Toyota Fortuner 2020 Model Reviews

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You know what’s confusing? When a Toyota doesn’t sell that well in Australia. The brand has been on top of the charts for 16 years straight, and it sells most of its models in big numbers.

The Toyota Fortuner, then, is a bit of a perplexing case study. It wasn’t even in Toyota’s top-10 best sellers for 2018, and was easily outsold by main rivals like the Isuzu MU-X, Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. And with new, lesser-known arrivals like the SsangYong Rexton and LDV D90 arguing very strong cases on cost, the Fortuner is at risk of falling even further behind.

Toyota Fortuner 2020 Model Images

So, let’s figure out where the Fortuner stacks up, what it does well, and how it could be improved.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

You mightn’t be able to tell that the Fortuner is based on the HiLux ute (as the MU-X is based on the D-Max, Everest is based on the Ranger, and so on…), and that could be good or bad, depending on your take on things.

Where the HiLux looks a bit more muscled and edgy, the Fortuner is aimed to appeal more to those who appreciate curves and sweeping lines. To my eye, it doesn’t quite work.

Toyota Fortuner 2020 Model Review

The model you see in the images is the GX, which misses out on the privacy glass (tinted windows) offered on the models above, and likewise lacks roof rails (which make fitting roof racks a cinch), and it has colour-coded door handles, rather than chrome – there’s no chrome on the grille or rear door garnish, either. There are no fog lights, no daytime running lights, and the headlights are halogen units. Yeah, so it looks a bit… like a base model.

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You still get side steps – which were put to good use by my niece and nephew, and my mum (she’s only 149cm) – and there’s a rear spoiler. Hey, if you want a full body kit, Thailand has some eBay sellers you should check out.

Sadly, Toyota decided that all Fortuner models should come with alloy wheels, so the 17s fitted to this model (and the GXL above it) have a little bit of bling about them, but not as much ‘go anywhere’ cred as earlier base models, which were fitted with black steel wheels.

How practical is the space inside?

With seven seats as standard, the Fortuner offers a more affordable alternative to the Prado above it, and a more hardcore option if you’d prefer to get dirtier than is possible in a Kluger.

It isn’t as roomy as either of those models, though, because the cabin space is compromised by the ladder-frame chassis and a poorly designed seven-seat layout. The rearmost seats never allow you to make full use of the entire width of the boot because they fold up into the D-pillars – and in the process, you can bank on any over-shoulder vision being cancelled out completely.

Make sure you clip those seats in and tighten the straps, as we had them fall down on occasion, such is the sharpness of the the suspension. Just imagine if you had something fragile (or, worse, a pet or a child’s limb) under the seat when that happened…?

You won’t get the best boot space in the Fortuner. There’s 200 litres of cargo room with the third row seats in place, and that apparently jumps to 716L with the third row clipped up. The space expands to 1080L if you fold the second row seats forward.

The 60:40 second-row seats have a flip and tumble trigger for both sides (the larger portion is on the kerb side) and they slide fore and aft to allow better space for those in the back row. You’ll need to make sure those in the front row don’t have their seats set too far back, otherwise the second-row tumble function won’t work as the headrests will hit the seat backs in front.

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During my time in the Fortuner I put all seven seats to use, so these criticisms come with a solid foundation. My eight-year old nephew and 12-year old niece fit in the back row just fine, and my mum, dad and sister could fit across the second row, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘comfortably’ to describe the experience. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as all five rear occupants complained about space, storage or comfort levels at some point. The ceiling-mounted centre belt was annoying, too – many other seven-seaters have the middle lap-sash belt built into the seat.

I even had a stint as second-row passenger on this test, and being 182cm tall, found it pretty unpleasant. I’m a good 15cm taller than the rest of my family, though, and they had no such issues with headroom.

Some good things to note, though – there is air conditioning for all three rows, with roof-mounted vents and a separate fan controller for the five back seats, and being a Toyota, the A/C is superb at cooling down a hot car very fast.

There are cup holders in a fold-down armrest in the second row, and some storage nooks in the third row but no cup receptacles. Also, the bottle holders are hard to access in the second row doors if you have three abreast.

Up front, the storage is okay but not great, with a pair of cup holders, reasonable bottle holders in the doors, and a very handy twin glovebox – the top portion of which has cooling, and it works (it stopped some roadtrip chocolates from melting).

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All the controls are logically laid out, but the 7.0-inch touchscreen media display is pretty average. Some of the buttons are small and hard to locate, there is no volume knob, you can’t connect to Bluetooth unless you’re at a standstill, and there’s no nav in this spec. Add to that the fact the Bluetooth was glitchy on test (dropping out/failing to reconnect at times) and there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and you can see that the Fortuner is hardly a class-leader for cabin comfort and convenience.

The Fortuner GX is the opening gambit in the line-up, starting at $44,590 plus on-road costs. As a seven-seat AWD diesel auto, and as something of a hardcore SUV, that makes this grade a bit of a bargain, as it undercuts like-minded competitors by at least three grand. And it’s about five grand less than when it launched.

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