The Japanese brand's new rugged off-road model - which is based on the new-generation Toyota HiLux - is to that ute as the Ford Everest is to the Ranger, the Isuzu MU-X to the D-Max ... you get the idea. It's a wagon, based on a ute.
Unveiling the new SUV today, Toyota Australia marketing director Tony Cramb described the exclusively seven-seat Fortuner as "an in-demand diesel alternative to the petrol-only Kluger range".
"In demand" may sound like marketing spin, but with Toyota diesel sales topping 127,533 in 2014 - compared to just 34,367 in 2005 - there can be little doubt that the Fortuner has a place in Toyota's local line-up.
And, with diesel SUV sales now heavily biased toward private buyers, the Fortuner could prove popular with families.
Pricing is still to be revealed, but with the Fortuner described as a new entry point to Toyota's large diesel SUV range, it will slot in between the midsized RAV4 (which ranges between $27,490 and $48,490 plus on-road costs) and the large Prado (starts at $59,990, ranges up to $84,490 plus costs).
In this way, the Fortuner will essentially occupy a similar position to the more on-road-biased Kluger ($40,990 through to $67,520 plus costs), but we also can't forget the FJ Cruiser ($46,990 plus on-roads).
As you can probably tell, this will be something of a niche model, but we can expect it to be marketed alongside the HiLux, with the same rough-and-tumble image of capability and practicality.
Power in the Fortuner is provided by Toyota's new direct-injected '1GD' 2.8 litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission in standard form and with a new six-speed manual on higher grades (with auto too).
The new engine offers 130kW of power at 3400rpm, with torque rated at 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm with the auto, and 420Nm at 1400-2600rpm with the manual.
Official fuel consumption figures are still to be confirmed, but Toyota expects to achieve a rating below 8.0L/100km for manual variants. An estimate on fuel use for automatic models has not been offered, although the engine's application in the recently updated Prado suggests the gap will be small.
Toyota promises up to 3000kg of braked towing capacity (2.8 tonne for the auto and 3.0 tonnes for the manual), and trailer sway control will also be featured.
The Fortuner's unveiling in Australia also builds on that connection with the HiLux, representing the input that both models had from Toyota Australia's engineering and design teams.
The Fortuner has been fettled by local engineers for local conditions, and it was also tuned to global tastes by the team at Toyota Technical Centre Australia (TTC-AU).
But, unlike the HiLux and its leaf-spring rear suspension, the Fortuner (in a similar way to the Everest) gets a more passenger-friendly five-link coil-spring rear suspension layout. A double wishbone design features up front.
All models in the Fortuner range will be 4WD - foregoing the RWD option offered with rivals - utilising a part-time system that allows drivers to access low- or high-range four-wheel-drive at the turn of a dial.
A mechanical rear differential lock is featured, along with Toyota's A-TRAC active traction control system, allowing the driver the option of taking electronic assistance or engaging the diff lock.
Standout standard features across the range will include a reversing camera, seven airbags, hill-start assist and an emergency stop signal. No surprise, Toyota expects the Fortuner to achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The Fortuner will be sold in three model grades, including familiar GX and GXL levels, and the top-shelf Crusade.
The new off-roader's interior is still to be revealed, although much of its design and features will be shared with the already SUV-like cabin of the new HiLux (pictured below).
- six-speed automatic
- front and rear air-conditioning
- large touch-screen display with Toyota Link connectivity
- reverse-view camera standard
- disc brakes all around
- cooled/heated drink and food compartment
- seven airbags
- hill start
- traction and stability control
- five-link rear coil suspension
- seven seats as standard across the board
- shark-fin antenna
- 17-inch steel wheels with all-terrain tyres(18-inch wheels optional)
- six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
- roof rails
- reverse parking sensors
- keyless entry and start
- downhill assist
- six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
- LED daytime lights
- LED Bi-LED headlights
- LED rear lights
- powered tailgate
- 18-inch alloy wheels with highway tyres
Genuine accessories include bull-bars (one alloy, one steel), both compatible with safety systems. Toyota says it is examining opportunities to use these bull-bars with other models.
Toyota Australia marketing director Tony Cramb said today that the new Fortuner is expected to prove popular with a growing demand for off-road diesel SUVs.
“Fortuner offers the space, ride comfort, modern features, performance and off-road ability to meet this growing demand among private buyers looking for adventure," he said.
“These and other Fortuner attributes such as great fuel efficiency and top-level safety are also highly valued by business users.”