
STRONG, REFINED AND FUNCTIONAL: NEW FORTUNER DESIGN
Toyota’s new Fortuner SUV debuts a compelling design that expresses refinement and innovation as well as being functional and tough.
Fortuner projects a fluid and dynamic character that clearly distinguishes it from the five other SUVs in the Toyota range.
Toyota Australia’s executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said seven-seat Fortuner’s credentials extend well beyond its stylish, urban appeal.
“Fortuner’s advanced design gives little hint as to its true capabilities – especially its underlying toughness and prodigious off-road ability for people seeking adventure,” Mr Cramb said.
“While it shares many under-the-skin components with the next-generation HiLux, its styling is unique and targeted at modern SUV buyers,” he said.
Fortuner’s large upper grille is slanted and framed by thick chrome plating that extends around the sleek and aggressive projector headlamps – Bi-LED on high-grade Crusade variants.
The strong design features a prominent three-dimensional trapezoidal front bumper that produces a sense of depth while deeply recessed foglamps on selected grades emphasise the vehicle’s width.
Along the side, a bold character line runs across the doors between the flared front and rear fenders which feature sculpted surfaces to express refinement in the midst of toughness.
A chrome-plated moulding runs along the belt-line to the rear window where it kicks up. The C-pillar has been blacked out to produce a “floating roof” effect for a dynamically striking look even when the vehicle is stationary.
Other features include side steps, roof rails (on selected grades), a shark-fin antenna and 17 or 18-inch wheels, including the Crusade’s 18-inch alloy rims with thick powerful spokes and contrasting narrow, precision spokes.
From the back, Fortuner’s rounded upper body is highlighted by a chrome-plated moulding that wraps around from the sides to the back glass – a distinct contrast to the rear bumper, which has protruding corners.
The sleek rear combination lamps and license plate garnish blend with the complex surfaces of the rear body. All grades feature LED stop lamps for a high-tech image.
FORTUNER TO BOOST TOYOTA’S MARKET-LEADING SUV SALES
New Fortuner with its strong turbo-diesel performance is set to build on Toyota’s long-term leadership as the auto industry’s top-selling SUV brand.
Toyota has sold more SUVs than any other brand each year since the term Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) was first used officially by VFacts in 2003 – and for many years previously when these vehicles were known as all-terrain wagons.
Toyota’s executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said Fortuner arrives into a market where the popularity of diesel SUVs among private buyers has recently surged ahead of business demand.
“Fortuner offers the space, ride comfort, modern features, performance and off-road ability to meet this growing demand among private buyers looking for adventure,” Mr Cramb said.
“These and other Fortuner attributes such as great fuel efficiency and top-level safety are also highly valued by business users.”
Until 2013, non-private sales – including to business, government and rental companies – accounted for the majority of diesel SUVs, with the annual gap over private sales often around 25 per cent and as high as 40 per cent.
Sales to private customers edged ahead in 2013 and accelerated last year, growing strongly to more than 69,000 diesel SUVs – 11,000 more than the combined sales to business and other users.
Total sales last year of 127,588 diesel SUVs were almost four times higher than the level reached a decade ago in 2005. This represents faster growth than the overall SUV market which has doubled during that period from 180,292 to a record last year of 352,462 vehicles.
Toyota delivered 56,663 SUVs in Australia last year, outselling its nearest competitor by more than 22,000 vehicles and achieving its second-best year on record. No other brand has ever sold 40,000 SUVs in a single year.
Toyota’s 2014 result was buoyed by record demand for RAV4 (up 6.9 per cent to 18,160 sales) and a gain of 10.6 per cent for Prado (16,112).
Kluger, with the changeover to a new model, contributed 11,484 sales while LandCruiser wagon lifted its segment share to 83 per cent from 79.8 per cent.
Toyota’s push in this segment up to the 1990s was led by the LandCruiser wagon, which has now amassed a cumulative total of more than 240,000 sales in Australia – counted separately from the 430,000 workhorse LandCruisers bought locally.
The arrival of the RAV4 (240,000 total sales) in 1994 is credited with kick-starting the popularity of SUVs as recreational vehicles that combine off-road ability with passenger-car comfort.
Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado arrived in 1996 and has topped 235,000 sales while Kluger has reached a total of 124,000 since 2007. The iconic FJ Cruiser has achieved a remarkable 10,000 sales since 2011.
The origins of the newest Toyota SUV go back to 1998, although it wasn’t called Fortuner at first.
Thirty years after the HiLux was born, the concept was to develop a passenger vehicle based on a pick-up, principally for markets in Asia.
This was largely motivated by emerging demand for an affordable family vehicle that had impressive off-road capability.
Toyota named the vehicle Sport Rider to accentuate its suitability for people with active lifestyles.
In 2005, Toyota built on the quality, durability, reliability and off-road prowess of this vehicle to introduce the Fortuner nameplate.
Global sales have been remarkable, growing from 50,000 in the first year to around 200,000 a year now.
The market for Fortuner has since expanded from Asia to the Middle East and several other regions, including Australia.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.