The new to New Zealand SUV bridges the gap between the Highlander and Land Cruiser Prado. It targets buyers looking for a rugged, diesel-powered SUV that can handle the demands of daily commutes and the rigors of hauling the family to the mountains for holiday. The Fortuner offers the same 2.8L turbo diesel engine recently introduced in both the Hilux and Prado. It also shares the Hilux’s drive train, coming standard with a 6-speed manual transmission and part-time four-wheel drive system.
I quite liked the look of the new Fortuner with its distinctive, sweeping lines. Even the stripped-down GX version I test drove looked like it was plucked from the premium SUV category. Chrome highlights were tastefully done and only served to accent look. I found the overall styling to be a welcome change to its more aggressive looking American cousin, the 4Runner. It is a large SUV, by New Zealand standards, but its overall appearance does not suggest as much. It isn’t until you sit inside of the Fortuner that it is packing a lot of space into what appears to be a small shell.
As noted earlier, the Fortuner shares much of its components with Toyota’s other popular models. It incorporates the same double wishbone front suspension, with coil springs and stabilizer bar, as the Hilux and a 4-link rear axle similar to the design of the Land Cruiser Prado. Despite what seems to be Toyota’s pulling parts that are already on the shelf and installing them on the Fortuner, the ride was extremely pleasant. It handled the curves of Wairata Canyon with less body roll than I was expecting. It also chewed up the miles along the dusty road to Port Jackson with ease.
In a word Toyota’s new 2.8L in-line four-cylinder turbo diesel is a fuel-efficient powerhouse. Okay, I know that was three words, but I cannot talk about one without the other. The little four-cylinder puts out a cool130 kW (174hp) of power and an astonishing 420 Nm (310lb-ft) of torque. Now I know what you are thinking, Doesn’t the 4.0L V6 found in Toyota’s 2016 4Runner put out 75kW (100hp) more power and nearly as much torque? Well, in a nutshell, you are right BUT the 4Runner cannot boast an advertised combined fuel economy of 7.8L/100km (that is slightly over 30mpg for us Yanks)? Not once during our trip did I wish we had more power and we averaged 8.7L per 100km. I never babied the gas pedal during our travels and even during our short stint in Auckland’s rush-hour traffic did we see the fuel economy drop to 9L per 100k.
The new 2016 Fortuner is also packed full of features to make driving a little easier. One of my favorites was the Inelegant Manual Transmission function, or iMT, found on our manual equipped GX Fortuner. When engaged, using the button located on the center console, the engine computer uses the vehicle speed to determine the appropriate engine RPM for smooth downshifting. I found the system to work brilliantly, although I wish it were a feature you could set and forget. Unlike economy mode the iMTsystem turns itself off after you turn off the engine and I constantly found myself forgetting to turn it back on each time I got back in to drive.
So is the new 2016 Fortuner Toyota’s answer to New Zealand’s growing demand for a rugged mid-sized SUV? Based off of the wildly popular Hilux and Land Cruiser Prado models, it is certainly from the right pedigree to be a hit. The new to New Zealand SUV features attractive styling and superior ride handling should be well received. The market should also enjoy Toyota’s new 2.8L turbo diesel, with its excellent fuel economy and ample power. I really enjoyed driving the GX Fortuner on our two-week New Zealand adventure and, if it were available here in The States, wouldn’t think twice about buying one to replace our aging 1998 4Runner.
Fortuner Specifications (as tested):
Engine: 2.8L in-line 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheels & Tires: 265/65R17
Power: 130 kW @ 3400 rpm
Torque: 420 Nm @ 1400-2600 rpm
Fuel Economy: 7.8L/100km (combined)
Acceleration: 12.6sec (0-100km/h)
Max Speed: 180km/h
Overall Length (mm): 4795
Overall Width (mm): 1855
Overall Height (mm): 1835
Wheelbase (mm): 2750
Ground Clearance (Exhaust Pipe) (mm): 279
Approach Angle (mm): 30
Departure Angle 25
Max. Wading Depth (mm): 700
Gross Combined Mass (kg): 5745
Max. Towing Capacity Braked (kg): 3000
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