Toyota has one of the more enviable heritages in the automotive field when it comes to four wheel drives. The Land Cruiser started it all, then Toyota gave birth to a whole new category with the release of the RAV4. In the background, the HiLux has been quietly beavering away and now Toyota adds a sibling vehicle to that and the Prado, with the passenger oriented Fortuner. A Wheel Thing back to backs the new HiLux work ute and the top of the tree Fortuner Cascade.The Fortuner is, ostensibly, based on the HiLux and is intended to be the SUV version of that vehicle, offering a diesel alternative to the petrol only Kluger. There’s more than a hint of Prado in the Fortuner in certain angles, allowing the Fortuner to slot in between Prado and Kluger. Size wise you’re looking at 4795mm x 1855mm x 1835mm and rides on a 2745 mm wheelbase. Approach angle on the Fortuner is 30 degrees and departure is 25 degrees.
The new Hilux is a different kettle of fish; the test vehicle supplied was the four door crew cab, complete with Toyota optioned alloy tray, snorkel and bull bar with LEDs. Power, or more correctly, torque, is delivered by a new 2.8L diesel, with an admirable 420 torques at an astoundingly low 1400 revs.The auto gets 450….There’s also an 80L tank for the 1930kg beastie, which stands at 5330 mm x 1855 mm x 1815 mm in standard trim and rolls on a huge 3085 mm wheelbase. Towing is 2800kg, braked.
Inside the cabin are two buttons marked Eco and Power. Pressing the power button provides an astonishing measure of extra boost, allowing the Hilux to garner extra speed without so much as an extra millimetre of pedal travel. The Fortuner has the same engine package but didn’t appear to have the same extra “turbo on turbo” response.Economy was average at 10.4L litres of diesel consumed per 100 kilometres. Toyota quotes, for the manual HiLux, 8.1L/9.3L/7.4L per hundred on the combined/urban/highway cycles. Emissions are quoted as 212g/km. The Fortuner has an 80L tank and has economy as quoted of 7.8L/9.3L/6.9Lper 100 km. Towing? Fortuner offers Sir 3000 kgs (braked) thank you kindly, from the 2135 kg seven seater.
Transmissions were six speeds; manual for the Hilux, auto and paddle shift for the Fortuner. The manual was problematic, getting stuck in the gate a little too often for comfort, whilst the auto in the Fortuner Cascade had issues also, with no advantage being offered by using manual mode, and flaring, a sense of slippage, in off boost driving, particularly when turning.The clutch in the Hilux was balanced nicely, not requiring a muscle man’s left leg nor was it feather light; it worked well with the gear shift in regards to the pickup point, there’s no rubberiness but the gate just seemed to lock the lever sometimes rather than slot it through.
Ride quality is as expected of off road capable vehicles, complete with tyre squeal on tarmac for the more industrial oriented HiLux. They’re both tightly sprung, with the Fortuner offering up a touch more initial compliance befitting its luxury intentions. Steering in both is somewhat vague, with the HiLux seemingly needing a half turn more than the Fortuner before any sense of directional change got under way.
Exterior design wise, the cab chassis has the new HiLux face, albeit somewhat blocked by the factory optioned bullbar fitted. Fortuner is not a design A Wheel Thing can say is pretty although there is hints of muscle to the flanks.The rear window line is unusual in the downward slope and the kickline underneath, meeting at the rear door. The powered tailgate integrates the rear lights into both the chromed nameplate and into the rear guards, with a laser like LED lighting at night.The front is a touch heavy handed in the lines, although there are splashes of chrome to lighten it visually and there’s more than a hint of Prado in the guards. Both cars have LED driving lights, with the HiLux’s as an eyebrow whilst the Fortuner’s are aligned in the inner section of the assembly. The pair came with sideboards underneath the doors, with the Hilux snorkel, as mentioned, a factory option.The interior of the pair also, unsurprisingly, have crossover; in particular the dash design echoes that of the 86 and Corolla range. There’s a raised, almost arch like, section for the centre airvents (bracketing a LED clock), and both have a touchscreen with the Hilux’s looking almost as if it was fitted as an afterthought. At least the Fortuner’s looked integrated, as did the surprisingly harmonious shade of chocolate leather fitted to the seats. A letdown was the plain look of the Fortuner’s dash dials, detracting from the otherwise luxury feel of the cabin, including the DAB equipped audio system.The Hilux had manual seat adjustment for the front seats with all seats comfortably padded and cloth clad, Fortuner’s were electric, with the centre row (that’s right, it’s also a seven seater) slide and tilt whilst the rear two pews….they’re mounted in the rear with side pivots and with plastic hooks which very easily come loose when taking the Fortuner over some bumps, allowing a seat to bounce and flap around with a boom. But, there are rear air vents to sooth the furrowed brow of said rear seat passengers.The Hilux stays with tried and tested dials for the aircon, dials that wouldn’t look out of place in car twenty years ago with Fortuner’s Cascade getting more modern looking dials and LED lit temperature screen. There’s also a leather clad cover for the passenger side mounted chill box and a nicely finished surround for the transmission selector.Bluetooth is fitted to both cars, and both have auxiliary inputs plus 12V sockets. Fortuner’s steering column is adjustable for reach and tilt,as is the HiLux. There’s also, very unusually, a 240V compatible socket mounted low down in the console and facing the rear seats. Smartly, Toyota have fitted both cars with easy to clean rubber mats.
I say smartly, because both are fully fledged off roaders, with locking rear diff and a transfer case. They’ll flick from 2WD to 4WD in high range on the fly at speeds up to about 80 kmh but you need to be stopped and in Neutral to engage low range. The Fortuner also came fitted with a hill descent assist mode, which can be heard whirring and quietly clunking away underneath.
The Fortuner rolled on 265/60/18 Bridgestone Duellers, the ute with same size and branded rubber, with the tread being the Grand Trek tyre. The Fortuner was taken to A Wheel Thing’s “secret test track” in the back parts of a lower Blue Mountains suburb, that has a good mix of gravel, stony road surfaces, mud and sand plus a number of slopes and conditions that the average driver would baulk at.Let’s just say that for the average off road capable driver, the car will be more than able to deal with what the driver can do. For both, don’t expect them to be quick off the line, as it’s more the mid range that the Power button really works in giving that extra grunt.
Toyota offers the Fortuner and HiLux a 3 year/100,000 k warranty and a five year anti corrosion warranty as well. Safety comes well packed, with pretensioning seatbelts, traction control, hill descent and airbags all around.
There’s no doubt at all of Toyota’s 4WD heritage being passed on and down through the Hilux range, however the addition of the Fortuner adds an extra and possibly untapped option to their range. The Kluger is HIGHLY unlikely to be taken off road, as is Prado, even though it’s capable. The FJ40 is petrol only and isn’t quite the passenger car in intent whereas Kluger and Prado are, hence where Fortuner fits in.
The HiLux range is vast, with petrol and diesel, two wheel and four wheel drive, single, Xtra, dualcab, tray backed, ute backed, cab chassised….the version supplied is a great example of how HiLux has continued to evolve and the version supplied certainly does the nameplate no disfavour.
For A Wheel Thing TV: A Wheel Thing TV 2016 Toyota Fortuner
A Wheel Thing TV 2016 Toyota HiLux diesel cab chassis
For specs on the HiLux tested (and to take you through to the range) go here: 2016 HiLux 4×4 dual cab chassis range.
The Fortuner tested starts at a tick under $60K plus on roads and details on the range can be found here: 2016 Toyota Fortuner range