Ute based wagon variants have become very popular and yet another of these, the unfortunately named Toyota Fortuner Crusade is based on the Hilux chassis, with heavy modifications to make it more car like for family buyers with genuine 4WD credentials.
The development process has a strong Australian DNA with its unique body, wiring and key underpinnings having been designed or extensively developed and evaluated by local engineers. The rugged frame, high-torque engine, all-coil suspension and strong upper body have been proven in Australia under the world’s toughest conditions – on tarmac and off the beaten track.
Externally, the Fortuner is actually quite a pleasant design with bold front end and grill, sweeping uplift side profile and integrated rear end. The Crusade features projector-type LED headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, LED tail lamps and side steps, alloy wheels, fog lamps, roof rails and privacy glass. The power tailgate in the Crusade can be controlled from switches on the instrument panel, in the tailgate itself or from the smart key-fob. It has a memory function that allows owners to set the opening height, which is handy when parking under a low-hanging branch or in a garage with a low roof. The maximum height is 191cm – which enables 90 per cent of Australian men to stand under it and ensures the incorporated switch is still within reach of 90 per cent of Australian women.
Internally the Fortuner raises the bar a bit for a Hilux. It exudes premium SUV ambiance with elegant and flowing lines, soft touch materials on high touch areas, especially the centre console, which is flanked by vertical columns covered in soft-touch materials that also provide leg support for the driver and front passenger.
Front leather faced seats are very comfortable and with height and reach adjustment for the leather feel steering wheel, it is easy to find a comfortable driving position even for taller drivers. The Crusade features a high-precision, full-colour 4.2-inch MID with information including trip meters, vehicle checks and data to support economical driving. Steering-wheel controls operate the MID menu. There is seating for seven people over three rows with sports front seats that are flared at the shoulders and fitted with firm bolsters for maximum support. Features include seven-inch touch-screen display audio systems with six speakers, auxiliary/USB port, AM/FM radio and a CD player.
The screen also displays the reversing camera image and provides access to Toyota Link connected mobility. Toyota Link can provide access to Pandora Internet radio and help find fuel, a destination, weather and other assistance. Top-of-the-range Crusade has DAB+ digital radio and satellite navigation, which expands the capability of the Toyota Link system. Convenience features include Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, steering-wheel audio and telephone controls and power door locks, windows and mirrors.
The Crusade has climate controlled air-conditioning with separate air-flow controls for second-row passengers. Storage space is generous with a number of cup and bottle holders, compartments, trays, pockets and consoles. An air-conditioned compartment above the glovebox can be used to cool or warm items with the capacity for two 600ml bottles. Convenient shopping-bag hooks are fitted to the front seat-backs. All models feature three 12-volt accessory sockets – under the centre cluster, in the rear of the centre console for second-row seat passengers and in the rear luggage area. Crusade also has a 100w/AC220-volt accessory socket in the centre console.
Fortuner’s seven seats are arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. The 60/40 split-fold second-row seat has a one-touch slide and tumble feature, while the 50/50 third-row seats are fold-to-the-side style that severely limits available storage space. Cargo capacity ranges from 200 litres to 1,080 litres when packed to the top of the seat backs.
The Fortuner Crusade is powered by a high-torque 2.8-litre four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel engine with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Either transmission is good and works well with the engine. In fact, on the launch we drove a manual version over a dirt road that has been part of the World Rally Championship previously and it was a huge amount of fun. We have driven the Crusade over forest trails, sand dunes, heavy 4WD tracks, dire roads, highways and freeways and throughout, it has impressed with its ease of driving, ride and handling, tractability and quietness. Toyota have done an excellent job of designing a vehicle for Australian conditions.
Maximum power is 130kW @ 3,400 rpm and peak torque is 450Nm @ 1,600 rpm for the automatic and 420Nm for the manual. Braked towing capacity is 3,000kg for the manual and 2,800kg for the auto. Tow ball rating is 10% of either weight. The key here is that while the power figure is probably a little low, the available torque at 1600 rpm is plenty. It provides an easy driving environment and towing is a breeze, especially with the trailer sway control. It also means that Fortuner is economical at around 8.6 L/100k for the auto version.
The Fortuner has strong off-road ability – as you would expect using the base Hilux 4WD transmission. This includes rear differential lock, approach angle of 30 degrees, departure angle of 25 degrees, ramp-over angle of 23.5 degrees, ground clearance of 225mm, wading depth of 700mm, Electronic transfer case dial, A-TRC (active traction control) and locally developed underbody protection. All Fortuner models have an electronically controlled transfer case for ‘on-the-fly’ changes from 4×2 to 4×4 high, using Toyota’s unique disconnecting differential.
Safety is a key feature with a five-star ANCAP safety rating. All models are equipped with stability and active traction control, seven airbags, reversing camera, trailer sway control, hill-start assist control and rake-and-reach adjustments for the steering column. It includes three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX child-seat mounts. A comprehensive range of Toyota Genuine accessories is available including airbag-compatible bull bars and newly developed towbar and load distribution hitch.
This is a great alternative to either a Prado or a Kluger for families. In addition to its prodigious off-road ability, the Fortuner delivers a compliant and quiet ride, a spacious interior, convenient features and premium quality expected in a modern SUV.