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Fortuner to join next HiLux here by 2015

Toyota Australia helping develop next-generation HiLux ute and Fortuner SUV models for Oz

Published: Wed, 13 Nov 2013

Toyota Australia is heavily involved in the development of the next-generation HiLux and the closely related Fortuner SUV, both of which will go on sale Down Under by 2015.

Australia was the first export market for Toyota and its first LandCruiser, and the Japanese giant’s Australian arm has long had input into the development of LandCruisers, including the facelifted 150 Series Prado launched locally this week.

Chief engineer of the 70, 150 and 200 Series LandCruisers, Sadayoshi Koyari, said the latest Prado was subject to about 450,000km of Australian testing, “to confirm its durability and reliability”.

In Australia for the 2014 Prado launch and to speak with members of the LandCruiser club, Koyari said Australia’s harsh climate and road conditions were ideal for validating attributes like the dust sealing and hot-weather performance of its toughest SUVs.

“Australia is a key part of our development, a global R&D centre,” he said. “You have such a rugged environment that makes Australia so important. You have every possible road condition. 

“If it can survive in Australia it can survive anywhere. LandCruiser capability is legendary, but we have to confirm it every time we make an advance.”

Apart from durability testing, however, the latest Prado was also subject to an intensive chassis development program by the Melbourne-based Toyota Technical Centre, which is also helping to develop the next HiLux and Fortuner.

Local chassis work for the Prado focussed on more direct steering feel off-centre, reducing body roll and pitch, and a broader range of off-road capability in upstream models fitted with KDSS.

A Toyota Australia source told that its chassis engineers have undertaken similar development work for both the new HiLux and its SUV stablemate, the Fortuner. The new HiLux and Fortuner will be launched here in less than two years.

While the current HiLux has been around since 2005, the existing Fortuner appeared on the same platform as a replacement for the 4Runner in Thailand – where both models are built – in 2004.

The previous Fortuner (pictured) was never sold in Australia, but Toyota Style Australia was involved in the midlife makeover and Toyota and its dealers have made no secret of their desire to sell the new model here.

As before, the new Fortuner will essentially be a five-door wagon version of the next HiLux ute, just like Holden’s ute-based Colorado 7, Mitsubishi’s Triton-based Challenger, Isuzu’s upcoming D-MAX-based MU-X and the Australian engineered Ford Everest, based on the Ranger.

Like those models, the Fortuner will play a relatively small role in Toyota’s extensive SUV model range, but in the absence of a diesel Kluger, will provide Australia’s number one vehicle brand with an oil-burning off-road SUV positioned beneath the Prado.

Built in Thailand, Indonesia, India and Argentina, the current Fortuner seven-seater is available with 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol and 4.0-litre petrol V6 engines matched to two-wheel drive and selectable four-wheel drive systems, the latter with a two-speed transfer case.

Expect the Fortuner to be priced from around $40,000 in Australia, in line with or below the Camry-based Kluger seven-seat SUV, which itself will be replaced by an all-new US-sourced model in the first quarter of next year.

As we’ve reported, the MkIII Kluger will remain available only with a 3.5-litre petrol V6, in front and all-wheel drive configurations. No diesel or hybrid models will be sold here.

The Fortuner will bring to six the number of SUVs Toyota sells in Australia, including the RAV4, Kluger, Prado, FJ Cruiser and LandCruiser.

Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Tony Cramb told Toyota Australia is also investigating “a number of possibilities” for the burgeoning small SUV segment – the only SUV segment in which it remains unrepresented.

Before it launches the Fortuner and new HiLux, next year will see Toyota Australia launch the redesigned Corolla sedan, the new Kluger and, perhaps, a belated replacement for the Yaris sedan.

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