Australians have totally embraced SUVs as the family car of choice. The car brands are responding to our massive appetite by expanding their SUV ranges to cover all the important niches. One of the hottest of these niches right now is the off-roading seven-seater. These cars aren’t new to Australia—we’ve bought ute-based trucks in the past. Think of models like the old Mitsubishi Challenger or Nissan Pathfinder.
However, it’s the new crop of ute-platformed wagons that are reinventing the segment. The Toyota Fortuner is one of them. This 4×4 is a seven-seater based on the new eighth-generation HiLux—the two models share engines, cabin elements, and off-roading kit. The Fortuner name has been popular in Asia for years—and in the face of stiff new competition, Toyota are banking on moving plenty of them down under.
So what’s the stiff new competition? Well, this class of four-wheel-drive is expanding at a canter. There’s the new Ford Everest, which is based on their Ranger ute platform. There’s the new, Triton-based Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. And the existing Isuzu MU-X continues to kick on, previously enjoying a near-monopoly on this hard-edged section of the SUV market.
All of these cars are being marketed as more driver- and family-friendly than ever before. In the past, cars like these were horrendously uncomfortable, with primitive suspension setups and bad interiors. Now, the Toyota Fortuner aims to lead this pack, with a refined new diesel motor, a slick six-speed manual, and car-like dynamics: all while retaining the impressive off-roading prowess that these cars aim for.
Key specs (as tested)
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