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We’re always amazed at just how many SUVs Toyota seems to sell, and there’s good reason for that – people know the brand, know the reputation, and know they’ve got options to choose from.
With that in mind, we decided to gather three of the Japanese brand’s seven-seat SUVs to put them to the test: the Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Kluger, and Toyota LandCruiser Prado.
In 2016, Toyota sold more than 30,000 of these types of SUVs, easily outselling entire brands like Audi, BMW, Land Rover and Suzuki.
Aimed at the city buyer is the Toyota Kluger – you’ll see plenty of them skirting around suburban streets. It is only available with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and eight-speed auto gearbox with front- or all-wheel drive.
The Toyota Fortuner is powered by a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine only, but can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and has four-wheel-drive in all trim grades.
The LandCruiser Prado is the only model in this comparison with the choice of a petrol (4.0-litre V6) or diesel (2.8-litre turbo four-cylinder) engine. You can get a six-speed manual or six-speed auto version of the diesel, while the petrol is six-speed auto only. All Prado models have four-wheel-drive.
They may seem strange bedfellows at first glance, but when you consider they cross each other on the pricing spectrum, it starts to make a bit more sense.
Here’s how they line up, dollar-wise (plus on-road costs):
- GX: $47,990 manual, $49,990 auto
- GXL: $52,990 manual, $54,990 auto
- Crusade: $59,990 manual, $61,990 auto
- GX: $43,550 2WD, $47,550 AWD
- GXL: $53,550 2WD, $57,550 AWD
- Grande: $65,935 2WD, $69906 AWD
Toyota LandCruiser Prado
- GX: $54,050 diesel manual, $56,090 diesel auto
- GXL: $61,190 diesel manual, $63,230 diesel auto, $62,210 petrol
- VX: $74,170 petrol, $75,190 diesel auto
- Kakadu: $84,880 petrol, $85,900 diesel auto
For this test we aimed to see what you get at the top of the range for all three models, so we had the Fortuner Crusade and Prado Kakadu diesel, while the Kluger was the GXL.
All have seven seats as standard, and there’s not a whole lot in it for third-row space and comfort. Admittedly, the Prado is bigger and feels it, the Kluger is easiest to get into and out of, and the Fortuner is pretty much let down by its odd folding mechanism.
All of them share similar media systems, and none of them have the extended connectivity of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. None of them allow you to make phone calls while driving by selecting someone from your contacts or dialling a number, either. It's a typical Toyota trait, and it is painful.
The ride of the Fortuner was also painful, particularly off road, while the Prado's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) made it considerably more amenable to rough surface work.
The Kluger was decently sorted on gravel tracks, and its on-road ride comfort was the best of these three by some margin – it's the only one here without a ladder-on-frame chassis, and the monocoque body's lower centre of gravity not only makes it easier to get into and out of, but also helps it feel considerably more car-like.
Which one is going to be right for you? Well if you need to go off-road, you need a Fortuner or Prado. If you want a petrol and don't need to go way off the beaten track, you should consider the Kluger and not the petrol Prado (unless you reallllly like your local servo attendant).
Ultimately, the choice will be yours. You may not even like Toyotas, and this could have been an inane time-waster for you. But regardless of that, and dependent on your personal circumstances, we hope this piece gives you an idea of the options you can access if you’re dead-set on a Toyota seven-seat SUV.
Watch our video, above, for the full story.
Click the Photos tab for more images by Glen Sullivan.