IF there was ever a car suffering from middle-child syndrome, it’s the Toyota Fortuner. It’s a perfectly sufficient car. It’s spacious, it’s comfortable, does what it needs to, but it’s overshadowed by its non-identical twin, the HiLux.
Older (larger) siblings, the Prado and Kluger, which sit in the same class it does, don’t do it any favours either.
Sharing its origins and most of its running gear with the popular ute, the Fortuner is the Toyota equivalent of the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Isuzu MU-X in the tightly contested Large SUV under $70K category.
It’s a space already dominated by the marque’s ‘category killer’ Prado, as well as the Kluger offering. It does seem odd then, to import the Fortuner, when there is already a stranglehold on the segment, but there is a lot to be said for incremental sales.
Toyota has a whopping 31.9 per cent market share in this arena, of which the Fortuner accounts for 3.1 per cent. Since we drove it last year, the Fortuner has had some much-needed updates, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto gets a big tick.
This time around, we had our hands on the range topping Crusade, powered by a 2.8-litre turbo diesel, mated to a six-speed auto transmission. Coming in at $62,945, it’s nearly eight grand more than the mid-range GXL, and a 13K up on the GX (all plus on-roads).
For that extra outlay, it’s mainly superficial elements: dour courtesy lights, premium woodgrain-look steering wheel highlight (which is honestly off putting when you feel a change in wheel surface as you turn it hand-over-hand), and side steps.
The Crusade also grabs an electrochromic mirror, power tailgate, and 11-speaker JBL speaker system (which is the goods). On the safety side, it sees the inclusion of blind spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert and the panoramic view monitor, over the lower variants.
In what’s a nice change, Toyota’s safety tech doesn’t seem to be as sensitive as the intrusive safety system intervention offered by rivals – it’s much more how it should be, offering a safety net, rather than being a helicopter parent.
Driving the Fortuner can be described as uneventful. And that’s not a bad thing. As we said, it’s a perfectly adequate car, but it has a bland personality. There’s nothing that really stands out.
This means that there’s nothing in the driving experience worth writing home about, but at the same time, nothing that is a significant pain point. On the highway, it chugs along just nicely with its 150kW and 500Nm of torque.
We simply couldn’t match the claimed 7.3-litres/100km fuel economy figure though, and were much closer to double digits. Around town, it handles just fine, and on the open road, it’s comfortable and smooth.
Sweeping corners are the only time you are reminded its development commenced as a ute. Like all of it’s fellow dual cab ute rivals, with a body thrown over them, high speed cornering is a bit floaty and steering is lifeless; again back to the bland personality.
Dare we suggest that lack of personality is why the Kluger outsells Fortuner by more than two-to-one, and is also the least popular of the ute-based models bar the LDV D90. It gets no reprieve from its rivals either.
A recently restyled MU-X, and the edgy Pajero Sport (which you can imagine will get an upgrade in line with new Triton) give it a real rattle. And if the recent Ranger reveal is anything to go by, a bold new Everest is on the way too.
The 2022 Toyota Fortuner Crusade is offered with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with six month service intervals. It has a 3100kg braked towing capacity, and a 76-litre fuel tank. It’s available in a total of eight colours.
These include Glacier White, Crystal Pearl, Silver Sky, Feverish Red (as tested), Graphite, Eclipse Black, Phantom Brown and Saturn Blue.
You can build and price a new Fortuner Crusade on the Toyota Australia website.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Toyota Fortuner Crusade, contact your local Toyota dealer.