If you’re looking for a serious off-roader with seven seats, this and the LandCruiser models (Prado and 200-series) are your only options in the Toyota stable – unless you go all out for a 70-series Troop Carrier. The Landcruiser range is more money for more extras, so if your budget can’t stretch too much further – the Fortuner is the way to go.
Luckily, though, its well-rounded approach to a family mover that can tackle the rough stuff means that compromise isn’t such a dirty word. Particularly in the Crusade, the Fortuner is well equipped and while it’s not as luxurious as a LandCruiser Sahara, it’s certainly nothing to sniff at when it’s parked in your driveway. Off-road, the Fortuner gets hill-start assist control, as well as downhill assist control on automatic models to control travel over any slopes – combined with Active Traction Control and lockable rear differentials.
The off-road credentials of the Hilux (and within the Toyota family, via its LandCruiser stablemates) mostly transfer over to the Fortuner, though a bias towards passenger comfort helps passengers loaded on-board to feel secluded from any thumps or bumps more so than even in the Hilux.
The air-conditioning tunnel through the roof intrudes slightly on the headroom for the middle passenger in the second row; nothing to particularly write home about – but worth mentioning if you’re doing trips to transport a basketball team; tall people (over 6ft) may find their hair scraping the roof lining thanks to the high position of the Fortuner’s seats.
Speaking of seating, access to the third row is fine from the tumble down second-row, but it’s probably not easy for any elderly passengers due to the Fortuner’s height. Once you’re in, the third row is acceptable, and legroom is fine thanks to a sunken floor below the second row seats. When not in use, the two third row seats fold up rather than flat into the floor. They’re not overly heavy, and getting them down or up is easy enough, but it does look a little old-fashioned to have seats secured to the sides of the boot. The power tailgate on the Crusade works well, and is quite quick to open which is handy if you're heading back with full arms in the rain.
Towing is rated at 3000kg; a product of the ever increasing battle among carmakers to get one up on every other manufacturer – so you benefit from having massive ability to go anywhere with your boat, trailer or caravan.
Fuel consumption is good – especially for how large the Fortuner is. The diesel claims 7.8L/100km from the factory, but in the real world you’ll see figures closer to 9.5L/100km in the city, which is where the Fortuner will spend a lot of it’s time when not heading out onto the open road.
As an aside, only GXL and Crusade models get alloy wheels, the GX makes do with the black steel wheels shared with the Hilux. That’s not so much a problem, but it also extends to the spare wheel in the entry models – you’ll only receive an alloy spare wheel in the Crusade, and a steel spare in GX and GXLs.